Dance Party!

"Happy" and Such

Clearly I'm trying to make up for my lack of posting this year by cramming as many updates into the last week of 2014 as possible.

Here are some things to know about Annie right now...

At her 15-month well-check, girlfriend clocked in at an impressive 26 pounds. That's the 98th percentile, folks. She's been in 18-month clothes for a while now. She's working on feeding herself with a spoon and clearly enough is getting into her mouth. She has also mastered drinking through a straw, which is always a game-changer.

The move to the young toddler classroom at school has been the best. I feel like she's learned so much in just the short time she's been there. Most days, Annie takes a solid two-hour nap (hopefully I'm not jinxing myself today). For the most part, we can take her upstairs and put her in bed and she doesn't protest too much (knock on wood again). She also learned how to have a dance party in this class. She claps, waves, gives hugs and kisses too. So sweet. They have outdoor time every day, and now Annie brings me her jacket as her signal that she wants to go out, rain or shine.

Annie is also talking up a storm these days. Words she can say include: mommy, daddy, up, more, ball (I'm pretty sure this was her first word), happy, night-night, bye-bye, doggy and woof-woof, ah dah (all done), ah-bee (open), uh-uh, no-no and the always popular and hilarious uh-oh, uttered at every juncture from dropping snacks on the floor to seeing the cat.

So far she still thinks it is cool to follow directions. When I tell her it's time for a diaper, she goes and lays down on the changing pad. She can carry things to people, goes and sits in her chair when it is time to eat, even handing me the bib. She can throw things in the trash can on request and get her own cup when she is thirsty. The only time she intentionally disobeys is when I catch her climbing the stairs. She gives me an evil cackle over her shoulder and starts climbing doubletime before I can grab her. She also has a bad habit of trying to unroll all the toilet paper and likes to play in the cat food when we're not watching. She definitely requires more supervision than Violet did at this age! But she is so sweet. Love my girl!


Christmas - the rest of it


Wow, the picture taking apparently just went downhill as the season went on. There are hardly any from our time at the Loughman home, but rest assured, much fun was had. Both girls had fun playing with their cousin Brooke, Violet especially. There were moments I didn't know exactly where my children were or what they were doing, but I wasn't particularly worried about it, which is a pleasant place to be. I'm going to have to hire Brooke to come hang out with us for a week this summer so my children can be entertained.

Christmas at the Loughman's involved more presents, lots of good eating, playtime for the girls, some couch-lounging, the start of a new book (Amy Poehler's "Yes Please" - so far excellent, although my reading time has dramatically decreased with the departure of cousin Brooke... come back Brooke!), the bowling alley, the movies ("Into the Woods" - excellent! Fun fact: I played Rapunzel in our high school's version.), and a wine tasting game (I correctly identified four out of six wines - not terrible). It's always a lovely, relaxing time at the Loughman's for Christmas. After doing my own share of hosting, I was just happy to be in someone else's house where I didn't feel the same compulsion to load the dishwasher every three seconds. With a 15-month-old, we kept it fairly low-key. No fancy dinners out, nights didn't stretch too late, we're just in that season. But laid-back seemed to suit everyone else just fine. Until next year!

Burning off some energy at the park.

This guy. That beard.

Christmas Morning

Christmas morning, we received the gift all parents dream about. Our children slept in. Matt and I enjoyed a cup of coffee and cinnamon rolls in bed, in silence. Oh holy night indeed! For a fleeting moment we wondered if we should wake them, but then common sense kicked in, and we quickly ate more cinnamon rolls before they could wake up and discover them. Ha! We win!

Of course, the kids did eventually wake up (and by eventually, I mean 7:30, which is totally sleeping in for these two). Our Christmas was a quiet affair. Stockings were opened. Each girl got three gifts from Santa. Violet got exactly what she asked for: a candy cane filled with M&Ms, a framed picture of Hello Kitty to put by her bed, and a bracelet making bead set. The big man also gave her a bonus gift, the DVD of Sleeping Beauty, because somehow he knew she would want to add it to the list last minute. Smart man, that Santa. Very forward thinking. Clearly he gets a lot of help from his wife. Annie got mostly clothes. Next year, my friend, next year! There were a few presents from us, we ate breakfast, then cleaned up and packed for Christmas 3.0 in Peachtree City. Ah, Christmas, the season that never ends!

Nailed it!

Christmas Eve - Fortunato Style

Ready to get some presents on!
Traditionally, the Fortunatos have always claimed Christmas Eve. We would all gather at my parents' house for a meal and presents after whatever candlelight service we had attended. Often we would finish the evening with a ride around to see Christmas lights. It has always been lovely in its simplicity.

Last year, however, Matt and I finally pulled the trigger on our own family Christmas morning. Meaning we needed to be in our house Christmas Eve so Santa would know where to bring the presents. We would wake up just a family of four to have our own under the tree moments. So we hosted the Fortunato family for Christmas Eve. Which was actually the day before Christmas Eve (due to the logistics of having multiple family members who play music for Christmas Eve services across town). Well, the new tradition was awesome enough to repeat this year, and hopefully for many years to come.

The family all arrived mid-day on the 23rd (just after I arrived home from Annie's 15-month well-check, which turned up her first ear infection. Poor thing. But she's busting out in the 98th percetile for both height and weight, so clearly we're feeding her enough. 26 pounds!) Presents were opened. Dinner was had. Home Alone was watched. Everyone spent the night. It was truly awesome and I didn't take nearly enough pictures.

Happy despite her ear infection.

A favorite new toy.

Striking a pose before heading to band practice.

Brothers. Dapper, these two!
On Christmas Eve, everyone headed out mid-afternoon. My parents back home so Dad could head up his church service, the boys to our church for band practice. I cleaned house (hosting is no joke, ya'll. Thank God for a working dishwasher!), Annie napped, Violet watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". I was grateful for a quiet afternoon after all the company. Then I bustled everyone into the car for the drive to Buckhead for church. The service was lovely, as always. It's different when you have an active toddler and a tired and slightly overwhelmed preschooler with you alone in the pew. The candlelight service is my absolute most favorite church moment of the year. But my attention was being pulled in roughly 47 different places each minute. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a season, only a season. No candles for us this year, but these things too shall pass. Then, with the band playing "Oh Holy Night" and Violet standing beside me, I picked up my squirming baby and lo, it came to pass that she was silent, mesmerized by the glow of a hundred candles around us. And for just a moment, it was a holy night.

We decided to push our luck by going out to dinner after the service. Last year it was a complete nightmare, the opposite of that silent, holy night. Although come to think of it, there hadn't been room in the inn that night, so perhaps the hour and a half wait for our table was fitting. But never again, I decreed. So after our pastor dropped the hint that he was going to Longhorn and there had been no wait for a table last year, we decided to stalk him and follow suit. Winners! I was worried that both girls would completely lose it, but considering the long day and late hour, they were quite pleasant and all of us enjoyed ourselves. Christmas Eve success!


Stuff from around here

Matt searched high and low on Sunday to get Violet a gingerbread house kit.

Aww, sweet girl.

Our small group and neighborhood friends volunteered to help a local church get their Holiday Shop ready.



Well friends, when you don't get a Christmas card from me this year, just know that I tried. I really did. But these two are much better appreciated in action anyway. So enjoy! Consider this the kick-off to your Season's Greetings!


My Best Friend's Wedding

Book club reunion - love these girls!
One of my oldest, dearest friends got married last weekend. She was in my wedding, many moons ago, and I was honored she asked me to be in her's. Jen has always marched to her own beat, and I knew her wedding would be no different. We got to pick our own dresses, the bouquets were handmade out of wood flowers (wood... you heard me... they were awesome), it was as unique and personal as they come. The reception was outside, and it was just a bit chilly! But I know the bride and groom had a blast, and that's pretty much all that counts.

Attempting to write my matron-of-honor speech... about 5 minutes before show time!
Once I saw the program during the rehearsal, it sunk in that Jen had asked me to be her matron of honor (and wow, does that title make me feel old). Since most of my good Jen stories involve borderline illegal activity, writing the speech was much harder than anticipated. Come reception time, I still had nada. I asked pretty much everyone there I knew, typed up some notes on my friend's phone, and went for it. Matt said it was pretty good.

Jen insisted on having a bouncy house. I think she was more excited about that than anything!

Love this girl. We've come a long way since our midnight Waffle House trips and toilet-papering houses.

Mr. and Mrs!


Fall Festival

Photo credit: Violet Loughman
 It is freezing outside right now. Old Man Winter came a little earlier than expected and none of us Georgians seem to know what to do about it. I'm still busy trying to admire the fall leaves! Yet here we are, one week to Thanksgiving with only three weeks until Christmas after that. I start sweating if I think too much about it. Matt flat-out refused to bring the Christmas decorations out of the attic yesterday, trying to hold onto our "no Christmas before Thanksgiving" rule. And generally I'm on board, but this year I'm feeling the time crunch. Anyone started shopping yet? No, don't tell me. It will just stress me out!

Getting nails did by Ms Courtney at the Fall Festival
The girls' school had their winter fall festival yesterday. Annie's nap stretched late, so we arrived in time for the last 45 minutes. But that meant the crowds were thin, so we still had a good time. Annie refused to look at any of her teachers - I think she was afraid I was going to leave her there! She perked up at the rubber ducky water table, and boo-hooed when it was time to leave the bouncy house. Violet did her thing where she suddenly and inexplicably turns shy, but she loved getting her nails and hair done.

Some good friends came over for dinner. It's been way too long. I swear last time we saw "Baby" Will he was just figuring out how to walk! Now I have a toddler of my own! It's so nice to catch up.

Will's first trip to the big kids' table!
Annie's favorite new activity is being naked. She doesn't necessarily start taking her clothes off everywhere like some stories I've heard, but the minute she is undressed the takes off running and chortling. She even does the pause, look over the shoulder, wait for you, take off again laughing. And the belly. Oh my. My child is built like a line backer!

We know so many boys...

Mutual Admiration Society
Next up: five more days of school, then we're dashing off to my dear friend's wedding to kick off Thanksgiving break. Oh and how this break is much needed. I'm trying not to put anything on the to-do list other than Christmas decorations, a little pampering (finally going to use the gift certificate I got from my class last year!) and hopefully some holiday shopping. Oh, and my neighbor and I are hosting an Origami Owl party. (I know - I hate shopping parties. I can't believe I'm having one myself. Here's hoping I have friends who will come!) And the hubs and I want to make a final decision about the new floors we're ordering. And then there's the general childcare, cooking, surviving routine. Of course, the actual Thanksgiving meal has to be on the list somewhere... See what happens? Busy already!


It Is Well

Violet's school picture. What a cutie.
Thank goodness, health has once more returned to the Loughman household. It was ugly this week. After last weekend's urgent care saga, Grandma came up and stayed home with Annie Monday and Tuesday, giving her extra time to rest. As it turned out, she was also giving me extra time to rest, as I came down with my annual first grade crud, which quickly spiraled into me losing my voice for a few long days. One night I snuck into the bedroom at 8 p.m. and just trusted Matt and Lee Anne to get the household to bed. I was exhausted.

Fortunately, I seem to have recovered for the most part, thanks to a trusty combo of hot tea/lemon/honey and mucinex. I should buy stock in that company. It is magical.

Even better, Annie has bounced back completely. The only lingering side effects (which in reality probably have nothing to do with her illness) is a new-found independent streak coupled with a total dread of bedtime. She used to be so easy to put down for the night. Now you so much as look towards the stairs and she starts shaking her head "no" in a panic. She stand in her crib and screams. She tries to lunge out of your arms. It's a bummer. And she knows that I'm a sucker. Matt never seems to have issues putting her to bed (so he might just be earning himself a new nightly job). Tonight actually went pretty smoothly, though, so one point for mommy.
Miss Independent
Today was beautiful, a perfect Sunday. The weather was perfectly warm, the trees are in their full blazing glory of fall. The girls were happy at church, Annie took a nap in nursery (the volunteers turned around to find her face-planted on the floor, fast asleep), we had a lovely lunch in which both girls behaved themselves and ate well. We shopped for and put together a box for Operation Christmas Child. The whining was kept to a minimum, three loads of laundry have been processed, baths have been had, the little Loughman's were both in bed before 8 p.m. We needed a good day like this after the week we've had. So I'm off to finish a cup of tea (I might be slightly addicted now) and relax in front of the tv with the mister before the week starts again.

Let's play!

Giving kisses.


Urgent Care

Remember little sad face from last night? Yeah, well, she woke up sadder still.

I had already made up my mind that if Annie still wasn't doing better this morning, I was taking advantage of our pediatrician's Saturday morning hours. And as it turns out, Annie woke up worse than I'd feared. Snot-crusted, red-cheeked, miserable, lethargic... it was pretty pathetic. I didn't even bother to shower, just booked it over and were at the doctor's office by 9:30.

Our usual doctor wasn't on call, but our second favorite doctor was. She is by far the most laid-back of the practice. In fact, I was expecting to hear "Oh, she has a virus, no biggie." So when Dr. F immediately expressed concern, even threw out "pneumonia"  within the first two minutes, I thought she was jumping the gun a bit.

The first blood test came back wonky, really low numbers. They came back for more blood. This time Annie's white blood cells were way up - infection. But flu was negative, RSV was negative. Her temperature spiked from 100.9 to 101.7 just in the short time we were there. But most concerning of all was her rapid, wheezy breathing.

Dr. F called our local Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Urgent Care center, just 10 minutes away. After speaking to the doctor there, she came back with a request that we head over for a chest x-ray. She printed our Annie's current vitals to show the next doctor, then gave her medicine to get the fever down. "You're going to get over there, the meds will kick in, and they're going to think we're crazy," she told me. "But otherwise I'm going to worry all weekend long about this one." She took down my cell phone number so she could check up on us, and we headed to urgent care.

By now it was 11 a.m. and true to prediction, Annie perked up in the waiting room, polishing off the cheerios I had stashed in the diaper bag. While the waiting room was packed already, calling ahead and clearly done the trick. I heard whispers of "the doctor is expecting her," and "bump her to the front" from the staff as they took my info. Although there was still plenty of waiting. Annie's energy ran out quickly and she spent most of the time snuggled on my shoulder. This kid is going to drive me to chiropractic care! I really can't say enough wonderful things about our CHOA urgent care center. It's the same place we went after Violet broke her collar bone, and both times we've had excellent care from a wonderful staff.

The doctor we saw was so sweet. She had already gotten the run-down from our pediatrician and after a brief chat, we were off to get a chest x-ray. Annie hated it. In fact, Annie started crying the minute anyone in scrubs came near her. Poor thing was on to us.

The x-ray showed... something. Something was brewing in the lungs. Something, plus the elevated white blood count, plus the rapid breathing... she wouldn't definitively call it pneumonia, but that was the suspect. She called our pediatrician (which I thought was so sweet - Dr. F asked to be kept in the loop) to discuss and they both agreed. A powerful antibiotic was ordered, but first a blood culture was needed.

There was no little finger prick this time. This was drawing blood with a needle, tubing, everything. Poor Annie was so dehydrated, the technician had trouble finding a vein. All while Annie screamed, of course. In the end, it took four of us. I laid on top of her, one nurse held her arm, another had to shine a high-powered flashlight from underneath her hand to illuminate the veins, and the last guy had to go in with the needle. And Annie, sweet Annie, just cried. I don't know how parents of chronically ill kids do it. Do the kids eventually get used to it? Or is it drama every time?

Blood work done, we still had to wait for the actual antibiotic, which was delivered via two shots, one in each plump thigh. There was more crying. And then there was more waiting to make sure there wasn't a negative reaction. At that point, close to 3 p.m., all I wanted was food (none all day save the English muffin I had for breakfast) and a chance to pee. Oh, and a neck massage.

The doctor predicted the fever would return, asked us to come back in 24 hours for a follow up with a potential second dose of antibiotics, and relayed a message from Dr. F that she wanted to see us Monday at the pediatrician's office. Once home, the fever did return, but slowly and surely, Annie has improved. She started playing with Violet around 6 p.m. tonight, snacked a bit on crackers and grapes, and we managed to force some liquid into her. I'm hoping we've turned a corner. What a day. Here's hoping my girls understand Daylight Savings and give us an hour to sleep in tomorrow!


Happy Halloween!

This was how our Halloween dawned. That is one sick kiddo right there. I should have realized things were amiss when she fell asleep in the highchair the night before. We gave her medicine for a fever and put her in bed, fingers crossed. Well, the fever was worse the next morning. Fortunately, Matt had already planned to work from home, so I got this pathetic update a few hours in. I even had my room mom pick up extra medicine for me at the store (we ran out that morning, and she was stopping at the store anyway to pick up our Fall Rotations aka Halloween Party cupcakes).

Matt was supposed to go to Violet's Halloween party at school, and when I explained that neither of us would be making it now, she was understandably bummed. Poor thing. She already knows she draws the short end of the stick by being a teacher's kid. "But Daddy has regular work, so he can come!" she said. So I juggled things at work and begged for a substitute for the last 20 minutes of the day so I could sneak out and surprise her at her party. I'm glad I did - her face lit up when she spotted me.

Pretty pretty princesses!

Snow White and Superman!

Ms Courtney and Ms Megan! Love them so!

Trunk or Treat!

Ready to get some loot in the neighborhood!
Once home, we got ready, had our annual chili dinner with our neighbors, then got ready to head out. I opted to stay home with Annie, poor girl. The meds would kick in, she'd perk up, then fade again. We spent a lot of time on the couch, in between passing out candy.

It ended up being a cold, rainy night, so perhaps I got lucky. Not the most memorable of holidays. Oh well, we'll try again next year. Here's hoping this little pumpkin gets better soon!


Last Soccer Game

Violet and JT, soccer buddies!

Of course, we waited for the last game to play the hardest team.

Coach Angie and a trophy!

She did it! A whole season of soccer! And we did it! 8 weeks of leaving work early, remembering to pack soccer gear and snacks, hauling everyone to the field on Saturday morning, enduring scorching sun and freezing winds... (hey, I didn't get a trophy so this is all the recognition I'm going to get!)

We are so grateful to have gotten such a fabulous coach. Angie is a first grade teacher and she has taught kids' sports before, and it was abundantly obvious at every practice and game. I'm crossing my fingers that she decides to coach another season soon!

Violet was so excited to get a trophy (although possibly even more excited to get a cupcake!) She brought it around to show all the neighbors once we got home. The church league we were in (shout out to Creekside Methodist) was the perfect starting point for us - relaxed play, no score-keeping, a little positive devotional for everyone at half-time... Every week there was a word of the day and at practice Coach Angie would tell a little story to illustrate it. I don't remember the story that went with "initiative," but one afternoon in the car Violet got herself all buckled in before I had to ask her and when I thanked her, she said she was showing initiative. Yeah baby!

Hopefully Violet will want to play soccer again! For now, I think we're taking a break from extracurricular activities.
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