Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Year In Review

What a year 2011 has been! Fun and eventful...memorable...frustrating and precious...some times all in the very same day!

Here's the year in review - Amos family style:

January - Elizabeth's 5th birthday was celebrated in Dr. Seuss style. It was a typical too-much-over-the-top party for our small gathering of Grandma & Papi, Nana & Papa, and the Koeglers. We had a lot of fun, though, so that's all that really matters. The West Liberty Hilltoppers men's basketball team was a highlight in the month - especially Elizabeth's favorite John Wolosinczuk! We tried like the dickens to get her to pose with him for a picture...he was such a good sport about it, too. We got a picture of John with Nana, John with Reid, and still no picture of Elizabeth and her all-time favorite baller... On the women's side of things, Elizabeth's favorite players continue to be Tori Hansen and Laura Malernee. Cate was growing and changing every day...and eating like a champ! She continued to nurse nearly every 2-3 hours -- if she was awake, she was hungry.

February - The Toppers' winning streak continued. The team is doing so well, Elizabeth has even started to cheer for some of the other guys on the floor (as opposed to turning her back on the action when John is on the bench!) She can tell you most of the players names by numbers - Corey Pelle #12; Barry Shetzer #24; Jordan Fortney #11; Alex Falk #22; Timmy (Hausfeld) #10; and of course, John Wolosinczuk #32 (but #1 in E's heart!) Still no luck in getting E to pose with John for a picture - Photoshop it is! John gave Elizabeth a Valentine's gift to which she was THRILLED (an autographed picture of him in action!) She gave him a valentine that she made. Elizabeth is just a funny glad she got my sense of humor! ;-) It may totally be worth revisiting my Blog post on the Ransom of Red Chief from February to better recount how this child cracks me up! Cate earned the nickname "Cranky Cate" as there were plenty of moments when she couldn't be consoled -- with no explanation. When she wasn't cranky, she was sweet and cuddly.

March - This month was all about Topper basketball! The team sealed up an undefeated regular season, and with that the WVIAC regular season title...and then the winning continued... They won the WVIAC Tournament - Corey Pelle won the Commissioner's Heart & Hustle Award and was All-Tournament; Barry Shetzer was named to the All-Tourney Team; as was Tim Hausfeld; and John - who was the MVP. Elizabeth, along with Cate, Grandma, and I went to Build-a-Bear Workshop where she made her "John Wolosinczuk Bear" (yes, that's what she named him - and I had to spell it a few times for the employee that was helping us) complete with the WVU shirt, denim skirt, and Hello Kitty undies. The Toppers hosted the regional tourney - and the winning continued. Corey Pelle and John Wolosinczuk were all-tourney again. Then I may have done the un-thinkable...I put Elizabeth and a nearly 3-month-old baby in the car (along with Grandma) and we drove to Springfield, MA, for the Elite 8. Cate was, for once, NOT cranky -- as she slept the entire 10+ hour drive. We only stopped once for gas, food, and a change. I really thought I would be in for it when we got to the hotel - that Cate would be awake for days, but she went right back to sleep. Elizabeth took much pride in going around the floor with her Daddy giving out the cookies that we made for the players - each got their own jersey and some chocolate chip cookies. (E insisted on making the cookies for the guys because "Timmy Eats Cookies" was on a sign at the WVIAC Tournament. She took it literally...sign was actually referring to Tim's guarding of "Cookie" Miller from WV State.) The Toppers made it to the Final Four before the perfect season came to an end. Corey Pelle was again named to the All-Tournament team.

April - Easter was fun when Cate was crying, which she did for most of the time at Nana's & Papa's. We were surprised with the news from Rikki and Doug that the Amos family would be getting a new edition due in late November! Elizabeth grew so quickly between the time I shopped for some of her clothes that were in her Easter basket to when she received these clothes that she literally only got one wear out of them - because Mommy & Daddy don't approve of the 'belly-shirt' look. Cate got an upper respiratory infection that required the "Willie Nelson" treatment - lots of smoke ;-) She's getting more active, too - rolling over, recognizing her hands and feet...and is now able to eat cereal, which is fed to her for the first time by Elizabeth.

May - Elizabeth declared that Mother's Day was "St. Mother's Day!" When she's not being such a sweetie, she is being quite the mental challenge for us (reference another Red Chief Blog post.) Elizabeth graduated from Pre-K. We were so lucky how her life was positively influenced by the good folks at Holy Family Child Care since we moved to Wheeling (next best thing to instruction by Nana or Grandma!) We especially adored her teachers for Pre-K, Miss Jenn and Miss Kelly! Alex turned 4 and we celebrated in Thomas the Train style -- quite easy and cute (if I do say so myself!) Cate continued to be cranky and sweet. Poor Reid had to walk the floors, nearly wearing a track on the finish on the hard wood as he paced the floors with a crying Cate on the evenings that I worked in Morgantown...until I got home and the crying would stop.

June - Getting that perfect 6 month baby on a quilt picture proved to be more of a challenge than it should have been...perhaps a sign of things to come from Miss Cate. Despite being a mama's girl, she said "Dada" first ;-) She also took to crawling this month. I survived an AACE Annual Meeting at Disneyland - barely. Not that there were issues with the conference...just that it was at the Mouse House. Blech.

July - Elizabeth loves to swim and took advantage of a dip in the water every time we could get her to the pool. She's becoming such a good swimmer...working on diving, but since she hasn't yet learned that patience is a virtue, she just wants to jump in and SWIM! Cate continues to reach milestones on or ahead of time -- sometimes at the most inconvenient of times... Elizabeth got to attend her first Red Sox game with Papi no less (HER Papi, not Baseball Papi - he was on the field...) Sox vs. Pirates, who were having a great season, making the Amoses quite happy (that would be Reid, Nana, & Papa...E was just all about backing a winner. For her first Sox game, she cheered for the team at the plate...and for Papi's & my sake, it was a great day as the Sox ended up on top!)

August - Summer at Holy Family for Elizabeth has come to an end. Where has the time baby is getting ready for Kindergarten! Elizabeth & I had a great Mommy-Daughter day shopping for school clothes...size 6-7 or 7-8 -- for a 5-1/2 year old in the 95th percentile in height...good luck finding a waist to fit! Cate went to her first baseball game -- the Pirates didn't fair so well as they lost to the Padres 5-15(!). Cate is taking a queue from her big sister as she loves the pool, too! She weaned herself from baby food this month and would only feed herself soft 'real-people' food. We still have quite a bit of baby food in storage...good thing it will keep for Baby Eckstein! We enjoyed our annual trip to D.C. -- a highlight continues to be the Giant Pandas at the National Zoo! We were at the National Cathedral - walking all over the place - exactly one week before the earth quake in D.C. that did some damage to the beautiful building.

September - Elizabeth started Kindgergarten in Mrs. Allen's class at Woodsdale Elementary! Cate finally had a reason for which to be cranky - she cut two teeth! She also stood unassisted. She's taken to cruising on the furniture. She is less cranky when she is being held by Mama -- or is able to hang out with her awesome big sister, Elizabeth, whom she adores!

October - The girls were the CUTEST kitty cats for Halloween -- thanks to Nana's handiwork! Elizabeth started playing a bit of basketball at the Y -- and loved it! After her first session, she declared that she was as good as John Wolosinczuk. (At least she doesn't lack for self confidence!) She also joined the Daisies and is really proud of the uniform vest. (I consider it a near miracle that I was able to get the iron-on stuff to actually stay on the vest and didn't have to engage Nana and her needle & thread!) We had great luck getting some good shots of the girls on a beautiful fall day at Oglebay... Cate started walking with 6 independent steps (10 months, 3 weeks, 3 days old.)

November - We started the month with a baby shower for Aunt Rikki in "the big city." We were so excited for the impending arrival of Baby Eckstein! I hit a freaking deer with my car. We found out that the big lump on Kennedy's back hip (only on one side) wasn't cancer or arthritis...but a fat deposit. (Reid loves telling everyone that, too!) Cate isn't helping Kennedy trim down either by throwing her food off her tray the very second she determines she is done eating. At the Wheeling Christmas parade, Elizabeth boxed out Sarah Koegler and a few kids -- when the reporter from Channel 9, Ali Myers, come over to our section of the bleachers and asked if anyone would like to be on TV. (Any question that she is Reid's kid??? Is it not enough that she look like him, but now she has taken to boxing out (well, that she got from me!) women and children to get on live TV!) The hand-held mic needed a new battery as they were filming...Elizabeth told Ms. Myers that she would wait. On take two, she was spot-on. Ali Myers asked her what she would like to say to Santa to which Elizabeth replied, "You can't talk to him, he's just flying on by..." Still needing a copy of that tape! Elizabeth got to participate in her first Little Hilltoppers Day at West Liberty - where she told me I was allowed to take 5 pictures and then I had to leave because this was all about her. (Isn't most everything???) Anne, Reid, & I had a magical evening the night of the WVU v. Pitt game -- great weather, good food, good libations, free Snuggies, good friends, and a big win! It was tough leaving the stadium that night - for us and many other Mountaineers who didn't want to see the end to the annual rivalry of the Backyard Brawl. We were so delighted to welcome Margaret Alisse Eckstein to the family on November 29, 2011, at 2:24 AM - she weighed 7 lbs., 1 ounce and was 20" long.

December - Cate turned 1 - the year seriously flew right past us!!! She loves to eat...loves the taste of my butter cream icing, but most definitely doesn't like the feel of it on her hands! She is walking all over the place and loves to climb stairs when we allow her to do so. The sale of the house in Fairmont became final (thank you, little infant baby Jesus!) I drove Nana (aka: "Driving Miss Daisy") to D.C. to meet Maggie. What a cutie! Reid was able to go the following weekend to meet his niece. (And, yes, he was jealous that I got to hold his niece before he was...) Elizabeth got her ears pierced. Mimi, our Elf on the Shelf, continued to do her magic by helping remind Elizabeth to be good. Elizabeth loved every one of her sleepovers this year with her cousin, Alex -- several this summer and fall...and right after Christmas. She is a great big sister -- making a big adjustment to everything being all about her to sharing time and parents with a cranky baby sister. We are so blessed to have two wonderful, happy (for the most part) children!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Neighborhood Elf!

Once again our best in the world neighbors, the Ritzes have outdone themselves with spreading Christmas cheer - especially in the spoiling of Elizabeth & Cate! (For anyone who is reading of this tradition for the first time, each day from December 1st - 24th, the Elf (aka: Marie) hangs a stocking on the back door and puts wrapped treats in the stocking every day as we count down to Christmas.)

Here's what was included this year:

1 - Countdown to Christmas pillow that looks like Santa's belt/suit
2 - Fruit-flavored marshmallows
3 - Wolly Willy "Magnetic Personality" for Elizabeth; Christmas cup with straw for Cate
4 - Princess coloring & activity book
5 - Letter to Santa kit for Elizabeth; pink sock monkey ornament for Cate
6 - Christmas water color book
7 - Dress up doll sticker book for Elizabeth; snowman blanket for Cate
8 - Set of four Christmas lollypop rings
9 - Christmas pencils, sharpener, and eraser for Elizabeth; snowman bowl for Cate
10 - Disney princess tin purse with $1
11 - Snowman Pez for Elizabeth; bear in a mini stocking with $1 for Cate
12 - Gingerbread man ornament for Elizabeth; snowman ornament for Cate
13 - T'was the Night Before Christmas activity book
14 - Christmas headbands for Elizabeth; snowman ringing a bell ornament for Cate
15 - Gummy bears
16 - Colored pencils
17 - Art paper for Elizabeth; pink yarn-haired doll for Cate
18 - Connect the dots book
19 - Strawberry Shortcake coloring book for Elizabeth; Mickey Mouse stuffed animal for Cate
20 - 6 Christmas activity pads
21 - GIANT(!) sucker
22 - Animal cookies for everyone; The Spirit of Christmas book for Elizabeth; polar bear stuffed animal for Cate
23 - Jelly Belly lip balm set for Elizabeth; Little People "Fun with Baker Bob" for Cate
24 - "E" stocking with $1 for Elizabeth; "C" stocking with $1 for Cate

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cate - 1 YEAR!!!

Just like the invitation to the Very Hungry CATErpillar party stated, "We can't believe a year has passed..." Seriously? How is my baby a freaking year old already???

Cate celebrated her 1st birthday a few hours early as Reid had to be on the road with the Hilltoppers. Elizabeth helped me make Kitty Cat Cate a Hello Kitty cake. Cate was quite funny when it came to consuming her smash cake - she definitely didn't like the feel of the icing on her hands! Once she finally got around to tasting the icing, she set aside her feelings for the texture of the icing and did do some damage to the consumption of the cake. (I do make some good buttercream!) It was great having Grandma in the Friendly City of Wheeling for the celebration, too...especially since it then freed me up so that I could reprise my role of Hoke and drive Miss Daisy to Arlington, VA, to meet Maggie! (What a cutie she is!!!) We were also lucky enough to have the opportunity to Skype with Nana & Papa so they could virtually participate in the party doings!

Papi joined Grandma, Daddy, Elizabeth, Cate, and me for Cate's Very Hungry CATErpillar party. Reid and I were both super tired from our trips, Reid's to Charleston and then on to NC with the women's basketball to DC. It was really, really nice that following the men's basketball game that we didn't have a serious schedule for the party...just called out for some pizza from DeFelice's (yum!), had the fruit and cheese tray, and CATErpillar cupcakes for the party. (We did all have to keep on Elizabeth's entertaining schedule, she is turning into quite the party hostess!) We got to Skype with Nana, Aunt Rikki, Uncle Doug, and Maggie for the party, too, which was super cool!

Cate still didn't really destroy her cake (although it would be tough to top the mess that Elizabeth made with her smash cake on her first birthday...) Cate was waaaaaay spoiled with all of the presents - as was Elizabeth! All in all, a great celebration!

At 1 year, Cate has 5 teeth: 2 on bottom, 3 on top (middle and upper right). She has been walking about for a month. She loves to climb stairs and would do so with much regularity if we let her do it. She continues to do well with eating a great variety of food. She's working on drinking her whole milk from a sippy cup. She's working on using a spoon to eat as well, although right now it is a fun play thing. She is loving reading books -- or babbling and turning the pages. She has most recently taken to holding the phone and saying "Dada..." She is also doing better with sleeping at night. She waves bye-bye and has finally figured out peek-a-boo -- although it was super-cute when she would cover her ears rather than her eyes...

Cate is in the 70th percentile in height (29-1/4") -- which is precisely where Elizabeth was at 1 year. She is in the 50th percentile in weight (21 lbs, 3 oz.) At 1 year, Elizabeth out weighed her by 6 oz.. Granted at birth Elizabeth started out 7 ounces heavier and 3/4 of an inch taller.

Here's the final quilt picture. Click on the image to make it larger.