Saturday, October 31, 2009


Happy Halloween from the Mary Clare Bear!

More pics to follow after tonight's trick-or-treating event with our friends. Enjoy the day!

Monday, October 26, 2009


Every fall when the leaves change, I can't help but think of my cousin Trevor. When he was a little guy, Trevor had a bit of a problem with L words, so a lion was a wion, a lamb was a wamb and so forth. One particular time, I remember his dad asked him what hangs on trees. Weaves! was the prompt response. Close, but do what the teacher told you and try it again. So Trevor screwed up his little face and said, "la, la, la, la ... weaves!"

I love that story. And I love Trevor, who is still just as terribly sweet at 14 as he was when he was three. So he will surely forgive me for throwing him under the bus simply so I could have a somewhat related story to go along with these photos of Mary Clare with some leaves.
Click here for a few more in the la, la, la, la ... weaves.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ten months

As I made my dandy little sign this morning, I realized that Ack! I only have two of these left to make. My face must have given me away, because Chip asked, "This ends after 12 months, right?"

Nope, sorry. I'm not sure I'll be able to let it go that easily. Maybe quarterly updates. That seems reasonable.

But enough about my need to bind Mary Clare to me with apron strings, and on to what our girl's been up to this past month.

In an nutshell: holy mobility. The girl is everywhere. Crawling, cruising along furniture, walking behind toys and pulling herself up on everyone and everything. And if it's a mirror or stainless steel appliance that I recently cleaned, she's there in double time. She's on to our little "redirection" plan as well, and the second you move her away from the dog's water bowl or the mirror that could crush her, she looks at you, squawks and heads right back. Oh, and don't even try to give her a board book or rattle in place of the magazine or remote she really wants. Clearly we underestimate her fine taste in playthings, as she makes it known these are shoddy substitutions. Also, the girl is strong. Last week at school she put all 19 pounds to work and pushed a toddler around the playground in one of the play cars until the little boy said, "No, baby, no! Stop!" and exited the car when it became evident the baby would not stop. And yesterday I spotted her lifting a granite door stop over her head. Yes, clear over her head. I was so fascinated, I didn't even think to grab it from her. Or take a picture. Along with her brute strength, it would appear that Mary Clare is, in fact, a bit of a brute. Just this month alone we had two incident reports stapled to her "my day" sheet at school; apparently, Mary Clare scratched two of her little friends while playing. I keep her nails trimmed, but the girl has a grip. And she just loves a little too much. Ask Buddy.

So, as much as I bemoan the fact that my baby is becoming less and less of a baby each day, Chip and I both love every new development. We're certain her "mamamamama" and "dadadadadada" babbling is directed at us, and every once in awhile Mary Clare throws us a bone and gives the sign for "more." Best of all, when we pick her up from school, her face lights up and she crawls over to us as fast as she can. Be still, my melting heart.

Click here for more of the 10 month fun.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The food, it is messy

After realizing that I can't actually freeze time and keep Mary Clare like this forever, I have finally accepted that yes, my baby is growing up. Which means she needs to be eating real food, and not just bottles and the vegetable and fruit purees I lovingly make for her. And according to my friends, Mary Clare's teachers, our Parents as Teachers instructor and pretty much anyone you meet on the street, she also needs to be feeding herself with not just her hands, but a spoon. And she should be drinking out of a sippy cup.

Seriously! I honestly wouldn't be surprised if someone gasped and said, "What? You still cut Mary Clare's
Ch√Ęteaubriand for her? What? She's ten months old and she hasn't had
Ch√Ęteaubriand yet? Shame. Now she'll never develop a taste for it."

It's never enough for some people, I tell you. They say it's for your child's development, but really, you and I both know that they just want your baby to be grown up like their baby so we can all moan "what happened to my sweet little bitty baby?" in unison. Yeah, that's right. I'm on to you people.

Anyway, after fighting the inevitable for a few weeks, I finally heeded the call of table food and Mary Clare is now trying new things left and right. Peas, bananas, bread, grapes, graham crackers, noodles, cheese, chicken and goldfish crackers have all found their way into her mouth and hair. And, because Mary Clare now has cut two teeth, we gave her a teething biscuit. That's right, a teething biscuit. If you have to ask why she's only had one, I shall now present to you photographic evidence of the process that takes place when a baby comes into contact with a teething biscuit.

Step One: Get after it. Show that biscuit you mean business.

Step Two: Stop and contemplate your next move. Getting after it is hard work.

Step Three: Pay a visit to your friend the bath tub. Smile because you don't yet know the force with which mom will have to scrub at your face.

Step Four: Gloat. You are clean, smell delightful and won the battle of the hair brush. And you totally owned that teething biscuit.

Sigh. My baby is all growns up.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Here's Brennan

Oh, Brennan. Where do I begin? You have been such a hoot these days, it seems like every time I talk to Sherri she has another funny little tidbit to share. It is my pleasure to offer you a list of my favorite Brennan stories to date:
  • The "lock up your daughters" shirt I gave Brennan last year still happens to fit. I know, right? Usually he's in and out of clothes in a few months time, so it's astounding that what fit last winter fits almost a year later. (Keep in mind that I haven't seen Brennan in the shirt this year, so who knows, he may be using it to show off his ripped abs and sweet pecs.) Anyway, Brennan wore said shirt to daycare the other day, and upon arrival he sidled over to his teacher Penny, put his head on her shoulder, patted her leg and said, "You look nice." Penny's husband happened to be sitting right next to her at the time. Marital boundaries mean nothing to Brennan.
  • Speaking of Penny's husband, his name is Jake. Brennan, however, calls him Guy. And often.
  • Being the venerable leader that he is, Brennan took it upon himself to mentor two of the other little boys at daycare. To date, he has taught them how to operate both the ice and the water feature on Penny's refrigerator. A grateful Penny salutes you, B.
  • Kisses. He totally comes right at you with a kiss of steel that leaves you with either a bruised face or a whole mess of slobber.

  • Brennan is now the official gatekeeper to the dogs. When Hunter and Holly want to go outside, B opens up the patio door, closes it behind them and then keeps vigil as they romp about the yard. When Brennan decides they've been gone long enough, he opens the door and yells, "Hunter, Holly, treats! Hunter, Holly, treats!"
  • This will come as no surprise, but Brennan is a total daredevil. He stands on his chair, Harley-Davidson rocking toy, four-wheeler or what have you, puts out his arms and says, "Ta-da!"
  • An advocate of good dental hygiene, Brennan is infatuated with brushing his teeth. In fact, potty training has fallen by the wayside in favor of teeth brushing. In the morning he stands by his sink and yells "Teeth! Teeth! TEETH!" until Sherri comes to help him.
  • Best of all, Brennan is totally getting into people's names. You can point at people and say, "Who's this? And who's this?" and listen to him take a pass at your name. And when you point at him, he says, "Bee-bee" in this hilarious, drawn-out way that makes him sound like he's an old Italian man. Who possibly belongs in the mob. And is known for his killer meatballs.

That boy. I love him.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I have a lot of things to post, but this week's been a week. And it's Wednesday. Basically, Chip had the stomach flu last week, and I took my turn with it this week. So far, Mary Clare remains unscathed. Unscathed from the bug, but not from me dressing her up like a little Parisian doll. (Chip says she looks more like a gondolier, but I'm having fun imagining her speaking with a haughty French accent. So it's Parisian.)

Domestic brie? Surely you jest.

A croissant and cafe au lait, si'l vous plait!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It's tough playing second fiddle

Clearly, Buddy has taken a backseat since Mary Clare hit the scene. For the most part, he's handled his second-class citizen status with gentleness and grace. (Well, as much gentleness and grace as you can expect from a 70-pound Lab who chases floaters and is constantly underfoot.) Despite the rare walks and tennis ball games cut short by a crying baby, he still cuddles up by us and makes sure he's in the car when we leave my parents' house in the country.

In addition to our lack of attention, Buddy now has to deal with Mary Clare's increasing attention. She swipes at his tail, grabs his fur and frequently uses him as a climbing toy. Which is why, when I promised Buddy a treat last night, you can imagine how guilty I felt when I went to the treat jar and it was completely empty. I fished around in his toy basket hoping for a stale Scooby snack and came up short as well. As I fumbled around inside the cabinet, Buddy patiently sat, tail swooshing on the floor and a slow trail of drool gathering at the corner of his mouth. I couldn't bring myself to disappoint him once again.

Chip, of course, was laughing at my attempts to scrounge up a treat. But I was determined. I marched over to the pantry and started rifling through the dry goods.

"Croutons? You're going to give Buddy croutons?"

I did. And he loved them. And hopefully us, too, for one more day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I want candy

Brian and Sherri took Brennan to the pumpkin patch a few weeks ago, and in addition to getting a big fat pumpkin, Brennan also had his first encounter with a big fat puff of cotton candy. Yep, why not give an almost-two-year-old boy a wand of spun sugar? Pumpkin patch trips only come but once a year.

I asked Sherri about her choice of snacks, and she said, "Please. Who do you think came back from the concession stand with that?" Now, I would normally challenge her on this, as Sherri does have quite the sweet tooth, but I guess even she has her limits. Brian, however, does not. But hey, that's why they make wet wipes, right?

Click here for the entire set of sticky-fingered fun.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I love a good mood

At the risk of jinxing myself, I'm going to go on the record and say Friday, October 2, you are alright by me. Case in point:
  • It's a good hair day. I caught sight of myself on the way out of Mary Clare's school this morning, and I thought, damn, that Danielle does good work.
  • My dress has pockets. Pockets! I love that.
  • I powered through two executive summaries and had three proposals out the door by 2 p.m. Kapow. I am an editing and alliteration wizard.
  • The noise level at my new desk is high. High and annoying. At first, I thought this would be the death of me. Then I rediscovered radio. In a mere 30 minutes, Todd Rundgren radio treated me to Tiny Dancer, I Saw the Light, Do Ya and a few others I haven't heard in years. I think this musical goodness had a direct effect on the excessive efficiency previously referenced.
  • The Jones family is heading into St. Louis for a quick visit, so the extended Thole clan is gathering tonight at our place for cocktails, Black Thorn pizza and Ted Drewes frozen custard. And hopefully some peaceful, photogenic moments between the cousins.
  • The weather outside is gorgeous. Windy, but gorgeous. I love the fall.

I plan to toast the greatness that is today with a glass of bubbly the second I walk through the door tonight. Here's hoping that your Friday is equally effervescent.