June 5, 2012


The best part of a Beatrix Potter birthday party?

(Aside from the double-chocolate mini cupcakes and lavender lemonade, naturally)

Beatrix Potter party hats made by Aunt Zizzy and animal faces done by Oma.

Of course, Jemima Puddleduck's egg hunt:

Mr Jeremy Fisher's fishing game:

and Peter Rabbit's Garden Obstacle Course (organized and led by Grandpa):

... are all great fun, too.

One happy and tired three-year-old!

May 30, 2012

My little girl

See that little girl toddling around in the ladybug bathing suit?

She's getting to be pretty definitively a little girl these days, but kissable hints of babyishness still remain; those (long!) chubby legs, the cuddly way she lays her head in my lap when she's tired, her enduring love for her "ba ba." But she can say "ba ba" now, when she wants one. That's new.

She has an all-encompassing passion for cats. She chases her cat friends around and around the house, grabbing onto their tails with a little vise grip. She has learned to make the "tsk tsk" sound to call them over to her. She greets them when she sees them: "Hi, Cat!"

She can identify every cat in every one of her books. She has also learned the sound a pig makes and tries to imitate it, making a kind of coughing sound because she doesn't know yet how to snort the way mama does. She loves books with peekaboo flaps and lifts them so enthusiastically that she accidentally tears them off and we find them stuck to our feet days later.

She waves wildly to everybody she meets and isn't content if they don't wave back. I have a secret love in my heart for everybody who does. She has learned about babies, and she loves to see them. "Bee bee!" she cries, when she sees one in its mother's arms at the splashground, or in a picture, or on TV.

She loves to watch videos of herself as a baby on the laptop. She kneels and puts her face close to the screen to watch, scrutinizing every detail, as though there is going to be a test.

She is good at giving kisses. Sometimes she will lay them on thick in a string of five or six open-mouthed busses: "A-WAH! A-WAH! A-WAH!" Sometimes she shakes her head no, smiling because she knows she's teasing and she likes being in on the joke. Some people only warrant a blown kiss, a little chubby hand that flies to her mouth and lingers there, because, yes, hands are still delicious.

She's a funny little girl, who loves to laugh, who gets angry because the ice cubes from my drink are too cold to hold but she doesn't want to put them down, who finds a soft pillow on the floor and lays down to drink her bottle in peace and comfort. She points to things that she finds novel or interesting, and the list grows longer every day. Every day she takes a few more steps on her own...but she still looks back over her should to break into a grin when she sees we're watching.

She's my little girl, and I love her so.

May 29, 2012


I think the process of moving, if you were to plot it on a graph, would be as spiky up and down as the heart monitor of a tachycardia patient. You have the task of looking for a new home, which is full of peaks and valleys as you search for the right place for your family, find it, fall in love with it, and then find out it's off the market or has been whisked away for some reason or another. There's a big spike up when you finally find the right place and get it. Then you ride that wave for a couple of days, a week, as you plan out all the fabulous summer barbecues, the birthday parties, the cozy winter nights by the fire. (Your "Pin it" button gets a lot of use in these times.)

But then you start the process of packing, of actually dismantling your life in the place you're leaving, and slide down into a kind of valley. Not only because packing in itself sucks major ass, brings about the desultory realization that you have accumulated SO MUCH CRAP you don't need, but because you start to realize that despite the crappy neighbor, the lack of yard, the lack of space...you are going to miss this place, the place you have lived, the place you live now.

I will never forget the day, four years ago, that James and I visited our condo for the first time with our realtor. It was a sunny day, light streaming into the windows, and I walked around the living area, imaging our furniture in it.  I closed my eyes, and placed the couch along the long wall in the back, really seeing it. It was a perfect fit. I thought, someday I'll bring my newborn baby home from the hospital and sit with her on that couch, right here in this room. 

And it happened just like I thought it would. 

There are so many memories I will have of our first home together. Soaking in the bathtub with my Federal Courts casebook propped on the edge, turning the pages with wrinkled fingertips. So many poker nights with friends, the slap and zip of cards being shuffled, laughter filling the air. Under one of the tiles on the kitchen floor, Baby Lulu's name is written in Sharpie, along with the names (and cartoon faces) of each of the cats; we wrote her name there the day we found out she was a girl and finally decided it for certain, which just happened to coincide with a frenzied, nesting-based kitchen remodel.

And then there's the first night we brought Lu home from the NICU, when J. and I lay in the bed with her, too amped and afraid to drift off to sleep. Her first Christmas, with the tree wedged in the corner. Her first birthday party, with zig-zag banners and overflow guests sitting cross-legged on our sisal rug. And all the little quiet moments in between.

My parents moved from my first home to the house I grew up in when I was four, and I remember it, vaguely, my old house, my birth house. Laying in a slant of light in the sunroom, sitting against the olive-green refrigerator in the kitchen. Lulu's too young to remember her first place. And that makes me sad. Because for all of its paint-peelingness, too-smalledness, outgrownedness...it was a good place for us. It deserves to be remembered. There's been a lot of happiness here.

We'll have to be sure to tell her all about it. So that we don't forget, ourselves.

February 23, 2012


Checking out the two dozen robins AND female woodpecker that appeared within the course of five minutes in our backyard this morning (seriously - I said, "Carl, I saw the first robin!" and by the time he made it to the window, our yard was carpeted with them).

We are all SO ready for spring.

(Side note: I made Gracie's dress for her; it's a little big (new pattern, measurements are a bit wonky, but now that I know what to expect I can adjust accordingly), but she refused to take it off after I tried it on her this morning. I am washing fabric now to make one for Joy. Easiest pattern I've ever used - so happy, because I love being able to make clothes for my littles!)

I hear birdsong outside, and it's sweeter than any music. Spring means adventures and outdoors and sunshine and our first-ever garden (in containers, but we're very excited). And probably mosquitos, given how bad they were last summer and fall, but we're going to include lemon verbena in our container gardens, so hopefully that will help ward them off.

Are you excited for spring?

February 14, 2012

Gunka Trips

Sometimes I like to stop and try to look at things through the littles' eyes, wondering what sort of memories different activities and events will form. How will Joy remember these days of attempting kindergarten together? Will her skating lessons this winter affect how she approaches every other new challenge (she has AWESOME teachers, BTW - props to the Albany Skating Club)? Will Grace remember all the cuddles and snuggles and us listening to her wild stories, or will all that fade as she grows older?

I have some memories from childhood that stand out with brilliant clarity; some that have faded so much I need others to bring them up. Then there are the stories other people tell which I KNOW, from other memories, cannot possibly be true (no, Auntie, I NEVER got scolded for choking on a too-big bite and eating too fast - I couldn't have, because #1, that's not the sort of thing Dad would have scolded me for, and #2, I was always such a slow eater that by the time I went to kindergarten Mom was worried I'd starve because I wouldn't eat my lunch in enough time. So there).

So, so many of my memories revolve around my extended family. All the aunts and uncles and cousins, and the great-aunts and great-uncles, too. 

One of my younger uncles - Dad is the firstborn of eight, he comes sixth in line - has made a point of visiting us for a few days once a year, ever since Joy was very little. So many of my early childhood memories are around doing fun things with the younger uncles and aunts - going to the county fair, early morning trips to the local bakery for maple eclairs, babysitting adventures and watching The Princess Bride, etc. So it is especially peculiar for me to put myself in my children's shoes as I watch them interact with "Gunka" (short for great-uncle - he chose the nickname, but the girls often tease him by changing it to Gunkie). He is no longer the uncle just out of high school, hanging out and having fun, but he still make a point to visit and do fun things, to be a part of their lives as much as he can. How will they remember these days when they are grown? Will he be Grandpa's fun and funny younger brother (I have a couple of those, since my grandfather is also the oldest of eight), or will he be more, almost a glorified uncle, since they only have one actual uncle right now? Or am I overthinking it too much, will they just accept him as a part of their lives without ever classifying their memories of him?

However it goes, I'm excited to find out, someday.

February 7, 2012

Trains and Meltdowns

Sometimes Carl and I forget just how much the littles do pick up from our conversations with each other. Car rides are our best time for discussion, which means that they get to hear everything we say. We do have some sense of propriety - some matters for discussion stay in the bedroom, yes? - but we never hesitate to talk about serious matters in the car or at the dinner table, from politics to philosophy to theology to our future.

It's that last one that was giving Joy some worry, and made me realize how aware I really do need to be of little ears.

We've told the girls for a while that we will probably be moving to Chicago in the next year. We've built it up for them, given them all sorts of things to look forward to when we move out there (especially, oh especially the train). Except now all of the sudden Chicago has become Boston (most likely - long story that can be summed up in "just as good of a grad school for Carl, better job opportunities"), and we kinda sorta forgot to talk it over with the littles.

We've talked about it plenty in front of them, though, which just might explain Joy's most recent meltdown precipitated by not being able to ride the train when we took Gunka (their great-uncle) to the station after a visit. I got no sense out of her sobs (with hands pressed firmly over her eyes while tears streamed down behind them), but Carl finally managed to get out of her that she didn't want to move to Boston; if we were going to move at all, she wanted to move to Chicago. With the trains.

A little more digging also found out that this upcoming trip we're taking to visit the school, she thought was going to be our move. She thought we were moving to Boston this weekend.

Ack, my heart broke.

Joy pays attention to everything, she thinks about everything, but she doesn't talk about much. Especially when she's worried or scared.

We explained to her that we don't even know for certain yet that we will be moving to Boston, but when we do know, we'll tell them. We'll have lots of time to prepare (granted, our move from PA to NY took place in two weeks, but to a kid, that's long enough). We won't just up and move them without talking about it.

Then we started talking about all the fun things there are to do in Boston - I even read to her a little from Make Way for Ducklings - and we promised that there are trains in Boston, too, and we will ride them.

She's been doing better ever since then, but it was a good reminder to us that, as they used to say, "little pitchers have big ears," and if we are going to talk about everything and anything in front of the littles, we'd better make sure we are including them in those talks, explaining things to them, and using language and ideas they can understand.

Otherwise, there is going to be a whole lot of confusion, and many more meltdowns.

And nobody wants that.

February 2, 2012

Six More Weeks of What?

According to Punxsutawney Phil, we have six more weeks of winter.

To which I say HA! And ha again.

What winter?

The littles have been asking every day to go build a snowman.

Dudes, we don't even have a dusting of snow. It rains at least once a week. The rest of the time it is either mild and sunny or mild and cloudy or - just to keep us from getting too comfortable - it suddenly turns to bitter cold. But still no snow.

It's been a disappointment to us. We are finally living in a house with a yard, first time ever. We finally have a place where we could drag the littles around in their small sled (the last year Joy will fit into it, the way she's growing - Gracie might squeeze in another year, but not Joy), where we could build a snowman, snow fort, snow angels, have a blast.

And instead, winter is soggy.

This was last January:

At the park where, I swear, they were having more fun than it looks

And this is last month:

We had to go all the way to the mountains of Massachusetts to find even this much snow!

At this rate, spring will come before we've even noticed there was a winter.

January 29, 2012

Building baby's library

Almost as soon as I had that positive pregnancy test, I started collecting books for Baby Lu's library. I ordered books willy-nilly from Amazon, poured over "best of" lists, scoured thrift stores, asked friends and family to recommend their favorites, so that my daughter's library would be as interesting and well-rounded as I want her to grow up to be.

In the months since Lu came, we've tried to get creative with finding books for her collection. Here are some of our favorite ways to build her library from the ground up.

Look in the attic:
Chances are, your parents have saved a few of your old favorite reads, for sentimental reasons. Ask them to take a look to see what they have. There's something sweet about books bridging the gap between generations.

Find books to honor loved ones:
Over at Constance Reader, I blogged about a gift someone gave Lu for her first Christmas: a book featuring a character with my grandmother's name. Other readers chimed in to talk about their tribute books--buying a book about a teacher, to honor a parent with that profession, or a book that features a sibling's nickname or favorite color.

Collect milestone books: This has been a fun one in Lu's first year. Whenever she hits a milestone, we buy a book to commemorate it. The first time she slept through the night, we bought a copy of Goodnight, Moon to celebrate. When James's sister was married in Maine, he brought back Blueberries for Sal. We've just ordered a copy of Slither and Crawl in honor of Lulu mastering this skill last week! When it comes, I'll write the date and occasion inside the cover, and how old she was, to make a bookish kind of time capsule.

Make your own books:
Lu has one set of grandparents in the area, but my side of the family lives at the other end of the state. We don't see them as often as we'd like, so I used Shutterfly to make photo books featuring all of the smiling faces we miss. Each person in the family picked a color, and we took a picture of that person wearing or holding something in that color. A good way to teach Baby Lulu about the rainbow, and to keep in touch with the family she doesn't see every day.

Host a book-themed birthday party:
Offbeatmama has some great ideas for planning a book-themed birthday party, including invitations, cakes, favors, and decor. When friends ask what baby needs or wants, ask them to bring a copy of their favorite book, with birthday wishes written inside for baby to treasure all her life.

How do you build your child's book collection? Are there any books that mark special occasions in your child's life?

January 24, 2012

Waltzing Matilda (or Grace)

These are the sorts of conversations that go on at our house every day. Tell me we're not alone in this?

Mamma: Gracie, please finish your food before you get down from the table.

Grace (already down): Well, I can't finish eating right now.

Mamma: Why not?

Gracie: Well, I just have to dance for a little while.

And so she danced. What, like I'm going to stifle that impulse?

Gotta Dance!

January 19, 2012

My momma told me

The last time my mom visited, we put on makeup together in the bathroom, and I told her about a trick that she had showed me when I was younger: only put mascara on your top lashes. She didn't remember telling me. "That's common knowledge," she said. "You probably read it in a beauty magazine."

"Nope," I said. "You said it." She wanted to know how I could be sure she had. "Because what you say sticks with me," I said.

Recently I came across a list of quotations by famous writers, musicians, athletes, et cetera, talking about things their mothers had told them, and I thought it was interesting how deeply some of these quotes stuck with them, and shaped there future lives.

Here are some of my favorites from that list:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” -(Mr.) Fred Rogers

"You don't have to prove anything," my mother said. "Just be ready for what God sends." -William Stafford, poet and pacifist.

"My mother said I must always be intolerant of ignorance but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school, were more educated and more intelligent than college professors." -Maya Angelou

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” -John Lennon

"My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent. " - Ruth Bader Ginsburg

"My mother always told me, even if a song has been done a thousand times, you can still bring something of your own to it. I'd like to think I did that." -Etta James

"I hope they're still making women like my momma. She always told me to do the right thing. She always told me to have pride in myself; she said a good name is better than money."
- Joe Louis

What's something your mother told you that's stuck with you?

Learning CAN Be Fun.

Do any of you remember Discovery Toys? They were an AWESOME part of my childhood. Toys and games that truly were educational, helping to make learning fun and relatively painless. My favorites were the Think-Links and those little wooden shapes that you could lay out in different patterns to make various pictures.

But the best, the very best thing of all, was the Sounds Like Fun cassette tape. My sister and I listened to that all the time, had every song on there memorized.

So when, a year or so after Carl and I were married, we went to a county fair and I saw a Discovery Toys booth there, I immediately looked to see if they had Sound Like Fun.

I wasn't as impressed with some of their offerings - as with most companies, the quality seemed to have slipped since I was a child (though their marble sets were still COOL), but oh joy! oh bliss! they had Sounds Like Fun in CD form.

I bought it, for the future when we had kids. And then I made Carl listen to it on the way back from the fair. Because I am EVIL. (And yes, I sang along with every. single. song.)

We started playing it for Joy when she was a newborn, and Grace as well. Now, it is their favorite CD, and they have all the songs memorized. It has helped them learn phonics without even realizing it, counting skills, the months of the year, good manners, and how to count to 10 in Spanish, plus more.

Now they are calling it Sounds Like Learning but it's still the same CD. If you have a chance to get one, do so. It's amazing how much easier it is to memorize and absorb things when they are set to music. The fact that I have never taken a Spanish class in my life but can easily say "Good morning, how are you," and "I'm very well, thank you, and how are you?" in comprehensible Spanish is proof to that!

January 18, 2012

Words to live by

I came across this plate on Pinterest (are you pinning? I want to follow you!) and I'm going to have to track it down and buy it, because I love the quote embossed in it. I love this plate so much that I've set it as the background of my work computer. If I owned it, I would eat breakfast off of it every day, as a reminder to myself.

So often, it's easy to think of happiness as a luxury instead of a necessity. This quote inspires me to make a real effort to be happy...not only because I deserve it, but because it's true. Happiness is good for the health, and my happiness benefits everybody around me, too. Nobody likes a mama who's under the weather!

What quotes inspire you to seek happiness throughout your day?

January 17, 2012

Little Miss Sunshine

I've suspected it for a while, but after last night, there is no denying it.

My baby has a downright sunny disposition.

People are saying it to me all the time: She's so happy! She's so delighted all the time! She never cries (a notion I could disabuse them of. Lulu does cry--copiously, at times). But she'll go to strangers with little to no prompting, no tears. She has a smile for everybody she meets. Even when I am firm with her--when she bites me while nursing, and I respond with a loud, meant-to-shock-her NO--Lulu smiles. And laughs.

(It's actually kind of annoying. Not to mention PAINFUL.)

Last night, we bundled our croupy baby up and ran her to the ER to get an attack of croup checked out. The triage area was full of babies wailing miserably, of little kids with tear-stained faces. But Lulu was laughing and waving, even while barking out those awful-sounding coughs.

The doctors and nurses commented on it, as she allowed them to examine her without a peep, as she showed off her six pearly teeth in face-splitting smiles. Did you give her anything? What, like Xanax? Um, no. Is she always like this? Well...yes. We sat and watched Lu play contentedly with the cords of her oxygen monitor, while the neighboring cubicles resounded with sounds of PURE WOE.

Totally unconcerned with the fact that somebody just stuck a q-tip down her throat.

I have a happy baby. I sort of didn't believe it could happen. James is a pleasant-enough guy, but he can be cynical and fatalistic to a fault when he feels like it. And with my struggles with depression...I thought we would pass along our worst traits to our little one.

But Lulu is happy. Even when things are bad. And she is teaching me--something else I didn't think would happen, at least not for a long while--to do the same.

They say that a mother can only be as happy as her saddest child. But that goes the other way, too: when the child is happy, that happiness is infectious.

In my unhappy moments, my sunny baby cheers me up and gives me confidence that I must be doing something right. And for that, I am so grateful.

my whirlwind girl

If I had my way, no unhappiness would ever touch her life. But if (when) it does, I will remember the happiness she brings me now, and pay it back as hard as I can.

January 10, 2012


Joy tends to be pretty withdrawn, unsure of herself in new situations. So after much discussion, Carl and I decided to sign her up for skating lessons this winter. She already loves the ice, and we figured it would be a great chance for her to learn that she can, in fact, do something without a parent, grandparent, or aunt right there with her.

(Plus, you know, the earlier she starts preparing for her Olympic career the better)


I wouldn't go with her for her first day of lessons. She panics more and clings more to me, and I wanted to give her every chance to not give in to fear. So Carl took her, and I stayed home with Gracie and a knotted stomach.

She loved it. "And I wasn't even a little bit scared!" she crowed as she leaped into my arms when they got home.

"Are you excited for next time?" I asked.



This time, at least, we made the right call.

According to Carl, she was pretty much just humoring the pros by using the bucket. They quickly caught on that she didn't, in fact, need it.

Actually sitting and listening - amazing! Instead of tuning out and doing her own thing! Incredible what happens when someone-not-your-mother teaches you!

So very ready to go it alone, but still following the pro's directions. Yay Joy!

January 8, 2012

A Mother's Best Friend

It's no secret that we're readers in this house. I grew up with my nose in a book, and while Carl doesn't have the same background as an avid reader that I do, it only took him a couple of years into our marriage to start amassing an even larger library than I have (in my defense, this is only because I still get most of my books from the library, whereas Carl just purchases his. Also, his books are bigger than mine, so when I say larger library, it doesn't necessarily mean he has more than I do, just that, literally, it is larger). We were reading to Joy from our first day home - one of my favorite memories is of her tucked up in her little bassinet, with Carl sitting next to her reading aloud from Winnie-the-Pooh. The nurse on night duty in the birthing center laughed when she came in to check on Grace and me after Grace's birth - there we were, with Gracie only a few hours old, and she was comfortably tucked up in one arm, nursing, while I was holding a book in my other hand and reading. "You've done this before," the nurse said. Yep. Read through two Charles Dickens books in Joy's first few months nursing! She took almost an hour to nurse each time, so I had lots of time for heavy tomes with her. Grace, on the other hand, was about ten minutes start to finish each time (they call her - SUPER-nurser!), so I quickly learned to only read books I could take in short doses with her.

Ah, memories.

Anyway - we still love to read to and with the girls, but sometimes, we want them to be able to enjoy a story without us, you know? Like, so we can take a shower or eat some food without immediate demands on our time? And since we do try to limit their tv intake, and since Joy is only tentatively starting on the path toward reading herself and Grace is nowhere near there yet ... I was beyond thrilled when one of my friends posted a link to this site on her FB page.

Books Should Be Free

Now, they have more than just children's audiobooks here, but I still have yet to make it past the children's page. I immediately downloaded the Beatrix Potter treasury (my girls adore Potter - oddly enough, Peter Rabbit is only mildly amusing to them, but they love the more obscure stories, like The Pie and the Patty-Pan, or The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes), and let them listen to it on my computer while I did housecleaning yesterday. Bliss.

Then I remember the iPod (with no charger, because it got lost) that my sister gave to me a few years ago when she got a new one, and thought, "a-ha! I finally have an excuse to buy a charger for this thing." A few purchases later, downloading stories from Mamma's computer onto the iPod, hooking the iPod up to our sound system, and this morning, Gracie has a decent consolation for having to stay home while Papa takes Joy to her very first skating lesson.

A morning curled up on the couch listening to Just-So Stories? Well, it may not be ice (this fall, baby, I promise - after you turn three you'll be old enough for lessons), but it's still quite nice.

(And yes, I rhymed that on purpose. Accolades accepted.)

January 5, 2012

Signature scent

My grandmother had a signature scent. It was Giorgio, by Giorgio Beverly Hills. Every Christmas, she would receive a new yellow-and-white striped box of it. Every time I'm missing her really bad, I go to the Macy's perfume counter and get a sample and I'm right back in her arms.

For that reason, I love the idea of a signature scent. I'm a perfume girl--for the past few years, my go-to has been Vanillary by Lush. But normal perfumes are too harsh for poor little Lulu's sensitive skin, and so I had to stop wearing perfume after everything I tried made her break out into a rash.

But I think I might have found a compromise.

L'Occitane's Mom & Baby Water has a gentle almond smell with a light floral note, sort of like if clean laundry and vanilla sugar cookies had a baby. It's so mild that it won't cling to baby's hair and skin and stink her up, but it's got staying power to last through the day. It's alcohol free, and enriched with glycerin, which means that it won't harm sensitive skin.

I love the memories that smells evoke and I love the fact that this scent (along with Burts Bees Baby Bee!) will always evoke for me the first months of motherhood.

What's your signature scent? Are there any kid-friendly perfumes that you just adore?

(Dried spit-up doesn't count. Because nobody adores that.)

The 4 o'clock slump

My SAHM mom friends refer to it as the "4 o'clock slump"--the last hour in the long day before their spouse comes home, when they are tiredest and the kids are at their most grumpy and trying.

In my house, it's the 7 o'clock slump. Because James and I both work at home, our day looks a little different. By 7 o'clock, we've both put in a full day at the "office." We're both exhausted. We've read stacks of books, been to the park, given baths, done a craft or activity, and the house is a mess, dinner still needs to be prepared, a forgotten load of cloth diapers is soaking in the washer, waiting to be rinsed and hung up to dry. From 7 to 8 o'clock comes the hour in which we snipe at each other over wet towels left on the floor, when we get resentful about the things in the day we planned to do but aren't going to, now, when Lu is laying on her stomach on the floor at we have no idea what to do with her because we've run out of ideas and there's still an hour to go until bedtime.

It's probably because we still aren't on a schedule, nine months into this parenting thing. WAH gives us the freedom to start our day whenever we want. We wake up when we wake up. We feed the baby when she seems hungry. We bathe her when she's dirty. We put her down for the night whenever she happens to fall asleep. My goal for 2012 is to get on a schedule, and stick to it. Hopefully, that will make things a little easier. (At least more predictable).

Most of the time, we spend our days doing wonderful things. Like taking Lulu to the National Gallery of Art for the first time.

And giving her her first taste of gelato.

She was shocked by the cold...but it didn't stop her from going back for more.

And through it all, I keep thinking of what a difference a year makes:
January 2011 versus January 2012

I hope that during tonight's 7 o'clock slump I'll think back on these happy moments and won't let the one difficult one define my day.

But I could use some tips on how to keep myself from going crazy from 7 to 8 PM every night.

What do you do to get through the slump? Any tips are appreciated.