Ava // ten months old.

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Then I blinked and she is ten months old.  At ten months old, Ava hates having her faced wiped after eating, she tolerates her car seat, and she loves pulling herself up and standing.

Shortly after she turned 9 months old, her fourth tooth broke through.  Her smile is so sweet with those four little teeth poking out.  I wonder what we’ll blame fussiness on when she has all her teeth.  That’s such an easy thing to attribute a cranky-pants attitude to, you know?  She still jabbers and loves to sing and talk.  She does seem to associate me with “mama” and Kevin with “dada”.  She also says “-tt” whenever she sees the cats.  She says it in a low, reverent tone, like she’s in the presence of greatness (and she is – the cats are so wonderful with her).  She’ll make the same sound when she sees books – we were walking through the library and she was making that sound.  Girlfriend loves cats and books – she’s our child.  She’s very good at repeating words and sounds – especially coughing and blowing raspberries and tongue clicking.  She and Kevin also make this fun trumpet-like noise back and forth to one another.  I’ve gotten lazy about using sign language, but maybe we’ll focus on that more this next month.  She waves hi and bye (sometimes with both hands rather than just one – what an overachiever).  She’s started doing this little spontaneous chuckling thing, which is adorable.  It’s like she just thought of a joke.  Her laugh still melts our hearts and we dance and sing and jabber like fools to get those giggles.

She has been eating well.  I have a post in the works about our experience with nursing and baby led weaning.  Notable things that she ate for the first time this month include lasagna, spaghetti, pizza, and pear.  There may be other new foods but I didn’t jot them down – maybe pancakes?  She very much dislikes having her face wiped down after eating.  SAVING THOSE CRUMBS FOR LATER.  She has been learning more about gravity and the phenomenon that is her caregiver picking up dropped food and placing it back in front of her after she flings it over the side of the high chair.  That and the chewing on books phase are two that I hope pass quickly – but it is what it is.  I tell myself that she won’t be chewing on her college textbooks someday, so, you know, everything has a season.  We haven’t been near a scale but think she probably weights between 15.5 and 16 lbs, and she has maybe grown a half inch or so which would bring her to a little over 27 inches.  Still wearing size 2 diapers and 6-9 month clothes.

Our routine recently has included a morning walk around the neighborhood.  She seems to really enjoy being in her stroller.  However, she simply tolerates the car seat these days.  Sometimes she does fine in it and other times she wants absolutely no part of being strapped in.  Music class starts back up next month, which we are excited about.  I also took her to the Story Time at the local library last week and that was fun.  She tried to eat a bunch of plastic eggs that have rice in them (so they rattle, you know) and I tried not to outwardly cringe at the thought of all the germs.  We’re also hoping that Kevin can take her to “swimming” classes after the football season ends, and we’ve got our first Gymboree play date this weekend.

She is opinionated!  She lets us know that she is not happy about being re-directed when we prevent her crawling under the desk to check out the outlets and computer cords.  She tends to get emotional when she’s tired – yesterday evening she had a total spontaneous meltdown when I was making dinner. She’s cheerful and talkative the majority of the time. Her strength grows every day.  She is a very fast crawler, continuing to mostly pull her whole body around with her stomach on the ground.  I crawl around and try to show her that there is an easier way, but to no avail.  Ava does Ava.  Every so often she crawls in the more traditional sense, but she definitely prefers the army crawl at this stage.  She spins, crawls backwards, and to the side.  She discovered that she has the ability to pull herself up to standing by grabbing furniture, the window sill, etc. this month and she looks so proud every time she does it.  That has been one of my favorite things about watching her learn – the proud look she gets on her face when she does the latest and greatest thing.

When Ava misses her 7:00 bedtime, she is not a happy camper and goes into meltdown mode.  She wakes sometime between 5:30 and 7:00 each morning.  She naps pretty consistently well – 2 or 3 hours split throughout the day.  At some point in the past month we started giving her a little monkey teething toy when she goes down for a nap or bedtime.  She gets a big smile on her face when we put the monkey in the crib with her and often when we go into get her after she wakes, she’s cuddling Monkey.  She coos at him and talks to him.  And flings him against the side of the crib when she’s fired up.  It’s very sweet and I like knowing that she maybe doesn’t feel completely alone in there.

She is just the best baby and we love her so much.

There’s a basket for that. And other “life hacks”.

One day, out of the blue, I noticed that I love baskets. There are approximately a million of them, scattered around my home. Each fulfills its basket destiny by bringing some semblance of organization and containment to what would otherwise – I’m certain – be a chaotic space. Here are a few of my favorite uses for my wicker friends.

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This one is the keeper of my flip flops and sandals. A nice sturdy square basket, it sits stoically in my closet, keeping the summer shoe selection out of trouble.

Also: life hack – I put a rubber band around each pair of sandals. Keeps me from digging through the basket to find that elusive (fun fact:  I recently learned the difference between allusive and illusive and elusive.  I’m so proud to show off my newfound knowledge.) other sandal.

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A vanity basket. Our master bath has a long vanity and one sink. Kevin keeps his manly toiletries on one side of the sink and I keep my Listerine, coconut oil, and other potions on the other side. When we first moved into this house, it was chaos. We each had our side but the stuff was just sitting out, getting shuffled about and knocked over and so forth and so on.  I stumbled upon these sweet baskets at Cost Plus World Market (aka:  the store that makes me want to buy everything in the store) and they have been perfect for keeping our stuff organized on our his – and – her sides of the vanity.

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A toy basket.  There are two toy baskets in the house – one in our den and one in Ava’s room.  I really don’t want to become a house that is overrun with toys, so these two small baskets are perfect for keeping toys contained but accessible.  I’m sure they’ll continue to have magic keeping-the-house-picked-up powers once Ava is more mobile and has fine tuned her toy transport skills.  Ha. Ha. Wink. Wink.

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A bread basket.  Our counter was laden with gluten (wheat bread, tortillas, and oatmeal English muffins are staples in this house) and the bags were driving me bonks.  So I hid it all in a basket.  Naturally.

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A mail basket.  We’re pretty good about going through the mail right away and recycling/shredding/filing as needed.  But there was inevitably a few items stacked up and what better place to keep them semi-hidden than a basket.  It’s also helpful for storing charger cords, etc.

That’s it for baskets today.  But there are two more storage idea “life hacks” I want to share.  First, one that I learned from Tiffany, my college roommate – kind of a rolodex system for addresses.  It’s just a recipe box, alphabet separator tab things, and index cards.  I list the name and address of my nearest and dearest on an index card and then when they move, it’s a simple thing to shred the old card and create a new one with the updated address.  Or a friend gets married and changes her name – create a new card with the new name.  Gone are the days of crossing out names and addresses in an address book.  I also like storing stamps in the address box.

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I also have an expandable file thing where I keep cards and letters and ticket stubs and Playbills and other memorabilia associated with my closest family and friends.  I’m not one to get too attached to things as I’m not especially sentimental and I don’t like clutter.  But I do love keeping some items and I’ve found this is a good way to store them.

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Do you have any organizational life hacks?  Do share! 

Garden update.

Our garden is doing well overall.

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Some of the flowers we planted are past their prime but others (I think they are begonias) are thriving.
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We have harvested three tomatoes and there are many many more on the vine. Hopefully they’ll ripen up soon.

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We have three eggplants in various stages of ripe and two bell peppers on one of the pepper plants.

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The two types of thyme, rosemary, and lavender are doing quite well. Really the biggest disappointment this year has been the basil. You know how I love my basil pesto and our basil plants have really struggled since about late June. I think it got too hot for them. Or maybe we should add some nutrients? I don’t know, but they are a sad light green color.

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The monsoon season has brought a few really good rainstorms and there is nothing quite like rain to help the crops (even when the crops are our little garden). It has been another fun summer in the garden.

Did you plant a summer garden? Is it thriving or wilting?

The staycation that was.

Kevin and I toyed with the idea of taking a long weekend away this summer.  Maybe somewhere in the mountains.  We looked at a few Air B&B cabins and ultimately decided that getting away was more trouble than it was worth.  So instead we chose a weekend to tack a Friday and Monday onto and indulged in a little staycation.  Our goal was for it to be a nice combination of productive and relaxing, and it delivered.

Friday:

We knew it was important to get the productive part out of the way first.  We arranged for Craig and Sue to split the day caring for Ava and Kevin and I tackled the garage – after fueling up on Oscar’s breakfast burritos (aka:  the best breakfast burritos).  The garage had become a catch all for all and while our vehicles fit inside, nothing was organized and it was driving us bonkers.  We hit it hard early in the morning and made a few piles:  dump, keep, and donate.  It gets messier before it gets better, but we started to see progress as we filled the trash bin and recycle bin.  Kevin built some shelves and I killed some spiders and it was a good time all around.  Except maybe for the spiders.  I didn’t think to take before pictures of the mess, but here are a few in progress photos.

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Perhaps the highlight for me was organizing the tools I’d gotten from my dad’s stuff when he passed away a few years ago and learning how to neatly store an extension cord.  I pulled up this YouTube video on the spot and had the extension cord neatly roped within five minutes.  Ahh, technology and education.  It’s a great time to be alive.

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We took a load of stuff to the dump and a load of stuff to recycle and a load of stuff to the hazardous household waste drop off place.  And the garage looked amazing by the end of the day!  Weeks later, we still smile every time we walk out there.

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Kevin was multi-tasking this entire time.  He had seasoned a brisket (that my mom gave him last year – thanks, mom!) and put it on the grill with a smoke box full of mesquite chips.

imageIt smoked low and slow for around 8 hours and we had a delicious dinner that night.  Seriously – so good.  It had this amazing crust on it where the seasoning had charred and the brisket itself was so tender. He was pretty critical of his first meat smoking experience (he’d overfilled the smoke box so the chips couldn’t smoke as much as they should, etc.), but I thought it was the best brisket I’d ever tasted!  Ava liked it too.  That day and the following when she had it in a brisket quesadilla.

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Whew.  That was Friday.  We were tired by the end of the day, but really happy about the progress we’d made on the garage!

Saturday:

When Ava went down for her morning nap, I decided to make an impromptu trip to my favorite pedicure place where I relaxed, read my book, and had my toes painted purple.  As I was driving home I noticed a sign for a lemonade stand in the neighborhood so I insisted that Kevin and Ava and I trek down to support the young entrepreneurs.  They were really cute and their start up business had all the markings for success.  Lemonade was “10 cents.  Or more.”  They complimented the baby.  And they were selling apples which they made a point of saying were “freshly picked and washed.”  It was really a sweet little group.  And the lemonade was delicious.

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We took it pretty easy for the rest of the morning and the early afternoon.  I do believe I napped with Rue.

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Late in the afternoon we went to my cousin’s “I Do BBQ” to celebrate she and her fiancé’s upcoming wedding.  It was fun to see some family members and Ava impressed them with her talent for eating a lot of strawberries.

That evening I went to a friend’s going away party.  It was the first time I’d missed putting Ava to bed for the night and I was a little sad about that.  And nervous for Kevin as he isn’t equipped to nurse her right before bedtime like I always do.  She was like, “nbd, guys,” and went to bed like a champ at her regular bedtime.  When Kevin texted me to let me know she was asleep I was simultaneously relieved and sad that my baby DOESN’T NEED ME.  (Dramatic much?)  The going away party was really fun and a terrific tribute to my sweet, beautiful, kind friend.  Five of us continued the party at a local western bar, which was LOUD.  The people watching was great though.  I was home by 11:30 I think.

Sunday:

We started out the day by picking up breakfast from a local place and eating it at home.  It was a relaxing day altogether!  More reading, napping, playing….

That afternoon we dropped Ava at Craig and Sue’s and took ourselves to a nice dinner out at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.  We may have had a 4:45 reservation time, but we partied like rockstars once there.  Kevin had wine and I had a Diet Coke (heeeey, party people…).  He had a Caesar salad and I had lobster bisque.  We each had steak (mine came with shrimp on top) and got sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes to share as sides.  That steak.  It was amazing.  Melt in your mouth amazing.  It comes out to the table from the kitchen on 500 degree plates.  A dollop of butter sizzles on top of the steak.  My mouth waters just thinking about the taste.  Yum.  They had a chocolate lava dessert on the menu but I was toooooo full.  Next time I have a game plan – I’ll only eat one piece of bread, get the steak without shrimp, and just eat some of whatever side Kevin orders (probably the sweet potato casserole because he loves that stuff).  Then hopefully I’ll have room for dessert.

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imageIt was a really lovely dinner out with my man.  I love the addition of Ava to our little family, and it makes the couple time that Kevin and I share when it’s just the two of us even more special.

Monday:

It was a very busy week at work with a big event planned for Thursday, so I had to go into the office for a bit on Monday morning.  Kevin and Ava stayed home and played, and I was home to them by noon.  We enjoyed the rest of our staycation with more relaxing.  It really was a wonderful long weekend!

Did you vacation or staycation this summer?  What’s your preference when you take time off work – to get away or to stay in? 

 

 

An amazing concert.

My mom is a huge Keith Urban fan.  Well, I mean, she’s actually quite petite, but she really loves Keith Urban.  ;-)  When she found out he was coming to the city I live in, she asked my sister and I to go with her to the concert and of course, we said yes.

My aunt knows people – actually, she IS people.  She asked around and, eager to impress her, someone hooked her up with the. best. tickets. with which she in turn hooked us up.  They were in a box, super close to the stage, and they came with VIP parking which basically meant we got to park a 30 second walk from the venue.  Yeah.  It was amazing.

Lisa, Mom, and I drove to the concert, flashed our VIP parking pass a few times and poof – we were there.

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Like, right there.  That parking!  I feel like you can’t truly appreciate how glorious this is unless you’ve trekked for 10 minutes across the boiling hot asphalt that leads from the back of the general parking lot to the amphitheater.  I have, so my heart runneth over with glory.

And yes, that is a red carpet which we walked across to get into the VIP club.

We found our seats and this was the view of the stage – no zoom on this photo.

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Maren Morris opened the show.  I had never heard of her, but she has a really good voice. This was my favorite of the songs she sang – it’s called My Church.  Then Brett Eldredge (whom I had heard of) played and he was really great.  He seems fun too!  My favorite of his songs is Beat of the Music.

Then it was the main event!  Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always liked Keith Urban.  But now I really, really like him!  He puts on such an amazing show.  So much energy and my goodness, can that guy play a guitar.  (And I think many other instruments as well.)  He seems like a genuinely good person too.  And that Australian accent….he could sit on stage and read the phone book and I think he’d pack concert venues.

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At one point, around halfway into the show, he said it was time to go see the people on the grass.  The amphitheater has this huge lawn section in the far back.  It was full of people and the place went wild when he said he was headed back there.  He and his band hopped off stage and walked along the route – right behind where we were sitting – to get to the little stage that was set up on the lawn.  He played several songs up there – gave away a signed guitar – and then started to walk back toward the big stage.  The guy who was hosting us in the box pulled my mom up to the entrance of the box and Keith walked right by her and gave her a high five.  As you can imagine, she was ecstatic!

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It was truly a great night.  A wonderful concert – one of my top three for sure (maybe the best ever concert experience as a whole.  But will anything ever top the Backstreet Boys?) – where we were fortunate enough to have a top notch view and even the opportunity to be very near Keith at one point!  I found a new favorite song!  Keith’s The Fighter – so catchy.  I’ve had it playing nonstop since the concert.  And, most importantly, I got to hang out with my sister and mom, whom I adore.

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So much fun.

Tell me about your favorite concert experience.  What concert would you want front row tickets to see?

Snapshot {July}.

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Making: A tough decision.  I think I have to break up with the girl who has cut and colored my hair for the past 5 years.  It’s not me – it’s her.  She moved to a new location across town that is kind of a pain to get to, and the price goes up every. single. time. I go, which is kind of annoying.  I’m still not absolutely certain I’ll make this change, but am drafting “let’s go our separate ways” texts in my head.  It’s okay to break up with a stylist via text, right?  Maybe I’ll go one more time and break up with her in person….

Cooking: Nothing!  I went out to breakfast this morning with my great aunt and a couple of great uncles and cousins, so didn’t have to cook breakfast.  Tonight we’re having dinner with Kevin’s parents and his cousin Doug who is visiting from Paris.  So it’s a cooking free day for Amy.

Drinking: Water.  I may indulge in a little peppermint mocha this afternoon though.  Feeling wild.

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Reading: Still making my way through The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Wanting: To leave a legacy.  Not for a very long time, of course, but recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the impact our lives have on others.  It has been on my mind because of The Bully Pulpit (what a legacy Roosevelt and Taft and the journalists of the era left!) and because my great uncle Tom loaned me a CD with a recording of an interview he did for the Library of Congress about his time in the military.  I have had the disc on repeat in my car for the past week and find his stories fascinating.

Looking: At this shirt.  And these shorts.  And this shirt.  Sometimes I like nothing at J. Crew.  Sometimes I like everything.  I’ll let you guess what phase our relationship is currently in.

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Eating: Nothing now.

Wishing: The weekend lasted just a few more days.

Enjoying: Frozen cookie dough that I bought as part of a fundraiser.  One by one, the cookies are not making it to the oven because I am eating them raw.

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Loving: Ava.  As always.  Also…alliteration.

Hoping: We continue to get some late afternoon/early evening rainstorms.  One of my favorite summertime weather patterns.

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Needing:  A snack.  I really enjoy fire roasted tomato Triscuits with sharp cheddar cheese slices.

Smelling:  I never have a good response for this one.  I guess I’m seldom around scents.  Unless I’m changing a diaper.

Feeling: Good.  I’ve been doing 10-15 minutes of yoga each day.  It’s not much but it’s enough to make me feel limber and a bit more centered.  I also have been consistently doing squats while I brush my teeth – fifty in two minutes, twice a day.

imageWearing: My summertime uniform – shorts and a white t-shirt.

Watching: Kevin typing.  The new system at work has gone over quite well really, but he’s still fielding a lot of questions.

What are you wishing/needing/loving/eating right now? 

Stitch Fix bliss part VI.

Happy Stitch Fix Day to me.  They hit it out of the park with this one.  I love all the items and know I’ll get so much use out of them.  Here are the deets….

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Top:  41Hawthorn – Dawney Scallop Trim Blouse
Love it.  It’s a fun floral pattern and I don’t own much floral, so this was a winner for me.  Definitely different than anything else in my closet.  My favorite part is the style of the sleeves.

Jeans: Lila Ryan – Dorianna Skinny Jean
The colored denim is a nice addition to my jean collection without being too in-your-face colorful.  A neutral color that I’ll be able to pair with a lot of tops (they worked with the other two tops I got in this Fix, as well).  Will work well with boots in the winter too.

Shoes: DV8 – Dillan Strappy Sandal
The sandals were the one thing in the box that I would consider sending back.  Ultimately I kept them to get the 25% off discount because it was more economical.  And I know I will wear the shoes a lot.

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Top:  Papermoon – Alyschia Button Back Knit Top
In general I don’t love the button-up-the-back style, but I did love the fit and how soft and comfy this shirt is.  I’ll wear it a lot and probably forget that there are buttons on the back.

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Top:  Papermoon – Benette Multi Strap Blouse
This may be my favorite item in the Fix.  So summery and light!  The straps are fun too.

And that concludes this episode of “Amy Loves to Receive Mail Order Clothes.”  Tune in next quarter when she will probably keep everything.  Again.

{Want to order a Stitch Fix box and help me support my clothes-by-mail addiction?  Here’s a referral code from moi.}

  What clothes have you been living in this summer?