Thursday, February 24, 2011

Playing Hookie

One year ago from last Thursday, at 10:54 pm, our little Charly Grace was born. To celebrate, Kelli and I decided to play hookie!

Well, not exactly. We each took personal days away from school so we could spend the day with Charly. She opened presents in the morning, ate a big breakfast, and then we took her to Coralville to shop and visit the Iowa Children's Museum.

We weren't exactly sure what Charly would get out of a "museum". We weren't really sure what Kelli and I would get out of the museum! After getting a brief tour, just to see if it would be worth our time, we decided to pay and see how she would react.

She loved it!

Her favorite exhibit was the grocery store. There are mini shopping carts and lifelike coolers of toy fruit, vegetables, and meat. Along with aisles of boxed goods, cans, and cash registers. Charly may not be able to add, but she sure knows how to shop and she sure knows what she wants! In a matter of minutes, she'd located the box of Ritz crackers (her favorite) off a shelf. She was proud as could be, waddling between the aisles, fruit and veggies in hand. We spent nearly 45 minutes just watching her navigate the store! And she still didn't want to leave!

We took her to an airplane exhibit next, which she enjoyed, and then to Imaginacres, a makeshift farm. She liked roaming and watching the other kids play but she occasionally picked up a rake or a hoe and tried to plant a few crops!

Before we left she sat in an ambulance and she had to visit the grocery store one last time. If we wouldn't have made her a bottle and dangled it in front of her face, she would still be filling her shopping cart today! She drank her bottle but just couldn't fall asleep with so much going on.

On our way out, Kelli took her on the carousel. Kelli thought it moved incredibly fast for a children's ride. And after the busy afternoon, Charly was sound asleep before we returned to the parking lot, nearly the instant her coat was buttoned back up inside.

We stopped at Scratch back in Cedar Falls and bought her a cupcake and enjoyed the rest of the night with her. It's amazing that a year ago, we were in a hospital room, staring at her helplessly swaddled and sleeping. And today, she's walking and talking and shopping for groceries.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One Sweet Celebration

Last Saturday afternoon, Kelli and I invited our families over to celebrate Charly's first birthday. She was rather spoiled.

Kelli loves candy. I like candy. It's destined that Charly will like candy too. So we decided to give her first birthday party a theme . . . candy! We bought Target out of their Valentine candy and transformed our sofa table into a "candy shoppe" of sorts. Kelli even made mini-candy jars for everyone to fill and take home as a party favor. We placed them throughout the house and upon leaving, our family members filled them with their favorites.

Charly's cake wasn't about to be shown up by the spread of candy either! Kelli wrestled with different ideas for Charly's cake for a long time. Eventually, we dragged our feet and began running out of options. Luckily, our friend Chris's aunt makes cakes and was able to whip one up for us in time. It was awesome! It looked right at home amidst our table of food and pink and red hearts. She even made a small cake for Charly to tear into, when the time came.

Lately (2 weeks leading up to the party) Charly has had a nasty cough that wouldn't seem to go away. We think it has affected her appetite. She had been eating more and more "people food" but with her persistent cough, she has resorted right back to her bottles and baby food. On Saturday though, while her aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents dug into the food at her party, Charly found her appetite back! And discovered she loves strawberries!

For not even being a year old yet, we were pretty impressed with the way Charly tore open the wrapping paper on her presents. She's very thankful and appreciative already at such a young age. We must have taught her well so far . . . She asked Kelli to read her a few of her cards, showing that it's polite to take your time and appreciate who the gift-giver is . . . She took time to play with each present she opened, drawing out the gift-opening and showing that it's respectful to show the gift-giver that you aren't necessarily looking forward to what else you have yet to open . . . She waited patiently while Grandpa cut open boxes, showing that knives are dangerous, even when in the hands of a pro . . . and instead of tossing clothes aside and playing with her new toys, she held the clothes in front of her to give the gift-giver an impression of what their outfit will look like on her. She even provided some "halftime" entertainment, spinning on the floor and hugging her new doll. We were so proud of our little starlet!

When it came time for Charly to eat her cake, we didn't know what to expect. Kelli and I both naturally thought Charly would primly eat her cake, fearful of getting herself dirty. She doesn't like to make messes. But friends and family had told us they had expected similar behavior with their own children and instead discovered that when a one-year old is given the opportunity to explore with food and make a mess, they jump all over it.

Well, Charly didn't want much to do with her cake. She poked at it. She licked frosting off her fingertips. We gave her a spoon and she used it to scoop frosting off and eat but for the most part, the cake remained untouched. Kelli and I encouraged her to make a mess and she refused! It wasn't until the day after, when we gave her some leftover cake, that she ate some. She can be such a finicky little thing . . .

22 people were 19 too many for Elliot. She hid out in Charly's crib most of the afternoon!

Kelli and I both admitted, there was a bit of a letdown after the party. We've been cleaning, and painting, and cutting, and buying for nearly the entire last month and then poof, the day was over and our little girl's first year of life had been celebrated by our family. We had been so busy and consumed with getting things ready for the day that I think the fact that Charly is actually turning ONE slipped right by us!

The silver lining in holding her party the weekend before her birthday, was that the brief moment of letdown wouldn't last long, because her real birthday was yet to come (5 days away)! Kelli and I had even more celebrating to do with our little girl!

We are so thankful for having such loving families to share these special moments with. Even Great-Grandma Henrichs and Aunt Fern and Shirley surprised us!

It was a perfect day. This girl is well-loved.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day (a few days late)!

A Sunday matinee movie, a Monday dinner at J's Homestyle (for the second Valentine's Day in a row!), getting our house ready for a birthday celebration, and planning for grueling parent-teacher conferences . . . didn't hardly have time to squeeze in a holiday, but we did our best.

And this little Valentine steals our hearts more and more each day.

We just hope her Valentine's Day present keeps her sleeping through the night!