The Nursery is (Finally!) Complete

Poor Penelope. At 16 months old the child finally got a real crib of her own.

For the first three months of her life Penelope slept in several different bassinets and pack 'n plays (usually ending up in our bed at some point in the night) while we did some traveling to visit family before finally landing in Germany.

Given that our first place of residence in Germany was a dorm, poor Penelope's bed was this awful institutional-like crib in desperate need of a coat of paint. Penelope didn't seem to mind.

When we moved into our apartment in Heidelberg, Penelope slept in this crib. It was miniature by U.S. standards, but at least it was new. It started out right next to our beds in the only bedroom, but after one too many sleepless nights Penelope kicked us out and our beds got moved into the living room.

But now Penelope has a big crib to call her own and a nursery to go with it. No more white, empty walls or plain, white bedding.

We finally have a place to put all of the special things Penelope has received since she was born.

Penelope's crib has become her favorite place to chill. When she's tired or having a hard time calming down or just in need of some "me" time, she begs to be lifted up into her crib. A few minutes with her blanket, pacifier, and stuffed friends makes everything all better.

In a few months the crib will have to be converted to a toddler bed, but for now, it is the perfect place for little P to drift off to dreamland.


Photo Shoot

Grandma got Penelope and Evie matching dresses with the hope that we could get a good picture of the two cousins while we were visiting. But making a squirmy Penelope pose with baby Evie proved to be a much more difficult task than we were prepared for.

At the beginning, Penelope was very excited to get to hold baby Evie.
Evie wasn't too into it though.

Evie was much happier to get to recline by herself--

Until Penelope started poking at her eyes.

Outside, Penelope made up for it by planting lots of kisses on her baby cousin.

Followed by some giggles and a very big...


Then Penelope ran off to explore the backyard while we lost Evie to dreamland.

Bribing Penelope with toys may result in obedience, but not a smile.

Then we opted for the crib where we could at least cage Penelope in.

By the time Evie woke up, Penelope's attention span was shot,

and the crib and floor were littered with all of the toys we'd used to get their attention

Next time, I think we'll go with a professional.


Cousin Evie

Talk about a whirlwind of a week! First, Penelope and I flew to Dallas to see Penelope's newest cousin Evie, (a long layover made even longer by a delayed flight got us there past midnight our time and made for a very exhausted mama), and then when we returned from our trip I started back to work. If those aren't reasons enough for the long blog silence, I was also welcomed home by a virus on my computer that required major surgery to remove.

Before moving on to sweet Evie, a few remarks about traveling on an airplane alone with a toddler:

--Don't expect the people at security in the Dallas airport to lift a finger to help you get through. They actually relish watching you struggle to singlehandedly load and move six bins of stuff down the counter and collapse a stroller and lift it onto the coveyor belt all while holding your child who's screaming for more crackers. The security people in Raleigh, however, were lovely--thank goodness for southern hospitality.

--The important traveling with toddlers rule of making friends with the people seated around you on the plane is even more paramount when you're traveling alone with a toddler. No longer do you have the husband next to you who is fully prepared when a toddler arm is stuck in their face during liftoff or when a magazine is tossed their way. (So very sorry Mr. Middle-Aged Man that sat next us on the flight home from Dallas for the toys that ended up in your lap while you were trying to sleep.)

Back to Evie...

We were still in Germany when she was born back at the end of June, but we did get to be part of the hospital welcoming party thanks to the wonders of Skype. Now that she is almost two months old, we were itching to get to see her in person.

Why hello there, little Evelyn Grace!

Not only is she the cutest little thing, but she also has got to be one of the easiest newborns around. Just wrap her in a blanket and lay her in her crib and she's asleep. Arms tired? Just lay Evie on a blanket and she's content to look around. Penelope would just start crying.  And instead of emitting ear-piercing cries like Penelope did when she's hungry, Evie just lets out a wimper or two. "Mother, could I trouble you for some milk?" (It's probably a good thing we didn't realize at the time how difficult Penelope was as a baby.)

But there is no mistaking who is Evie's daddy:

I think the similar hair-do helps.

Penelope was instantly in love with her new cousin.

She loved doling out kisses, "love pats", and hugs to little Evie.

Cousin cuddle time

Of course, Evie just went along with it.

Penelope was also enamored with Evie's things. Penelope rarely had bottles as an infant, and it's been over a year since she's even seen one. But the instant she spied Evie's bottle in the dishwasher she claimed it as her own. It didn't matter that there wasn't anything in it, we still had a difficult time getting it back. I suppose Penelope thought it was some new fangled pacifier.

Penelope was determined to prove that activity mats, bouncers, and infant swings aren't just for little babies. She took every opportunity she got to roll around on the activity mat, climb in the bouncer, get stuck in the bumbo, and press the music buttons on the swing.

Of course Penelope eventually tired of Evie's things and discovered some new things to play with around Evie's pad. Like the time we found her in the gas fireplace scooping the (fake) ash into a plastic bowl. She was quite excited about Evie's indoor sandbox and very confused as to why she wasn't allowed to play in it.

To keep Penelope out of trouble we ventured out into the terrible Dallas triple-degree heat for some fun at a local splash park. Penelope jumped right in and had a heyday running through the water.

We even got Evie to join in on the fun.

Penelope playing with her Uncle Matt and Aunt Jocelyn

Not only did we get to see Evie and my sister and brother-in-law on our trip, but we also got to spend time with my brother Trevor and sister-in-law Ali.

One day the Uncles tried to convince Penelope to play in the sprinkler in the backyard.

Despite their best efforts, Penelope wasn't convinced.

But Penelope was very eager to read with them. Uncle Trevor was a very patient reader, but very confused as to why his niece's attention span only lasted a few pages before moving onto the next book. 

Penelope even convinced Aunt Ali to read the P90X workout DVD case--a very engaging story.

Aunt Jocelyn reads to Penelope and Evie. Penelope is enraptured with the book,

while Evie is lulled to sleep.

By the time our visit came to a close, it seemed that Penelope had been teaching her cousin some new tricks behind our backs.

Wow! What a big girl you are Evie!


Mommy's little helper

I've been rather busy since we got back from our trip keeping up with the household duties and setting up my new classroom at work. What would I do without my little helper by my side?

Isn't there some saying, "Many hands make light work." No offense to the person who coined that phrase, but they really should specify that the "hands" they are referring are not of the small, toddler-size variety.

Many small hands make lots and lots more work.

Don't be deceived by this picture depicting the five or so minutes of calm dear Penelope exhibited while "helping" mommy in the classroom today.

Most of my work unpacking, rearranging, and organizing was just as quickly undone by Penelope's desire to do gravity experiements with a tub of 1000 cubes, browse every book I had just placed on the shelf, and lay a trail of cracker crumbs to lead all the ants in the school to my classroom.

Next chore: stuff and fold the diapers.

I kept reminding myself that Penelope was really trying to help every time she undid the diaper I had just finished and "stuffed" it herself.

She was so diligent about her work that I almost hated to have to take it from her and undo it.

24 diapers stuffed, unstuffed, and restuffed later...

"Alright mommy, what do you need help with next?"