Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Grove Park Inn

We spent last weekend at Asheville's Grove Park Inn where Ryan had a medical conference. The hotel was simply beautiful. It was built in 1913 and just oozes old world grace and charm with sweeping mountain views and rustic furnishings.

Upon checking in, Caroline and Duncan were given little stuffed animals and then the next day goodie bags.

The view from our room looking towards the back of the original hotel structure. 

We were all impressed with the gigantic fireplaces in the lobby.

Saturday we spotted daddy taking pictures with his colleagues.

I spent Saturday afternoon at the resort's spa and felt extremely pampered. Jennie and I got pedicures and then alternated between the outdoor pool and the indoor saunas and heated pools. One even played classical music under water! That evening our group went to eat at Ambrozia, a farm-to-table restaurant.

Sunday morning while Ryan wrapped up his meeting, I took Caroline and Duncan to met up with Warren and Lainie for breakfast at Early Girl Eatery and then went to see their house.

And the entire Med-Peds group and spouses finished the weekend off at the Sierra Nevada Brewery. I think this is the first time we've all been together at the same time! It's been almost a year exactly that we went with Duncan and Caroline - Caroline had just started walking and this time she ran (and jumped!) all over the place.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Five for Friday

Is it just be or has this week flown by? We started the week off with a quick trip to Augusta and got home late Monday evening. I feel like I've been playing catch-up ever since...

1. Caroline is into doing everything that I do. I absolutely love it. It also terrifies me the way she notices everything, like the pony tail holder on her wrist in the picture below. When did she notice that I almost always have one on my wrist? She'll tell me things like "Mama went to yoo-ga" and then in the next breath "Caroline went to yoo-ga" (even though she stayed home). Also yoga is the only place she can fathom me going. Ryan came in from work the other day and she said, "Daddy went to yoo-ga" - he was like nope.

She also had to pack a matching bag for our short trip!

We at at Oliviana's in Augusta and had the best pizza!

Ryan had a work thing on Monday so Caroline, Duncan and I checked out a park and then spent time at the hotel pool.

2. Duncan's had a handful of seizures lately so we had his Keppra level checked this week. It's so scary, and I'd give anything to take this from him. But he handles it all with amazing strength! He's getting old enough to get really upset about blood draws and his bottle really didn't help like it has before. 

Extra snuggles were required when we got home!

3. We love when our little friends come over to play!

4. One of the best things about all of Duncan's therapists is they all full of good advice on where the best playgrounds are around town. We checked out Rockwood Park with Katelin and Heather after Becky told us about it in physical therapy. It was truly hidden - we circled the block three times before I noticed the sign for the entrance!

Caroline has been a little hesitant on slides lately after loving them all spring. But she seems to have gotten over it and did this one over and over.

5. On National S'more Day we baked s'more cookies. The first batch was a gooey mess, but the dough did much better after it had been in the fridge for 24 hours (just like the directions said to do!). 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Summer Reads 2017

I've done a summer reading list the last few years and even though it's practically the end of the summer, here's what I've been trying to read all summer. I usually pick up my book at nap time and before bed but then decide I'm too tired to read!

A few suggestions (that vary widely in genre!)...

The Summer Before the War

Absolutely LOVED this book. If you've missed Downtown Abbey, The Summer Before the War is a fabulous read that will transport you back to pre-WWI England in the last days of a perfect summer. The characters are endearing and the landscape and social drama of the town just comes to life. The book follows the town's new Latin teacher, Beatrice, who has moved to the small town of Rye and is much more freethinking and good looking than expected. It's historical, romantic and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

One of my favorite lines that illustrates the humor found throughout the book...Beatrice's thoughts after an early interaction with a maid, Jennie, "...and it was a funny thing about those in service, thought Beatrice, that they could be as rude as revolutionaries to those just above them while remaining unconditionally loyal to their masters."

The "rude as revolutionaries" sounds like something the Dowager would say in Downton! I'm adding Helen Simson's first book, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand to my must-read list.

Biblical Femininity

I was in a summer Bible study with Grace Church here in Greenville that published this book. It looks at what it means to be a woman made in God's image and how that affects every aspect of your life. From the back cover: God created every woman to be an ezer kenegdo, an essential counterpart. An ezer is one who comes alongside another and brings strength in the context of relationship.

The Last Anniversary

This is Liane Moriarty's second book and it's been interesting to see how she's evolved as an author with her most recent works like Big Little Lies. I'm about half-way through the book and quite tell where it is going. The main character, Sophie, has been left a house by an ex-boyfriends aunt. The house is located on an Scribbly Gum Island that is famous for a Baby Munro Mystery. Obviously, the mystery will be solved!

Church of the Small Things

I was chosen to be on the pre-launch publishing team for Melanie Sha new book,
Church of the Small Things. Melanie's books (and her Big Mama blog) are so encouraging, uplifting and life-affirming. The book focuses on the small significance of fully living everyday life and how God uses the small moments of our lives. Here's from the back cover: The million little pieces that make a life aren't necessarily glamorous or far-reaching. But God usues some of the smallest, most ordinary acts of faithfulness - and sometimes they look a  whole lot like packing lunch...Melanie helps women embrace what it means to live a simple yet incredibly meaningful life and how to find all the beauty and laughter that lies right beneath the surface of every moment.

Also on my to-read list is the newest book from one of my favorite bloggers at My Scandinavian Home. Niki is a London native who married a Swede and has embraced the Swedish culture. Her book, Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced Happy Life, looks fabulous.

Here's the Amazon description: Uncover the secrets of the Swedish philosophy of life called Lagom - meaning `just enough'. At its core is the idea that we can strike a healthy balance with the world around us without having to make extreme changes, and without denying ourselves anything. This delightful book, written by Niki Brantmark, founder and curator of the award winning interior design blog, My Scandinavian Home, gives a taste of the philosophy behind Lagom and shows how to include some of the principles into our daily lives. 

What are you reading? I'd love to hear!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Five for Friday

Is it just me or does the week after vacation always seem extra busy? We hit the ground running this week with therapy appointments, playing with friends and prepping for Ryan's fellowship interviews. Days with toddlers seem to be spurts of messy activity and craziness and then complete calm when they nap. The house gets cools and dark and they wake up calm and snuggley. Its amazing, though, how fast those two hours go by. My plans to catch up on reading or the laundry or start on supper usually don't happen. Especially if I put my feet up, I'm out like a light too.

Some highlights of the week...

1. Brady!!! My nickname for our friends Crady and Brad who visited Greenville this week with their three kiddos. Caroline and Semmes hit it right off at the zoo and she talked about "Semmes and the lions" all week long.

First time in the reptile house at the zoo. I always skip this since slimy creeping creatures freak me out! 

Duncan couldn't get over someone new being beside him in the stroller!

On their last day in town we met them at McPherson Park for putt-putt. It's fun living somewhere where people come to vacation!

2. We had drinks and supper (sans kiddos!) at Up On The Roof with Brady and Louise and Jay. Crady introduced me and Louise earlier this summer when she moved here from Memphis. Jay's from Mississippi and they both went to college in Jackson so we had fun making who-we-knew-in-common connections. I had the lobster roll which was amazing and the sunset skyline view never disappoints. 

3. I've been going to hot yoga for a couple of months and really love it. Soul Yoga is doing a 30 Day Yoga Challenge where you try to complete 25 classes in the 30 days of August. I've made it the first five days of August, and it's been tough! But worth it - I can already tell I'm stronger and can get deeper into the poses.

4. Thursday night I co-hosted a "sprinkle" for Jordan who is expecting her second baby boy next month. It was so fun and made me really love the way we've re-arranged the living room. The whole house just flows better. 

I used this recipe to make blueberry mojitos (both the cocktail and mocktail versions) and they were fabulous. Even though they were purple and not blue! I found the same straws as in the recipe at Target!

5. And big news on the Duncan front! The specialist's office we've been waiting to see in Seattle called and we should have a date to go in within the next two weeks. I'm sure it will still be a couple of months out, but we originally though we'd be on a waiting list for over a year. This is the only physician in the world who solely studies brain abnormalities like polymicrogyria. Although I'm curious to see what he's going to say, there's no denying that Duncan is doing fabulous. He's working on crawling and can just about pull himself up to sit without any assistance. His physical therapyist says that walking won't be near the challenge for him that crawling has been because his arms and legs are so strong. It's just his core that is most effected by his low muscle tone. And crawling is so important for brain development and hand-eye coordination. So we want him to crawl for as long as possible and definitely not skip it! We've all been doing a lot of crawling around the house!

At the dirty Swamp Rabbit Cafe playgound - everyone's favorite - we met up with Ole Miss friends who have moved here for fellowship. So excited to have the Rush family around. Sadly, we didn't take any pictures! 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

14 & 22 Months

Caroline is only two months from two! And Duncan is two months into one year. Yikes! They are both in really fun stages are are constantly making up games. My favorite is the "shake, shake." Duncan will start shaking his head quickly back and forth and smiling and then look at Caroline and she'll do it back to him. The more the other person shakes their head, the more he will and then get more and more tickled by it. He even did it with my mom on Facetime. It's adorable!

Caroline is talking up a storm and just repeats everything she hears. She's very into boo-boos and yesterday started telling me she had a boo-boo on her knee. She'd go, "Caroline boo-boo knee. I so saw-wee." Apparently, my response to her boo-boos of, "I'm so sorry," just got tacked onto the end of all statements about boo-boos. She is also amazing at handling my iPhone. The other morning we were Facetiming with my mom and she goes, "Siggi, see Bubba" and turned the phone around and then proceeded to give Siggi the perfect view of Duncan!

Her independence is staggering and she can now climb into the car and up into her carseat by herself. And then click the top buckle!

In their OBX souvenir t-shirts. The sweetness just kills me.

At 22 months, Caroline is pure sweetness and cuddles. Especially in the morning. She's like her daddy and likes to wake up slowly. She needs to sit awake in her bed for a bit before she's ready to greet they day.

She's also discovered the concept of jumping and can't jump enough!

Very proud of her "c - cell" at the beach!

Some funny things Caroline is saying at the moment...

"You go with me" anytime she thinks I'm about to go somewhere (even just into another room).

If I do leave the house, she assumes it's for yoga. She told a babysitter the other day that "Mama yoga" and then when I'm about to walk out the door she'll say "Mama come right back."

Into buckling and then "open please" So polite!

Already a negotiator. As soon as she realizes we are putting on shoes to get in the car, she starts asking for "Caroline's songs." Ryan has a firm rule that in his car it's only Dada's songs.

Still saying "thank you Caroline" a lot but mostly just when it's something she thinks (knows) she shouldn't be doing like handing Duncan back his bottle (after she took it) or

She loves her rocking chair and it's moved from the porch to the living room. She knows which sippy cups are her's and which are Duncan's. She loves to put on "Mama's lotion" but then just carries it around with her hand outstretched.

We are working on leaving her "pie" (paci) in the crib and just having it for nap time and bedtime. It's no big deal when we leave the house but if she sees it oh my goodness the drama is real. We're into the second week of this and overall it's gone okay. Duncan's speech therapist suggested he didn't really need to use it during the day, if possible, and so it seemed like a good time to stop using them during the day. And it's made my day easier in not trying to keep up with where they are all the time!

Nursery time - for some reason the YMCA is so much harder for her than other nurseries. She starts crying before I leave. This week when I went to pick them up, I saw Duncan happily playing on the floor and Caroline's foot sticking out of the stroller. They told me she cried until they put her back in the stroller and then she was content to just wait right there. She was going to be ready to go when mama came back! She does great at my Bible study, but it's a much smaller group and I think less intimating to her.

Eating - her favorites are still eggs, blueberries, oranges and sweet potatoes. She also loves chicken and calls all meat chicken. She calls chocolate a "special treat" and I've had to be careful not to refer to anything else as a special treat or she is very disappointed!

Sleeping - still my champ in this department. Every once in awhile she'll resist bedtime just a bit but usually conks out before she can get worked up about it. She loves "talking" to Duncan and we can always tell when he stops responding to her antics, she'll get upset.

Ducky is still the favored object but she also loves her elephant, blanket and black sheep (he's actually white) and her favorite song remains "Ba-Ba Black Sheep."

Now onto to Duncan Doodle...

At 14 months, Duncan is still my cuddle bug and I'm holding onto all the baby bits for as long as possible! He's using a bottle and sippy cup. He eats everything!

Says "daa" for dog, has said "ball" and "bubbles." If he's real upset he'll say "mama." 

Don't eat around Duncan if you don't want to share, he gets down right mad when there's food around and he's not eating it. I have no idea where this trait comes from...

Duncan loves our family bike rides and he and Caroline will smile at each other the whole time.

We do therapies on Monday, Wednesday and Friday with PT and OT twice each, speech therapy, feeding therapy and early intervention. All this is making such a difference. He's gotten arm braces that have helped him turn his arms out, open up his hands and increase shoulder strength. He now claps with hands wide open and is working on a pincher grasp. In PT he's working on getting up into the seated position by himself. He has the strength; just needs to get the coordination down. The same issues with crawling. He's so close and can do it with assistance for a short distance. Becky, his physical therapist, says he'll have a much easier and faster time walking because his legs are strong enough but crawling is so important for hand-eye coordination and other mental developments. I've learned to let go of my timeline and just realize he's going to reach his milestones in his own time. Easier said than done!

He loves balls, trains, the pool and playing peek-a-boo. And Bouncing Babies at the library.

Every so often, nap time is a struggle, and he's usually up before Caroline. We've dropped his morning nap over the last month and that's greatly helped him sleep two hours in the afternoon.

Treasuring these days because they are going by too fast!