Thursday, December 30, 2010

Well, I Knew This Was Coming...

...but I was still surprised to see this when I got Sylvia up from her nap this afternoon:

What a big girl!  She's been pulling herself up onto low furniture and a few toys for a couple weeks, but usually when I get her in the mornings, she's lying on her back, just kicking and playing.  Every once in a while she'll be on her stomach or her hands and knees, but today she was standing right up, screaming her head off.  I was so surprised that I left the room and grabbed my camera. 

She's not a happy camper, perhaps because she did not want to take a nap or perhaps because, if you look closely you'll notice, that her PANTS are falling down, and no self-respecting girl can go to sleep with her pants off.  Poor baby.

Monday, December 27, 2010


It came and went and here we sit on the other side of the greatest holiday ever!  We came up to Mom's on Thursday and upon arrival she said, "Thanks for the baby, now go do whatever you want to do while I watch her!"  Ahhh, Grandma.  We went to meet a few friends at a resaurant and then out to a movie.  It was delightful!

On Friday we baked pies and made food for Grandma Neltner's house, where the whole family meets every Christmas Eve.  Grandma Neltner's house was delightfully raucous.  Lots of people, lots of food, lots of presents, and lots of love!  We kept Sylvia up way too late, but it was worth it.

We headed back to Mom's for the night and opened more presents on Christmas Day!  Sylvia had no idea what was going on, but she started to get the hang of it.  She loved tearing all the wrapping paper. 

This gift is still sitting in the box, in a pile of presents, ready to get loaded into the car.  We're not even going to open the box until we get back home!  She, obviously, doesn't know any better, so we're taking advantage of the fact that this is all new to her!

Here's a good pic of Sylvia being all, "What, am I supposed to do something else besides read these books?  You people are CRAZY!"  Behind her are the duckies that Mom found at an antique mall.  They're handmade and they roll along the floor on a little pull string.  Later in the day Sylvia really got excited about them.

Here's Sylvia after she opened her squeaky blocks.  They're chewable soooooo.....she loves them.

Santa also brought gifts for the grown ups!  He even left the wrapping paper off of Jordan's gift so he could point out how funny the packaging was.

After all the presents were opened at Mom's house, it was time to head to Dad's house!  Santa went there, too!
 Sylvia needed a little pick-me-up when we got there, but as soon as she had her bottle she was ready to rock!

 Sally made Poinsettias: champagne and cranberry juice!  Yummy!

 Nana enjoyed a poinsettia while she watched Sylvia play with her toys.

Sally showed Sylvia how to play with her new toy - a corn popper!  Is there anyone out there who did NOT have one of these as a kid?  It hasn't changed in decades!  I'm so glad she has one!

 Santa brought the boys Nerf guns.  Fun was had.  'Nuf said.

We hung out at Dad's for the afternoon and then headed back to Mom's for dinner and games with Jay's side of the family.

 Sylvia got a great toy from Mamie Fasciotto.  Lots of lights and buttons and songs, and it comes with a cell phone!  She's eight months old now, so she's really ready for a cell phone.

 Uncle Jordan was lots of fun.

 Cousin Charlie loved his slide from Santa.  He was much better at opening presents than Sylvia.  He could really show her how it's done.

 This present was for "Daddy and Sylvia," there was another one for "Daddy and Charlie."  They had to open them at the same time.  They were singing snow men dressed in UK gear (for us) and Cincinnati Reds gear (for them).  Look at Sylvia's face!  Does she look exhausted or what?

 The obligatory bow on the head shot.

 Laura and Pete opened Sylvia's gift for sweet baby Crawford.  We love sharing Christmas evening with the Crawfords!

And this picture will be framed at my house!  After we tried to get some family photos, loooong after bedtime, both kids were plum tuckered out.  So Uncle Jordan grabs them both and says, "I want a picture with both kids!  Give 'em here!"  And this is what we got.

It was a wonderful Christmas.  We had a great time with our family and friends, and Sylvia loved being around all these people!  Now, Sylvain and I are packing for our two day road trip through Kentucky for our anniversary (four years on Wednesday!) and Mom is gearing up for two and a half days taking care of our sweet Nugget.  Luckily, she's been sleeping really well while we've been here, so I have no qualms about leaving her.  In fact, I'm rather looking forward to it!

I hope everyone out there in cyberspace had a lovely holiday as well!  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good Morning!

Here's a little taste of our mornings around here now that we don't have to rush to day care.  Hooray for winter break!

Friday, December 17, 2010

For the Baby Mamas

During these last couple of snow days I've been cleaning and rearranging all kinds of things in the house.  One space that desperately needed attention was my nightstand, which was overflowing with all the books I've read in the last year.  As I was shoving some of them in a closet, I thought to myself that it would have been nice to know which ones were good and which ones were not before I bought them all.  Then I thought about all of my pregnant or new mama friends and decided that a blog post of my favorites might be a little bit helpful.  Or not.  It's always hard to pick the right books for yourself, much less anyone else, but here's my two-cents on a few of the better ones, take it or leave it!

 Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, by Susan McCutcheon-Rosegg

If you're considering natural childbirth, I highly recommend the Bradley Book.  We used most of the Bradley Method, although there were a few things we did not do, like practice our exercises naked or eat four thousand pounds of protein every day.  :)  You have to pick and choose what you like, but this book did a really good job of preparing us for what would probably happen on the big day!  In fact, during the last week of my pregnancy we got it out again and re-read a couple of chapters that were very helpful at identifying what kind of pregnancy and birth we were having.  (I was an "any day now" pregnancy: waiting for two weeks at 4 cm; getting really frustrated toward the end, then finally showing up to the hospital fully dilated.  Oops!)  I'm really glad we had this book.

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin

Whether you're going natural or not, Ina May's guide is a must-read!  It gets really weird at times, but I loved reading all of the birth stories in the first section of the book.  I would read a story and then decide what I would do if _________.  Many times I thought, "No WAY and I doing THAT!" and many times I thought, "Oh, I'm totally going to remember to do that."  Plus, there's a really funny picture in here that will totally gross you out and make you laugh at the same time.  While the first part of the book is all stories, the second half is all business.  It's the science behind childbirth and it addresses all of the misconceptions and fears that are out there.  If anything, it will make you very confident in yourself, which is a huge benefit on baby day!

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, by The La Leche League

Here's one that a friend told me about.  She said her daughter-in-law was having a lot of problems breastfeeding and they bought this book to help, which it did.  So I thought I'd read it before the birth and I'm very glad that I did!  There are parts that I didn't totally agree with, so you have to pick and choose what's best for you and your family.  It was very helpful at explaining how to breastfeed, what to do in the beginning, and how the breastfeeding relationship and routine changes as your baby grows.  I kept it by my bedside and used it as a reference quite a few times while Sylvia was nursing.

Good Night, Sleep Tight, by Kim West

I love this book and I hate it.  The Sleep Lady has many great tips and advice about how to put a baby to bed, and in the first couple months we followed her "plan" pretty diligently.  But recently I realized that we're breaking quite a few of her rules these days.  The big one is that we broke down and let Sylvia "cry it out," and as guilty as I felt about it at the time, I'm so glad we chose that method because now she sleeps like a champ!  I also rock her to sleep every once in a while, which is a huge no-no according to this book, but I can't help myself.  There's nothing better than rocking a sweet baby to sleep!  The most helpful part of this book is the chapter that explains how much sleep you can expect your child to get at certain ages.  Once again, though, now that Sylvia doesn't nap at day care, I don't use The Sleep Lady as much as I used to.  Her solution for a non-napping day care baby?  Switch day cares.  Ummmm, no thank you.

So there you have it.  The four books I would pass on to any friend who wants them!  Notice I did NOT include the What to Expect When You're Expecting, because I really, really don't like it.  I have it, and I've used it as a reference, and I'd happily lend it to anyone who wants it, but I think these four books are much more helpful.  No matter what you read, though, heed this advice that was given to me by a great friend:

In the end, the best person to tell you what's best for you baby is YOU.  That baby doesn't know there are a hundred different ways to do things.  You're the only parents that little girl has!  She only knows what you do, and she loves you for it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have more cleaning to do.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A New Party Trick...Just in Time for Christmas!

She's going to be soooo popular at all of our holiday gatherings now that she can do this little number!  Amazing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy Day!!!

Despite the cold weather, we've managed to have a warm and wonderful weekend around here...if you don't count our little trip to the doctor's office today to see what was wrong with sweet Sylvia.  Long story short - her pesky cough has turned into something of a concern, the doctor took one look at her and prescribed allergy meds, then he spent the rest of our appointment torturing her by trying to clean out her tiny ears with a water-gun-drill which she did NOT appreciate, only to discover that there is nothing to be concerned about in there - which I already knew, but whatever.

ANYWAY, at the dinner table tonight she was a little fussy, and I was sitting next to a stack of papers to grade that I haven't touched yet, and Sylvain was complaining about how tedious this last week before winter break would be.  I jokingly said, "Maybe we'll have a snow day!"  I mean, it IS snowing, and it's supposed to snow all night, but I know better than to get my hopes up.

Well, guess what, people?  WE HAVE A SNOW DAY TOMORROW!!!!

A SNOOOOOOWWWWWWW DAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!!  (You knew that was my Oprah voice, right?)

In seven years of teaching, the first snow day has never been so early...or so sweet!  We get to stay home and snuggle with the nugget ALL DAY tomorrow!  Yippee!!!  We usually don't know until the morning, but for some reason the superintendent already called it!  When we found out, Sylvain and I both did a silent little happy dance (and he NEVER dances).  He just handed me a beer and I'm on my way to the basement to watch a movie.  I don't know which one, and I don't care, because tonight is a magical SNOW DAY night!  Hip hip hooray!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh, There You Are, Christmas!

Christmas is my absolute, number one, four hundred percent, most favorite time of year, hands down, no matter what, always and forever.

That being said, I tend to overdo it at Christmas time.  I stress out about finding the perfect gifts for everyone on my list.  I lose sleep over the Christmas tree and decorations.  Nothing is ever big enough, pretty enough, simple enough or perfect for "Christmas."  Toss in the whole "baby's first Christmas" this year, and you can imagine the amount of holiday hoopla I've designated for myself.  Leave it to a couple of fourth graders to remind me what this whole season is about.

I've mentioned before that I have some very challenging students.  (I'll change names here, out of respect for my class.)  My kids come from the urban "hollers:" all of the little nooks and crannies of poverty and neediness.  None of them can afford their own lunch at school.  A few of them don't know where they're going to spend the night each night.  And all of them have some pretty deep and lasting emotional issues.  But every once in a while, I see a glimmer of hope in these kids, and that glimmer of hope has nothing to do with me, or with school, or with any adult.  That glimmer of hope has everything to do with the innocence and kindness that are inherent and easy for a child - for nothing more than the fact that they are children.

Connor is a sweet girl who has some incredible social and behavioral issues.  She has no idea how to express herself or control herself in a classroom setting.  By this time of the year, she is getting on everyone's last ever-loving nerve!  I can't find any students who want to work with her in a group.  I can't find any adults who have good advice about what to do with her.  She is, in every sense of the word, a conundrum.

Alexis is a smart, sweet and delightful student.  When adults aren't looking, she tends to get a little bossy and likes to start all kinds of "girl trouble," but for the most part, she doesn't present many problems.  She does, however, get very easily frustrated with Connor, and that's why I've had to separate them for the last couple of weeks.  Alexis has no tolerance for people who don't know what they're doing.  She has no tolerance for students who don't know how to get good work done.  Overall, she's a delightful student, but she can lose her temper at times.

This morning, in the hustle of our daily morning routine, I barely noticed when Connor came up to me and asked, "Mrs. Fasciotto, can I open my Christmas present from Alexis?"  My first reaction: a what present?  I noticed a small package sloppily wrapped in candy cane wrapping paper.  On the top was an index card that said, "To: Connor, From: Alexis."  My next reaction: Sure, fine, whatever, just leave me alone.

I finished checking the agendas of the students at my table and looked up to find my entire class huddled around Connor's desk.  No one was fighting to see.  No one was shoving anyone else.  No one was even talking to another student.  Everyone was waiting with bated breath to see what Alexis had given to Connor.  Was this a joke?  Was it going to be something silly or stupid?  What on earth was going on?  Why did she bring a gift to school on December 10th?  Who does she think she is?  I stood back and watched.

Connor tore away the wrapping paper to find a small, pink Disney princess purse.  I winced because I knew that the other kids thought this was a "baby" toy.  No one said a word.  Connor opened the purse to find a few plastic rings, a pencil, two silly bands and a one dollar bill.  You would have thought this child had just dug up a hidden treasure.  Her face lit up like I'd never seen it light up before.  The little girl smiled.  She never smiles.  She doesn't like to talk to people, or touch people, but she looked at Alexis and gave her a giant bear hug.  Two girls, who I thought hated each other...oil and water...were hugging in my classroom.  I couldn't believe my eyes.

The other students patted Connor on the back and said, "Wow, what a great present!" Even though it was probably from Goodwill and they would probably have laughed if they had received it themselves.

They patted Alexis on the back and said, "Wow, that was really nice of you!  Connor loves it!"  And then they went about their day.

I stood in the corner of my classroom and held back tears while I realized the importance of this tiny gift.  It was thoughtful - no one else would have wanted it.  It was meaningful - a gift for someone who is NOT your best friend, a gift for the person who has no friends in the classroom.  I know that the rest of the students had no idea how important it was; I don't even think Alexis knew how important it was, but I knew it and my heart exploded.

At recess I asked Alexis what made her think to give Connor such a sweet gift.  Here's what she said, word for word...

"Well, I know that a lot of people make fun of her.  And I know it must be hard for her to go through that every day.  So I thought I'd give her something to make her feel better."

What can a teacher say????  I gave Alexis a giant hug and said, "That was really sweet.  I'm really proud of you for recognizing what Connor needs."  Then I let her go and told her to go play with the rest of the class.

I know it sounds sappy, but we're outside at noon, and we always hear the nearby church bells ringing in the middle of our recess.  I closed my eyes and listened to the church bells playing some Christmas tune.  As I watched Alexis run away to play with the rest of my class, I thought to myself, "There it is.  Christmas in a nutshell."  It's not fancy or expensive.  It's not wrapped in ribbons or covered in glitter.  It's just a child.  Being sweet and kind and innocent.  And giving where no one else would think to give.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eight Months

Dear Sweetest Nugget,

I never thought I'd be so interested in Cheerios.  I spend at least 15 minutes a day watching you eat them,  Everything about the way you eat them amazes me.  The first time I put one in front of you, it took you about two whole minutes just to get it into your hand.  Once you had it balled up in your fist, you started slobbering on your fingers as if you could suck that cheerio right through your hand.  A few days later, you figured out how to open your fingers just a little bit, and how to wiggle your thumb through your fist just enough, until you finally got that cheerio between two fingers and could shove it into your mouth.  On the first few attempts the cheerio was nothing more than mashed up grossness in your hand, but the more proficient you became, the fresher that cheerio would be when it arrived at your mouth, and ooooooh heavens, how you loved it! 

Now, at the end of your eighth month, cheerios are easy as pie.  You can grab them between your thumb and forefinger like a champ, and if I'd let you, you'd pop as many of them into your mouth as you could fit.  I think cheerios are the perfect consistency for a teething baby - just hard enough to soothe your aching gums, but soft enough to dissolve after a few seconds and go down nice and easy.  The culinary delights of an eight month old.  Amazing.

Cheerios are just one of a million things you do every day that make me stop and marvel at the wonder of nature.  You're a BABY for goodness' sake!  Where did you learn to do all of these amazing things?  Tonight you just about had an entire conversation with Daddy.   Although your words were all "ba," "da," "ma," "pa," or "bllllmmmmmmfffffff," followed by giggles, your intonations and facial expressions made it very clear that you had a lot to say.  Also, you're crawling now!  How on earth did you figure THAT out?  You can tuck one arm under your chest and pull your whole body forward until you get to where you want to go.  Amazing.

Your favorite things right now include bath time and pajama time (as always, you think we're having a party every night, but NOPE, it's just the way we go to bed around here).  You love your pink piggy and your talking French book.  You love any board book we put in front of you.  You love your friends at day care; your face lights up whenever one of them greets you in the morning.  You love bottles (you're done nursing, which was surprisingly fine with me) and when we snuggle you love giving Mommy and Daddy "kisses," or opening your mouth really wide and slobbering all over our cheeks, then giggling about it because you think it's soooo funny! 

You also love the Christmas tree.  The twinkling lights and sparkly ornaments are sometimes too much for your little heart to take, so most mornings when you see it for the first time, you shriek and squeal like it's Christmas morning.  I can't wait for your REAL first Christmas morning.  You're going to love this holiday.

You amaze me, sweet Sylvia.  I never thought I'd be so in love with tiny fingers eating tiny food.  I never thought I'd think about cheerios all day.  I never thought I'd be so in love with slobbery kisses and messy kitchen floors.  You're my favorite.  I love you!

Forever and ever,

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Holidays are Here!

I have a few important things I want to remember, so I'm going to spit them out here.  I put off writing about them because I always think my writing should be perfect, and documented in photographs like all the other amazing Mommy blogs I read, but today I decided I don't have time for perfection, and if I keep waiting for pictures it'll never happen.  So here you go, take it or leave it.

Our Thanksgiving was amazing, despite the terrible, rainy weather and the fact that Mom and Jay went to New York.  It was nice to know that we could spend the entire evening at my Dad's house and not feel like we were missing out on something with Mom, because that's the way holidays always work, no matter how nice everyone is about it.  There's always another side of the family that we're NOT seeing at any given moment, and because I'm me, they are always the people I'm thinking about.  So this year, Mom and Jay's trip was a green light for me to sit with the other side of my family and delight in their presence.

Sally's entire family came over to Dad's house for dinner, football games, and BINGO!!  Before dinner, we all stood in the living room and shared what we were thankful for, and all of my aunts and uncles were thankful for Grandma and Grandpa.  They always say that, I guess, but this year it really choked me up.  I don't know if it's because Grandma and Grandpa aren't getting any younger, or because we now have a fourth generation, but there were over thirty people in that room, all of whom were healthy, happy, successful, both professionally and personally, and most of all....together!  Out of 5 kids, Grandma and Grandpa got FIVE beautiful families!  What are the chances?!  I find that amazing.  And I looked at every person there and decided that they all amaze the hell out of me.  What a great group of people to sink into.

Also, since I tend to have super high expectations for myself during the holidays, I was despondent when I showed up to Dad's house with a sick baby.  Sylvia had already thrown up twice that morning and I desperately appealed to Sally to help me figure out what was wrong with her.  She's a Gran now, so she automatically has to know what's wrong with babies, right?  Fortunately, she managed to say all the right things - like how sometimes when babies are teething they swallow a lot of saliva and that can upset their stomach.  Aha!  That makes sense!  Sylvia wasn't ACTING sick, and she didn't have a fever, so Sally's common sense and good logic made me feel much better.  But then, Sylvia threw up all over Sally's freshly cleaned carpets.  Not just baby spit up, either, she puked up PRUNES AND BLUEBERRIES.  Oh my god, I was mortified.  But then, Sally said it was okay.  She didn't shriek or squirm or say, "I just got those carpets cleaned," under her breath - well, maybe she did, but I didn't hear her.  I went to clean the carpet and she made me clean the BABY first!  Psh!  What a good Gran.  That's when I decided I hope that I'm just like her when I grow up.  Babies come first.  Carpets come last.  No matter what.  I think I learned a lot about being a good parent this Thanksgiving.

We made it home safe and sound with a whole weekend ahead of us, so Saturday afternoon I put up our tree.  Mom gave us a fake one and I'm SO glad, because I'm totally done with real ones.  They're stupid.  I was sorting out the branches when Sylvia started getting fussy.  Not "feed me" or "change me" fussy, either, because I'd already done all of those.  This was "MOM YOU'RE NOT PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION TO ME!" fussy.  I was bummed because I really wanted to get the tree done, so I decided to strap her into my Moby wrap and let her "help."  Buddy, you would have thought I magically whisked her off to a baby's winter wonderland!  She kicked her feet and ran her hands through the fake pine needles (still not soft, but not as prickly as real ones) and she laughed and laughed.  We sang Christmas songs and danced while we worked.  Here's the best part, though.  Once the tree was up, I reached up to put the last branches on, and she leaned her head forward so her face was totally buried in the branches.  She shook her head back and forth and she let out the biggest gut laughter I've ever heard from her.  It was totally precious.

Okay, sorry to rant, but I wanted to get those down.  You are free to continue your regularly scheduled life, if you haven't already!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Yesterday morning I woke up with an agenda.  Folks were showing up at 5:00, dinner was planned for 6:00.  It was my first attempt at a turkey, so I was a little, tiny bit nervous.  I knew the bird would be in the oven for most of the afternoon; therefore any pie-making would have to take place first thing in the morning.  Sylvia and I woke up and did our usual morning routine, but when she went down for her nap, I went into super-kitchen-hero, flour-wielding, baking-and-cooking mode.  By the time she woke up, I was rolling out my pie crusts and belting out my Christmas tunes. Sylvain got her out of bed, gave her a bottle, then decided to plop her in the high chair (still in her pajamas, mind you) so she could watch all the action.

She ate a few Cheerios then started watching Mama.  Harry Connick Jr.’s “Let It Snow” was playing on Pandora and I couldn’t help but sing and dance and spill flour all over the place.  Sylvia shrieked excitedly and kicked her footed pajama feet.  Sylvian chuckled and shook his head.  I pulled out all of my old UK acapella group moves (word up, Paws and Listen!) and while I flashed my jazz hands and snapped my fingers, Sylvia squealed with delight!  I stopped for a second to catch my breath, glanced at the gigantic mess I left of the counter, noticed the joyful and wondrous little girl watching it all, and let myself get choked up while I thanked the Lord above for such a glorious morning.  Then I cried a little bit, out of sheer happiness.

This is what it’s all about.  Someday she’ll be too old to care about songs and pie making.  Someday I’ll be too busy to stop and sing.  But today, for just one day and one moment, she and I were a part of the most wonderful holiday tradition.  My mother would be proud, and maybe a little bit sad that she couldn’t be here.  But we thought of her, and all of our family, on this greatest day of Thanksgiving.

 Here are my reasons to be thankful this year:        

On, on U of K! We are right for the fight today!

Have you ever seen a happier baby daddy?

She's a big girl in the bathtub!
 I hope your holiday is a joyous one!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mrs. Fasciotto, NBCT

I worked my pregnant little tail off all year last year to obtain the holy grail of teaching certificates.  I completed four gigantic and wordy portfolio pieces.  Then I took six written assessments to prove that I know my stuff.  After all of that hard work, I boxed it all up and sent it to Texas in the hopes that ten unknown people in ten unknown places across the United States would deem my work worthy enough to be considered "Certified."  Then I resigned myself to wait until November.  Ugh!  NOVEMBER!  It's SO far away!  How will I EVER make it to NOVEMBER???'s what now?  I'm sorry, you say it's NOVEMBER?  Um, well, I'm kind of used to waiting....and....I'm not sure I really wanna know, so......maybe I shouldn't look at those scores.  

That's right, the scores were posted THIS MORNING!  It's already here!  How did that happen???  ACCKKK!!!

Deep breath.......and release.....okay.

Looking back, I know this process taught me more about myself as a teacher than I ever could have hoped, and I improved as a teacher more than I ever could have done on my own.  So, regardless of the outcome, at least I knew I would walk away saying that I'm a better teacher...


It sure would be nice to say I'm a National Board Certified Teacher!  The pay raise wouldn't hurt either.

After a sleepless night, plenty of nail biting, and lots of wishful thinking/praying, I summoned up the nerve to check my scores this morning at school.  Luckily, I've been spending my days in the hallway with another teacher while our student teachers have been "solo-ing," so Mrs. Loper was there when I tried to log onto the website over and over and over and over again.  We finally got sick of all the suspense and I made one of my students stand by my computer to push the button every 10 seconds until the screen changed.  After about five minutes she said, "Mrs. Fasciotto!  It changed!  You're in!"  I ran to the other side of my computer, expecting to see a list of portfolio and assessment scores, looking for the magic number to be higher than 275, but was surprised to see the following message:

Congratulations!  You're a National Board Certified Teacher!

YIIIIPPPPPEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!  I shouted.  My student about hit the floor to take cover when all the other teachers ran out into the hallway and screamed and shouted and jumped and had a little party with me right then and there.  I interrupted my student teacher in the middle of her morning meeting to tell all of my students that for the rest of the day, they must call me, "Mrs. Fasciotto, National Board Certified Teacher."  Then, I took my little trouble-maker around to visit the teachers who read all of my work last year so he could tell them, "My teacher's new name is: Mrs. Fasciotto, National Board Certified Teacher."  On our way to the principal's office, I made him practice about a hundred times, because, you know, he needs to be clear when speaking to the principal.....and I loved hearing it.

My National Board work was my "other baby" last school year.  I finished that sucker just in time to start a family.  Now I can focus on going onward and upward in my teaching career, knowing that I'm working to my FULL potential!  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to improve myself as a teacher!  Hip hip hooraayyyy!!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nursing the Nugget

Tonight I am thankful that I'm able to nurse my Nugget.  I mentioned a while back that I love nursing WAY more than I ever thought I could, and that's still true, but our nursing relationship has changed quite a bit since she was born.  Since I know many, many, many soon-to-be mamas out there, I thought I'd take some time tonight to try and describe the world's greatest feeling.

In the beginning (i.e. the first four months when I was at home), nursing was a no-brainer.  Sylvia latched well, and I loved rocking with her in her room and feeding her whenever she needed it.  Every once in a while I'd venture out into the living room to nurse, when I was feeling feisty, but I've always been content sitting in her room and enjoying that precious space with her...especially when there were other people in our house or other things to do.  Sometimes it felt downright sinful to sneak in there with a hungry baby and close the door.  "Ha ha, world!  You can't get me!  I'm feeding my baby and you can SHOVE IT!"  That was always fun.

Eventually I got up the nerve to nurse her in public.  I love my trusty nursing apron and it really came in handy for the first five months or so.  My Mom was skeptical when I wanted to register for one, but when she and I were shopping at the mall and I sat down on a bench to nurse the nugget, she was convinced - they're another one of those "why didn't I think of it" ideas.  Once I got the hang of it, I was nursing that baby everywhere!  At the restaurants...pretty much everywhere except for church.  I never got up the nerve to nurse my baby in church.

All of the lovey-dovey nursing hoopla took a serious hit when I went back to work.  A working, nursing Mama means PUMPING.  I hate pumping.  It's pretty much the world's most awful thing and I hate it.  Sylvain says I look like a milk-making robot and Mom says I look like a dairy cow.  My coworkers can't figure out why I would lock my classroom door in the middle of the day (gasp!) and one of them actually UNLOCKED it so they could barge in and deliver something.  I had to get very comfortable with "going topless" for twenty minutes a day.  For the first three months of the school year, I was pumping THREE TIMES a day!  Sylvia was sucking down bottles at daycare like it was her job and I felt like I had to keep up with her.  I pumped at planning, I pumped as soon as school let out, and depending on how much she ate that day, there were times where I pumped before I went to bed at night.  Luckily, I had a pretty good stash of frozen milk, so on nights where I was too exhausted to pump, I could grab one of those.  Then, she hit six and a half months old, and everything changed again.

A couple weeks ago, Sylvia decided that she's just too busy to lay in my lap and nurse.  She's been taking bottles so frequently at day care that she wasn't interested in feeding from the boring old breast anymore!  I started supplementing with formula and OH MY GOSH IT WAS THE GREATEST THING EVER!  Suddenly I was freed of the shackles of pumping.  Once Sylvia started taking formula, I could go back to nursing her when we both actually enjoyed it.  I still pump during planning, which isn't too bad at all because I have plenty of time and I can eat or work on the computer while I do it.  When she's really tired or groggy, she has no problem nursing, so currently our schedule looks something like this: I nurse her first thing in the morning when she wakes up.  She eats a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast at day care.  She drinks a bottle of breast milk.  She eats a bowl of rice cereal and veggies.  She drinks two bottles of formula in the afternoons.  She eats rice cereal and veggies at home for dinner, sometimes she has another small bottle of formula if she needs it.  She nurses before bed.  The milk I pump during planning is her first and only bottle of breast milk during the day.

I was really nervous about this new routine, but now that we've done it for two weeks I absolutely love it.  I have the best of both worlds!  She'll eat a bottle of ANYTHING and she'll eat any vegetable as long as it's mixed with a little bit of cereal.  I'm sitting in the middle of one of those rare time-frames where everything seems to be working well.  All of my spinning plates are in the air and they haven't shattered on the floor yet.  I'm sure that soon we'll have to change our nursing relationship again, but I'm so thankful that she's still nursing twice a day without any resistance.  I cherish each and every ride in the rocker that we have because I know our days are numbered.  However, now that she's taking formula, Sylvain gets to feed her a lot more often than he used to and he loves it.  So does she.  At the moment, all is right with our nursing world!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My School

Tonight I am thankful for my sweet little elementary school.  During my first year there, I almost threw in the towel, but I'm glad that I picked up the phone and called a friend.  Actually, she was just an acquaintance at the time, but now she's a dear friend; and one of the many reasons I chose to stay at my school and dig in to the hard, yet fulfilling work that it offered.  Now that I'm deep into my third year there, I can truly say that this school feels like home, that I love the kids I work with, that I love the adults I work with even more, and that I'm in the absolute best and right place for me.  I've learned so much at this "new" school, which isn't really new to me anymore, and working there has made me a MUCH better teacher.

In a couple of weeks we'll be having our Thanksgiving Fun Feast and I can't wait to toss the lesson plans aside and laugh and play with the kids who fill my heart every day.  I'll be sure to let them know how much they mean to me and how much hope they give me for the future.  If you only knew the challenges they face, you'd be amazed and impressed at the work they're able to do every day.  Our kids are awesome.  Our staff is awesome.  I'm honored to be a part of it all!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ms. Spradlin

Tonight I am thankful for my student teacher, Ms. Spradlin!  (She won't be Ms. Spradlin for long, though.  Come June she'll be Mrs....Somebody Else)  I've been taking student teachers for a few years now, and after last year I almost threw in the towel and said, "To heck with it!"  They were really starting to be more trouble than they're worth, but then Ms. Spradlin showed up and renewed my faith in young, eager educators!  Once the kids and I figured out how to say her name correctly (she is NOT Ms. Bradley), we all fell madly in love with her.

She's a natural, and a good student teacher makes my job so much easier.  I know that on her solo days, my kids are going to get high quality instruction and I won't have to go back and re-teach the content.  Which means that the month of November is an easy, breezy month for me!  Since I teach reading to my homeroom and science to all three classes, she's already taken over most of my day.  The biggest challenge for a student teacher in fourth grade is delivering the content, and she has done her homework and planned the world's greatest Motion and Design Unit for our kids.  Hooray for good teachers!

She just finished up a two-day solo and next week she starts her week-long five-day solo, so between now and Thanksgiving, I have lots of down time during which I can pull small groups of kids, do some one-on-one assessments, and *gasp* catch up on grading, planning and report cards!  All of this means that I get to leave at a decent time in the afternoon and I don't have to take work home on the weekends, so I get optimal Mama and Nugget time!  God bless GOOD student teachers!

Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to survive without her after December 3rd.....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Let me elaborate...

Last night I rushed into the office to say I was thankful for my husband and my nugget, so tonight I'm cheating by explaining why.  I won't take long.  I just want to take you back to a moment of my day that was not captured by a camera.  It was one of those moments where your brain jumps outside of your body and screams, "Remember this!  Whatever you do, don't ever EVER forget this!!!"  So I better write it down.

We've had such a great weekend just hanging out at home and being together.  It's nice to enjoy some time as a family of three with no other obligations or responsibilities.  Sylvain worked on a lot of grading this weekend, which meant I got to spend some much needed time taking care of the nugget.  She's started sleeping more regularly and today she even took an honest-to-goodness, real, day-time nap!  An hour and 15 minutes!  It was glorious.

This evening, we went down to the basement to watch some Thursday night TV that we had DVR'd.  Sylvia hasn't spent much time down there, so we layed a blanket over the tile floor, thew down some toys and let her have a good ol' time.  As we were coming back upstairs to get some dinner, Sylvain picked up a bag of marbles.  Simple enough.  No big deal.  UNLESS YOU'RE SEVEN MONTHS OLD!  He started tossing it in the air from hand to hand and the look on Sylvia's face was priceless!  The sound and the bright colors - oh my gosh, it was a TOTAL PARTY for her!  She looked at him like he had just brought down the Ten Commandments from Mount Sinai.  He might as well have had a halo of light shining over his head.  I'm sure 75% of her fascination was with the marbles, but I know that at least 25% of it was just pure amazement with her Daddy.

As we were putting her to bed tonight, she was laughing and playing with him like she usually does, but it occured to me that she must think he is the most magical, amazing person on the planet.  I pointed this out to him, and told him that, if he plays his cards right, she will ALWAYS think so.  She will always think her Daddy is magic.  She will always think that he hung the moon and that he did it just for her.  I cannot explain the power he has over her, but I know it's true, because I still feel that way about my Daddy.

Sylvian has a big job to do.  I hope he's up for the task of being the world's greatest man alive.  I couldn't have a picked a better person for the job!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010


I'm thankful for the gift of a weekend!  This is the first time in a long time that we have absolutely no plans.  I get to stay at home with the husband and the nugget and just enjoy being with my itty bitty family, instead of entertaining or visiting our super large family.  After weeks of running around, we need it.  And considering what's coming up in November and December (our calendar in the office looks like the dry-erase marker threw up on it), we need this weekend to prepare for the mad dash for the holidays!  (I'd be lying if I said I haven't been listening to Christmas music already....)

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Weeeeelllll, that didn't take long, did it?  I was three days into my "blog every day" kick when my laptop computer fizzled out on me (i.e. the battery died while I was trying to write in bed and I was way too tired to go write on my husband's computer), so here I sit on day four already a day behind.  But isn't that the way life goes?  Things just wouldn't feel right if I wasn't behind on some aspect, would they?  So here's the post I was planning to write last night, although tonight's version is much less sappy.  Tonight I am thankful for FAMILY!

As many of you already know, most of Sylvain's family lives in France.  Last week, his Dad's family came for a visit to see sweet Sylvia and be here for her baptism.  Daniel (the Dad), Nelly (the Stepmom), and Dorinda (the sister) stayed with us for ten glorious days during which they fell in love with the Nugget (duuhhh), and I fell in love with them all over again.  This would be only the third time I've ever seen them, but it felt like they have been a part of my own family forever (if you don't count that silly little thing we call a language barrier...pish...words are cheap).  The first time I met them was shortly after Sylvain and I were engaged, so they were "my fiancee's family."  The second time was during the summer of 2009, at which point they graduated to "my husband's family."  But THIS time...well, this time they were coming to see us, and we were all united by an incredible undying love for a six-month-old girl, so this time, I couldn't help but refer to them as, "my family."  Because that's what they are and will always be. 

Aunt Dorinda couldn't get enough of the Nugget.  It was nice having our own Nanny around for ten days.  She fed her cereal and veggies at dinner time, she helped me give her a bath at night, and, most importantly, she played with her and loved on her all day long, which meant I was free to do other things like....clean my house?  No, they did that, too.  Cook dinner?  Nope, they cooked AND did the dishes, no matter how hard I protested!  I was fortunate enough to *gasp* sit on the couch for thirty minutes with a glass of wine!  They brought some gooooood wine for this baby mama!  Oh, how I love them.

My father-in-law is EX.ACT.LY like my husband.  Silly.  Dry.  Smart.  He appreciates all the people around him and he especially appreciates a good joke.  Dorinda is also exactly like Sylvain.  They play games, they poke fun, they act like a total brother and sister combo, regardless of the sixteen years and thousands of miles that separate them. And they can't get enough of "Kentucky."  We may have had a little bit to do with that fascination, seeing as how every other t-shirt we wear has UK on it, and every other toy of Sylvia's plays the fight song.  What can I say?  We bleed blue, and now France does, too.

Today, the Fasciottos had to leave.  It was extremely sad.  No one cried (expect for me, and not until after I dropped off Sylvia and started driving to work), but everyone had a heavy heart this morning.  The last time we left France, the distance between father and son really hit me.  This time, I saw the distance between grandparents and a grandchild.  Daniel woke up early to say goodbye to Sylvain before he left for work.  I was getting bottles ready in the kitchen and I noticed that Daniel stood in the doorway and watched Sylvain pull out of the driveway and drive down the street.  It broke my heart.  Then, Nelly and Dorinda woke up to say goodbye to me and the Nugget as we left for day care.  Dorinda held her a little more tightly this morning, and Nelly said to me in her broken English, "Thank you for the joy with Sylvia.  I don't think she remember us."  It broke my heart again.  I promised Nelly that, even if Sylvia doesn't recognize them the next time she sees them, she will certainly MISS them when they're gone.  I'm not looking forward to tomorrow morning when she realizes that they're not here anymore.  I know she'll be looking for them.

Lucky for us, we have lots of other family to love that are a little closer to home.  We get to see Sylvain's mom often, and my parents and siblings live right here in KY, although, according to them, it's not close enough.  I thank God every day for a big, loving, *close* family.  I can't wait to see Sylvia grow up - half French, half Kentuckian - in the world's most wonderful group of people.  What a lucky little girl!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


We have a lot of fun around here, and for that, I must thank my husband.  Tonight I am thankful for the gift of laughter.  I was sitting with the Nugget on the couch earlier today and I asked Sylvain to open up the ottoman/toy chest to find her new teether.  He lifted the lid and I said, "Hey!  You could put on a little puppet show behind there!"  So, he grabbed a few stuffed animals and popped them up for Sylvia to see. 

He did his little show in French, of course, which made me think of the old fashioned puppet shows that you always see in movies.  You know, the ones where there's a dunce hitting an old lady in a scarf and the whole thing is performed in a park in Paris?  And the audience is filled with little boys in striped shirts and girls in pigtails and bows just giggling away!  That's the kind of show we had here this afternoon.  Except instead of boys and girls giggling, all we had was one, little, sweet Sylvia gut-laughing like I have never seen her laugh before.  I have no idea what his characters were saying, but there was a lot of rough-housing between the lamb and the rabbit, and then the KY Wildcat was called in, and I heard the word "spaghetti" over and over....your guess is as good as mine, but the Nugget LOVED it!  

As I sat there with a giggling girl on my lap, watching his little story, I started laughing so hard myself that I almost cried.  I almost cried out of sheer gratitude for that sweet moment.  I really don't see how life can get any better than this!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Being a Mom

Today is November 1, the first day of National Blog Posting Month.  Now, I'm not sure, but when I check their link, it looks like every month is National Blog Posting Month and you just pick the month in which you want to try to post every day.  Laura and I did it last November, and I think November makes for a great Blog Posting Month because it's time to really start thinking about all the things for which I am thankful.  I told Laura earlier today that there's no way I'd be able to do it this year, because I barely make it to the computer for a weekly post anymore, much less a daily one, but then I thought about it all day long and remembered how nice it was to sit down each evening and reflect on all of my blessings.  So here we go!  I'm going to give it a shot, but I won't make any promises.  I'll be brief (or as brief as I can be *wink wink*) and I'll be sincere.  Tonight, I am thankful for...

Being a Mom.

As I was putting Sylvia to bed tonight, I stopped for a second after getting up out of my chair.  I swayed back and forth before putting her in her crib and I looked up on the wall to see my shadow swaying over the tree we put up last year.  I looked at my silhouette, with the Nugget's little head on my shoulder, and remembered that this is exactly where I've always wanted to be.  I remembered that at this time last year, and for many years before, this has been exactly my dream.  And to see it there, up on the wall, in a faint outline, right before my eyes, made it very clear that no matter how difficult this may be, or how incredibly I might mess up, I'll always have this moment.  The one where I know without a shadow of a doubt that being a mother is the greatest job in the world.  So tonight, while the out-of-town guests are downstairs and the washing machine is filling up and the bottles need to be washed, I decided to sit down and give thanks for my biggest blessing.  Motherhood.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Seven Months

Dear Sweetest Nugget,

I'm writing your letter early this month because you've just had a really big day and I need to get all of this down before I forget.  Today was a triple whammy: Papi's birthday, Halloween, and...your baptism!  Talk about BUSY!

Mamie Nelly, Papi Daniel and Aunt Dorinda have been staying with us for a week and you cannot get enough of them.  I'm already worried about how you'll react when you wake up on Friday morning and realize that it's just me and daddy hanging around.  No more constant stream of kisses and hugs and bouncing knees to play on?  Oh girl, you're gonna freak out.  They've been around for some of your cutest milestones.  In the last few weeks, you've learned how to sit up for REAL, how to scoot on your belly (which is quite a sight to see), how to "wave" good bye, and how to say "bah bah bah bah bah" four thousand times in a row.  You are really piling on the cuteness these days.

Watching you and your daddy interact with the family from France gives me such a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.  My French is getting a little bit better with each visit, but I can't wait to hear you speaking French very soon.  Papi, Mamie, and Dorinda like to make lots of silly faces for you, and they're all champion peek-a-boo players, so you're pretty much in heaven these days (so much so that you've decided to stop sleeping while they're here because you just don't want to miss all the fun).  But every once in a while, when they think no one's looking, I've caught each of them staring at you, or trying to steal a quick snuggle, or talking to you in that soft, sweet voice that you love so much.  You reach out for their faces and they smile as you run your fingers over their skin and explore every inch of them.  When you lock eyes with them, I can see their hearts melt.  You have three more members of Sylvia's Fan Club, and they've signed up for LIFE!  What a lucky little girl.

One more thing before I go.  You were the most beautiful and well behaved little girl in church this morning while we all celebrated your baptism!  Aunt Dorinda and Uncle Jordan stood with Mommy and Daddy in front of the whole church and Father Bill blessed you with oil and water and welcomed you into our community.  We all pledged to keep the light of Christ in you as you grow and I took one look at your sweet face and thought, "Wow, there's the light right there.  I can see it.  I'm holding it in my arms and I can't wait to watch it shine as she grows!"  You didn't make a sound for the entire mass.  You held onto your doudou and chewed on its ears; you went back and forth between Mommy and Daddy; you smiled at all of the family sitting in the row behind us; and you rode in your stroller back to the house where we all celebrated your special day.  You have so many people around you who will love you to the ends of the earth, my dear.  You are so blessed, and we are so blessed to have you.

All My Love,

Thursday, October 21, 2010

No Time for Posting...

...but plenty of time for pictures!
 We love Grammy!

Now that she can sit up a little bit, I thought I could get a super cute Fall Pumpkin photo,but Sylvia was much more interested in trying to eat them than trying to smile for the camera.  Drat!

 And she thought that hay on the ground was REALLY GREAT!  She tried to eat it, too.

Grandma Neltner came over the night before we went to get our "Four Generations" photos taken.  I don't have electronic copies of them, but they turned out to be very good portraits.  Even so, I much prefer this natural and effortless kind of picture.  How great does Grandma look?  And Sylvia is just so happy to have all that love and affection showered over her.  What a lucky girl! 

Sylvain's Dad, Stepmom and Sister are coming to visit on Monday.  Words cannot express how incredibly excited we are to see them.  I know he misses them terribly and I know they are dying to see the baby.  His sister, Dorinda, is Sylvia's Godmother and Jordan is the Godfather. We're having her baptized on the 31st, which also happens to be Halloween AND my father-in-law's birthday!  Whew!  What a fun day that will be!

Somewhere in the midst of all this excitement we have to actually work.  School has been a HUGE time sucker lately with both of us putting in really long days.  Sylvia's been moved up to "the crawler room" at daycare, even though she doesn't know how to crawl.  Add that to all the parent-teacher conferences, diagnostic assessments, crying girls, screaming boys, and Science PD's I've had to give - I've been a little overwhelmed, to say the least.  I do have a student teacher, though, and she's incredibly competent and eager, so I plan to take advantage of her positive attitude and hand her all of the responsibilities of the "real teacher" while I enjoy some time with our family over the next couple of weeks.  :)  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Six Months

Dear Sweet Sylvia,

I woke up Friday morning with a smile on my face because I knew it was your half-birthday!  Six months seems like it went by in the blink of an eye, yet I feel like you've been around all my life.  I can't imagine life without you and I am so grateful for every sweet moment we have together. 

You are such a fun baby and you're growing like crazy these days.  You still love to roll around on the floor, but now you're getting much better at scooting and rolling all over the place.  If you see something you want a few feet away from you, you can twist and turn your body in ways I never thought possible just to get it.  But you won't crawl.  Not yet.  Your current mode of transportation is just way too much fun.  You're getting better at sitting up, too, but you can't quite do that by yourself yet, either.  I think it'll only be a matter of weeks before you have sitting and crawling mastered.  And then, we'll be in for some fun times at our house!

While you're developing well physically, I've been so pleased watching you develop a little personality, too!  Whenever anyone holds you, the first thing you do is reach for their face.  You have this overwhelming urge to touch EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME NO MATTER WHAT!  You love noses and ears...anything you can grab onto for dear life.  Daddy and I have to take off our glasses before we pick you up, because that's the first thing you go for, and I haven't worn earrings in months.  I think this habit is all part of your desire to know things.  You've always been "studious," ever since the moment you were born.  You've always looked around and pondered all the things you see, but now you can start touching them and wrapping your fingers around every tiny detail you can find.  And putting them in your mouth.  Your mouth is very helpful when it comes to discovering the world around you.  If you can see it, you want to touch it.  If you can touch it, you want to grab onto it.  And if you can grab onto it, you want to lick it and slobber all over it and show it who's boss.  In fact, right after this picture was taken, you hugged that pumpkin next to you and tried to eat it.  That's totally your thing right now.

You loved visiting the pumpkin patch with Grammy and Grandpa Bird this weekend.  They couldn't believe how big you're getting!

We've become quite the happy family, Nugget.  This month we've been very busy visiting family and friends all over Kentucky, but no matter where we are or who we're visiting, the three of us are always together.  Each day it seems like I can't possibly love you any more or else my heart my burst into a thousand pieces, but each night I go to bed and realize that I love you more than the day before.  Daddy feels the same way.  You've changed him.  You've turned him into a playful, protective, wonderful father and he thinks you're the most amazing thing on earth. 

So here's to half a year, my dear!  May your next six months be as happy and wonderful as your first.  I sure am glad you're around and I can't wait to see what you'll do next.  You're my favorite.

Love you forever,

Monday, September 27, 2010

Happy Camper

We took the nugget to the annual Humbert Family Camp-out Extravaganza this weekend and I have to say, it was an amazing time!  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about taking a baby into the woods for a day and a night without any cell phone reception or running water.  I briefly considered just driving down with her for the day, then driving the three hours back home and leaving Sylvain there to play with the boys.  Then I remembered the campfire, the food, and the sing-alongs and decided we had to be there.  Besides, Dad was there.  He's good in emergencies, right?  There's not a whole lot that good ol' Grandpa can't handle, especially when it comes to camping, so we packed her up and headed to Laurel County for the greatest weekend of her life!

When we arrived, we unpacked the car which included four bajillion baby things, including the baby.  I sat the bumbo down on the picnic table with all the other camping gear, and then decided that was as good a place as any for her to hang out.  I plopped her in there, shoved a toy in her hand, and she was good to go!

She sat there for over an hour just staring at all the uncles, the trees, the fire.  I've never seen such wonder on her face before and I thought it must be remarkably exciting to be in a place like that for the very - first - time.

Then we ate.  Ohhh, did we eat!  There are no designated meal times when we're camping, just a steady stream of culinary delights coming from the fire.  No "lunch" or "dinner," those are for wimps!  We just constantly eat and clean, eat and clean, eat and clean.  After round one of good food, we took a little hike.  Except there is no such thing as a "little" hike when you have a 15 pound baby strapped to you.  One mile, straight up the side of a rocky hill, to the sweetest lookout spot in Kentucky.  Totally worth it.

Sylvia loved hiking in the Moby wrap.  John helped me carry her for part of the way up, but the way down was much easier and she even fell asleep while I was carrying her!  LOVE that Moby!

After our hike we returned to camp for some more great food and some play time.  Dad wanted to get a good picture of him and Sylvia by the campfire, and as I snapped this photo, my heart just melted.  My Dad is a happy man to begin with.  Always positive, always upbeat.  But the smile on his face when he's holding his new grandbaby - well, it's just priceless.  How do you make a happy man happier?  Put a baby in his lap! 

Finally it was time for the Nugget to go to bed, and although I was nervous about skipping the bath, I was able to get her into her pajamas, give her her vitamins, swaddle her, nurse her, and put her to bed without any fuss.  Here's her crib in our palace of a tent.  I used to camp in a one-person backpacking tent.  Now I sleep in "The Condo."  It fits eight people - or two people on a queen-size air mattress and a baby's crib.  Who says you can't "rough it" in luxury?

The little girl slept just as well as, if not better than, she does at home.  Once she was down and I returned to the fire, I couldn't help but feel extra warm and cozy while Jordan played some songs for us on the guitar.

I've always loved listening to the family sing around the fire, but singing together and knowing that our baby was sleeping soundly...well, I just felt really proud of us.  What a special trip.

The next morning we woke to find chillier temperatures than we've been used to, which amplified that cozy, "I love my family camping trips" feeling that accompanied pulling on my sweatshirt.  I also got really excited about the hoodie and knit cap I packed for Sylvia.  Isn't she the cutest little camper you ever did see?

She really did remarkably well for her first trip in the woods.  She's always loved being outside.  When she was a newborn and cried for no reason, I would rock with her on the front porch and she'd immediately calm down.  I knew she'd enjoy our camping trip, but I didn't realize how much I'd enjoy watching her.  Aside from a few pesky neighbors in the adjacent campground (don't even get me started on the nerve of some people), the whole trip was a roaring success!  I'll leave you with one more important picture - the guy with more camping experience than all eight of us combined and the sweet little nugget on her very first trip.  The things he has to teach her...what a lucky girl!