Monday, October 16, 2017


Millie is ALL ABOUT some imaginative play lately. It honestly makes life really fun- except for when I don't play my role properly and I get reprimanded, of course.

Generally this is how things go:

1. Millie decides she is something else. This is often an animal (typically giraffe, manatee, lion, alligator, or dinosaur), but is sometimes a different type of person (princess, teacher, mommy), or imaginary creature (monster), or my favorite- inanimate object (lately...table. Yep. "I'm a table!").

2. Generally, as soon as she's decided what she is, she will tell me and/or Matt what we are. 99% of the time we all assume the 'mommy, daddy, baby' versions of whatever the creature is: Mommy Manatee, Daddy Manatee, Baby Manatee; Mommy Monster, Daddy Monster, Baby Monster. Sometimes we also get an adjective describing our temperament as well: Nice Mommy Monster, Mean Daddy Alligator. Sometimes our role doesn't match our actual human role- I might be Baby Lion, Matt is Mommy Lion, Millie is Nice Daddy Lion.

3. Then we basically just carry on with our normal activities, but we all have to refer to each other by our proper titles. If there are fitting noises or motions that go with whatever we are (growling, galloping, etc.), we have to do that too.

4. This continues until Millie decides we are done. When she tires of being Baby Giraffe, she will just say "we not giraffes anymore. Now we just people!"

4b. But if in the course of this playtime Matt or I manages to anger/sadden/bother Millie and she is getting huffy, she ends the game by angrily yelling "we not ANYFING!!! You not a lion!! You just NOTHING!!! And I NOTHING!!! We not NOTHING (pronounced 'nuffing') ANYMORE!!!" and I must confess, it's about 50/50 sad and hilarious.

Last week she introduced two new personas to the mix. Each of them basically slayed me, so I need to share.

1. Voldemort.

As in, Harry Potter's Voldemort. "I Baby Voldemort, you Mommy Voldemort, and Daddy is Daddy Voldemort." 

Obviously she has no idea who Voldemort is, or why there can't BE a Mommy and Daddy Voldemort. She only knows the word because the other night she said something about how she didn't have a nose, so I offhandedly said "who are you, Voldemort?" and she responded by yelling "YES, I VOLDEMORT!!" and so I (properly) responded by shrieking in fear and hiding under a pillow, which meant that she continued declaring herself to be Voldemort for like 20 minutes, and then declaring us to be her corresponding Mommy and Daddy Voldemort. All she knows is that Voldemort is scary, which is fine because she loves being scary.

The best part is that she has several times since wanted to be Voldemort again but she can't remember the name, so she'll get this 'scary' look on her face and say "I....MOL...VA...DOR...DAT SCARY GUY DAT MAKE YOU SCWEAM!!!"

2. Mean Pharaoh.

We can thank her daycare for this one- last week's Bible story was about Baby Moses. I discovered this when Millie responded to my "what did you learn at school today?" question with "NO MORE BABY BOYS!!!!", complete with a really scary face and waving her arms around in a kinda slicing manner. 

"No more baby boys??" I asked.

"NO MORE BABY BOYS!!! I A MEEEEEAN KING!!! You put your baby in a basket, Mommy. NO MORE BABY BOYS!!"

Ooooooh. Pharaoh and baby Moses, got it, thanks.

So in about five minutes, she was Baby Pharaoh, I was Mommy Pharaoh, and Matt was Daddy Pharaoh. Don't worry, that all makes sense. Then we all just ran around screaming "NO MORE BABY BOYS!!!" together, like any family of mean pharaohs. 

A few times Millie has changed the rules and become Nice Pharaoh. Nice Pharaoh says "You can have some baby boys, okay?!" and then looks expectantly at me like I might just birth a baby boy then and there out of gratitude. Hasn't happened yet, but I guess she'll keep trying.

I not scared, Mommy- he onwy made of pwastic!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

the books of 2017. so far.

2017 has proven to be an excellent year of reading for me, so far. With a good 2.5 months to go in the year, I've so far finished 50 books, already surpassing my 2017 goal of 40- it's the first time I've made and met a goal so far (that I remember, haha)! Anyway, since several folks have asked for book recommendations and/or reviews lately, I thought I would share my thoughts about some of my favorites (and not-so-favorites) this year. As always, keeping up with me on Goodreads will give you my real-time reading updates, which is probably fascinating to about maaaybe 4 other people in the world besides me, ha.

(P.S. For those of you who might wonder how I manage to read so much (while working full time, momming so hard (bahaha), etc), here's the deal. For starters, I'm a REALLY FAST READER. I always have been. So I can get a lot of pages read in a short amount of time. That helps. Secondly, I sacrifice basically everything else in my life in my desperation to read, hahaha. Let's be honest. Millie goes to bed by 8:30, so I'd say that four or five nights a week, I'm on the couch reading by 8:45 p.m. I read until 10 or 11, when I go to bed. I don't work out. I don't blog. I rarely watch TV. I barely talk to Matt. I don't clean the house or chat on the phone or bake or craft or go out with friends. So when you look at it like that- I just DON'T do all the other stuff people spend their evenings doing, and then I have lots of time to read! That may or may not be a good thing, so feel free to judge me.) 

Favorite Books that Made Me Think:

This is probably my favorite genre of books, overall. I like books that challenge my thinking, or open my eyes to something I didn't know or didn't know enough about. For the past few years, most of my favorite books have been about World War II, something I can probably never learn enough about. But I like to think about other hard things, too, so here are some books that took me there.

  • The Girl You Left Behind (Jojo Moyes)- This book (based on true stories) alternates between the story of a woman living in occupied France during WWI and a girl in modern-day England, and centers on a painting (the painting's name is the title of the book). I learned a lot about art restitution, something I'd never considered before, and this story absolutely enthralled me. It is perfect. If you're not much into "heavy" reading, I still think you would like this- it's written by Jojo Moyes, author of "Me Before You" and lots of other wonderful stories, and her writing is engaging, her characters well-developed, and her ability to tie together all the loose ends of various plots is unparalleled. I've recommended this book to practically everyone I've met this year!
  • The Storyteller (Jodi Picoult)- This is another story that flip-flops between WWII and the present. Although I've probably read 100 WWII novels at this point, both fiction and non, I was shocked at how deeply this one touched me. If you've read anything by Jodi before, you KNOW she can tell a good story, and she'll probably find some way to get your emotions and morals all twisted up inside so that you don't even know how to feel about something. Well, she does it here, too. The central question this novel posed to me was this: can you- or are you obligated to- or should you- offer forgiveness to someone if you were not the party who was wronged? It sounds vague, and maybe simple, but I promise that this book will rip your heart around. I read this book in March and I'm still wrestling with some of the questions it brought up.
  • Necessary Lies (Diane Chamberlain)- This book takes place in North Carolina in the 1960s and is a fictional story about a very real horror: the state's Eugenics Sterilization Program that was in effect from 1929 until 1975. I had never heard of this program or situation before, and it's as chilling as the name indicates. Poor women (and female children) in NC were being forcibly sterilized,without their consent and often without even realizing it, as state social workers would tell them they were having appendectomies or other similar surgeries. This book led me to several days of fevered Googling for more information, which is always the sign of a good read! Despite the topic, it was a relatively easy/quick read, and my book club had PLENTY to discuss that month!
  • The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)- This book has been around for 30 years, so I doubt I'm the first person to tell you about it, but this was the first time I'd read it and I'm SO GLAD I did. This dystopian fiction tells the story of a monotheocracy in what used to be the United States. The story will make you thankful for separation of church and state, and horrified at what could happen if power were to run unchecked. And if you happen to be reading it for the first time, I would recommend you NOT read the very last chapter (I can't remember if it's called the epilogue or if it's just the last chapter, but you'll recognize it when you see a huge time jump to some unspecified time in the future with new and unfamiliar settings and characters). It's terrible and almost ruins the whole book. Just quit right before then and make up in your own head what you think happened. :) And I still haven't gotten around to watching the Hulu series, but I plan to...when I run out of books to read.
  • Small Great Things (Jodi Picoult)- I know, I know- another Jodi Picoult. What can I say. When she's good, she's good, and she is on fiyah in this one. This compelling, un-put-down-able story about "race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion" (just shamelessly stole that from the Amazon description, but I can't really improve on that list, so whatever) will challenge and inform and sadden and inspire you, and you won't be able to stop thinking or talking about it. 
  • Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (Bryan Stevenson)- Oh look, a nonfiction (memoir!) made it to my list finally! This book. Guys. You just need to read it. It's hard. It's about death row and race. It paints a picture of American history that isn't as pretty as you would maybe like to think. But it's true and it's something we need to be talking about so that we can change. Read it.
Books that Are Just Plain Enjoyable:

These books will probably still make you think, but are not as weighty or emotional as the books on the top list, haha. You will note that I don't normally read a lot of truly "light" reads (chick lit, romance novels, etc.) maybe my 'light reads' are not as light as they could be, but whatever. These books were all great.

  • Dark Matter (Blake Crouch)- This book is a truly fun and mind-bending ride- considering it's a book based in QUANTUM PHYSICS, something I know absolutely nothing about. So I had to work hard to wrap my brain around some things, but this story is compelling enough to make the hard work worth it. A little off my usual path, but the engaging characters, interesting dilemmas, and overall storyline made me really glad I gave it a go!
  • Crazy Rich Asians (Kevin Kwan)- This book was just plain FUN. There were a LOT of developed characters, and I would highly recommend reading this book in PRINT and not on your Kindle, as I did, because then you will be able to easily refer to a handy family tree at the front of the book. That would have helped me a LOT...but I didn't know it was there because my Kindle just started me on the first page of the story. Anyway. This book was hilarious as well as educational, and I look forward to reading the other two in the trilogy. 
  • The Lake House (Kate Morton)- I was shocked by how much I loved this book. It really took me a little longer than usual to get into it and enjoy the story, but once I did- I was all in. This book was a fun mystery in what I think of as the more "classic" style of mysteries. Not a twisty psychological thriller a la Gone Girl or whatever...this is a good old fashioned whodunnit (and whodunWHAT) that keeps you guessing and I was truly almost giddy towards the end of the book (I believe I solved the mystery like 80% and the other 20% was the MOST FUN REVEAL EVER). I don't know how to describe this other than to say it felt very different than most of the mysteries/thrillers I've read in the past few years, and I very much enjoyed it.
  • The Sound of Gravel (Ruth Wariner)- Memoir alert!! This was a fantastic true story about a woman who grew up in a polygamist compound in Mexico and harrowingly escaped from it as a teen. Ruth has become one of my favorite people to stalk on social media now. This isn't a light read at all- her childhood stories will break your heart and make you mad, but it's well-written and enlightening.
  • The Serpent King (Jeff Zentner)- This was a high-quality YA read about a misfit teenage boy growing up in the Bible Belt (the title refers to his snake-handling church). I thought that the characters were well-developed and believable and the story heartbreakingly possible. 
  • Beartown (Fredrik Backman)- I would almost say that Fredrik Backman can do no wrong, but then I read My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, which was fairly terrible, so...I can't say that. BUT I can say that I enjoy ALMOST everything he writes, and Beartown was no exception. This hockey story takes place in a small town full of interesting and engaging characters. It's a coming-of-age story, a story of violence and small-town thinking, and a story that challenges both characters and readers to grapple with the ugly truth. I loved it.
  • Winter Garden (Kristin Hannah)- I'll be honest- this story was SLOW GOING for me for the first almost half. Slow. I just couldn't get into it, and I couldn't understand all the five-star ratings and glowing reviews. I wasn't connecting with the characters and I would've given up except for a) I'm stubborn, and b) this is KRISTIN HANNAH- she of The Nightingale, one of the most wonderful books ever, and SURELY she would redeem a couple hundred pages of non-excellence!! And MAN- am I glad I stuck with it. The story finally got rolling for me about halfway through, and the last...I don't know, 25%, maybe...INCREDIBLE. Like the ending had me literally sobbing and ugly crying and filled with joy and hope and like, you don't even know. I gave the book 5 stars, even with that rough start, because the final few pages deserved like 20 stars on their own. This is a story that alternates between the present (the storyline that was SO hard for me to get interested in) and the past- occupied Leningrad. If you've got the stamina to power through (and it's not like the first half is terrible, it's just not great...and I just have too many things to read to be wasting my time on 'not great,' normally) it.

Ugh, come on. There are just so many books I loved. I feel bad if I don't include all of them in some way! (I would be the type that gives all the kids a participation trophy...hahaha...only for books it's like "you are a book! someone wrote you and cared very much about you! you win!") These books all also receive my stamp of approval and enjoyment, only I'm not going to keep writing individual summaries, ha.
SO! This accounts for 31 of the 50 books I've read so far this year. HA. Very exclusive of me to manage to omit 19 from my list of recommendations!! 

I do truly tend to be very happy with the books I read, so I often ponder whether it's because I'm just easily satisfied, I have low standards, or what. I've decided that it's because I'm really selective at what I set out to read in the first place. I know what I like. I know authors I like. I know which friends make recommendations that are typically home runs for me. And so I think that means that I just rarely even try a book that has much of a chance of flopping. I mean, I have had a few "flop" books this year- you can see on my Goodreads, if you care. But I think that doing my homework up front, before I crack open the book, results in me being generally thrilled with everything I read. So there's my tip for how to curate a reading life full of five star books, hahaha.

Soooo I doubt anyone really made it this far, but if you did, congratulations, you are a big nerd like me. You shall be rewarded with a picture of Millie in her new dinosaur shirt, aka the cutest thing I've ever seen (the kid AND the shirt). 

How I feel when I'm laying on the couch reading a book. Only I'm less cute than this.

So anyone wanna Book Club it up about any of my selections here? Read them? Loved them? Hated them? Want me to tell you why you're wrong for hating them? Ha. Most importantly: based on what you know now about the kinds of books I love...what should I read next?

(P.S. If you're into podcasts AND reading- all three of us- you definitely need to be listening to What Should I Read Next by Anne Bogel. Such a great podcast!)

Note: All book links are Amazon affiliate links!

Friday, October 6, 2017

life lately's been a minute. Haha. Long enough that when I just now went and looked at my blog so that I could see just HOW long...I was surprised to see my "new" design that I'd completely forgotten I did. Ha! 

We're trucking right along into fall- in our hearts and outfits and food and decor, if not in our weather. Life is really, really good. Millie is at such a fun age, although she certainly has her challenging moments (and days...hahaha)...but overall, three has been pretty fantastic so far. We're still finding fun "firsts" to celebrate when we can!

Yes, apparently Millie still utilizes the Ergo...

We had our first family trip to a UGA football game! We did go to a G-Day (spring scrimmage) game a few years ago, but this was a legit SEC home game. Interestingly (to me, anyway)- it was also the first game Matt and I have ever been to together, despite both being UGA students who attended games in college! We just didn't happen to meet until right after college, and have never been lucky/dedicated enough to get tickets and go to a game in the 13 years since. 

It was funny, though, thinking about the differences between this game and the last game I went to. The last game was in late November of 2004, my senior year of college. It was the last game of the season, versus Georgia Tech, and it was pouring rain and sleet and MISERABLE. We were losing. And we were just frozen solid. And so my friends and I left the game early- truly it may have been the first and only game I ever left early. I HATED people who left games early, haha. But we were too cold and too sad and I stood there knowing it might be a long time until I got to go to a game again, but I left early anyway. And I always regretted it, to be honest. 

I definitely didn't know that it would be THIS long- thirteen years- until I returned to Sanford Stadium for a game! And the next game I'd attend would be with my husband of over a decade and our three-year-old. Oh, and there would be drone cameras flying over the field, and every person in the stadium would have a magical device that allowed them to take pictures, text, and access the internet- WHILE THEY WERE AT THE GAME!!! (Bahaha- SMARTPHONES weren't even invented at my last game. THAT is what made me feel oldest.)

Anyway- we had a blast. Hopefully we won't wait another 13 years til we go back, but no promises. We're pretty lazy. Haha.

Millie has developed a pretty intense love of horses lately. It's basically my favorite thing ever. Looks like we're gonna have to move to a farm or something, because girlfriend NEEDS a horsey.

Until we can make THAT happen, though, we've got Adda the stick horsey to fill that void in her life. Adda's doing a pretty good job. That thing goes everywhere with us. And if the stick part isn't convenient, we just carry her head. (crying laughing emoji) Yes, it is as disturbing as you might imagine to see a horse head lying around. 

I actually bought Adda to complete Millie's upcoming Halloween costume (you guessed it: cowgirl!!!!), but I underestimated how amazing she would be. I hope she makes it til Halloween, haha. Millie loves hers so much we ended up getting the UNICORN version (complete with neighing and "magical" sounds!!) for my niece for her birthday. I mean, who doesn't need a stick horse? They've come a long way since I was a kid (much like football games, apparently).

We're looking forward to all the usual fall fun- pumpkin patches and mountain trips and hopefully, God willing, some cooler weather at some point. Not much looking forward to the time change and dark evenings, though. The other evening we were playing outside and we heard crickets start chirping. Millie put her hand up behind her ear and said "I hear somesing!"

"What do you hear?"

"I hear da bugs talking!"

"Yes, Millie! That's the crickets."

"Da bugs turn off da lights."


"When da bugs talk, dey make it dark outside!"

Soooooo where is her Mensa application?? Girlfriend is a genius.

In other exciting family news (haha...don't get TOO excited), we are finally getting a king sized bed! This is "family" news because strangely enough, more than two people usually end up sleeping in our little queen-sized bed most nights, so...gotta accommodate. I would feel more ashamed, but she's just such a cute little snuggler that I can't bring myself to get too worked up over it. Most of the time she just wanders in when she wakes up around 6:30 or 7, and I'm totally fine with her snuggling with us for a few minutes before we get up. Occasionally it's more like 2:00 a.m., and if Daddy catches her first, he will walk her back to her bed...but if she makes it to my side, she just climbs on in and spends the night. Hahahaha. I can't help it. She's too cute, and I'm too tired. (And at least now she actually lays relatively still and SLEEPS, so it's not a miserable experience for anyone. And it'll be even less miserable once we have all that sweet extra rooooommmm!!!)

We're going to do a full-house-shuffle of our other furniture, though, to make room for the new bed in our room, so that should be not exciting. If you see me looking annoyed and haggard over the next week, it'll be due to some deep cleaning and organizing and furniture deconstruction/moving/reconstruction. Bah. But hopefully it'll be worth it in the end! I'm staying true to myself and my lazy ways, ordering the new bed and mattress from Amazon, so we'll have to do the hard labor ourselves, but hopefully it won't be bad. We did the same thing (different brands, but same ideas) for Millie's room this summer and it was pretty easy and we've been SO happy with her big girl bed, so...I have high hopes! I'd like to say I'll come back with updated pictures of our fabulous new master bedroom, but given my blogging track record of late...better look for that update on Instagram, sorry. Ha.

That's about all I can think just keeps zooming by, and I try to savor and appreciate as much as I can. There are so many tragic and terrible things happening in the world right now, I try not to take a single minute or privilege for granted. It feels trite sometimes to focus on all these silly and ordinary things- stick horses and home decorating, fall festivals and mountain trips- but I find that these are the things that keep me from spiraling into fear and anxiety about everything else. So I play dolls with my daughter, and I annoy the hell out of my senators and "representatives" (lol), and I look forward to pumpkin spice everything, and I read books by really smart people that awaken me to the much bigger world and its much bigger problems, and I try to teach and show my daughter kindness, and I pray and sign petitions and donate money to people working to make a difference. It's a weird balance, really, but it's life right now. I'm so thankful for the goodness, wherever I can find it.


Friday, August 11, 2017

millie-isms: part VI

My best girl has been dropping LOTS of hilarious tidbits on us lately. I don't want to forget this stuff!!

This morning at breakfast, she looks at Matt and says "Daddy I loooove you SOOO much!" While Matt's mopping his puddle of a self off the floor, she turns and says the same to me. "Mommy, I love YOU soooo much!" We both tell her that we love her, too. Then she looks down. "I love Lola...a little bit. Sometimes. But when I poke Lola's ear, she wants to eat me up, and den I not love her so much." Well, at least she's honest. Can't blame Lola for not wanting her ears poked, either. ;)


Something Millie said the other night made me think maybe they've talked about the upcoming solar eclipse at school. So I asked her this morning, "Millie, do you know what the eclipse is?"

"No, I not. What dat?"

"Maybe you talked about it at school? When the moon goes in front of the sun and it is going to get dark during the daytime?"

"Hmmm...dark in the daytime? Dat not sound fun!"


While driving her home from school the other day, Millie helpfully suggested that I not drive my car off the road and into the woods, because "den you bonk some twees and your car get bwoken and you have to get a new red ("wed") car!" (My current car is gray.)

"A new red car? I don't think I want a new red car, Mills. If I get a new car, I think I want a black car."

"A bwack car? NO. I not wike a bwack car. How about a wed car. Or a gween car!"

", I'm not getting a green car. How about a shiny black car?"

"NO. How about a bwue car?"

"Blue? I don't think so. Well, maybe navy blue. How about a nice dark navy blue car, Mills?"


"Otay. Dark bwue. Dat be fine. But no bwack car, or I will wide wif Daddy."


On the evening of her birthday, a very overtired, sugared up Millie was begging to watch a video after I finished drying her off from her bath.

"Hmmm..." I mused as I dried.

"How about you say YES or NO," she suggested/demanded.


"How about YES or NO, Mommy!"

"Well...okay, then. No. No video."

She stares at me.

"Okay, how about you say YES or YES?!!! Mommy, can I watch the iPad? Say yes or yes!!"

(I still said no. I'm the worst.)


As we were driving home from work/school one afternoon, she yelled out from the back seat "Mommy!! Let's go to a bakery shop and get some doughnuts!!" (And she pronounces it "bo-nuts"...although she can totally make a /d/ sound...but it's adorable so I don't touch it.) 

I'm a big joy killer, so I reluctantly said "Well, I'm sorry Mills, but we are reeeeeallly far away from a doughnut store right now, and we're almost home. We can't get doughnuts right now."

She's not deterred.

"Hey, Mommy!! Why don't you just dwive your car to the bakery shop? Then we not be too far from the bo-nuts!! Den you can have a sprinkle bo-nut and you be SO HAPPY!!!!"

She is nothing if not a problem solver.


They offer weekly karate classes at her school- kind of like how she did her ballet outside studio comes in and does the lessons in a multipurpose room once a week (for a fee, of course, haha). During July, the karate school offered two free classes to anyone interested, to see if your kid might want to sign up for the fall session. I let Millie take them, my head filled with adorable visions of her being all disciplined and obedient in a white outfit (sorry, I'm sure there's a name for the outfit, but *SPOILER ALERT* her karate career didn't last long enough to find out...)

I tried to prep her for her first class, which was challenging for someone who knows NOTHING about karate. "You're going to...umm...kick! And chop!"

"Chop what? CHOP MY FOOD AND EAT IT??!!"

No, truly. That is what she said. If there were ever a question about whose daughter she's answered now. Haaaaaa.

When I picked her up from school that day, I was so excited to hear how the class went. 

"Millie, did you do karate?"


"Oh??...soo...what did you do?"

"I look at my fwiends when dey kick. I not kick. I not wike karate."

I looked at her teacher, who nodded to confirm this truth. "We've never actually seen Millie be so uninterested in an activity. She just sat against the wall and stared at her friends for the whole hour."

HAHAHA. When we got home, she ran around kicking and chopping.

"I do my karate now. I not do it at school."

When Week 2 came with the same results, we decided that karate isn't going to be the sport for her right now. She's signed up again for ballet.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


On Saturday my silly girl turned THREE years old. It's insanity. There is no way she is this old!!

She has been over-the-top excited about her birthday since roughly last October, so we knew we had to do it up right this year. We had her first real birthday party, lots of presents and balloons and junk food, and she was the center of attention all weekend- all of her favorite things!

I want to jot down a few updated stats and milestones, but I believe my days of answering all of the same 'monthly update' questions that I've done since her first month update are done. She's just outgrown too many of those categories. BUT it's not a time to be sad- it's time to be JAZZED, because this means she is old enough to answer her OWN questions about herself...I've only been waiting for this moment for like FIFTY BILLION YEARS!!!

But first, the nitty gritty.

Nicknames: Well, I can't quit this one yet. I just love seeing how her nicknames morph over the years!! She is called Millie almost all of the time. I don't know anyone that consistently calls her Camilla. Some of her teachers/school friends (and me) call her Mimi or Mimmy. Matt and I and the rest of my family (her cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles) tend to call her Mill-Mill. And Matt and I still call her Millsie and Nuggie. She calls herself Millie, and she knows her first and last name almost all of the time, and can come up with 'Camilla' maybe half the time that you ask her "but what is your other name? your long name?" Haha.

Stats: She weighs 34 lb 12 oz (84 percentile) and is 37.5 inches tall (60 percentile). She wears 3T clothes, though I'm buying 4T pants for the winter, since even last spring her 3T pants were getting too short. She wears a size 7 shoe. 

Big Girl Skills: She is completely potty trained. No more pull-ups at night, even! She's Team Undies all the time, and even made it through our long drives to/from Florida last month with no accidents in the car (and we didn't have to make a bunch of extra potty stops, either!). Like many things (see: sleeping, eating, generally being an awesome baby and toddler) with Millie, she just sorta figured it out on her own with a little help from mama & daddy. 

She is still successfully sleeping in her Big Girl Bed and that transition has been much easier than I'd feared! Although she does occasionally decide to bop on into our room if she wakes up in the middle of the night, we can usually get her back to her own bed and asleep pretty painlessly. Also, we have learned that she can be successfully bribed to stay in her room until her green light (OK to Wake clock) comes on. So we do that a lot, too...let's be honest. (Most effective bribe is letting her use the iPad in the car on the way to school. This is worth it on so many levels because a) she stays in her room all night, and b) if she has the iPad, I can listen to NPR and not "Elsa song" 3,000 times during our drive to daycare in the morning...)

She knows the words to many songs and can retell her favorite stories. I love when I see her using dolls and stuffed animals to act out stories- her most favorite story to reenact with dolls right now is the Three Billy Goats Gruff. She is ALL ABOUT that mean ol' troll and the big billy goat that "pokes you and kicks you right off this bridge!!" We spend a lot of time making bridges for her zoo animals (trolls) to hide under to scare off the Polly Pockets walking over the bridge. It's so much fun!!

Although she is very interested in letters and sounds and "what dis letter say, Mommy?", she doesn't seem to reliably identify any letters yet. I'm not worried or pushing it, but I just wanted to record that so that in the future I can remember when she did/didn't learn her letters!

She can count very well- rote counting to 15 or so pretty accurately, and she can count with one-to-one correspondence and quantify up to about 6 or so before she starts getting off track.

She loves to draw and paint but does not yet make art that actually resembles anything- her "people" do not have any sort of discernible heads/bodies, etc. However, I think it's interesting that when she is "writing," her "letters" do look markedly different than her "pictures" (lots of quotation marks)...they definitely aren't letters, but they are smaller, more letter-like forms of scribble-scrabble. I think it is all precious and so much fun to watch these skills develop!

Likes/Dislikes: Well...let's just ask the girl herself, okay?? (Disclaimer: I completely disagree with like half of these answers (as in, that is NOT her favorite color/food/thing/whatever), but...whatever.)

For the record, I would like to correct her answers and note that NORMALLY and in REAL LIFE, her favorite color is purple, her favorite food is probably rice and beans (at a Mexican restaurant), her favorite snack is "gummies" (fruit snacks), I didn't know she had such strong feelings about applesauce (although she was eating some while I surveyed her, haha), and also she found this whole questionnaire to be very challenging "Whew, Mommy! Dis hard!". (All the crying laughing emoji)

I don't think she has any concept of "when I grow up," and I had thought about explaining what that means, but I loved her answer so much that I decided to just leave it. :)


It's just impossible to describe how incredibly thankful I am to be her mommy.

I see these pictures coming up in my TimeHop now, and there are just so many emotions that come over me:

I remember how overjoyed we were. How terrified. How excited and how anxious. How even as we held her, we didn't know if we would still be holding her an hour or a day or a month later. We were thrilled, but we had to be guarded. We fell in love with her, but we feared what could come.

That strange mixture of joy and terror and delight and nerves and anxiety...I can still taste it in my mouth when I see these pictures. I remember what my stomach felt like. I doubt I'll ever really forget. 

But now it's three years later. She's an average (though obviously funnier, cuter, and more adorable than average) toddler, we're just regular parents chasing our kid down the aisle at Target and engaging in iPad-related negotiations, and at a glance, you'd never know there was anything unusual about how our family came to be. 

I know I say this almost every time I write, but I can't bring myself to stop. She is so, so worth every minute of waiting, every year of struggle, every breath of fear, every sleepless night. She is the answer to my every prayer and a greater gift than I could have hoped for.

Happy birthday to my sweet, strong, brave girl. Being your mommy is my greatest privilege. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

the one with all the manatees

We had a wonderful, relaxing trip to the beach last week! It was Millie's third year going to Cocoa Beach with us, and each year gets more and more fun! 

Ever since we took our mini-vacation to Cape San Blas in April, Millie has been BEGGING to go back to the beach. Parenting pro tip: maybe don't tell your distraught daughter about your next beach trip while you are leaving from your current beach trip if there is more than about 2 days until the next one. "In July" meant NOTHING to Millie, and so it's been a lonnnng three months of telling her "not today!!" every day when she thinks we are going to the beach that day.

See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me...and no one knoooooows how far it gooooooes...
But finally the day came and we got back to her beloved "BIG water!" and all was well with her soul. And mine. But then...

But then.

Then it was Thursday. Thursday, July 13, to be exact. A day I shall forever remember with fondness, joy, and delight.

On Thursday we decided to go kayaking. Same place we've gone before- the Banana River, less than a mile from our condo. The river is where my love of manatees was born back in 2010, when I unexpectedly came upon them while kayaking. I've been a woman obsessed ever since. But I've never had as much success finding them again. Occasional sightings, a glimpse from afar...enough to keep fueling my passion, but not enough to quench it, right? But I get it. It's July. It's hotter than Hades. It's not "manatee season," even though it's a manatee zone. So I keep my expectations low reasonable-ish.

But on Thursday...

A manatee? There wasn't a manatee.

There were four.

Four giant, lovely, fat, happy, playful manatees. They were hanging out in a little cove, doing what manatees do. Rolling around, being adorable, and BE STILL MY HEART, curiously checking out the kayakers who happened by.

Like, they just came up to us! They KEPT coming up to us! The swam under us and rubbed their backs on the bottom of our boat! The stuck their noses up and sniffed us!!

I GOT TO PET A MANATEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I cannot even describe this.

Over and over and over, they came up, rolled around, said hi (with their bodies. I speak the body language of the manatees, trust.).

Millie's sweet little hand got to PET A MANATEE!! She was so brave!!
Indescribable, people. Absolutely amazing. I have videos (and videos, and videos) of the whole experience and my voice is like 12 octaves higher than strictly necessary and I am gushing and nearly sobbing and like OH MY GOSH I WAS BEING SWARMED BY HAPPY, ROLY POLY MANATEES!!!

They have whiskers!! Or "beards," if you're Millie.

They showed off with cute party tricks like this!

Oh look, it's Erika tanning on the beach a manatee tanning in the water! (P.S. I touched their bellies too, don't worry. They were much smoother than their backs and didn't have all the algae/barnacles. Very interesting!)

We stayed in that cove and just watched and played for over half an hour. They never left us- they kept swimming around us and coming up. I really just cannot believe it happened. I think I'm still in shock.

This is how we felt about the whole experience.
I am just so incredibly thankful for such an amazing, unexpected opportunity. That my parents, Matt, and Millie got to experience it alongside me was even better. You better believe none of us have stopped talking about it ever since. And now that we're home, with no upcoming beach trips on the agenda, Millie asks "when we see manatees again?" and like...what am I supposed to tell her?! At least I've got a co-manatee lover in the house with me.

July 13, man. July 13. You know, on the Tuesday and Wednesday before, I'd been sick with a stomach bug and stuck in bed (so stupid on vacation!!). But on Thursday, I woke up, felt a bit better, and figured we may as well go for a paddle down the river. What a wonderful spur-of-the-moment decision THAT turned out to be!!!

Friday, July 7, 2017

summer fun

Well, the summer keeps on trucking along. It's hot. It's humid. It's inexplicably raining and storming nearly EVERY day. But we're having a lot of fun! For example, thanks to the frequent storms (and fireworks...), Lola is getting a lot of opportunities to wear her ThunderShirt. Millie knows this, and knows that Lola gets scared of the storms, and this has resulted in two very funny things.

1. At the first sign (or sound) of a storm, Millie will frantically tell us "Lola needs her BOOM BLANKET!" ThunderShirt...Boom Blanket...I get it. Obviously now we call it the boom blanket all the time, because that's a way better name. If anyone is thinking about starting a company to make knockoff ThunderShirts, you are welcome to use this superior name for your product.

2. Several times when it's been storming at night, we've closed the door to Millie's room while we're putting her to bed and Lola will scratch at the door until we let her in. Therefore, for the past few days, at ALL times of the day, regardless of weather, Millie will stop, fold her hands, and pray for Lola: "Dear Jesus...we just thank you dat Lola NOT scwatch at my door. Pwease make Lola not scared and not scwatch my door. Thank you for her boom blanket. AMEN!"

Gimme all the storms if I get this kind of hilarious payoff. Also, Jesus, please help Lola not be scared and scratch on Millie's door, because apparently it really distresses Millie. ;)

And now, some random pictures and stories. 

We're heading to the beach next week (YAAAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!!!!!) and needed to practice setting up (easy) and taking down (what the *@#!) our beach tent. In between those two events, Millie found it to be a good place to have some reading time. It should be noted that Millie has almost completed her second library summer reading program of the summer (you know, read 50 books and get prizes sorta thing). They are going to have to name a shelf of books after us or something by the time summer is through! LOTS of reading going on in our house!

The Big Girl Bed situation is going great!! She is sleeping well and only getting/falling out of bed occasionally in the wee hours...when that happens she tends to seem very confused and discombobulated and goes right back to sleep without a problem, so I am thankful for that! When she does wake up, though, we are treated to alien-ish sights like this as she helpfully goes over to turn off her sound machine.

We played dress-up one afternoon. She apparently thinks princesses have attitudes or something.

WATERCOLORS, guys!! I've finally found the Holy Grail of toddler entertainment. Hours (literally) of fun that ISN'T MESSY!! We all win. She will paint contentedly and independently for a super long time, and then we make "books" (by stapling pages together)'s the best. For whatever reason, she manages to keep pretty clean with these paints (her other paints end up EVERYWHERE and have to be used basically naked outside) and like...I'm about to hit those back to school sales at Target and STOCK UP on watercolors, yo. 

We had some fun firsts this past week!

First fireworks! See also: first intentionally keeping her out and awake WAY past her bedtime. Luckily she did fine!

Well, I mean, until about 10 minutes into the actual fireworks part, when she managed to fall asleep. Hahaha. Poor baby. Luckily for us all, once we actually got home and put her in bed (10:00, so a good 1.5 hours past her normal bedtime), she went right to sleep and even slept in the next every weekend, right?

We also went to the movie theater for the first time!! Well, first time EVER for Millie...first time since Millie was born for us, haha.

A local theater does a "kids movie" thing every Tuesday/Thursday morning during the summer...older movies, but $1.50 tickets, $1.50 popcorn, and $1.50 drinks, so THAT is a win. We enjoyed watching The Secret Life of Pets, which was pretty cute, and Millie was SUPER into the whole theater experience. Possibly my favorite part was watching her deal with the theater chair. Hahahaha. She didn't quite weigh enough to keep it from springing back up into the closed position if she sat towards the back, so she would balance way up at the tip of the chair, but every time she forgot and scooted back, it would try to close her up...haaaa! Free entertainment there. For me, anyway.

All the rain has resulted in LOTS of tomatoes this year! On Monday we picked some and then took some across the street to our elderly neighbors, a practice that Millie found VERY confusing. "Why we give dem our matoes??! Dey hungry? Dey no have matoes?" Later she informed me that she missed the 'matoes' that we gave to our neighbors. Apparently those 20 matoes were her favorites and now they are GONE. Crazy baby!

Well, that about brings us up to speed. Congrats if you made it this far. Also, if you happen to be reading this ON my blog (and not through Bloglovin or something), you might notice that I got a new design! Thanks to an astute blog reader, Jackie, who yesterday pointed out that most of my design images (the header, about me, section labels on the right hand side) had gone WAY wonky and the images were gone and replaced with some ransom thing from Photobucket (where they had been hosted) was super weird and unattractive, haha. I couldn't figure out how to easily fix it without tracking down the girl that created the design for me 3.5 years ago, so I decided to just make a new one myself. It was an unexpected turn of events, and I certainly had no plans to redesign a blog I barely ever use, hahaha, had to happen! Anyway, I'm happy with how it turned out and it even encouraged me to actually BLOG so that other people might see it, too. :) 

Happy Friday! And happy almost-vacation to meeee!! Counting the minutes til I see my sweet girl running through that sand!