Friday, March 24, 2017

Hello Spring!

I feel like it has been spring for a while now. I mean, 3 weeks ago flowers were blooming and everything was covered in pollen. Then it snowed?! We have been staying busy and enjoying the outdoors no matter what crazy shifts the weather brings.

Our neighbor cleared some of trees from the lot behind us and Pat jumped all over the opportunity to help out. He loves to cut down a tree and we all love the fire that follows!

I just love bundled babies! I think they like it too. 

We also went to Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park. Pat was working in that area so we went up for a night. We had a great time (even though Cora and I were coming down with a cold). Lily loved every minute of it!

Speaking of warmer weather I love spending sunny afternoons outside. One of the best parts of the warmer weather is that our beloved Sno Cone establishment has opened. We pass it almost everyday and almost every time Lily asks if we can go, finally I was able to say yes!

"Mommy, will you put this flower in my hair?"

Then it snowed! Lily could have cared less but Pat was super excited!

Then there was birthday party fun...followed by the stomach bug, for Lily and me! AWFUL!

I did not look this angelic while recuperating!

We have been so excited about the new Beauty and the Beast movie. I wanted to take Lily during the week to avoid the crowds but Pat really wants to go to so when I saw a billboard for the ballet performance of the story I couldn't resist. Ballerinas and Beauty and the Beast?! It was mother/daughter date; Lily, Grammy and me!

The special occasion called for a little (fake) makeup.

I couldn't leave this post without mentioning some big news about Cora. Just last week she decided that bottles weren't all that bad! I can't believe it! Yay! She has also decided that solid foods are better than pureed ones. She went bananas over eggs last weekend and almost jumped out of her seat for mac n cheese! (videos on YouTube)

Poor baby has also had some rough days. She dodged the stomach bug but the last cold left her with (another) ear infection (her second after the one she got at Thanksgiving). Lily has only had one sick visit in 3 1/2 years so I'm still learning what to do and when to call. This time I was happy to hear that I had come "at the right time" and the infection was just starting. After the first 24 hours of meds she wasn't felling as well as I would have liked. I had a feeling something wasn't right but after 2 days her low-grade fever went away so I took that as a good sign. On day 4 I noticed she had a rash on her face. I took her in and it turns out shes allergic to penicillin. Not that big of a deal but the meds weren't working and now her ear infection had turned into a double ear infection. Boohoo! (I am also learning that mothers intuition is a real thing and I need to listen to it!) A change in meds and she was good as new the next day. The following week she had her well visit and her ears were clear. She weighs a whopping 12.5 pounds and is 25 inches long.

Tomorrow we head to Montana for a Stier family ski trip. It's going to be a little tough after the beautiful, warm weather we had earlier this week but I am packed and ready to go....I think. I hoping for safe travels and no illnesses. Wish us luck!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Sister, Sister

It's not surprising that this post is all about girls but this time it isn't only about my girls. I spent last weekend in the low country at Stier Sisters Weekend. Pat's Aunt Susan hosts the event at her home in Beaufort every year. It is dedicated to sisters, aunts, moms and cousins. It is a child-free event...unless your baby won't take a bottle. This year we had 2 little ones, Cora and Penelope.

Sunset bike ride!

This year my sister-in-law, Jenny thought it would be fun to do a polar bear plunge. Like many of the other ladies, I hadn't planned on participating but threw in a bathing suit just in case. Well, the hype got the best of me; I didn't want to miss out!

It is a fun time to reconnect, relax and take in the most beautiful scenery. It also helps me remember how lucky I am to have married into a wonderful family that is so welcoming and always there for one another.

Now for an update on the sisters in my life:

Cora turned five months old (on Feb, 5) and her personality is starting to come through. One thing we know for sure is that she is stubborn! I will back to my last post -- she had just turned 4 months old and I went back work a few days later. Well it turns out the bottle she took at Christmas was a fluke because she wouldn't take a bottle. Not at all. I know, I know they will eat when they get hungry. NOT! My first day back she went 12 hours without eating. The second day, she still wouldn't eat, and so on. Finally, she started eating yogurt. Now she is happily trying everything we throw her way and enjoying her days with Grammy and Pa. She still won't take a bottle so we are working on the sippy cup but we are all happy now!

She is starting to master sitting up and doesn't have any interest in a playmate. The dogs are becoming some of her favorite things as well as my watch and pretty much anything that isn't a toy. She is starting to allow strangers to hold her but she still prefers me if she's hungry or tired. She loves bouncing and is pretty much always happy if one of her sisters is in her sight.

Not to be out shined, Lily is our constant entertainment. I have loved being able to spend more time with her! I have decided to send her to "school" on Thursday mornings. One so I can spend one-on-one time with Cora, two so I can get some house work done and three, so she isn't asking to go to Mimi's by Saturday morning. She seems to grow every time I turn around! She is filled with silly sayings and there is certainly a void when she's not around. But whew, three year olds! She pushes the limits and is completely irrational. You better cut it right, cook it right, set it right, and say it right. Well sometimes, other times she has no problem rolling with the punches - you never know what you are going to get! She still insists on dresses and changes her outfit multiple times a day, consisting only of her favorites.  I never thought I would be like this but I pretty much let her wear whatever she wants. She only wants to wear her hair "long" so most of the time it's sticky and tangled. Parenting constantly reminds me to never say never!

Valentines Day fondue at Mrs. Dorothy's

Friday, February 3, 2017

Happy, Happy, Merry Year!

That was our 2016....and all of the major events I have fallen behind on sharing. We celebrated a Happy Birthday for Lily, a very Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I have a lot of ground to cover so here we go!

Lily turned three!

She was well aware that it was her third birthday when we celebrated but sometime between then and now she has decided that 4 is much cooler so if you ask, she will tell you she is 4. We have celebrated her birthday on November 22nd every year and I plan to continue that until she insists on a "real" party. One of my favorite things about Lily is her excitement; it doesn't take much to get an over the top reaction out of her. So she is perfectly happy with a gathering of family, a special cake and a few voices singing especially for her. Her birthday fell a few days before Thanksgiving this year and because we host that holiday at our home we kept things especially simple...kind of. We invited our parents to come over for her favorite meal of Bojangles and my mom made a cake. This year for the first time, Pat's sister Jenny and her family would be here to join us for Thanksgiving which also meant they would be around for her birthday. Jenny came with her 4 girls and turned my lack-luster party into a full-on PAR-TAY!

Three is a tough age for little ones (and their parents). Lily is completely aware of everything going on around her, she is beginning to have her own opinions and little did I know that 3 year olds are OCD! Lily loves picking out her own clothes, head-to-toe, including under garments. She insists on dresses, only dresses! "Pants are for boys!" We have finally compromised on appropriate clothing for outings and any dress she chooses while at home. She also hates to be wet. She loves swimming and baths but her clothes cannot be wet, especially her shoes. She will not step foot on wet ground unless she has on rain boots (or is with her childcare provider, Mimi but that doesn't count because she is magic :) ). Three also brings an even more advanced imagination. I love all of the pretend except when I sit on someone or something. LOL. She continues to be a wonderful big sister and one of Cora's favorite people. She is independent, hilarious, polite and very sweet! So far, I would say we have done a pretty good job! Oh, and I almost forgot, we have given up the binkey! She was only aloud to have them when she was sleeping but she began to bring them out of her room in the mornings and after nap to put them, "Right here" for safe keeping. Well, it wasn't long before they all went missing. One night shortly after her birthday, we couldn't find any at bed time. Pat and I talked to her about it, did our normal bedtime routine, left the room and looked at each other wondering if it was really that easy? Pretty much! She asked for it a few times over the next few weeks but she stuck with it (and I searched the house to find them before she did!). She really is a big girl now. We often look at her from a distance and notice how tall she is or watch her play and pout just a little.

Her favorite Snap Chat filter! This one came out shortly after she gave up her binkey. She sat, not moving a muscle, most likely dreaming of what it would be like to have just one more day with what used to be her most prized possession. Too funny!

Happy Thanksgiving!

As I mentioned, Jenny and her family joined us for Thanksgiving this year, in addition to Becky's husband Max (who has missed out while serving our country over seas). That means the entire Stier family was together this year! All 25 of us! It was crazy and loud and wonderful. I tried to prep everything I was in charge of the day before but there is no way around spending a good deal of time in the kitchen. The good thing about having so many people around is that I was rarely alone!

Pie making with Grammy

Max frying our turkey

Helping Aunt Haley with her famous corn casserole

The time the cousins were able to spend together was, in my opinion, the best part of the day!

Including Papa Jon's surprise, Magic Ralph!

I finished off the weekend with my best friends!

Pat in the Hat

Lily's playmate, Stewart turned 2. The theme of his party was The Cat in the Hat. When his mom was party planning the thought of having the actually cat in the hat there was a must but who in the world would wear the silly suit??? Pat of course! Pat did a few cameos as our high school mascot and when he slipped on that suit it all seemed to come flooding back. We had a blast goofing around the night before and he was an even bigger hit at the party!

I wish I had a video because he pulled out some dance moves that would be hard for most people minus the cat suit. It didn't matter how many times I told Lily it was Pat, she didn't want anything to do with him.

The next week we celebrated more birthday's. On December 5th, Pat turned 36 and Cora turned 3 months!

Three months brought a lot of firsts for Cora! She started rolling over, giggling and found her feet. She is a sweet little snuggler who prefers her mama over anyone else. She is setting no records for sleeping but Lily didn't either and I'm fine with that (for now). I also am in no rush to push her feedings because she is still tiny. Lily has always been little but Cora is tiny. When they told me she was in the 2nd percentile, initially my heart sank but the pediatrician assured me that she is perfectly healthy, just petite. Strangers think she is a newborn, commenting on how well she holds her head up. Haha! Lily recently asked if she would be staying with us forever and replied with a big, "Oh goody!" when I told her yes. Now she tells every stranger who comments on the baby that, "She lives with us forever!" I'm so glad she's as excited about it as I am! 

Getting in the spirit

I love to put up our Christmas decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving but the last few years I have been so tired from the week that my spirit hasn't been completely in it. But the excitement it brings to Lily pushes me and makes it enjoyable! It took a few tries but once she mastered hanging the balls, she was on a roll. She hung all of them in one stop! LOL Cora was a part of the fun too, hanging out in her usual spot on my chest. She was memorized by the lights.

So proud of herself!

Every ball was hung in one spot. LOL

My extended maternity leave allowed for a lengthy vacation. Every year on our trip to PA we talk about what we would like to do in the years to come. This year, Pat worked hard in the months leading up to take the extra time to squeeze in pretty much everything we have always wanted to do. We wanted to take multiple days traveling on the way up, spending extra time at some of our favorite spots as well as arriving with days to spare before Christmas. We made our first stop in Virginia at Glade Springs Resort. We ate, went bowling and tried to stay warm!

This is pretty much how Cora spent the whole vacation

Lily took advantage of all of the amenities and was fascinated by the telephones!

Next stop, Pittsburgh. We were considering skipping this and trying to make it all the way because of the weather but poor Lily got car sick. Boy, that is an experience! I told Pat it's like a right of passage. Our parental status climbed a few notches!

We had a great time! We took a shuttle downtown and went straight to the ice skating rink. Lily loves to put on slippers and "skape" around the house so this is something she was really looking forward to. I waited for her and Pat to get on the ice, phone ready and all of the sudden I look down and my phone died! Apparently extreme cold temperatures drain the battery. Luckily, I met some very nice people that snapped a picture for me!

The next day was a great deal warmer so we started off by heading back downtown. You will never guess who we found.....Santa!

Next, we went up the incline to look over the city. The overlook was frozen over so we went ice skating again. This time I could take part!

And the next day we reached our final destination, Port Allegany, PA! Lily was so happy to finally be at Grammy and Paw's. The snow was fading quickly with the rising temperatures but we got in one sled riding session. Actually, it was only Pat and Lily. By the time Cora and I were bundled and out the door, I heard crying - Lily was done. The snow gets icy as it starts to melt which makes it hard. That makes for good, fast sledding conditions but it doesn't feel so good when you take a tumble. We managed to get her out again when the second round of snow came through but the experience didn't make her want to run back out.

We took our annual trip to the mall and also hit up the arcade.

And of course there was cookie and gingerbread decorating.

Before Christmas we spent a few nights at the ski resort in New York. I love the town of Ellicottville. It is charming and quaint, lined with shops and restaurants. First things first though -- skiing! Pat was so excited to take Lily and I was surprised how compliant she was with the gear. She is the cutest little snow bunny!

She did better than I expected! Toddlers don't last too long in cold weather but she stuck with it for about 2 hours. We were initially planning on enrolling her in ski school but I figured she would be done by the time the classes finished so Pat took on the roll as teacher. I'm not sure how much teaching he did but it was cute to watch. After a few trips around the practice area she spotted the lift and want to "ride that!". So up they went. She loved riding down the big (bunny) slope with Pat and she did well by herself but wasn't a fan of the tumble at the end. By the time we made it to dinner she couldn't keep her eyes open. Literally, she fell asleep while she was eating!

Merry Christmas

I love that Christmas gets more exciting every year! Lily was really into the cookies and milk this year, she even left Santa her gingerbread house (minus all of the candy she ate off of it). Another good thing about this year is that Lily isn't old enough for the excitement to wake her up at dawn. We slept until 10:00!!! (After a late bedtime of course) If you are interested in watching Lily's Christmas morning, I have posted a video on YouTube. 

Paw reading The Night Before Christmas!
 (On the Ipad because I didn't buy the book. We have it now though!)

We finished out our trip, on New Year's at Niagara Falls. The beauty of the falls never get old to me!
The lines in the hotel though - Ugh! There were lines for the elevators, lines for the restaurants and the check in line was longer than any line we have ever waited in at Disney! But it was all worth it when we opened the door to our room and saw the view. 

 Not a bad view to wake up to!

Another memorable but LONG Christmas vacations in the books!

We returned home to some beautiful, warm weather. I soaked up my last few days with my babies before reality hit and I went back to work.

With all of the wonderful things we were able to experience over the last few months we have also seen great loss. Within hours of returning home, we received the news that Pat's Aunt Jeannie lost her battle with cancer. She was such a fighter! Her strength and positive attitude was an inspiration to anyone who knew her, as well as a major influence on her long lasting fight. She was wonderfully celebrated and will be greatly missed!