Nora Carroll, to be exact (ooooh, I'm so clever). Celebrating her very first Christmas in style with Mommy, Daddy, Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt Katy, Aunt Abby, and with a visit from Great Grandpa and Grandma Mayne.

Dancing with Grandpa on Christmas Eve

Presumably under the assumption that if she pretends to sleep Santa will come sooner than later

Opening gifts on Christmas morning

In need of a Christmas nap

Taking said Christmas nap

Hanging out with teddy in a vintage nineteen teens pram

Being goofy with Grandma

New dinosaur walker/bike

We spent a lovely evening in Oregon (Ore-gone) last night celebrating Mr. Benjamin James' first birthday. Ben was born on December 23rd, 2009 after about a gazillion hours of labor for his mamma.  He spent last night looking a little shell shocked as he hadn't actually wanted to wake up for his early evening nap, was up waaaaay past his bedtime, and was a bit overwhelmed by the hubbub of 30+  people watching him eat. 

 The birthday boy, just up from a nap.

Ben and his cousin Shamus (who will celebrate a first birthday in a few short weeks).

Shamus trying to decide if dinner is worth giving up his nuk.
Miss Lucy Drew slept through all the festivities

Opening gifts, with a little help from Mamma

Blowing out his candle.

Feeling a little overwhelmed as 30+ people look on while he tries to eat.

Ben skipped the cake entirely, and noshed on blueberries, his favorite.  He was actually upset that they were covered in icing. What a healthy kid!

Nora got to play with the other kids and with Auntie Julie.

And was delighted at her "Developmental Turtle" that she received from Julie and Brad for Christmas.  She also received a lovely book entitled "Noisy Nora".  (But we don't know anybody who fits that description, do we?)

And Nora learned that.....

You get to hang out with Uncle Brendan WAAAAAAY past your bedtime....

Christmas is SHINY!

Grandpy needs lots of help opening gifts.

Mimmi knows that books make good presents.

Aunt Sonya has fun taste in hats (even if she couldn't be there in person).

Mommy gets a little crazy when someone gives her a fancy new camera. It gets old. Fast.

But it takes some pretty lovely pictures.

Uncle Brendan is a pretty nice guy.

I mean, who else shares an interest in lighting fixtures?!

As you may remember from Three Dollars, Nora met Santa a few weeks ago.  Her picture came, as promised.  Santa may have his eyes closed, but she looks delighted to be making his acquaintance.

Miss Nora is...
  • 24.8 inches (12.25th percentile)
  • 13 lbs 12.8 oz (10.07th percentile)
She's actually made headway as the last couple visits she's been in the 10th and 7th percentiles respectively.

Her head continues to be ginormous and is almost in the 78th percentile.  She has many brains, apparently. We love her, ginormous head and all.

And a few more of our favorite photos from a recent photo session at Precious Moments Photography here in Lancaster.

Disclaimer: We do not normally allow our six month old to watch TV.

I mean a typical Sunday in Wisconsin in which one wishes to venture outside because the dogs are going stir crazy.

Step One: Make sure your "sled-puller" (ie. Mommy) selects wam, waterproof snow boots with appropriate traction. Improve traction by adding snow chains.

Step Two: Choose a comfortable, light fabric for your base layer.

Step Three: Put on an insulating layer to help retain heat by trapping air close to your body.

Step Four: Repeat step three because you are six months old and your mother doesn't want you to freeze to death.

Step Five:  Choose an appropriate shell to protect you from wind, rain or snow.

Step Six: You're ready to begin your outdoor adventure! 

Until, of course, you run into major headwinds at the top of Grandma and Grandpa's development and realize that it really does feel like waaay below zero. In which case, the best thing to do is for Daddy to pick you up and carry you the rest of the way with your face in his chest so your nose doesn't fall off.

After braving icy county roads this morning to have Nora's six month pictures* and a few family photos taken, we headed back into town, grabbed our own camera, and made our way down to the courthouse so that Nora could meet Santa. 

We didn't realize that the camera's batteries were dead until we were practically at the front of the line. Photos were available for purchase, just $3, but neither one of us had any cash. As we stood there trying to figure out what to do, the lady in front of us, in line with her granddaughter, turned around and handed me $3 cash.  I tried to give it back to her, but she refused "It's the holiday season" she said. 

Three dollars isn't a great hardship to us. We could have gotten out of line, and driven home or to an ATM.  But three dollars meant that we didn't have to re-bundle our six month old, shuffle our way over rather icy sidewalks back to the car, locate the money, shuffle back to the courthouse and go to the end of the line and un-bundle said six month old.  It meant that Nora had her picture taken with Jolly Old Saint Nick while she was awake, full, spit-up free, changed, and in a good mood.  It meant that we didn't snark at each other while deciding if one of us should stay while the other one ran back to get the money, or if we should both go home, and then inevitably try to decide if it was worth going back.  It meant that Nora will have evidence that she didn't scream in terror the first time she met Santa, delivered right to our house in a few days.

Santa Claus really was in the courthouse today, but he wasn't necessarily the guy with the red suit and beard. 

*Electronic proofs should be available Monday

Six months ago today I went to work really really tired of being pregnant (but with two weeks to go until my due date). I'd been having contractions for three weeks and I was sick of it.  So I sat on my exercise ball at my desk and complained to anybody who would listen.

At 12:30 I left for a 1:15 a follow up appointment from the day before as I was significantly effaced and somewhat dialated and doc wanted to check my progress. A few minutes into my appointment my water broke.  The doc was about to send us home with instructions to come back in eight hours if things weren't progressing.  Then, she checked the baby's position one last time.  She looked chagrinned.  "I'm not sure that's her head I'm feeling."  A few minutes later I sat alone in a dark X-ray lab staring at a photo that quite clearly showed a head up, butt down, feet up her nose baby.  I got an intrathecal and the doctor attempted to turn her.  It became pretty clear that the wee one had no interest in being head down and they quickly went to c-section.  At 4:40pm Nora Adalyn Carroll, all 5 lbs 14 ounces of her, was born.  Mike's first words?  "It IS a girl!"  Mine? "She's an angry little elf."

We've been attempting to cook a lot more lately (and in so doing, eating less Cap'n Crunch for dinner).  We're getting much better at planning menus ahead of time and then grocery shopping with actual meals in mind (instead of, say, Cap'n Crunch).  As our CSA is obviously seasonal, we've made the commitment to driving to Dubuque every other weekend as their selection is significantly better than Piggly Wiggly here in town.  Driftless Market in Platteville is another favorite, although a little pricey. We've figured out that seven nights worth of meals generally holds us for two weeks once we factor in leftovers, eating out once or twice, and weird work schedules.  I'm actually beginning to enjoy browsing through my cookbooks and picking out things to try.  Mike admits he's amazed at how much less meat he's eating and how much we've up'd his veggie intake (and reduced his Cap'n Crunch* consumption).  Nora, meanwhile, continues to gobble up whatever we give her, including green beans that I think taste like grass, and rice cereal that tastes exactly like paste.  Her favorite so far seems to be either butternut squash curry or oatmeal with apples and cinnamon. 

So...what's for dinner?
  • Three cheese and four veggie lasagna with whole wheat pasta
  • Roast salmon, fennel, and red onion with a side of lemon-dilled parsnips and turnips
  • Potato, spinach, and gouda soup with a side of whatever veggie needs eating
  • Grilled tuna with tomato salsa
  • Trout baked in cream with a side of whatever's available
  • Crab bisque (if I can find the far, not so good)
  • Pot Roast (for the meat eater)'ll have some Cap'n Crunch
That's what it looks like in the cookbook. Mine will not be so pretty.

*This has led to several discussions about who would win in a fight between Cap'n Crunch and Captain Morgan.  Or Captain Morgan and Admiral Nelson.  Mike contends that Captain Morgan would win all fights because Cap'n Crunch is short, and Admiral Nelson has a desk job.  I'm not so sure.