Oh, by the way, I saw NINE last night. Here are nine reasons (look who's clever!) I liked it:
1. You all know how I feel about dance. (I've even included a photo of me from a dance recital to get you in the spirit!)

2. Penelope Cruz was amazing. I don't usually love her in American films, but she was terrific.

3. I have a girl crush on Marian Cotillard.

4. The costumes. (Better than the one featured in this photo.)

5. Italy is a beautiful back drop to any movie.

6. Musicals make me happy.

7. I'm still thinking about the movie and Daniel Day-Lewis, who was awesome.

8. I don't like Fergie, however she didn't completely ruin the movie for me as I thought she might. (She was alright.)

9. Loved, loved, loved the credits at the end. (Stay and watch them, people!)

Obviously there is tons to love about this movie, but some of the people I saw it with found it to be slow and just seemed to want more. I get that, but all in all, I was pleased.

What did not please me were the movie-hopping teenagers who sat behind us and played with their cell phones while talking the entire time. You better believe they received a "shhhhh" from me. They then hit the road when the manager came in to send them on their way. Stupid kids.

The #1 issue I have with living in this area: The teenagers run the joint. Seriously, it's getting really old. But that's another post for another day...

Mambo Italiano

As you may know our little guy is obsessed with Mambo Italiano. This has been going on for months. First thing in the morning he asks to "Mambo." The instant Grandma B comes over, he's ready to "Mambo." All day long, the kid just wants to mambo and tells you so again and again.

Until now he has been a Dean Martin loyalist. However, we've strayed. Aunt Danielle found this little gem, which is the first thing I have ever seen him sit still and watch. He's captivated.

The guy singing is Gerard Darmon, a French actor, and his back up comes from puppets. What more can you ask for? Take a looksie, it's fabulous.


Merry Christmas!

Last night was our first real Christmas Eve with William. Last year he was four months old and besides looking at the lights, he didn't get any real joy from the day. This year, he thoroughly enjoyed the always fantastic Baumrucker family Christmas Eve celebration. We went to my aunt Jan's whose three boys have tropical birds, snakes, frogs, turtles, lizards, fish, and a few dogs, so our animal lovin' little guy was in heaven. Not to mention all the attention be received from his great aunts, great uncles, and all of my cousins. (Being the first of his generation has its benefits.)

We didn't get home until after 10, so the kid was beyond tired. Stuck him in his crib and then played Santa for a while. I'd been warning William all day that Santa was coming and would bring gifts, so really thought that this morning would be a crazy frenzy of wrapping paper.

Not so much... He was up around 5:30, which meant he was still exhausted. He opened a few gifts and then lost interest. But, here's the good news: I didn't buy him any of these gifts, so I don't really care. I re-wrapped gifts that he received for his birthday. There were some that I was waiting to give him because of age and the ridiculous quantity of stuff. Plus, I know that today and tomorrow will be full of gifts from his Grandparents. So, there's my mom confession. (Go ahead, judge me, I don't care.)

Now we're off to my parents for brunch and then up to Wisconsin for some Hanneman family Christmasing.

Merry Christmas to all! Safe travels!


Santa's Lap

We finally brought William to see Santa today. He learned how to say "Santa" over the weekend and something about the word just makes him giddy. He squeals, smiles, and runs around chanting "Santa," so we had to bring him to the real thing. What is it about Santa that inspires awe in even the youngest, most clueless kiddos?

Matt and I planned it out well. We left work about ten minutes early to beat traffic and make it to Northbrook Court by 6:00 when Santa arrived. Grandma B and Aunt Christina would meet us there and we'd exchange the kid. Timing was perfect.
Our wait only lasted about a half hour and William pointed at Santa while shrieking his name again and again and again. And you know how malls echo? He was the picture of true Christmas delight.

So, here we are in Santa's line surrounded by Christmas decorations and kids all dressed up to see Santa. William is radiating glee. We're next in line. I pull out the camera and Matt puts William on Santa's lap...



Sometimes happiness is a little yogurt and the ability to feed yourself.

Man vs. Toddler

Watch this. I find it to be hilarious.


Haircut Time?

I really don't want to cut the little guy's hair. I think his mop is super cool, totally cute, and, as a hair cut every six months kinda person myself, I just don't think it's at "that point." So, maybe it kinda looks like a mullet. So what if people might think he's a hockey player. It's cool, right?!?!

OK, so then someone says, "She is adorable." SHE! This used to happen a lot when he was a baby and it's hard to tell boys from girls. But, he was wearing a green shirt and brown pants. It was clearly a boy's outfit. Is his hair that long that he looks like a girl? So much so that someone would override his clearly boy-oriented clothes and assume we just dressed our girl in a boy's shirt?
I'm scared this means I have to get it cut. It's not that I care that he was called a girl. Really, I don't. I just feel like I'm being an irresponsible parent if I know it and don't do anything about it, you know?

Family Festivus... It's a Christmas Miracle!

Our friends Angie and Jamie host an annual Festivus party. Historically, it has been an overdecorated, packed house with lots of drinking, eating, and holiday debauchery. Considering a number of their friends (Hannemaniacs included) now have kids, they decided to invite the kiddos and start the party at 6:00.
All the families arrived at the decent family time and William was surrounded by five other kids within months of his age. He skipped his afternoon nap, so quickly morphed into a bull in a china shop and did an incredible amount of hyper running and screaming. While all the other kids were mellow, trying to feel out the environment (perhaps be good at someone else's home), William was all over the place. He's so rarely around other kids, he could hardly contain himself. (Translation: Invite us over for a play date.)
Around 9:00 the non-kids people began to arrive and the families with kids in tow started the transition. The baby gate came down, toy trucks were packed, and kids buckled in their car seats. William, so overtired, chattered to himself the whole way home, went down at 9:45 and slept until almost 8:00 am. The kid who can hardly sleep past 5 am... It's a Christmas miracle!
Thank you Family Festivus, you allowed the Hannemaniacs a couple of hours of extra sleep.
We've thoroughly enjoyed Festivus over the years, but now William can too! I thought it might be fun to compare a past Festivus with Festivus 2009. Both equally fun, just in different ways...
Here I am at Festivus 2006 when I would have been arriving at 9 pm:
And here we are this year around 6pm getting the party started:


Extraordinary Dancers

I'm busy catching up on So You Think You Can Dance and came across one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. Are you kidding me?

If you never thought break dancing could make you cry, think again. Seriously, you have to look at this.

Now I have to find everything else they've done. I'm in love.

Ten Things William Figured Out While I Was Away

For the last month I was completely overwhelmed with work. IF I saw William, it was for about a half hour in the morning when we'd watch the news and munch on Cheerios and I'd anxiously watch the clock to get in the shower and get to work.

Now that I've been around him more for a few days, I've noticed how much he's changed. Two weeks in toddler life is a really long time in terms of development.

So, here are Ten Things William Is Up To These Days:

1. He runs (although like a drunk person).
2. He can count to two. You say "1," he says "2."
3. He says words like "animal" and "number" and "cookie."
4. He climbs on everything... And then stands. In his shopping cart and on his car.
5. He can tell us when he poo poo'ed.
6. He thinks he's getting over afternoon naps.
7. He points out "shoes," "socks," and "boots" with tons of enthusiasm.
8. He has molars!
9. He lets you put a hat on his head (previously impossible).
10. He ripped up every pop-up book he could get his hands on.

I thought he was going to be mad at me for being MIA, but I think I've been officially forgiven. Nothing makes you realize how fast they're growing better than missing a good chunk of it.


Post Gala Release

It's over! The Gala was last night and was the culmination of a very long month. William and I have been busy reacquainting ourselves with each other. My back and brain both hurt and I'm crazy exhausted.

However, it was a very successful event... $2.9 million raised!

More details to come. For now I have to lay on the couch and veg.


And Then December Snuck Up On Me

It's December. How did we get here? December scares me. For me, it starts off with the busiest two weeks of my life. The major event that I work on falls on the second Saturday of December every year. So at this point I work constantly. It's always been this way, but now it's taking a toll on life since I could easily go two weeks without seeing William.

Tonight I forced myself to leave the office at 6:00, so I could put William down. It was the best 20 minutes I had today. Although going home early will cost me tomorrow night and through the rest of the week, it makes me feel better right now. (So would a chocolate chip cookie... But I digress.)

I also realized that with all this focus on work I forgot to do something for William: I never made his 15 month appointment with the pediatrician. I know, I know. Go ahead, judge me. I'm probably going to Mommy Jail, anyway.

I'm just frustrated that I let myself and William down. If it were something at work I'd be frustrated that I let myself and my co-workers down. I guess something was bound to give. I just wish it was neither and I could be on top of everything, like the perfect working mom should be in my head.

Ugh. So, yeah, the little guy will be closer to 16 months than 15 months for his 15 Month Appointment. Not a big deal in the long run, but I hate to have that crack in the facade that I've got it all covered. Thankfully Matt is all over being #1 Dad and my mom is pitching in with laundry and making sure we always have milk for the little guy. What would I do without them?


Our Current House Dilemma

I just wrote a new post for Chicago Moms Blog, which can be found here.

There can be a short delay between writing these posts and them being put up the editorial team. Things have changed since I wrote this post.

Here is the big one: Yesterday Aunt Danielle came over to see the little guy (which is the main objective of her visits home these days) and somehow with three adults in the house the gate to the basement stairs came down and did not go back up.

We were chatting as William rounded the corner, luckily the quick-on-her-feet Aunt Danielle scooped him up before disaster. Dammit! This is the first time we've been that careless. We've worried about the "what if's?" but now that we've experienced it, I feel like we just have to put up a door. It's not worth a tumble down those crazy stairs, right?

If you have seen our basement stairs I'm sure you know what I'm saying or may have even thought to yourself: "I'm not letting my kid run around these crazy people's house."

Any other ideas?


Reasons I'm Thankful

Having a healthy, good-natured kiddo. Lattes. My mom. Wonderful friends and even some not-so-wonderful friends (hey, they can't all be winners). Laughter. The ability to make fun of myself. Tuesday nights. My mom. Wine. DVR. Tzatziki and pita chips. Kiehl's body lotion. Radiant heating in our living room. Nap time. Season changes. Books. So You Think You Can Dance. Humidifiers. Having smart, funny co-workers. Scones. Candles. Having the memory of an elephant (I think it's slowly coming back after baby brain invaded). Netflix. Tailgating.

And what I'm most thankful for... A special birthday boy. And an amazing husband and dad. He's talented, supportive, smart, kind, funny, introspective, trust-worthy, passionate yet level-headed, and as of today, kinda old. Although I have a knack for bringing out his worst (who me?), I still get to see him at his best more often than not.

Today we toast to him with a turkey leg! Happy Birthday to you...


Being Sick Is Hard

Man.... I have been down for the count since Thursday, but I've been feeling better this afternoon and evening. I got hit with a crazy upper respiratory infection. Apparently, I don't know how to read the signs of a cold or sinus infection or anything that would beg of me to slow down. So, I didn't and then I did... As I was brought to a complete halt.

You know I'm sick when I miss work. You know I'm REALLY sick when I miss work during the height of Gala season. Yikes. It was rough.

Anyway, enough about me. Let's talk about the little man and why being sick is hard when you're a mom.... It is. It's really hard.

The little ones don't get that you're sick and have body ache, a fever, and an intense head ache when they want you to snuggle up and read them a book. They don't get that they can't have a sip out of your water glass. They don't get that you're taking cough syrup with codeine and when you're laying on the couch with your eyes closed, you're not playing games. They don't get that they shouldn't try to put their hands directly in your mouth. They don't get that you need to sleep and don't think that pounding on the door yelling "mommy" is fun. They don't get that they should sleep in past 5 am (if they sleep that late). And they don't get that you are just as bummed as they are that you can't play blocks and go to the park with them.

It could have been even harder. But, Matt stepped up. He bathed, fed, played, snuggled, dressed, basically did everything for the little guy this weekend. And he did a great job. An amazing job. I slept in, laid on the couch, relaxed, coughed, moaned, complained, pitied myself, and ultimately played sick. But, I went into work today and by 2:00 was feeling much better.


Lessons on a Rainy Morning

Dear Lisa,

I know you're new to this whole train commute thing, so you get a little wiggle room on this one. However, your morning performance was pitiful. You must take weather seriously if you intend to make it through the winter. A rainy day like this is not to be taken lightly.

Here are some lessons for you to keep in mind moving forward:

1. When you're watching the news in the morning, LISTEN to your weatherman and RETAIN the information he shares.

2. The weather does not stay the same as it is when you leave the house in the morning. Just because it isn't raining at that moment doesn't mean it won't be raining later.

3. Rain = Umbrella. Come on now, this is a basic one. You have plenty of umbrellas in your umbrella holder by the front door. A hood is not the same thing.

4. Rain = Rain boots. You have two pairs sitting in your closet. Your running shoes will thank you next time, as will your feet.

5. Wearing "dry clean only" pants the morning after you get them back from the dry cleaner is never a good idea on a rainy day.

6. Switch leather purse for one of the array of other more responsible choices in your closet. You owe Michael Kors an apology.

7. Wear your contacts on a rainy day. You looked like a cooped up serial killer when you ordered your latte over foggy, wet glasses this morning.

Please take this advice seriously. Winter is a moment away and you've got months of this ahead of you. Buy yourself a new hat now (you need one).

Chicago Weather


Moms and Market Research

Hey, mom! Market research wants you! Of course they do. We are the *perfect* subjects as reseach shows. Take the Hannemaniacs, for example.

In our household alone, I...
-Make the general purchasing decisions? CHECK
-Responsible for decisions on baby products? CHECK
-Brand loyal? CHECK!!!!

I do all of these things and so do you (if you're a mom), which means people need to know what you think, yo! And they'll pay you for spending an hour in a focus group (or in this case in a one-on-one interview with a video camera). And, man, they pay well. (I may just quit my job and do market research from now on.)

Moms hold the key to getting ahead in the marketplace, their mind is a reflection of the pulse of America, right? So, I went to a diaper study, all ready to wow them with my opinions. However, I learned tons about diapers. TONS. When you're handed an array of various brands of diapers and are asked to rank them on whether they'll keep your kid dry, last overnight, be gentle on your child's skin, whether you would buy them, etc. etc.... You suddenly feel like a total jerk for not doing more diaper research to begin with. I'm rethinking nearly 15 months of diaper purchases!

I am brand loyal to a fault when it comes to staples. Even if the competitor is on sale, I generally stick with the brands I trust... Jif Natural peanut butter, Edy's Slow Churned ice cream, Stoneyfield Farms yogurt, Reduced Fat Wheat Thins, Daisy Light Sour Cream, Brownberry Healthy Muti-Grain bread, the list goes on. But, when it comes to toilet paper, paper towels, diapers... Costco it is. And the problem with Costco? Suddenly you're on a hunt for the cheapest deal, not the best product. I fell into that cycle with diapers. And now I feel like a huge jerk. I should have been hunting for the best diaper to last for a long time, keep my baby dry, fit comfortably, keep his skin healthy, and look great. What have I been thinking all this time?

So, while I hope that I was able to share some worthwhile opinions with the market research folks, I walked away having learned something myself... Time to take a better look at William's diapers. Well, when I get through the three jumbo boxes I have in the basement.


Happy Monday! Love, Stink Face

It's getting late on a Sunday and I'm guessing that most people will check out this here bloggity blog on Monday, so I thought I would help start your week off with a smile. I cannot stop laughing at these pictures that my sister took of William. ENJOY! Hopefully coffee doesn't come out of your nose as you view these two takes on the stink face.

Indian Summer Chili

Every now and then I find a recipe that I think is worth sharing. On paper this recipe looks a little weird. It's Rachael Ray's, so is meant to be made quickly, but I let it cook longer than she would. I've made it a few times and change it around a little each time, but it's always a crowd pleaser.

Making something called Indian Summer Chili is almost cruel on a day like today, but it's comforting and filling on a dreary day like this.

Here is the recipe. I add a chopped zucchini and use a big can of tomato sauce. I also recommend using the corn and for seasoning: Weber Smokey Mesquite BBQ Seasoning (which is awesome on everything... fish, chicken, veggies, potatoes). Then I let it cook for over an hour on low.

I'm not a big fan of Rachael Ray as a personality (I find her to be annoying in general), but I do like her soup recipes with a little embellishment. Enjoy!

Sometimes You Just Keep Driving...

Today was one of those days that would have been perfect for pulling out some movies, securing a seat on the couch, and spending some quality time with the dvd player. (Note: THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE WITH A WALKING, CLIMBING TODDLER.) We were both tired and it was cold and dreary, so a big plan to keep William occupied was not in the cards. We decided to go to the grocery store to get a couple of items for the chili I planned to make.

After a quick trip through the store, we were driving home, which takes us about five minutes. We were both thinking it, but I finally said it: "I wish we could just keep driving for a while." You see, it was warm and cozy in the car, William was in his car seat and content playing with a toy, which meant no chasing after him. A harnessed toddler is a much easier toddler. So, we drove by the house and kept going. We drove for a little while to savor the break.

My parents some times go for "a drive." Today I finally understand why.


Playing Pregnant

Nope, I'm not a pregnant lady, but I did play one at a bar last Saturday night. It seems to be the only way to get out of paying the "all you can drink" fee at a party at a bar these days. Saying you're the designated driver doesn't seem to have the same umph.

My most recent Chicago Moms Blog post discussing my exciting night out can be found here. Check it out.


William Gets Jumped for a Balloon

Today I witnessed my first experience with a kid getting physical with my kid. I think this is a major milestone for a new mom, seeing some other kid do something that may possibly hurt your baby. We were in the kids shoes area of Nordstrom. A little boy (maybe 2 or 3) was running around without anyone watching over him. He came over a couple of times to hand William shoes and then would run away. Awww, sweet, I thought.

As I was paying, William was about six feet away from me checking out the line of Converse when the little boy approached. He took the blue helium balloon that William received for being such a good boy when his feet were measured and then smacked William in the face with it. My little guy went down fast.

My feet were moving before my brain was actually working and I was sternly saying, "No, no, no. No hitting!" I pealed William off the ground and looked the little boy in the eye and again told him that hitting is not OK. Then I frantically looked around for his mom/nanny/grandma. I have no idea where his caretaker was, but William started to cry and the boy bolted with his balloon. I returned to finish paying and the sales associate offered William a new balloon. I took a yellow one for him and went back to the stroller. He wasn't happy and continued to whine for the blue balloon.

A moment later the little boy was back, holding out the blue balloon to William. I thanked him and told him what a nice boy he was and then looked up to see if there was anyone watching, hoping to lock eyes with someone looking after this boy. And there was no one. That's when I realized exactly who his mother was... She had been yelling at the sales people when I first arrived while texting on her blackberry and impatiently rocking the stroller that held a little baby. I think she was Russian and had limited English when I heard her yelling earlier, so while I wanted to take this little guy's hand and walk him back over to her and possibly mention that he had jumped my kid for a balloon, I didn't. I would get no where and I knew it, so I used restraint. Can you believe it? I still can't, but I know it was the better thing to do.

I was so pissed when I first saw him go after William, but I realized it wasn't because he was a nasty kid. It wasn't his fault, it was his caretaker's. And I'm still pissed at that person, whoever she may be. My heart hurts for this little boy, who will knock over another kid sometime soon and see the same anger in another mother's eyes. He's too young to just know better and too young to understand why other mommies are yelling at him. If I could do anything different, I still wouldn't have yelled at his mom, I would have given him a hug.

(Seriously! Look what having a kid is doing to me!!!! I'm getting all soft.)

Have We Taken Stink Face Too Far?

As most people know William's signature move is the Stink Face. It started innocently, he made the face, we named it, and then he figured out how to do it on command. This usually resulted in some laughter, which has only encouraged him to do it more and more and more. Now the stink face is given to friends and strangers alike.

Not everyone appreciates it. When he gives it to people that don't know him, perhaps little old ladies fawning over his eyes or cheeks, we usually hear an "Oh my!" or "Oh no!" There have been some moments of embarrassment as we tell him to stop stink facing and encourage "Happy Face!"

We think it's a riot, but as he does it more and more to people we don't know I'm starting to wonder if we're the only people who are going to find this funny much longer... And it probably doesn't help that we take pictures of it.
Trying to be a somewhat responsible parents, I think we need to consider whether we should cut the stink face (so he isn't still doing it when he's six) or continue to encourage the behavior. I'm all for encouragement, but I'm all about a good laugh. Man, being a parent is so hard! Sometimes you have to think more long term rather than what makes you laugh right now. Boo! That being said, I think Stink Face still has a place in the this world, for now.


Bear Down!

Lesson of the Day: Don't ditch the kid when you think it will make life easier. (Well, do that sometimes... But, give 'em a chance every now and then.)

Today W went to his first Bears game. Britt invited us a while ago and we went back and forth about whether we should bring him. We finally decided we weren't going to since he's mobile and we thought that it would be a pain. There I said it. We just thought he would be a pain. We wanted to have fun and not chase him around, were worried that he would be annoying for other people, and thought that it would mess too much with his nap schedule.

But, this morning Auntie Britt called and said we should reconsider as she needed some cuddle time with her little Buddha. We were thinking the same thing. So, we packed him up and brought him with us.

He loved it! The Bears were beyond disappointing, but W provided plenty of entertainment. So, while sometimes leaving the kid at home is a good idea when you just want to have fun and do your thing. But, when you think twice about it, give your kiddo the chance. And in the end, two missed naps and snacks for lunch didn't even matter.

The Hannemaniac Halloween

This felt like our first real family Halloween, so we were really excited to hit the streets for some trick-or-treating with neighbors. It only took two blocks before our little dragon fell asleep.

We figured we wouldn't wake a sleeping dragon, so we wheeled him into the living room and watched him sleep while we enjoyed some spiked apple cider and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

Happy Belated Halloween!


Every Now and Then You Step in Poop (Sometimes Even in Your House)

This morning I was rushing in a towel from the bathroom to the kitchen to grab my coffee to the guest bedroom/my dressing room when.... "What the hell?!?!"

I stepped in a tiny, pea sized soft matter. It squished between my toes and I instinctively pulled up my foot and shoved my fingers to feel what it was, looked at my fingers to see it was brown, and then of course had to do the sniff test. What the???? Poop? In the hallway? I screamed.

Matt came running as I gagged and wildly looked around for the rest of it, as this was a pretty small piece of what I could only imagine was a bigger problem. Whose could it be? W had a nasty diaper this morning that I vividly remember changing, but it stayed contained. Howie! Matt grabbed him and did a thorough search, coming up with nothing. Nothing between the paws, nothing stuck to the tail. I washed my foot and hand, so I could inspect the floor. Again, nothing. No sign of where poop may have previously been hiding. A bunch of nothing.

Matt had one foot out the door to catch the train. I had about 10 more minutes to blow dry my hair before the Grannanny showed to give me a lift to the train. So, I was left with only one option: Lock myself (and the boy) in the bathroom for some hair drying. There was no time for me to wash down the floors. In retrospect, I probably could have been late for work, but it just didn't seem like a real option. "Oh, sorry I'm late, I was searching for invisible, mystery poop."

Lucky, lucky us... The floors were wiped down by the best mom in the world (not me, my own) during W's morning nap. So, now we just live in wonder and fear of when the poop will strike again... And whose poop it was anyway.


More One Year Photos

A few more for your viewing pleasure...

One Year Photos

I have trouble with doing those "regular things" that moms are supposed to do. Example for today: Professional Photos. I just can't really get into photos of kids laying on a white fur rug or holding a large number signifying their age. Yeah, they're adorable. I just don't really like posed photos for myself or my house. I don't have a wedding album nor do I have any photos from our wedding framed in anything larger than a 4x6, which the photographer printed for us.

And I digress... So, I never had the professional photos taken. I planned to do the one year photos, but after spending some time looking into photographers I became overwhelmed and then annoyed that sitting fees alone would be atleast $200. I know there are less expenisve options, but I think I can take photos just as well as those options. If I am going to get photos taken, I expect art. But, I expect it at a deal.

I'm a fan of Janie and Jack. Before you judge about my taste in what can be considered expenise kids clothes, know that I am sale rack junky. Besides, have you met my mom? Preppy is kinda her life. Anyway, she was in Janie and Jack looking around for a new piece of ridiculously adorable garb and they explained the photo promotion. Free sittings for kids to come and have their photos taken at Janie and Jack. She jumped on it, probably knowing that I would never get around to it.

A week later, Grandma B and Aunt Danielle took William for his photos. The following week Grandma B and I went back to see the photos. They showed them to us on a computer. My little guy smiling, playing, stink-facing, hamming it up for the camera. Then they bring out the price sheet... It wasn't TOO bad, but I said to the photographer, "So, this is kind of like a test of how much you love your baby, huh?" She agreed.

I narrowed it down to the best to share here. Still don't have any framed, but I'll get around to that some day.


... And He's Off!

We're walking! The little guy has been cruising furniture for months and started tentatively stepping between two pieces of furniture a couple weeks ago. Then he was able to hold onto one finger and navigate his way through the house. Now he toddles for lots and lots of steps.

One of the things I love about little ones is that they act like they're constantly tripping. They like to touch everything, roll around on the floor, spit their food out for no reason, throw their head back, laugh then cry then laugh... You get the picture.

Now it seems our little guy has kicked his acid habit and turned to the bottle. The drunken stumbling is brilliant. Almost like when you were trying to get your college roommate home and they kept stumbling then falling, then laughing and doing it again.

We're hoping he sobers up soon, so we can let him loose in the wild!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are just too amazing not to share. I can't take credit. I received the recipe from my friend Kari who received it from her neighbor who received it from someone I don't know, but already like.

Good luck finding canned pumpkin. In case you don't know, there's a serious shortage. Trust me, the search will be worth it. These cookies will make your Halloween weekend. You can thank me later.

1 c. pumpkin
1 c. white sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. milk
1 T. vanilla
2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. walnuts (opt.)

Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil, and egg.

Stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve baking soda in milk and stir in.

Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Then add vanilla.

Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts (if you care to, I don't).

Spoon onto slightly greased cookie sheets (make them big!) and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes. My top-of-the line Magic Chef stove (Ever heard of the brand? Neither has anyone else under the ago of 60.) does the job in a little over 13 minutes.

They're moist, cakey, and delicious. I highly recommend them warm.


Farm Boy

People are always asking what W is "into." Elmo? Big Bird? Baby Einstein? No, no, and no. He's into farm animals. Totally obsessed.
Currently, his favorite place is Wagner Farm. The kid can't get enough of those smelly animals.
Here he is admiring the fall crop:


...And Then There Are The Mornings You Spill A Bowl of Grease on Your Leg...

Scene: A small kitchen with really old appliances. A mother runs around the kitchen in heels and dress clothes. A grandmother sits next to a high chair feeding a one year-old child. The mother is running late and motions to grab the travel mugs. She yells to her husband in the other room.

Do you want coffee for the road?

Mother mutters to herself, decides against coffee for both of them. Husband walks into the kitchen and puts on his jacket. He has a hurried look about him as he checks the clock hanging on the wall and then the digital clock on the oven.

Mother notices the bowl of grease from the meatloaf Grandma made the night before. Mother doesn't care for meatloaf or most other baked meats. Grandma made it as a treat for the Husband, since the Mother was working late the night before. Mother motions to the bowl.

I don't want this to sit out all day.

Mother is hurried, tips the bowl in the slightest way to see if the grease has hardened. Meanwhile, she wants to gag. The grease breaks and pours out onto the leg of her pants and her shoe and all over the kitchen floor. Mother and Husband are already running 15 minutes late to leave for work.

Scene ends.

Stink Face

We don't call him Stick Face for nothing.


Destination: Portland

The little guy's first flight is tomorrow morning! Bags are packed. Plenty of books for W, a couple toys, and lots of snacks, because we wouldn't want him to starve again and resort to something like this....

See you next week!


Fennville Goose Festival

You're welcome.

Gypsy Life, Week 3

We're gypsies. Entering the third week of home abandonment. We're frustrated, feeling all over the place, yada yada yada.

How did we get here? How can replacing bathroom tile take so long?

Well, here you go... So, our toilet was leaking and we had to have the tile replaced, as it was cracked and buckling, due to a mixture of moisture and an uneven floor. We got a quote, decided to move forward after pretending that this was something we could do ourselves.

The tile guy tells me to buy the tile THEN call him. OK, I say, and then call back and book him for Tuesday. When he asks if I have tile, I say "uh-huh." I decide I have to know what is under the tile and ask Matt to start pulling it up. We run to the big chain places and can't find anything we like. This is Sunday Week 1.

We plan to go to Century after work on Monday and walk out with new tile for the next morning. NO. Not possible. You have to order tile, people. So, I call our guy and tell him we need to reschedule. It is a week before he can come back. Enter Week 1 of being away from home. We buy a new toilet in this week, a fancy one to match the sink.

The tile guy came last Tuesday and Wednesday to put in the tile and stopped short of installing the toilet thinking it was too big. He wanted us to look at it first. And WOW he was right. This toilet is huge. Toilets are not one size fits all, it turns out. As we're inspecting the giant toilet in our tiny bathroom, I realize that ummmmm.... The floor is not even. At all. I call the tile guy, he agrees to come over the weekend to look at it. This is Wednesday #2.

So, this gives us a little time to return said huge toilet and get a decent sized one, which saves us some dough. We decide to stay home on Friday and Saturday night and live without a shower, which included wiping down every surface from the construction dust. The basement bathroom toilet works just fine, so we'll survive. I brush my teeth and wash my face in the kitchen sink. The tile guy comes Sunday morning, admits his mistake and starts to rip up everything and start over. He worked all day.

Today is Monday #3. He is coming back tonight to finish and we should be back in tomorrow after I wipe everything down again.

That's it in a nutshell. We're gypsies. And we continue our journeying on Thursday with a long weekend in Portland. Will we actually be back in our house by then? It's anyone's guess.


Welcome Back, Mr. Cold.

We're back and so is the cold. The Little Man has something nasty. And lucky me, he's passed it on to me. How does that not happen? Not sure if this is a Michigan strand of the cold, but it's not fun.

Pictures will follow. I promise. I just have to get my act together to upload pictures of all the fun stuff we did this weekend like Goose Festival in Fennville, Michigan. Imagine, if you will, little William head on plywood painted goose body. (Can you say teaser?!?!?)


Bye, Bye Chicago Summer....

It's the end of summer. If you're like me, you're excited for fall, but also wrestle with the nagging internal voice bugging you about everything you didn't get a chance to do, like go to the zoo or the pool. But, then I think of everything we did and I can feel pretty good about it.

First sail on Lake Michigan. Trips to Wisconsin and Michigan. Playing in the sand. Dipping in the lake. Wagner Farm. Lots of Farmer's Markets. First Cubs vs Sox game. First JDRF event. First street festival. Park visits. Muffins at Gilson Park. First wedding. Dined al fresco a lot. Lots of walks. Road trips.

So, there's always next year for the rest of the stuff on our summer to-do list. Now, we need to start ticking things off the fall list. This weekend we'll get one done: Visit Crain's Apple Orchard in Fennville, Michigan. Yessssss, we're off to Michigan!


Anna's B&B

We're frequent guests, so get a really good rate and the accommodations are wonderful. Complimentary dinner, a wonderful rain shower, fresh linens, comfortable beds, coffee in the morning... And there's even child care on site! The cost? Living with your parents... Again.

OK, so we're not technically living there. We're just staying for a week. We ripped up the tile in our bathroom before we bought the new tile. Who knew everything I liked would be "special order" (therefore 72 hours for delivery), which means we had to reschedule our tile guy for next week. (Did I mention we never did the bathroom project on our own? Another story...) Sigh.

So, since we only have one shower and the bathroom floor around said shower has been ripped apart, we've checked back into Anna's B&B. Last time we stayed it was for almost five months, so this should fly by. Right?

It's made us realize that we really do love our little house. Though we've been going back each night after we put William down to pick up new clothes and "get stuff done," I miss walking into my house at the end of the day.

What I don't miss? Our bed. I had no idea how bad our bed is until I've been sleeping so soundly in my parents guest room. Ahhhh. And my back doesn't hurt this week! Go figure.


Me Time and We Time

So, about last week... Remember? I was feeling all good about carving out "me time." My yoga nights. Gettin' my zen on. Well, about that...

You think you have it all figured out. Then there are those nights when you're running around, watching the clock to make sure you get there on time, planning on your "me time" and the little voice in your head says: NO. Maybe your son calls his grandma (your mom) "Mommy." Let's just use that one as an example. (A very realistic example.)

It could have been an accident, as my mom tried to convince me. It could have been the first and only time it has ever happened. I wish I could believe this, but I don't. And I realized I needed to skip "me time" and work in some "we time." We played, we went for a walk, we read some books, we tickled and giggled, we repeated "mommy" while pointing at me again and again.

Suddenly "we time" equaled "me time."


Potty Mouth

This weekend W ripped a picture out of his book and held it up. "Bear," I said. Slowly, he repeated this new word.

Last night he was dining on apples and eggs and I tried to very discreetly slip Howie a piece of apple under his tray. (We don't want W to get into the habit of throwing food on the ground or holding it out to Howie, so try not to let him see us do it or say no when he does.) I thought I pulled a fast one on the little guy, but a second later he picked up an apple and dropped it to the ground as well.

This morning when my mom came over, she picked him up and said "Good morning." His reply: "Goooo morneen."

The time has come for us to clean up our act... Our language needs to get better. We've decided that the choice, colorful four letter words or cringe-inducing phrases must be pulled from our speech. He's catching on too ####-ing fast!


I wrote a post for Chicago Moms Blog about high school violence in response to the Derrion Albert tragedy and weekly news reports of beatings, shootings, and deaths of Chicago teens. Just this morning we were greeted by a new story from the weekend. It's disgusting. But, it is not just a problem in Chicago. It's everywhere.

You can find my thoughts here.


My Domain

Matt doesn't cook that often. He claims it's because I'm always looking over his shoulder and drive him crazy. Or I'm too picky and tell him what he should have done to make the meal better.

"I like to have my domain," I said.

"Yeah, and your domain is the world."

I meant the kitchen, but.... I'll take it.


Olympics Reaction

I'm watching the Olympics announcement.

10:07 am: 3 minutes from the announcement time. I've been on the fence, mostly thinking it would be awesome to have the Olympics, but kinda feeling the concerns. But, I'm nervous. Like butterflies in the stomach nervous. Weird-o.

10:09 am: Voting starts in one minute. I really am nervous. Yay Chicago! I guess I do feel my hometown pride. Can't imagine the stress in Copenhagen.

10:13 am: Boring.... Number assignments seem strange. Chicago is 4 - is that a lucky number? Can you say anti-climactic...

10:17 am: These rules are boooorrrriiiinnngggg. Snore box. (I am obviously not one for fine print.)

10:20 am: I just realized W will be eight when the Olympics actually happen. Will we even live here? Will he have siblings?

10:23 am: Voting is closed.

10:25 am: WHAT?!?! Chicago was cut after Round 1?!?! Holy crap. The least number of votes? Oprah and Obama? The least number of votes?!?!



Quality Time

So, for the past three nights W has woken up screaming inconsolably while pointing to our bedroom. The first night at 2 am, the second at midnight, and then last night... 10 pm. Not normal behavior for our Ferberized baby who has been an awesome sleeper. At first I thought he was cold, but we have a new theory now... Could it be that he misses me?

I know, I know, this is totally egocentric. But, seriously, I only saw the kid for about an hour total yesterday. I don't mean to give him too much credit, but is he starting to figure out that spending time with me while sleeping may be the only real time he gets with me during the work week? It's depressing, right? But, I think I'm right.

I chose to go to yoga last night, therefore forfeiting time I could have spent with the little guy. I felt a stab of guilt as Matt held him and I ran out the door. He watched and those big brown eyes fell as he pointed at me. No tantrums, no freak-out, yet the disappointment was written all over his little face. But, I stand behind my decision. I need that time. I really do. It makes me a better mom, person, employee, wife, and friend. Most importantly, I don't like living in my head quite as unbalanced as it gets if I don't give myself this class. Plus, it's only once a week that I really set aside time for myself. I don't have to justify it.

While I wrestle with the guilt in seeing that little face watch me dash out, I also see that it will benefit him more if I'm a better person. If that means I don't sleep well for a couple of nights while he is nestled in my neck, I'm ok with it. It's a small price to pay.


"Super Mom's" Normal Tuesday Morning

The person behind the idea of "Super Mom" is an ass. This is the normal morning of a full time working super mom: (Ok, so maybe it's been my morning)

12:00 am - William wakes up. I think he might be cold and decide he can share our bed. He spends the next five hours flopping around the bed, searching for his pacifier, and sleeping in insane positions. I spend that time watching him.

5:30 am - Wake up with kink in my neck from sleeping around child.

5:45 am - Notice I somehow sprouted a fantastic looking blemish between my brows over night. Awesome.

6:30 am - I go to put on my pants. (The nice pair for the meeting for which I should really be wearing a suit.) HUGE hole in the back pocket area. Freak out ensues. Not sure who to blame... Dry cleaner, Banana Republic, the junk in my trunk?

6:50 am - Put on back-up pants that are a little too short and a little too faded to be acceptable.

7:00 am - Put on intended jacket and find that the security tag from Nordstrom is still strongly attached. Luckily, back-up jacket works just fine.

7:15 am - Leave the house 15 minutes late without breakfast or lunches, because we have no groceries.

7:20 am - Realize cell phone is still charging AT HOME.

For the record, this is not intended to be a "poor me post." Instead, I wanted to document what a real morning is like when you're barely keeping your head above water.

To all the moms out there who put too much pressure on themselves to live up to the "Super Mom" ideal: DON'T. IT'S NOT WORTH IT!

It's hypocritical for me to say this, because I fall into this trap every minute of every day. But, I figure the more of us who are honest about what we're really going through, the easier it is to laugh at ourselves (after crying alone in the bathroom). Right?



Dear Time,

Where have you gone? We never seem to find enough of you and it's exhausting the way we chase after you... only to constantly face disappointment. You're such a tease.

Come on. We're really, really tired. And have a dirty house. And piles of laundry. And a treadmill collecting dust. And sweaters to pull out of storage. And a doggie that needs a grooming. And we're out of his flea medication. And he needs to go to the vet. And the stack of mail is a joke. And there are thank you notes to be written. And a printer that needs fixing. And a garage to organize. And mums should be planted. And we need to figure out what W will be for Halloween. And flu shots to get. And dentist appointments to stop rescheduling. And our car needs a bath. And some new oil. And we should really do something about the bathroom tile. And pay those bills. And unload the dishwasher. And visit my grandparents. And figure out what's for dinner. And we might be out of milk or diapers or wipes or all of the above.

We could get this all done, but we just can't seem to find you.

The Hannemaniacs



My most recent post on Chicago Moms Blog can be found here.

What if we all found a happy medium between being Kanye West and our fear of speaking our mind?

Check it out...


This Boy Loves His O's

After we put W down tonight, Matt and I found ourselves watching old videos of the boy. Old as in taken months ago. But, it felt like years ago and yesterday all at the same time.

Videos of a giggling six month old trying to gnaw on my face brought me back to that moment. I remember exactly how holding him felt in his soft, velvety sleeper. I remember watching him roll around on a blanket. Eating his first cracker. Screeching. All of these moments we luckily captured on video... And then we came across this video from June, just about four months ago. He was obsessed with cheerios at the time. He still loves him some o's, but his obsession has lessened.

Granted, this video is not current, but I will say it's grounds for W to be the next Cheerios spokesbaby. (I have a special prize for anyone who guesses the number of Cheerios shoved in W's mouth.)


Can I Get a Hell Yeah?!?!

I really don't mean to brag, but I have had a BIG night. I'm just so proud of myself. I've been waiting for a night like this for ages and I've finally accomplished something so extraordinary.

What happened? You must be wondering, thinking this has to be something major, right? Well, here it is.... I worked out AND cleaned the bathroom. And if that wasn't enough. I also prepared tomorrow's crock pot and now I'm making sandwiches for both of us for tomorrow.

I know, I know, it's too much. Again, don't mean to brag about how awesome I am, just wanted to mark this day in history.


Reasons I Love Fall

Pumpkins. Apple Cider. Big pots of soup on Sundays. Mums. Sweaters and light scarves. The sound of fallen leaves crunching under stroller wheels. College football. Oktoberfest beers. Cranberry orange scones. Crisp morning air. Tights and boots. Crock pots. Tailgates. Corduroy. Roasted vegetables. Zucchini bread. The color brown. Leaves burning. BBQ in the cool evening. Spiced lattes in warm coffee shops. Red wine in big glasses. An extra layer. Little ghosts. Candles. New books. Taking advantage of every last minute outside.

Fall is almost here. I'm happy.


Four Years of Hannemaniac Bliss

This past week was the anniversary of our 4th wedding anniversary. WOW, right? So, we planned to celebrate on Saturday. I'd like to take us on a little history tour of how we have celebrated this date in the past four years.

1st Anniversary: Trip to Italy for 10 days. Rome, Florence, and some time with my grandparents.

2nd Anniversary: Returned to The Belvedere, where we were married, and enjoyed the finest meal you can have in Saugatuck, Michigan.

3rd Anniversary: First dinner out since the birth of William, who was three weeks old. We enjoyed sushi, it was kind of a big deal.

4th Anniversary: Went to dinner at an Indian restaurant in Evanston and strolled around for a while. Had plans to see a movie afterward, but didn't feel like it. Stopped at a wine bar instead, but I was too cold to sit outside, so we bought some wine to drink at home. Home by 9:15. By 9:30, we fell asleep on the couch as we were discussing what we should do with the rest of the night. I'm pretty sure Dateline was on tv, not sure who fell asleep first. (No photo available.)

I don't mean for this to be a cautionary tale of romance dying at the 4th year. Instead, after giving this careful thought, I had a realization.... The two of us are constantly running around. Every weekend is overbooked and our nights to relax together are few and far between. So, of course we celebrated this way! This is the first time either of us have gotten that kind of sleep in ages.
Happy Anniversary to us! The Hannemaniac turn FOUR!


New Bathroom?!?!

Guess who is getting new bathroom tiles? WE ARE!!!

Guess who was planning on getting new bathroom tiles and therefore worked it into the financial and time budget? (Here that silence??? Now crickets...)

When we bought our little old ranch we made a LONG list of to-do's and I have to proudly say we've been checking them off the list one by one. It's taken a lot of our spending money, but it's made an incredible difference, so I'm cool with it.

Re-tiling the bathroom was maybe #15 on the list. Yes, it needed to be done. No, it was not an emergency. New kitchen was much higher on the list, as was sealing our dirt crawlspace and the roof on the garage that needs to be replaced... As usual our poor little priority list continues to get its ass kicked by our house. Everything seems to get bumped by some issue that pops up and surprises us. The latest: Our bathroom.

Our toilet sprung a leak. We noticed the grout between the tiles was a little darker, but thought that maybe the toilet was sweating due to the heat this summer. Then the tiles around the toilet seemed to raise and buckle. We started to realize there was a problem, but agreed to deal with it "later." Well, "later" arrived the morning that Matt stepped on a cracked tile and water came up through the crack. Awesome. The plumber was called.

Turns out our toilet seal was leaking. Not even sure what that means in technical terms, but this is what it means to us: Sub-floor and tile have to be ripped out and replaced. Not something we were planning on. Not something we can afford to pay someone else to do. So, guess how Matt is spending his weekend??? We've learned that buying an old house goes along with dealing with the unexpected and feeling like you're bleeding money, yet feeling cozy and warm when you look around and know your home is your own and you've worked to make it the place you want to be... Whether you know what you're doing or not.


The Diaper Change Struggle

Dear New Moms With Children Younger Than Mine,

You may still be at the point when changing a diaper is relatively easy. You lay the kid down, remove a hopefully not too messy diaper and then replace with fresh diaper. Simple enough these days, right? Enjoy this time, mom. Take advantage of that little smiling face staring at you. If you have a child like mine your days are numbered.

We frantically try to change William's diaper as fast as possible as he screams from the torture, rolls over, sits and then stands up, kicks his feet, and completely loses his mind. It's incredibly stressful. Who knew 23 pounds of kid could put up such a good fight?

So, consider this your warning, mom. Be prepared for looks like this when the fight is over:

This is yet another thing that no one warns you about when you're a first-time mom. Consider yourself warned.


Covered in Poop


Meal Planning: Yes, I Can! (hopefully)

Meal planning. Not quite my scene as it means I have to do a couple of things I really don't like to do:
1. Grocery shopping
2. Following directions/sticking to a plan
3. Making lists

However, it's time. Working full time and trying to push back William's bed time past 7:00 means we've been eating dinner at 8:30. Things need to change. Not to mention Gala season is just about to start, which means the hours I spend at home will become precious.

Anyway, friends of mine without kids are even meal planning these days. It's all the rage, so I'm joining the club. It doesn't hurt that my new favorite blog encourages crock pot use, which is speaking to me these days.

So, I made a list today and went shopping. Here it is:

Monday: Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup (from 365 Days of Slow Cooking) and salad
Tuesday: Leftovers (my bikram yoga night, so I usually grab a quick bite with Britt afterward)
Wednesday: Baked chicken and spaghetti squash
Thursday: Crock Pot Chicken and Brown Rice Casserole (from 365 Days of Slow Cooking) and broccoli

Why am I putting this up here???? Because I can't wait to see what I actually make and I know Kari is dying to see how this turns out for me. Let's see if I can stick to it.


Reflection of Myself

I really find it fascinating when people who choose not to have children claim that they aren't interested in having kids because they think it's selfish and narcissistic to want to bring a miniature version of yourself into the world. Blah, blah, blah.

As a parent, people are always looking at your child, trying to determine which parent or aunt or uncle he resembles. Then you start to do the same thing, comparing his photos to your own. And then you find one. You find the photo that you can actually see yourself in. Wow, we do look alike. I get it now. But, that photo could be one similar to this:

This is the first photo of William that I really think looks like me. I don't think it's because it captures our shared appreciation for food or because Matt may have to hold down my plate every now and then too. It's just something in his eyes. They're my eyes. I've seen that expression. Hell, I invented that expression!

So, to those people who think that others just want to see a reflection of themselves in their children: Is this the kind of reflection you mean?


Be Glee-ful!

Did you watch Glee??? Well, I would hope so, because it's pretty fantastic. If you have the opportunity to watch the pilot as well, you really should. It's great.

Glee was created by a guy I knew in high school and is still very close to my BFF (see, I'm back in high school!). So, I've known this show was coming for a while now and have been excited to see it since it's also loosely based on my high school. Our Glee Club was called Mixed Company and, yes, the former coach is now doing time for some inappropriate action with a student. I was not a member of said club. (Seriously, have you heard me sing?) But, I was a member of Orchesis, our dance troupe, and an active participant in the Variety Show (don't judge) and wrote for the newspaper. So, I spent plenty of time with these kids. I get it.

As usual, I was a mixed bag. I was also a cheerleader during my freshman and senior years. (I'm not kidding, I was in fact a cheerleader.) And I'd like to set the record straight: we did not always wear our uniforms like they do in the show, but we did have to wear them to school when there was a home game. Ugh. I know. Those could either be oddly empowering or insanely frightening days depending on where your head was as a body image obsessed teen.

Anyway, if you haven't watched Glee, you should! The guy who wrote it is pretty damn funny and ridiculously smart and deserves a good audience. So, give this show a shot.


A Year of Slow Cooking? Yes, Please!

I might just be in love. Well, I definitely have a girl crush on this lady Stephanie whose blog is A Year of Slow Cooking. (I haven't met her in person and don't technically know her, but I love her blog and think she's neat-o.) Honestly, I haven't tried any recipes and haven't dug too deep, but so far it's like culinary, brain candy. Love it!

And, I have to admit, I'm not a huge crock pot user. I own two of them of varying sizes, but I can count the times I've used them on one hand. This will all change now that I'm a mom and fall is around the corner and I have a new site to play with. Seriously, I love the way she writes and has this site laid out. Can you feel my enthusiasm?!?!

You better believe I'll be dusting off the old slow cooker this week... Or at least by the weekend, since we have a lot going on this week and I'm not sure that I'll have time to go to the grocery store.

He's Not Walking - And I'm Not Worried

William is not walking yet. He just turned a year old and I know this is not a big deal. Really, I'm not worried. I'm not. But, people seem to think I am. Every time someone asks if he's walking and I answer no, they tell me not to worry. This baffles me, as I don't believe I've ever mentioned being concerned. Maybe I'm cringing or wringing my hands or taking on a nervous laugh. Is that it? Am I giving people non-verbal cues that say "This lady is worried her son will never walk"???

Listen, I know this kid is going to walk soon, but what I also know is the sooner he is walking, the bigger the falls, bumps, bruises, gashes, blood. All things I'm not a big fan of, especially the gashes. Wounds give me chills. The blood, open flesh, and then the whole healing experience when it's white then yellow then scabbing. (I just about threw up.) Call it selfish, but I don't know if I'm ready to deal with all of that. So, if he wants to take his sweet time getting there, I'm all for it.

William is talking up a storm, climbing like a monkey, crawling with incredible speed, can stand up, sit down, etc. etc. But, no, the kid cannot walk, and I am not worried. Should I be?


First Birthday Party Rules

William's first birthday party was yesterday. Now that I've had some time to think about it, I'd like to share some rules to help guide new moms in the planning of the first birthday party.

1. Get help!

If friends offer to come early to lend a hand, take them up on it. Angie, Kari, and Anthony were the only reason my vision became a reality, even if I couldn't explain it to them. Once the party starts, have someone who will be responsible for the birthday kid and give the necessary bath and bottle if that time comes and the party is still going on. Thanks, Grandma H!

2. Live entertainment is always a win (if your budget allows).

We weren't sure about this one and pulled the trigger about 72 hours before the party. Best decision ever. The One Man Jamaican Band helped set the mood and was a great ice breaker when the two hosts are running around like Hannemaniacs. Yeah, Mon!

3. Pop is not just a mixer anymore.

Unfortunately, we were more concerned about making sure the beer was cold than we were about pop and juice boxes. That made plenty of people very happy, but others quite thirsty.

4. Don't underestimate the number of kids you know.

Although I counted them many times and wrote down all the names, I still was shocked to see them all running around in my yard. On that note, all of these kids needed toys, which we did not have nearly enough of and underestimated how interested 3 year old are in toys for a 1 year old. If you're lucky you'll have awesome neighbors (like we do) who will come to the rescue with kid-sized tables and chairs, sidewalk chalk, and a bubble machine. (And while we're talking about kids, don't forget to give out the goody bags. I MIGHT have forgotten that step.)

5. The party needs to move along quickly.

Kid parties do not have the longevity of normal parties, so plan for things to move rather quickly. When everyone arrived we had a very heavy spread of appetizers and our plan was to serve grilled burgers and chicken two hours later, followed by cake. We lost some guests before the burgers made it off the grill. Guests leaving before the meal is always sad. One friend mentioned that a good idea for kids parties might be to include a schedule with a rough menu. Half of the people gorged on the appetizers and were too full for burgers, the others who knew the plan took it easy on the snacks and were starving once we brought out dinner.

6. Don't open the gifts during the party.

I read this somewhere and it's a great idea, so I followed it. First off, I HATE opening gifts in front of people and - let's face it - I would be the one opening the gifts while William was tearing apart tissue paper or stacking all of his gift in one box. During the party all of the gifts were kept on a table. We opened a few this morning and then William starting ripping cards and was on overlaod, so we stopped. The rest were opened, organized, and recorded during nap time.

7. Cater, order pizza, or count on pre-made food items.

Grilling burgers and chicken kept Matt really busy and not able to control timing as well as we would have liked to. Like I've said, get help, which we did for the sides from Grandma B and Aunt Enza.

8. Make sure the camera is ready for the party.

I can't tell you how many times I heard this one. Just turning on the camera and seeing that there is battery life does not ensure you have a camera with a charged battery. Just charge it. Lesson learned.

9. Let your kid taste cake before the birthday.

The photo should explain this one. He hated it.

10. Take a photo of your little family before the party begins.

We didn't get a good one and had we just done it when everyone was well-rested and looking nice, we'd have one today. Everything was downhill once he tasted the cake. No chance of him smiling for a picture.

In the end, you'll have a successful party no matter what you do. But, if you read the post that I wrote on Chicago Moms Blog about planning the first birthday party, you know that this was not just a party for William. It was a party for us to celebrate our first year as a family in our home, our awesome friends and family who helped us get here, and life in general. And, if I do say so myself, I think we did a pretty good job.


This Morning's Breakfast

I made oatmeal for the males this morning and totally underestimated how much it would take to feed one toddler and one man.

Me: "You'll probably want some toast or something with your oatmeal. There isn't much."
Matt: "We don't have any bread."
Me: "Well, then I don't know.... Maybe have some cereal afterward."

Minutes pass.

Matt: "I wonder how Peanut Butter Puffins would be in oatmeal."
Me: "Seriously? I don't think you should."
Matt: "Oh, I am and I'm going to crush them."
Me: "Okay....."
Matt: "Atleast I'm not putting hot sauce on it."

Well played.


If the Shoe Fits, Then be a Mom Blogger?

My new title: Mom Blogger. That's what I've become, right? Had you told me this years ago, I never would have believed it. I'm an unlikely candidate on paper, but here I am... There is actually space for clueless new moms (like myself) who have no problem being way too honest and sharing everything they learn.

You can see my first post on William's first birthday here. Hopefully there will be one every couple of weeks.


Gee, Thanks Playskool.

"Yes! I've been waiting to get this toy! I can't wait to play with it!
This is awesome! The best birthday ever!"

William received a cool new toy called a Busy Ball Popper (BBP) for his birthday. Note from these pictures how excited he was to open this, almost as if it's something he has always wanted and finally received. (I expect a reaction like this when he gets a bike.)

So, you can imagine our enthusiasm to pull the thing out of the box and start playing. Yeah, new toy! When it came out of the box we realized that it needed a size of battery that we didn't have on hand, so we had to manually use the toy by dropping the balls in the hole and then turning it over and dumping it out. Obviously not what Playskool intended, but William LOVED it!

Yesterday Grandma B, the giver of this exciting new toy, inserted the innocent batteries into this sweet and fun toy. When we got home from work she warned us that William no longer likes the BBP and it made him cry. So, while William finished dinner we went into the other room where he could still hear and see us. We turned on the toy and he completely flipped out. Screamed hysterically. Heart pounding, hands shaking freak out. Why? Because this fun, colorful toy with smiley faces suddenly turns into a loud, crazy disco. I was overwhelmed and this is a toy intended for kids 9+ months. Seriously, Playskool, what are you thinking?

This morning William kept an eye on the BBP, which had been demoted to the fireplace. I carried him close to it and he hung onto me for dear life. I don't want him to be that afraid of anything, so I poured out all the balls to remind him what a fun toy it was at the beginning. After a bit, he warmed up and started to have a good time, yelling "Woo" everytime he dropped a ball into the slot. I thought for a moment that we should consider keeping the crazy BBP and ease him into it. Unfortunately I forgot to warn Grandma H who came today to play with William. She turned on the BBP when I happened to be outside and asked if I heard him shriek. I came in to find a whimpering and shaking William.

Final Score: Busy Ball Popper - 3, William - 0

I think it's time for the BBP to return home where some other sucker will buy it and terrorize their children. Sometimes batteries really aren't necessary.


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Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Barrins!

This past weekend I was incredibly honored to take part in the marriage of my good friend Stacey and her rockin' husband, Dan. We took Whitewater, Wisconsin by storm and had an outstanding time. The Cruse family owns Randy's Restaurant and Fun Hunter's Brewery, so we spent lots of time eating great food and good drinks, and enjoying some good old Midwestern hospitality.

Here's to Stacey and Dan and a long, long future together!


Our Little Man is ONE!

We ordered pizza from Marco Roma's, opened the good bottle of wine we've been saving for a special occasion, and planned on Homer's vanilla ice cream for dessert.

I'm not going to get sappy about what I've learned in the last year from William and about myself. I'll save that for another day. But, I did learn one valuable lesson this evening: Even when you think it's a great idea and he's going to love it, don't push the bedtime. This is how William dealt with ice cream at 7:15. The kid who will eat ANYTHING turned away Homer's vanilla ice cream.

Happy Birthday, Stink Face.


One Year Ago: Induction Time

At this moment a year ago I was being induced. Pitocin was pumped into my veins and we were expected to spend the night resting and then would hopefully deliver a baby by mid-morning.
It didn't quite work out that way. Let's just say it was a long labor. We didn't spend much time sleeping and by morning I had not progressed much and was still pretty comfortable. Being comfortable is not a good sign when you're trying to force an overcooked baby into the world.
William was born 22 hours later. For the most part they were a good 22 hours, until the last few. Through the rough times I actually thought to myself: In a year this will be a distant memory. I just have to get through this moment by moment until it's over.
I was right. It's a distant, distant memory today. But, thankfully we have the photos to remind us of the happy labor moments and the fantastic view from Prentice. And for the record, this wasn't even the GOOD view.