Sunday, January 31, 2010

snowed in

We're snowed in. Quite literally. You see, when it snows in Durham, the city is somewhat paralyzed by a lack of vehicles and means to plow or melt snow. On top of that, it's cold enough that the snow will fall, begin to melt, but then freeze in a nice sheet of ice, which of course is non-negotiable for most vehicles. The biggest problem occurs when an additional layer of the fluffy stuff falls on top, creating the illusion of something somewhat manageable. Then, when cars attempt to plow through, they generally end up sliding around. So while our friends in the Northeast or those nestled at the base of the Rockies might think our plight of a couple inches somewhat comical, we are nevertheless, snowed in.

Let's just say we're enjoying our time indoors. (I made a pot of this delicious soup, deemed "restaurant style" by my dad, his highest culinary compliment, to celebrate and warm us up.) I actually love snow, as I've said many times. It wraps things up in a beautiful blanket of white. Granted, the the things being wrapped are frigid and probably don't share my sentiments. But to look upon, it's rather lovely, and there's something simply charming about being bundled up and crunching through the snow. 

Although Annabelle doesn't seem to agree. :)

Friday, January 29, 2010

the latest accessory

So initially I hated Annabelle's highchair. I bought it because I love Ikea's streamlined products. They're clean and simple. And although it's somewhat cliche (and I tend to be revolted by the trendy), someday I hope my home looks like it came out of Ikea. And because my kitchen is accented with red all over (much like a newspaper, ha), I loved that we could get her a highchair to match. I liked that all parts were plastic and easy to clean (I don't like the cushy seats with surfaces that required more than a wipe to clean). And the price tags of most highchairs were killing me. So I went with Ikea's Antilop.

When it arrived and Jess put it together, I stood there thinking, "This is it? What, should we put Belle's dolls in it?" It's small. It's short. The tray doesn't easily come off for cleaning. I looked into returning it. We'd basically have to pay Ikea to take it back, so I decided I'd swallow my pride and make it work.

To be perfectly honest, I love it now. I love that it's the runt of the litter, that it takes up just a small amount of floor space in our already squished square footage. It wipes clean in a jiffy, and although I do wish the tray would remove easier, at least she can smear baby oatmeal (loves the stuff) all over the place and it can be cleaned without any thought as to what to do with its soft parts. 

It's not the perfect highchair, but it works. And for its price tag, it definitely does the job. 

Plus, Annabelle looks way cute in it. And isn't that the reason why we buy anything? To accessorize our daughter?

I thought so. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

lost baby

So some time within the last week, I lost my baby.

And what has come to stay in her place is a tantrum throwing if she can't have whatever mom has, can't crawl yet but wants to so bad and gets real mad when she falls on her face, ADULT CHILD.
Seriously? Tantrums already?

It's actually kind of cute.

And for the record, she's still pretty darn lovely most the time.

As long as she gets whatever she wants. ;)

NOTE: The above tantrum was being thrown because she wants the camera. Bad. My computer, the camera, our phones. She must have. Or else!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

trial size

As you could probably guess, I am a TOTAL sucker for "new and improved" candy bars and treats. I try almost any new candy bar I see. Like Strawberried Peanut Butter M&Ms (yes, they took the liberty of creating a verb out of strawberry and yes, they're delicious.)

And so, I thought I would warn you all: DO NOT TRY THESE


unless you would like to gain back any weight you had previously lost by starving yourself {dieting and exercising}.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

pen in hand

As an English major, I spent considerable time marking books. It was for my own good, of course, but I also love finding little nuggets of beauty or truth buried deep in a novel. Truth be told, I was marking books before I started being graded to do so. However, since my exit from school, I haven't found myself reading with pen or pencil in hand very often. This is probably because I'm reading too fast (I'm a chronic skimmer, it's bad, and there's always something else I should be doing, you know, like changing a diaper or something). It might also be because the number of books I read has plummeted. Sometimes I long for the days when reading was required. Or the days when I was small enough that my biggest accomplishment was finishing a chapter book and I didn't feel guilty for it.

This year, I want to try and read more. This may mean I read two books all year, but I want to make the effort. I sincerely believe there aren't many things that are better for your mind than reading. Books hold worlds and dreams and ideas. There is nothing like a room full of books to inspire a person.

The first week of the year, I read Forest Born, the fourth book in a series of fantasy type children's literature by Shannon Hale (I've previously read the other three). And I found myself lost in their beautiful Forest world. I was particularly caught up in the thoughts of the main character, Rin, a person I'm sure I would've been friends with, a person I could understand so well. I love good children's literature - the simple complexity, stories woven with such precision that both a child and adult can fall into their pages.

Just yesterday, I finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. And for the first time in years, I read with a pen in hand. It's a novel told entirely through letters. Beautiful letters that speak so perfectly of heartache, love, despair, and with the most precise blend of wit and humor.The letters tell the story of a (fictional) author, Juliet, who finds unlikely friendships in a group of people who live in Guernsey, a city in the Channel Islands that was occupied by the German during World War II. The book takes place after the war, and the letters are a beautiful collection of their memories. Of course, the story is also one of Juliet and how she is changed by these people and their beautiful Guernsey.

I am in love with this book. Some of its passages were so perfectly crafted I wanted to eat them. I loved the format - the letters allow the characters, each of them instead of just one narrator, to speak so freely and with parenthetical asides that made me smile. I long to go to Guernsey and meet these (fictional) people, live in their world of survival and love. And so I plan on turning around and reading this book again. I can't wait to go back. With a pen in hand, of course.

Friday, January 22, 2010

hope for haiti

We watched the Hope for Haiti fundraising event tonight.

My heart felt as though it was cracking when I thought about the babies that didn't have mommies to hold them.

Especially the helpless infants.

I thought about the mommies that have empty arms. It made my arms ache.

My baby, no longer an infant, sat next to me, her hand on my lap, her chest rattling with congestion.

More than once I gathered her - my hope - up in my arms to tell her I loved her.

I kissed her chubby cheeks, breathed in her still-sweet baby smell.

I told Jess we could either adopt a baby or donate some money.

We made a donation.

But I still want a Haitian baby.

I know I can't save all of the world's orphans. But I think I could save one. 

Or at least give it a pair of willing arms to hug away the sadness.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

ma MA!

So it appears that Annabelle has learned when she says, "Mama," she will get my attention. Apparently even when she was out with Daddy, when he was busy shopping and not entertaining her, she gave him a stern, "Ma! Ma!" to get his attention.

This morning, Annabelle fell asleep for her morning nap. And while she's been sick (an awful cold, complete with runny eyes), and napping is rather sporadic, it seemed she was out like a light. So I turned on her sound machine (oh sound machine, how we love thee) and thought I'd quickly take a shower. When I got out a few minutes later I heard:

"Ma, ma,, MA!"

Apparently she wasn't ready for her nap. ;)

Monday, January 18, 2010

dear immune system:

I realize that when I got pregnant (with Belle – this is NOT an announcement, don’t expect one of those for several years), you went crashing down in order to protect my baby. And I accepted those brutal colds as a part of the AWESOME deal of pregnancy. But can we talk about how THE BABY CAME OUT? (Believe me. I was there.) So just in case you didn’t get the memo: you can start working again.

And I know that if I just got a good night’s sleep, I’d probably fare a little better, but when Annabelle insists on sucking on every surface in her reach, she tends to catch every bug that wafts by her. So she spends all night sneezing and coughing, and I spend all night trotting back to her room to put her binkie in her mouth. And to top it off, she generally passes her diseases on to me.

I just want you to know that I’m pretty tired of having a cold, having had one since pregnancy. And Annabelle is SIX MONTHS OLD NOW. Baby gone. No need to be a broken system anymore. Any time you want to join the party, I’m game.


Friday, January 15, 2010

totally bangin'

So back in the day when my mother made my fashion choices, my hair was cut to include bangs. (Actually, to her credit, she was very good at allowing us to make those decisions as soon as we were capable. Sometimes we wish she would've stopped us from wearing those really chic biker shorts on the first day of school, but whatever.) Luckily, I fit right in with the rest of the children of the 80s with crimped/and or permed hair and a nice swath of bangs.

Cute, right?

And then as the nineties merged with the banging (ha) eighties, we started fluffing the bangs.

Dang, I was good at that fluff.

And so my life went well into high school, awkward years of hairstyles that always missed the mark. Probably because I STILL HAD THOSE STUPID BANGS.

Then, one day during my senior year, I had a moment of deep self-realization. To make a long story short: I grew out my bangs, cut the rest of my hair to allow said fringe to blend better, started running, and changed my diet. I came out of this self-realization not only with a deep love of running but also thirty pounds lighter and a forehead free of adornment.

I then spent many good years without bangs, most of them in an effort to grow out those locks I had so carelessly chopped.

Then. Oh let's talk about then.

So by this time I'm married, still without bangs. And I'm obsessed, obsessed, with Reese Witherspoon's hair. Can I have her hair please? I ignored the voice in my head reminding me I wasn't blond and that perhaps my bone structure was a little different (a little?). But still. So I ask my hair artist to chop me some Reese bangs, por favor. And she did. And I loved them. I wanted to have them forever.

And then I got pregnant. Look, when I'm pregnant, I don't make sense. If any of you recall, I wanted to eat snow. I also suddenly and quite dramatically despised my bangs. And so I traveled back in time to my senior year of high school and started growing the suckers out again. (Except this time I gained thirty [plus ten] pounds instead of losing them.) I also kept the long locks (to thusly hide my pancaking pregnant face).

Thanks to pre-natal vits, by the time Belle arrived, bangs-be-gone. Mission accomplished. Lesson learned.

Or not.

She was about a week old, and I was like I WANT BANGS. I marched into the bathroom, combed forward a swath of my long (it was to my butt folks) hair, and chopped me up some bangs. And I loved them. For like four seconds. And then I wanted to scream. Because I remembered why my pregnant self despised the fur on my forehead: bangs are only cute when they are carefully and constantly manicured. They have to have that freshly mown look to be attractive. Seriously. So I'd love them for two days, and then, oh - poof - shaggy bangs. And then snip, snip, snip. Repeat. Aaaaaahhhhhhh.

And so...I am currently growing my bangs out. For the last time. I swear. I made my hair artist swear on her pretty pink blow dryer that the next time I say something like, "So...I think I want bangs..." she would remind me that, actually I'm not a bang person, that actually even though I really wish I were Reese Witherspoon, I'm not, that actually growing out my bangs TAKES TEN YEARS, and we don't want that again do we?

And that is why Annabelle will not have bangs, at least while she's on my watch. And then when she is able to make mistakes all by herself, she too can take a hack saw to her hair. And then when she does I'll be like, "Ha. I told you so. Have fun growing those out for the rest of your life."

By the way, I didn't make her swear on her blow dryer. But it is pink.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

haiti in my heart

Tonight, my heart is in Haiti.

As I handed Belle chunks of bread (she's definitely my daughter, the way this girl can consume bread), on the TV screen, the image of a man carrying a tiny infant out of the rubble flashed by. Something inside me cried out for that man, that small baby. The baby is surely still nursing, and the image didn't show a mom anywhere near. I wanted to hand that man a canister of Belle's formula, the piece of bread I was carelessly breaking in pieces. I wished desperately that even for a few seconds I could somehow reach through the TV and help feed that baby.

My heart hurts.

I turned to and my heart was somewhat warmed to read that relief is already underway, including supplies for newborns, and I just have to hope that the small baby I saw on TV gets some of that relief. Suddenly, the service nights we have as a regular part of our church activities, which often seem quite routine, seem unbelievably important.

I have Haiti in my heart.

car storage

So my car door has a compartment. I think most people store CDs or other important things in their door. In my case, it's usually full of chocolate wrappers. Lately, it's bursting with the golden wrappers of Ferrero Rocher.

What's so wonderful about these Christmas candies is I can buy them ALL YEAR LONG at Target. And they're handy as they're right in the check out aisle!

What's weird is I generally don't enjoy chocolate (or any dessert) when it is mixed with nuts. I just feel like it's mixing two ingredients that are much better enjoyed separately. Like we're forcing them to be friends and really, they can't stand each other. But these little delights are the perfect amount of smooth chocolate, hazlenut flavoring, and a slight nutty crust.

I also like these because they're individually wrapped. If I exercise restraint (occasionally, but not often), I can eat one and save two for another day.

Usually, I eat three and save none. My overstuffed car door attests.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

daddy's little girl

Most often, people say she looks like me. And sometimes when she smiles or lifts her eyes, I see myself. It's a strange feeling, watching yourself in a tiny body. When she was born, I asked my mom if it was a little surreal to see her baby all over again.

But as she gets bigger, I see her daddy in her more and more.

Especially in the eyes. We may mirror each other in many ways, but in her eyes, she is her daddy's little girl.

And, oh those eyes.

Monday, January 11, 2010

super sophie

So some people have a beach home or their mountain cabin. I have a second home at You think I jest? Oh, how you wish. This started with my parents - they use Amazon for everything. And at Christmas time, we all make Amazon Wish Lists, which makes Christmas shopping really easy. And quite honestly, you can find almost anything on

I did almost all of my Christmas shopping on Amazon. I bought a few things for Annabelle, and while shopping in the baby department, I noticed that Amazon kept recommending I check out Sophie the Giraffe (she's rated the number one teething toy). Of course I did (I always follow Amazon's advice), however, when I saw her price tag - THIRTEEN DOLLARS - I decided I'd pass her by. After all, who pays THIRTEEN DOLLARS for a rubber teething toy?

Oh, I'll tell you who. Grandma does. When my mom received the same recommendation, she too checked out Sophie. And as she fulfilled her duty as grandma (to spoil one's grandchildren ridiculously), she bought up a little Sophie for Annabelle. Christmas day arrived, and when I saw Sophie, as I did with many of Belle's presents, I went nuts. After all, she's so cute, and she's THIRTEEN DOLLARS I don't have to spend!

Little did we know, Belle would love Sophie just as much. She toted that rubber giraffe everywhere. I even witnessed her tucking Sophie in next to her in the exersaucer, as if to say, "You sit right here Sophe. I'm just going to play with a few toys here."

So although Sophie the Giraffe is indeed a rubber teether that costs THIRTEEN DOLLARS, I am actually going to go ahead and recommend her.

As her story goes, she was the first rubber toy made for children (in France in 1961), and her popularity since has never decreased. (For those that value a little history, her appearance and manufacturing process haven't changed either.) Sophie is the perfect size for little hands, and her soft (baby safe) rubber is the perfect texture for tender gums or new teeth to gnaw on. I think that the bumps in her mane, and then all her parts - horns, ears, legs, neck, etc. - feel good on teething gums. She does squeak - both from her tummy and her head - but she has to be coerced to do so, so she isn't a very noisy toy.

There is one potential downside to Sophie: because she's made of rubber, well, she smells like rubber. And "the singular scent of natural rubber" (as her promotional materials read) drives Jess (and others) nuts. I actually don't mind at all. And it seems that Annabelle couldn't care less.

We love Sophie so much, in fact, when she went missing (that is, got kicked out of the shopping cart at Target), I went ahead and spent the THIRTEEN DOLLARS to replace her. And it was totally worth it to see Belle's face recognize her favorite toy when we returned to Durham.

Now, however, Sophie does not accompany us on shopping trips.

NOTE: If you are indeed interested in purchasing Sophie, Amazon may be your cheapest route. I've noticed she costs a few more dollars elsewhere. And if you're shipping her, those few dollars might be worth the savings. Although if you happen to be an Amazon Prime member, that shipping is free. (Pretty sure I didn't live before existed.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

do you ever wish?

Do you ever wish you
could remember how amazing the world
must have been when everything was new, when
everything was a curiosity just waiting to be discovered?

I do.

Monday, January 4, 2010

a thousand words

A picture is worth a thousand words. That's what they say. But truthfully, it's not often that I feel a photo really can capture a thousand words. I mean, I find photos beautiful, striking, memorable. The photos I take of Belle are priceless to me. Jess' photos of Tokyo are so dear to me I cry if I look long enough. But still - a thousand words? Maybe it's my subconscious counting of syllables, as though editing has trained my brain to value word count way more than I should.

However, when we stopped by Jess' grandparents house so they could visit their first great-grandbaby, Jess grabbed his camera (if you can simply "grab" what has become his camera and its entourage of equipment). And these photos. Oh, these photos. The words are dripping by the thousands.

There's something about the beauty in their wisdom-filled faces contrasted with her baby face. The juxtoposition of old and new in the most beautiful way. There's something about the love they've developed for decades that radiates from them. Their faces frame their smiles in a way that only experience can. I swear their eyes twinkle. There's something about the furniture, the lighting, the way their home is frozen in time, a more simple time, when life was easier, right? Because we always assume life was easier "back then." But in these photos, I swear life is easier.

And the cliche, the thousand words, it's in every one of these photos. Every picture has a thousand words trapped in their eyes, their expressions, their love.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

half year

Dear Annabelle:

Six months ago today, I met you for the first time. But it didn't feel like I was meeting you for the first time. You didn't feel like a stranger at all. No, you actually felt more like a finally. Finally I had you in my arms.

I remember noticing your tiny, perfect features, particularly your nose. I remember thinking you looked something like your Great Grandpa Christensen, which is funny now, but I think it had something to do with your features being all squishy and swollen, something that our faces do as we age, and ironically, often how they begin. I remember feeling overwhelming love, undeniable peace. I remember that even then, you turned your face into your blanket, something you do every night and every nap. In fact, I don't know that you could sleep without something to snuggle. I remember waiting for your first cry, the relief I felt when it came. And I remember when I finally got to hold you.

I never wanted to put you down. Indeed, I requested that you stay in my room that night so I could watch you, watch your chest rise and fall, memorize your face. You grunted a lot in your sleep, so I didn't sleep much more than a few winks, but I fell in love with you that night. And although that was the first of many sleepless nights, I never could get enough of you. And still, six months later, I can't get enough. It seems like just yesterday you made your entrance. It seems like just yesterday I held your tiny infant body, still purple in the fingers and toes, and felt a blanket of love wrap us both up so tight.

The other night I went and saw a movie. It's the first movie I've seen since your birth. And while it may have had something to do with how slow the movie was, the entire time I sat in my cushy theater seat, I wished for nothing more than to be home with you, sitting on the floor, playing with your toys, watching your face light up with recognition, your lips pucker with concentration, your hands very deliberately grab everything in reach, your smile turn up at me.

Thank you for coming to me six months ago. You make life new and beautiful. You make the simple things incredible. You bring more happiness to a person than I knew possible.

I love you my sweet Belle.



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