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Six Months

Sweet baby Camille!

This girl is the happiest little baby.  I love how social she is.  She likes to smile at everyone, and they love it.  Maybe it is the dimples, or maybe the beautiful blue eyes.

Camille is perfecting her rolling skillz.  She has gone across the room twice, log roll style.  She is also good at grabbing something she wants and getting it to her mouth.  Not as great about holding onto it, unless it is my hair, then it is the death grip.

She is also enjoying the sound of her own voice.  We all know her first word from four months ago, but now she keeps saying, "da da da da da da" or "tha tha tha tha" depending on how you interpret the sound.  She likes making the "s" sound, too.  And this girl blows her own raspberries, though the abundance of drool definitely helps.

smiles and smiling
being held (especially if you are standing)
being on the floor (if someone is engaged with her)
the exersaucer
the johnny-jump-up
holding and gumming apple pieces
watching people eat
drooling and spitting up
Annique (who calls her Camilley)

being in the seated position on someone's lap for very long
someone sitting while holding her
spotting Mommy when she's hungry, but not yet eating

Height- 26.8 inches; 90th percentile
Weight- 14# 8oz; 40th percentile
Head- 16.5 inches; 45th percentile

Happy six months, sweet Camille!

Three Point Five

Oh, Annique.

She is super-smart.  This girl can read.  Out right read.  She's been doing it for a few months now, but it is still mind-blowing to watch her do it.  She has a thirst for learning.  Currently she enjoys asking (and guessing) how things are spelled.  Parents, what do you do when you can't talk in code to your spouse by spelling out words because your child can spell too!  We've started to run into this at 3.5!  We're also working on left and right and telling time on an analog clock.  She enjoys preschool, too.  We hear songs about the months of the year and the days of the week and talk about the weather- all from preschool.

This girl still loves music.  Loves to sing, loves to dance, loves to be in church when we're singing, loves listening to the radio, loves to play on the piano while reading lyrics that Dan prints out and puts up there etc.

Outside is one of Annique's favorite places to be.  She can open the door and get out by herself now, which is a bit scary.  She will entertain herself in the yard for a long time.  She enjoys bringing me treasures which include berries, leaves, sticks, acorns and-her personal favorite-flowers.  Even if we are walking from a parking lot to a building, Annique will pick up a leaf or a rock or a stick to take in in with her.  Sometimes after she goes to bed, I throw these things back outside.

She is also very difficult right now.  The whining (which has been around for awhile), is now accompanied by belligerence.  The following has come out of her mouth:
"Do NOT do that, Mommy- DO NOT DO THAT!"
"It is NOT hot in the car!"
"You do NOT need to feed Camille!"
"No! Stop singing mommy, stop singing!"
"No, it is NOT the Labor Day Sale!" (to the radio)
"No, NO NO!  I want to do it!"
See a theme?  And I know this is developmentally appropriate, but it is so hard on us when we feel like we can't leave her in her class at church or with a babysitter while we lead small group downstairs (same house!) because she doesn't want to leave us.  She throws a screaming tantrum hissy fit when we try.  Quite exhausting.  Anyone else have experience with the terrible threes?

She is still very in love with her diapers.  I get so frustrated when I have to change a poopy diaper, honestly.  Plus we can't put Camille in the cloth diapers because Annique is still in them!

Speaking of Camille, Annique loves her.  She constantly wants to know where Camille is and what she is doing.  She's a great helper getting things for me while I'm nursing or handing teething toys back when little sister drops them.  She even has a little voice for her when she gets real close and slowly squeals, "Hi, Camille!"  Camille loves Annique right back.  Her big sister always makes her smile, and is really good at making her laugh.

 Happy 3 1/2, 'Nique!

Sewing Project: Burp Rags

Since my mom gave me her old sewing machine, I thought this Learn to Sew series over at Crazy Little Projects would be a good idea.  I went for it!  I read all the pre-lessons and was eager to start.

Lesson #1 was How to Sew a Straight Line.  This was a great post for the absolute beginner, like myself.  It was also well done with clear instructions, great pictures, and links to what she is talking about in her sewing dictionary, if something was unclear.  After you learn the skill, she gives you a crazy little project for you to demonstrate your new skill.

Now in typical Courtney fashion, I start my new skill on an epic project.  While working on lesson one, I was simultaneously repairing my cloth diapers.  I feel like I can conquer anything after removing and replacing the leg and waist elastic and the hook and loop (aka Velcro) tabs on those diapers.  So, I didn't really practice sewing in a straight line.

I did enjoy heading to the craft store to get some fabric.  I picked out a bundle of coordinating fabrics because that just made things easier.  I also went to Target and got some of these.  I washed both the fabric and the cloth, then ironed, then sewed.

Here is the result:

A cute burp cloth set!  Please admire the stitching on the top one especially.  Let me show you:

So fun!  Easy and cute.  I would make these again.  I would also try to find a higher quality cloth diaper.  I'll try using one of these as a Camille drool catcher to see how well it absorbs and how it washes up, but I still think a higher quality diaper would be a nice touch if I were to make these for a gift.

Would you want to receive something like this as a baby gift?

Saint Louis Trip Part 2

Well, nothing can really top the epic experience of losing your child in an elevator, but thanks for tuning in to hear how the rest of the trip went. (Click here if you missed part 1.)

So I manage to get everyone back to our hotel room.  I tried to get Annique to settle down for some quiet time, knowing she really wouldn't sleep.  The cartoons on TV were lame and did not hold her attention.   I eventually pulled out the iPad and had the girl at least still and focused on one thing until Dan got back from his conference.

We met the Vance family for dinner at La Vallesana.  It was yummy, and well priced.  The restaurant was also freezing and included a very whinny Annique.  Avery and Maya just got back from publishing camp and were eagerly showing us the pages they wrote and illustrated in the book.  Holly was entertaining Annique by blowing raspberries and then they would both giggle.  After our meal, I took the whining Annique and Maya outside while Dan paid for our meal.  It was so beautiful out.

Pool time was next on the agenda.  Dan took Annique down while I fed Camille.  The Vance family joined us at the hotel pool.  I wanted to get some pics of everyone swimming and had a hard time locating the camera.  Not in the hotel room.  (Hmmm.)  Held Camille and walked out to the parking garage.  Not in the car.  (Nervous.)  Still not in the hotel room.  Went to the pool.  Dan hadn't seen it in awhile.  Did we leave it at the restaurant?  (Fear.)  Trying to find the phone number to La Vallesana.  (Wrote it off as gone.  Tried to remember what pics I hadn't uploaded and were forever lost.)  Called and eventually got to talk to someone with good english.  They still had it!  (Relief.) Drove down and retrieved it while Dan dealt with an extremely tired child. (Craved ice cream for some reason.)

That night, we let Annique listen to music on her headphones.  She FINALLY gave in to sleep.

Getting the headphones off without waking her took some great ninja moves by Dan.

The next morning, we woke up rested.  The girls hung out while we packed up.  We had a cute baby in a great mood and some nice light for these pics.

The highlight of the trip was spending time with the Vance family at their house before heading out.  I introduced Avery to parkour (via YouTube, not a demonstration).  We snuggled with this sweetie:

Who loved making Camille smile.

 We were in awe of how much this girl has grown:

And were completely amused when Annique learned what a wig was. (SO glad I had the camera back for that!)

We ended the trip with a wonderful family lunch.

The drive home started with Camille screaming for the first 25 minutes.  This outburst was followed by her sleeping pretty much the rest of the way.  SO AWESOME. We drove straight through.  Annique doesn't sleep in the car very well and was up the whole way back.  She was the gold medalist in the sport of whining.

We came home to a very clean house which had no showings while we were away.

Trip to Saint Louis Part 1

This was our first trip as a family of four.  It was also Annique's first stay in a hotel room with us.  It was definitely an, um, memorable trip.  (I don't want to quite as far as to say disaster because quality time was spent with family!)

We arrived on Friday afternoon, thanks for Dan taking the day off work.  It was raining almost the entire drive.  It was pouring rain for a lot of that drive.  We stopped for lunch at the infamous town of Boonvile (spent about 4 hours there on the way to CHIC 2009).  We met another family traveling to Saint Louis with their 18 month-old son. Annique kept asking him, "What are you doing today?" Dan moved the car closer to the restaurant in the downpour only for it to let up minutes after we got in.

We were so happy to see Mary and the girls when we arrived (Steven wasn't home yet). Annique went upstairs with the girls and Aunt Mary got to hold her newest niece.

Avery had a fashion show for us. Soon these two arrived dressed like this:


So cute!  Holly even wore this dress out to our delicious dinner at the Vine. Steven took Maya to a birthday party so it was just Dan and six girls. We felt we mastered the meal having entertained three children in the rain during the long wait for a table (Camille was asleep).

Back at the hotel, we had a miserable night.  We put Annique in her bed at 9:00 (we got back late from the restaurant) and we went to bed not too long after.  That girl was up talking, singing, humming, and quoting Camille's sounds until 11:00pm.  It. Was. Awful.  At 5:30, she woke up and again started talking and singing and quoting Camille's sounds for about 15 minutes, and fortunately she fell back asleep until 8:30.  We all slept until 8:30, the time that Dan was supposed to be at his conference.  He helped me get the girls ready and though breakfast in the lobby before heading out.

We met the Vance girls at City Garden and climbed on some art before heading to a Justin Roberts concert.

He and his band played kids music and Mary and I enjoyed watching the girls dance around.  The last song was called, "Meltdown." Ironically, that is when Annique lost it.  So we had a real fun half-mile walk back to our car where my expert whiny dawdler showed her stuff.  When we arrived at the car, Annique whined for me to change her diaper. Ugh, really?!  So I plopped her in the grass next to the sidewalk and changed a poopy diaper outside.  Let's just say it would have been much more convenient to be in a paper diaper that time...

After parking the car in the hotel garage, the three of us got on the elevator (Camille was in the stroller).  We went down to the first floor and the doors opened, I pushed Camille off and turned around in time to see the elevator doors shut, with dawdler extraordinaire still on it.  This situation did not improve her mood.  I pushed the up button but the elevator was already heading up to the second floor with Annique.  I could hear the precise moment the doors opened and the screamer emerged one floor up.  Fortunately, the stairs were open and right next to the elevator.  I left Camille in her stroller on the first floor, bounded up a flight of stairs, grabbed the sobbing Annique and whisked her back down to her oblivious sister.  Seriously, kid.

Click here for my next post to see if this day got better or worse and to hear about the end of our trip..

(I also got a few more great pics!)

Mother's Day, Father's Day and more Handmade Cards

From Mother's Day to Father's Day, here's what I've been up to:

Here is my Mother's Day Card.  The Martha Stewart Score Board got some use for this one.  That and some long-abandoned wavy scissors.  I had a hard time making straight lines with these until I started tracing a straight line on the back and then cutting on it. 

Another mosaic card, which I love.  I also like the My Mind's Eye 6x6 pad from which this paper for both of these cards came.  The size is perfect and it helps be coordinate the designed papers together.

My brother has a chili pepper tattoo so I got this paper for him a few birthdays back.  I found I still had some and incorporated it into another mosaic card for his birthday this year.

If anyone knows the trick for arranging pictures in blogger, PLEASE COMMENT!

I found a tutorial on YouTube on how to fold an oragami shirt.  I found it pretty simple and I used the result for my Father's Day cards this year. (I forgot to take a picture of the third one before I gave it away.)

For this wedding card, I used the last of the paint chip circles I had from making this card. I usually save scraps from other cards and file them in a folder.  Taking out one of those folders and creating a card from the pieces within is one of my favorite ways to make a card.  Another example of that below:

These pieces were the negatives from this card.  This one was a shower card for my future sister-in-law.  She made me feel pretty special by showing it off to some of her friends.  :o)

I still try to design a card each weekend.  It doesn't always happen, but I really enjoy my time creating when it does!

Sight Word Work

Although she is only three and three months, Annique is all about letters and the sounds they make.  When given a choice on the iPad, she often chooses games that have to do with words or letters.  She's a HUGE fan of both the Letter Factory (which we own) and the Talking Word Factory (which we don't).  She blows me away by hopping onto my lap and reading words off the computer screen that I didn't know she knew!

She spelled her name (as best she could with what was available).
She's reading by sight many words she recognizes from her books.  I started keeping up with her and made a 20 or so note cards for her.  I placed them on the floor and she would jump over the word as she read it.  She has a blast with this game, but it is harder to play with a sleeping baby around.  :o)

Here's a video of Annique jumping sight words.

A blog I really enjoy is 1+1+1=1.  She has lots of great and inspiring ideas.  You can also get some freebees every once in awhile if you sign up for her e-newsletter.  Most of her material is free anyway. 

Annique is going through the You Can Read material from the 1+1+1=1 blog.  I laid out the first four sight words and immediately she read, "a, and, see, the."  Even though she knew them, we still spent a week or so interacting with them.  Next week we'll work with I, can, me, you.  She knows all these words as well but since she loves words so much, I think she'll still have fun.

Note Card Journal

July 5 marks one year of my keeping a note card journal.  Random date to start, yes, but I didn't want to wait until January 1.  Let me back up and first address what the heck a note card journal is.

I got the idea here.  Essentially, you take index cards and stamp (or write) the date and the month on them-one card for every day of the year.  You end up with 365 cards.  Then you take the card with the current date on it and on the first line, write the year and then a few words about what happened that day.  File that card in the back and the next day is ready for you to write about tomorrow.

I did this for an entire year, writing a little something that happened each day, both the exciting and the mundane.  I need to be a bit more concise, but I think as I keep up with this and reread what happened previously, I will be better able to determine what is worth reading a year later.

I gave note card journals as Christmas gifts in 2012.  I tried using a strawberry container for the note cards as the original creator did.  However, in these parts, the farmers in the farmers' market use this container, which is narrower at the bottom and wider at the top.  This design is not ideal for holding note cards.

Even if you trimmed them to fit the narrow bottom, they are too loose at the top.  Trust me, I tried.

However, I did find this pencil holder at OfficeMax and it works perfectly when you take the middle divider piece out.  The cards are in sideways, but you don't have to sacrifice any length and the date is clearly visible on top.

The original creator used vintage postcards to divide the months.  I did this for one of the gifts and it looked pretty cool.  When I went back to the Antique Mall for more, the postcards were harder to find and more expensive per card so I used different colored card stock as dividers and they looked great as well.  I didn't make dividers for the one I use personally.  I thought I could always add them later if I found I needed them.

So now I have one year's worth of sentence memories.  I LOVE IT!  Technically, I have almost a year and a half because my husband has been writing down what happens in a day on the computer for the past few years.  He helped me go back and so I could fill in January through July 4, 2012.  Just ask me what I was doing on your birthday last year and I can tell you!

This is a wonderful gift as well.  Those to whom I gave it were very appreciative.  I have the date stamp if you want to borrow it!

This Looks Tasty (some of it anyway)

Five more recipes have jumped from Pinterest to real life.  Here are my thoughts on them:

Cheddar Bacon Ranch Hashbrowns

These have been floating around Pinterest as "Crack Potatoes," but after knowing someone who has overcome a drug addiction, I don't find calling addictive things "crack" cute.  Anyway, we weren't huge fans of this cheddar bacon ranch potato casserole.  Maybe we aren't huge cheddar bacon ranch fans overall.  To me, it needed something else, although I can't quite pinpoint what.  I think fresh green onions would have helped.

Savory Chicken

This was OK.  Not great enough to make it into regular rotation, though because I found that I didn't save the recipe.  I also didn't make any notes of what I thought about it.

Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

These were pretty good.  It is nice to have a fajita option that does not involve me standing over the stove waiting for the vegetables to soften and the chicken to cook.  I could even prepare this early in the day and leave it in the fridge until 30 minutes before dinner is served, when I could pop it in the oven.


I love toffee so I wanted to try to make some.  The author says she does not use a candy thermometer when making this, but I should have.  The consistency was not quite right for me because I think I needed to cook it a bit longer.  The taste, however, was wonderful!

Slow Cooker Creamy Ranch Pork Chops

This was good!  Unfortunately, not as quick of a meal to dump into the slow cooker since I have to first make the cream of chicken soup from scratch to make it gluten-free.  However, I'm sure it tastes even better AND I know exactly what it in it.

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

My husband is a rice fan.  However, introducing quinoa into our diet has also gone over well.  This recipe was quite good.  It calls for cream of mushroom soup.  I learned (from this blog) that Progresso makes a creamy mushroom soup that is gluten-free.  Cheaper to make your own, but faster to use Progresso's version.

I love to cook and try new recipes from Pinterest.  So many more are on the waiting list for a future post!

Paint Dot Markers

This was Annique's first time with paint dot markers.  They were a hit!  This activity also took place back on March 18, which explains the warm pajamas.  It marks the beginning stages of her curiosity about the sounds that letters make, on which she comments below.

 "I'm painting."

 "Wanna do the blue."

"Y starts with Yellow."  Meh, close enough.

She loved counting the circles in the shapes I was giving her.  She correctly counted 16 circles on the square and 24 circles on the rectangle.

"The lellow is awesome."

Annique may have thought that the yellow was awesome, but really it was the green.  Once she found that, she didn't go back to any other color.

See what I mean?  Nailed the amount of circles on there though!  That is my number/letter loving girl!

She's watching me type this post and asking to paint dots again.  This time I'll throw in some letters with the shapes.

*Note- Did you see the clear marble in every picture?  She loves that thing and it goes MIA quite frequently.  Like now, for instance, we have no idea where it is.  I mean, it is a CLEAR MARBLE!

Welcome, Camille Norah!

Baby Gras #2 was due May 15.  With my history of fast labor and the fact that I was group B Strep positive, we were planning to induce labor on Monday, May 13 to make sure I got two rounds of antibiotics in before the baby was born.  I was a bit nervous about inducing labor, but since my plan was to get an epidural anyway I figured it wouldn't matter if the contractions were more intense.  We had to be at the hospital at 6:00am.

Sunday night, we dropped Annique off at Grandma and Grandpa Gras' house.  We cleaned, did laundry, finished packing our hospital bags and went to bed around 11:00.  At 12:30, I rolled out of bed.  "Contractions?" Dan asked.  "My water broke." I answered.  (I rolled out of bed to spare the mattress: success.)  I called my dad who was the on-call nurse anesthetist at the time to tell him my water broke, but that I was not having any contractions.  I wanted to give him time to call someone to come in because he didn't want to be the one to put in my epidural.   We got things together and headed to the hospital, arriving at 1:00am.  Contractions started in the car on the way in.  I also started trembling.  I don't remember having that issue with Annique, but it is such a weird feeling to be shaking and have no control over it.

I arrived at a 6 contracting to a 7. They hooked me up to the monitor and I could hear our little baby's heartbeat.  Two nurses came in and both missed when trying to start my IV for the antibiotics.  My dad ended up coming in and successfully getting it started.  My doctor arrived (which was awesome because she was out of town for the weekend so I'm glad she was back).  Contractions were pretty intense and my dad asked if I could wait for his co-worker to get in.  I told him I was pretty uncomfortable.  Although it is not what he had intended, my dad ended up putting in my epidural as well.  It went smoothly and worked effectively.  Thanks, Dad!

Dad starting my IV
I was able to rest a bit for about an hour an a half because by now it was around 2:00am.  By rest, I do not mean sleep because you can't really sleep when your blood pressure is taken every 15 minutes.  Dan was resting in a chair next to my bed.  I remember turning to him about 3:40 and saying, "Something is happening, something is changing and I think we're getting very close."  The trembling came back as well.  Later, I was told that my body was most likely trembling as a result of such a quick labor.

At that point my wonderful doctor came back in with a few nurses and sure enough it was time to push.  Camille was born at 3:54 am and when they set her on my tummy, I could only see her head, I still didn't know if she was a boy or a girl.  Someone scooted her closer and my suspicions were confirmed: girl!

A big girl weighing in at 8 pounds 9 ounces, 19.5 inches long.

Woah, look at that strawberry blond hair!
A short while later, my mom and dad came in to meet their newest granddaughter. My whole family visited later in the day--including Dan's sisters from St. Louis and Wichita!  It was so great to see everyone.  As a mom, it warms you heart when people are excited about your child.  We're excited about this new little life as well.  We know we are so blessed.


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