Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Favorite things

I have a secret wish that I could make a guest appearance on Oprah or (on a smaller scale) have an article in Real Simple magazine featuring: Lauren's Favorite Things.  Every Christmas I seem to find one thing that I would like to buy in bulk - one of those items of the year that is functional and hip and just makes my day so much easier. 
In 2007 I would have featured the trusty head-lamp - great for my grandmother as she walks her dogs and Charles as he attempts to fix our leaking roof in the middle of the night.  What other gift can you buy for both your grandmother and husband? 

2008 would definately be the all purpose Farmers Market collapsable basket.  I have bought this for just about everyone and I take it everywhere!  It's especially handy when I am in charge of bringing an appetizer somewhere - I just load up the basket and I'm ready to go.
 *I found mine at Home Goods and subsequently bought them out of about 10 more*

And as we all know, 2009 is all about the baby. 
When I was pregnant I asked every new mom I could find to name their top 3 baby products.  I was clueless about the essentials and wanted to keep the big circus-like toys to a minimum.  So here are my top 3...not that there isn't other "need to have" type gear, but these are the things that make me smile when I'm using them.  They make life easier, or just a bit more cheerful.

#1 - The BOB stroller - just watch the demo, you will be sold!

# 2 - Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Bag (here is the link to the blog)  The shoulder bag is so functional!  It's a bit pricey, but it's very durable, so I anticipate that it'll last beyond our first child...

#3 - Etsy...ok, more specifically these burp cloths (but I have made some other GREAT Etsy finds - especially for unique handmade/embroidered clothes).  If you ever need an easy New Baby gift this is the place to go.  The woman who makes these is wonderful to work with!

oh, and the Baby Ergo is very cool too!  I know there is a "babywearing" movement, which I can't say that I've read too much about (I have a good feeling that if I read up on it, I would be even more excited about the Ergo!)  I just love the idea of having her close to me every moment possibe.  It's great bonding time and it helps me get things done around the house! 

And now a focus on the things that REALLY matter in life:  friends.  This weekend inspired me to think about my favorite things because it goes in the history books as one of the best weekends of my life.  It was a 3 day long 30th birthday celebration starting with a nice little visit from my parents, a "Gray-style" party on Friday night, which was a nice reminder that we DO have friends in Massachusetts - great ones!  Sometimes it takes them all in the same room to remind you that you've got roots somewhere. 
And to top it all off: a surprise trip to New York where I was met by Kate, Jill, Kris and Becca and whisked away to a great lunch and an amazing Broadway show - Wicked. 
Here are some of the highlights:

Thank you everyone!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

who knew?

Why is it that nobody ever told me how great this age was?  I guess I had to experience this for myself, but I really didn't know that she would be so animated and excited about life!  We've had a fun-packed few weeks with some busy times ahead as we celebrate my 30th, Thanksgiving, and Julia's baptism in a week span at the end of this month.  The Gray household will be hosting some fun festivities (including a Turkey Trot 5K that Charles is pulling together).  More on that I'm sure...
Here are the highlights of the last few weeks as she wraps up her final days of being a 4 month old: (dramatic, I know, but I feel so sentimental about how quickly this is happening!)

So, I have a minor obsession with Julia's feet.  I have decided to use this obsession to my advantage with the many babies that have entered our lives.  I have started using Julia's footprint to make cute little cards for an adorable and low cost gift.  Charles is convinced that there are child labor laws against this sort of thing, but I can't get enough of these tiny little toes! 

Julia has also discovered her new best friend - Scout.  She reaches out and intentioinally pets her and even squeals with delight when Scout licks her hand.  It's cute to see this little bond growing.  I don't think Scout quite knows what is in store for her...I can see that Julia is not going to be gentle and if Julia is anything like the Cirillo side of the family, she will LOVE dogs (and want to create a shelter for stray animals). 

And our latest endeavor - rice cereal!  We decided to try it.  She's just so interested in what we're eating and everything goes into her mouth.  She was quite a natural and didn't spit any out (the mess was just the cereal that never made it into her mouth since she insisted on trying to feed herself).  Yes, this is how we spent our Saturday night and I must say, we were quite entertained.  Here are the highlights:

The other night Julia fell asleep on my chest.  I love those moments - when I can feel her entire weight melt into me as she falls asleep and fully trusts in the comfort of her mother.  She becomes more and more active everyday and I realize that she isn't going to always be so willing to relax on the couch or fall asleep that way.  I LOVE this time with her! 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My favorite Polar Bear!

Although our neighbor offered up a pea-pod costume for Julia, Charles was convinced that she needed to be a polar bear - his Bowdoin college mascot.  I let him know that if that's the case, she will have to be a Messiah College falcon next year (but I don't think that will be as cute...) So, we sprung for this adorable costume that worked quite well.  It's so warm and comfortable that I actually put it on her last week when she got her 4 month shots.  Nothing helps you recover from the misery of shots like sporting all of that great polar bear fuzz!

Our neighborhood hosts an adorable parade for the kids that starts at the top of our circle and makes a little half loop.  Our friends Shana, Jared, and Clara and also Mark, Jess and Luke joined us for the festivities, which was an adorable mess of animals that ranged from a giraffe to a puppy.  This time last year I was aware of this parade, but I'd never seen it because it typically occured during the week.  There have been many moments in the last 4 months that we have looked at eachother with the "MY, how our lives have changed!" look.  This was one of them...never would I have thought that something like this could be such fun.  It is so neat to see all of these kids that Julia will be growing up with!  We love our neighborhood!  And we love our friends!

At one point during the party, Julia grabbed a doughnut from Charles' hand and we just watched her to see what she would do with it...
 *I should preface this with the fact that we have been debating what to do about starting rice cereal and solids.  The Dr. gave use the go ahead, but also said that she would give us cues when she is ready.  I like the idea of breastfeeding as long as I can and Julia seems to have no problem with that, so we have decided to wait another month or 2.*
So Julia takes a little crumb, puts it in her mouth, and gnaws at it with great delight.  The "new mom" in me sort of gasped, but she was just fine.  A few minutes later, I find Julia licking the bottle of Pumpkin Ale that Charles is drinking.  Lovely!  I believe that she gets her love of pumpkins from all of the pumpkin pancakes that I ate when I found out I was pregnant!  Anyway, we had a great time and Julia was exhausted when it was all over.  We came home and had some great friends over in the evening.  On these full days I anticipate that Julia is not going to handle it well and will eventually have a breakdown, but she always surprises me.  She did amazingly well last night.  We put her to bed a little bit late because of the time change and she slept a full 9 1/2 hours.  Gosh this child is amazing! 

Earlier this week we also had some great times - my Gram drove up to DE from FL and sprung for another 5 hours to drive to Massachusetts with my mom.  We had a wonderful few days that included a trip to Yankee Candle, some good food in Northampton, and having a bakefest/dance night in my kitchen.  This picture captures 4 generations of women on my mom's side.  It's pretty amazing!