Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas wishes

I love Christmas. But I really love Christmas with kids.

Here's hoping your holiday celebrations are equally entertaining. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A legit photo session

We had our family pictures taken in October by the kind and patient Nancy Williams, and well, it was not one of those sessions where the stars aligned. We did them outdoors, and it was windy, cooler than I thought and both of the kids were tired. And had runny noses. And the Kleenex were in the car.

Despite all of these hurdles, Nancy still managed to get some adorable pictures, including the one we used on our Christmas card. However, we didn't really get a great picture of the two kiddos together, much less one of all four of us.

Because she is kind, patient and maybe a bit of a perfectionist (love that!), Nancy and her wedding photography partner, Pam, offered to come back to our house for round two. And I'm so glad they did. It was one of those days where the stars aligned. There was light in our dark house, both kids were in good moods, and even though Mary Clare was over it by the end of the hour, they were able to capture her personality, sass and all.

And, oh, my baby boy. Those eyes. Those lashes. He's a beaut.

Chip and I didn't intend to have our photos taken, but Nancy and Pam insisted, and now I'm glad that we jumped into a few shots. We may not all be perfectly coordinated, and of course that kills me, but we have so few opportunities to have our photo taken together that I can look past the casual wear.

Of course, all of these great photos of the kids in their holiday attire (made by Nana Thole, natch) threw me into a tailspin. I had already ordered and received my Christmas cards, but my love for these photos had me seriously contemplating scrapping all 150 cards and starting over. Even Chip was on board, and that was after I told him the associated costs. It was only a lack of time and knowing that I would make myself crazy trying to design, order and address new cards that kept me from pulling the trigger. It still makes me a little sad. But sharing them with you makes me happy.

So plan on seeing more photos from this session pop up in the next few days. They deserve their due.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas card

Here it is, in all its glory. The 2011 Lindh family Christmas card. Now with more baby. But no Lab. We can only ask so much of our photographer.

Oh, and yes. This is most certainly a picture of a card. I'm far too lazy to do a screen shot of the actual card and then crop it. I am, after all, the person who has been wearing a pink sparkly snowflake hair clip for the past two hours because I can't be bothered to get a bobby pin out of my bathroom drawer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The baby blog, now with more dog!

Chip has been giving me a hard time for the past few months about how TB is a full-fledged baby blog. If we're being honest, that's all it ever really has been, even before we had babies of our own. Nevertheless, from time to time I did manage to slot in the occasional list, rant or commentary. Or dog story.

Those posts, I'm afraid, are harder and harder to come by these days. Like it or not, our life revolves around the kiddos right now. And I like it for the most part. I think Chip is just ribbing me that TB's blissfully child-free readers might be getting a bit bored of looking at photos of our kids. And to that I say, if Andy has a problem with the blog content, he will most certainly not hesitate to let me know. Duh. Uncle Andy is not one to suffer silently, after all.

So, there. I have addressed the fact that we are, in fact, a baby blog. Not a mommy blog, even, but a baby blog. With a dog. A dog who is clearly bored not just by the content of TB, but life at TB.

Well, you can't please everyone.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The boys

Here are two more from the latest photo session. I could try and justify it by saying that it's totally different because Chip is in this round of pictures. But really, I just can't help myself. Good light in our house is fast and fleeting.

Last time, I promise.

But damn, I wish you could see how good Chip is at making Charlie laugh. And that laugh! Priceless. I really must do more videos.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More of the munchkin

The stars aligned—good light, happy baby, a helping hand from Chip—and I was able to get a lot of great shots of Charlie wearing his six month onesie. I was so pleased with them that I decided they deserved their own post.

Enjoy his handsomeness at your own risk.

Honestly. I could spend all day kissing him.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Charlie, six months

Well, we've reached the halfway point of Charlie's first year, and the developmental milestones are coming at us all too fast.

In addition to being quite the rolling maestro, Charlie scoots himself all over creation and will usually wedge himself in some less than desirable spots. I may or may not have found him partially under the coffee table, couch and vacuum cleaner in the past three days alone. He is becoming steadier when it comes to sitting, and his grip is incredibly strong. So much so that I find it hard not to yelp in pain when he pulls my hair or digs his fingers into my cheek or neck.

Like his sister, Charlie doesn't know a stranger, and he had no problems whatsoever sitting on Santa's lap when we saw him this past week. He is generous with the smiles and even more generous with the drool. Still no teeth, though. Charlie is a raspberry-blowing son of a gun, and he's taken to singing—well, the baby version of singing—while I nurse him in the morning. But only in the morning. I suspect he takes after Chip and will be a morning person as well.

Much to his teachers' relief, we finally started him on solids. And while I know he is still getting the hang of the process, I am fearful that he may be a bit harder to please than Mary Clare when it comes to trying new things. His teacher Miss Neisha said he did not take kindly to the green beans she offered him. And offered. And offered some more. We'll get there, though. I am anything if not determined when it comes to getting my family to try new foods or like the things I like. Just ask Chip.

As far as the official stats go, at his six month visit Charlie weighed 15 lbs., 8 oz., and measured 26.75 inches, which puts him in about the 25th and 50th percentiles, respectively. His beautiful c-section head is 17.5 inches in circumference, which is the 75th for all you percentilers out there.

For more photos of our little man, you can check out the full November set or the December set to date.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

His mother's son

My sister Sherri and I share a lot of similarities. A sense of humor, similar parenting styles and, of course, stunningly good looks. Where we aren't similar is in our organizational styles. My organizational style borders on OCD, and Sherri's is, well, let's just say she lacks a style altogether. It is a running joke in our family, with Sherri having the last laugh because hey, the girl makes more money than I do. So she's doing something right. 

However, now that Sherri is a parent, we are all enjoying the fact that she is now dealing with someone who isn't very particular about the location of his belongings either. 

Take, for example, Sherri's recent conversation with Brennan:

S: Brennan, do you have any idea where your shoes are?
B: Probably somewhere.

Brennan may not have his shoes, but the does have an answer for everything. 

The Christmas camel

The holiday events are happening fast and furious around here, and I am falling behind in editing photos and posting about the festivities.

Two weekends ago we went with my parents to the Shrine to see the Christmas lights, the indoor tree display and the petting zoo. In the days leading up to our visit, Mary Clare told anyone who would listen that she was going to ride a camel. This, despite Nana Thole telling her that camels are mean (you have one bad experience on a camel in Africa, and suddenly you want to ruin it for everyone).

The day of our Shrine visit arrived, and after sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for close to an hour and then enduring a 30-minute wait for dinner, it was close to closing time and well beyond bedtime when we finally made it to the tented area with the camels, ponies and petting zoo.

We thought for sure Mary Clare would chicken out the moment she saw the camels, but she patiently waited in line, climbed atop the camel and then held on to the metal bar for dear life. She emitted a squeal of delight as the camel lurched forward, but was otherwise silent as we made two laps around the sawdust-covered corral. Speaking as the person who got to ride on the hump, it was a painful two laps. But Mary Clare loved it.

After the camel ride we checked out the various goats, sheep and alpacas, and she confidently fed each of them carrots and small pellets of feed as well.

So, yeah, we rode a camel around inside a tent in Belleville, Illinois. It may not be the most conventional of Christmas traditions, but it was certainly one of the more entertaining.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Reason for the season

Since Mary Clare is just now getting Christmas and the idea of Santa Claus, I have refrained from throwing out a lot of information about Jesus. You know, the whole reason for the season. 

Admittedly, my priorities aren't in order, but since she's inundated with far more images of Santa than Jesus, I took the easy way out and led with the big jolly guy. 

This is not to say that we're not talking about Jesus, Mary and Joseph over at Casa TB. Mary Clare has free reign with both the Fisher Price and Fontanini nativity sets, and we make it a point to talk about all of the figures, who they are and what they are doing. Baby steps. 

And so it was a baby step I took last week when, after talking about her birthday (yet again) on the way to school, I told Mary Clare, "You know, baby Jesus' birthday is the same day as yours. His birthday is on Christmas, too." She was quiet for a moment and then said, "Is he going to be three, too?"

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Really, come over any time

Chip was out of town for a few days earlier this week* so he missed a lot. Luckily, modern technology enabled him to stay up to speed via a series of emails text messages, the highlights of which I've included here:  
  • There is a princess magnet in the toaster. I left it for you.
  • Mary Clare had a big poop at school today.
  • Your son was up all night. I am not his biggest fan right now.
  • Both kids had big poops at school today. Both need new back up outfits.
  • Mary Clare just wet her pants. For no reason.
As you can see, our world pretty much revolves around bodily fluids. Really, come over any time. I swear we meticulously clean up every time. 

*Okay, by days, I mean one. But since he left at 7 a.m. on Tuesday and returned at midnight on Wednesday, I rounded it up to two days because, hello, that is two drop offs, two pick ups and two dinners/baths/bedtimes. Or, as we tell Mary Clare "two big sleeps."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Broadway bound

This is the boy who doesn't like to dress up for Halloween. This is the boy who hates to have his picture taken. This is the boy who hates to be the center of attention.

So it makes sense that after beaming his way through last night's school Christmas pageant, he declared, "Mom, I loved being on the stage."

Told you, Brian.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St. Nick surprise

As you may remember, St. Nick's day is a big deal in our family.

This is the first year that Mary Clare is old enough to somewhat understand the concept. Does she get that St. Nick is a Catholic saint and different from Santa Claus? Definitely not. She did, however, seem to understand that if she set out a pair of her shoes by the door, St. Nick would leave a gift for her. So last night she carefully picked out a pair of her shoes and a pair for Charlie, and we placed them by the front door (which I immediately regretted because ugh, the lighting).

This morning we walked downstairs and a big smile crossed her face when she saw the goodies in each of their pairs of shoes. And then she just looked at it. And looked some more.

Chip and I had to tell her that it was okay to touch everything because it was for her and Charlie. And then she went for it.

Mary Clare just started watching children's movies on TV, so she was excited to see the "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" DVD. Being a child, though, her favorite gift was the pair of Santa socks from the Target $1 bin. Of course. (My first Christmas, I played with a metal Band-aid box and a deck of cards while a mound of toys sat untouched behind me. So my parents will undoubtedly be pleased to see that the cycle continues.)

Since Charlie isn't sitting up yet it was a little hard to get him in on the action, but Mary Clare made sure to show him all of his gifts. She's thoughtful like that. But likely she was also eyeing them to determine which item she would most like to steal from him.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bridal bouquets on a budget

Brennan, as you all know, is funny

This past Friday, Sherri picked up some flowers at Trader Joe's. When Brennan saw them, he had quite the reaction.

"Oh, wow, mom! Flowers! Are those in case you are going to get married?" 

Clearly, Brian needs to step it up in the floral department. Or Sherri needs to hang up some of their wedding portraits. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Counting the days

I always love Christmas. But this year I really love Christmas. And it's all because of Mary Clare, our Christmas babe.

This is the first year that Mary Clare really gets it. She may not fully grasp the Santa concept, but oh, does she love to see "Ho Ho," as he was known last year. The same goes for Christmas lights, reindeer, trees, wreaths, presents and anything else that sparkles and shines.

We introduced her to her first Advent calendar last night. It was a rousing success. And with miniature S'mores sandwich cookies in the first box she opened, how could it not be? 

I must admit, I had way too much fun stashing goodies in each little compartment. I was a smidge overzealous in my shopping and came home with way too many items, including several that weren't even close to fitting in each 2"x1" compartment. Such as socks. And large sheets of stickers. Oh, well. Those will just have to be from St. Nick.

In the meantime, if you need Mary Clare, she will be dreaming about what is contained in the rest of those little boxes. She is seriously enchanted by the prospect of daily treats contained in a Santa-shaped box. This is living.  


Chip was off the week before Thanksgiving, so he gave the old razor a rest. This is my very own hairy monster with about four days worth of facial hair. Cute, isn't he? The sweet baby in his arms certainly doesn't hurt matters. 

I like the beard. I think it might have to make a return over Christmas, holiday photos be damned.

*Sorry about the freaky glow around Charlie's head. Photo editing on the Mac is great, but it can only do so much. After seeing the magic the photo instructor does with Photoshop, I am intrigued. But maybe I should focus on improving things on the front end first.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Numbers game

Here it is, the last day of the month, and I am frantically trying to come up with something to write because the November posts were lacking. 

And I got nothing.

Oh, I know you don't care. I know no one is keeping track of how often I post. But it would totally bug me every time I looked at the archive list on the right and saw that I didn't even make it to the double digits in November. Because you better believe that the paltry "8" next to February 2012 jumps out and mocks me every time I scroll down the page. 

So since I have yet to download pictures from Thanksgiving (of which there are few) and Brennan's birthday party (of which there are few good photos), I am pleased to present to you this random image of Charlie. 

Thank you and good night. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Full of thanks

This Thanksgiving marks another year full of blessings, the best of which is Charlie, whose arrival turned Team Botanical into a happy family of five. 

I'm grateful for every moment we have together. 

Even the poop moments. Because, hey! At least our kids aren't constipated. 

*Photo credit to the supremely patient Nancy Williams.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Photog at the park

This past Saturday we switched it up and hit the Tilles Park playground for some new adventures. Mary Clare was thrilled with the "new pawk." Once we got there, that is. When will we learn not to tell her things until five seconds before we arrive?

Since I'm taking a beginner photography class and needed some photos for Monday night's class, I lugged the big camera along. My subjects weren't the most cooperative—or clean shaven—but I was still pleased with the results.

Who cares if the class thought Chip looked like he just rolled out of bed or the instructor called Charlie a girl? I sure as heck am not going to run around taking pictures of the sidewalk or leaves, so they better just get used to these adorable mugs. And the fact that Charlie is a boy. My beautiful, beautiful boy.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Five months, take two

Hey, hey, what do you say? I managed to get Charlie in his five month onesie within a week of his turning five months old.

Three cheers for mom and her pesky camera habit.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Charlie, five months


Today marks five months with our happy little guy. The extreme cuteness continues—dueling dimples, anyone?—and now we are getting to see more and more of his personality. Charlie is easygoing, right up until the point where we know we are pushing our luck, and then look out. The boy can only take so much.

Charlie loves to watch Mary Clare go about her business, and thankfully he doesn't mind her increasingly exuberant hugs and kisses. Let's just say that to a five month old, getting a hug from Mary Clare is close to a full-body contact sport. Without the appropriate gear and padding.

He laughs at the silliest things, is beyond ticklish and loves to be scared. Yes, he loves to be scared. Well, except for the other night when I really did startle him and his lower lip quivered for a bit before breaking into a huge smile. Fear not, his big sister admonished me, "Don't scare Charlie like that, mommy. Idon'tlikeit."

When we're not startling Charlie, we're watching him flip himself to and fro. This past Saturday he finally rolled from his back to his front, and has been doing so non stop. Especially when he's in his crib, which is so not awesome. But, oh, the look of pride on his face!

A good amount of chub is accumulating on his thighs, and his round little belly delights me to no end. Which might explain why he excitedly tracks his evening bottle and grabs at it with gusto. The chub must be replenished, you know. He also discovered his feet this month, and if his socks are off, his pigs are in his mouth. Note to self: Get this on camera and video ASAP, because the toe love is fast and fleeting. And utterly fantastic.

If you want more Charlie bird—and who doesn't?—click here for the October set and here for the utterly pathetic November set.

Brennan, 4 years

Happy fourth birthday to Brennan!

How lucky our family is to have such a handsome little guy leading the pack of Thole cousins. Brennan is an attentive and protective big brother, a considerate and playful cousin, and one of the most thoughtful little boys I know. He always looks after Alexandra, caters to his cousin Mary Clare's demands and is beyond patient. (We still have no idea where he gets that. Maybe Grandma Pat?)

Brennan is the reason I started this blog in the first place, and I couldn't love him and those big brown eyes more. 

Happy birthday, B! We can't wait to celebrate with you next weekend. Mary Clare is most excited to see her "Bennan."

Friday, November 11, 2011

The big five

Dearest Husband,

I've been thinking for awhile now about what I would write to commemorate five years of marriage. So much has changed in our lives since the day we married. We have two children and a Lab, we've traveled together a bit, we've replaced nearly everything in our home and we've refinanced twice, for heaven's sake. And yet, despite the massive changes that life and two children can bring, everything seems the same. 

People often thank their spouses for putting up with the insanity or joining them on a wild, crazy ride. That's not us, though. We're too even keel. Too type A. Too us. So if life seems the same a year or five years from now, well, that's fine with me. Because it's a pretty good life. 

Loves you,

The Wife

P.S. How about that anniversary date? Five years on 11.11.11. Not bad. Not bad at all.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Go green

Ask anyone in our family, and they will agree:  Nothing runs like a Deere.

But even a John Deere needs a tune-up from time to time. And so Brennan went to work* on his tractor to ensure it stays in tip-top shape. Because you never know when you're going to need to do some hauling.

*Sherri said Brennan was completely serious about working on his tractor. Nothing was technically done to it, seeing as it runs on a battery and all, but I'm not going to be the one to tell that to Brennan.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hallmark, take note

Motherhood, like a lot of other things, is often a thankless task. However, there are those moments—the impromptu hugs, the declarations of love—that make every headache and tantrum worth it. Sherri had one of those moments on Sunday.

As Sherri wiped Brennan's bottom following an epic deuce—yes, we're going there—he turned to her and said, "Mom, you do a good job of wiping my butt. Daddy doesn't always do a good job and then my butt itches, but you always do a good job, mommy." 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The fireman and the bear

Despite not being the biggest fan of Halloween, Brennan rallied and donned his fireman costume and boots for the school parade and a quick round of neighborhood trick-or-treating. Alexandra squeezed her way into the original Mary Clare bear costume and was the cutest thing you ever did see. My mom was thrilled that another granddaughter was able to give the sweet costume its time in the spotlight. So what if Alexandra couldn't fully extend her legs? It's not like the little stinker is walking, anyway. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lost: one sheep

Happy Halloween from Little Bo Peep and her handsome devil of a sheep. Once again, we have Nana Thole to thank for another round of awesome costumes.

After the costumes were made, there was a momentary panic when Mary Clare declared that she wanted to be a "pincess" for Halloween, but after describing her hat and dress, we realized she was talking about her Little Bo Peep costume. Whew. Crisis averted.

Then, of course, Charlie grew another chin this past week, so the sheep hat just fits. As my mom likes to say, when sewing for our kids, she always has to remember to go down one pants size and up one head size. We're  not sure how we feel about that. The truth hurts, I guess. 

The next hurdle, of course, was getting a photo of Little Bo Peep and her sheep together. And that went about as well as can be expected. When we weren't straightening Charlie in his bumbo seat, we were trying to protect him from his staff-wielding sister. 

Little Bo Peep was eventually relieved of her staff. At which point she decided to take a load off and join Charlie on the bumbo seat because the grass, as she put it, was "too spicy."

Yeah, I really don't know what to say, either. And they're my kids.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

In search of the seven

Yesterday HRH Mary Clare had the pleasure of attending a princess themed birthday party for Meredith and Allison Maher at the Faust Park carousel. Seeing as little Snow White was going on all of a 10-minute nap, it's no surprise that she wasn't up for taking photos. She did, however, thoroughly enjoy the carousel and went for a whopping four rides. Four very long rides, if you ask Chip.


While Mary Clare may not know who Snow White is, she knows for damn sure that she is a princess. She made that abundantly clear to Chip after he called her Snow White.  "I not Snow White, daddy," she said. "I a pincess!"

Trou-ble. And we're totally aiding and abetting.