A lovely session with Kylie!

I haven’t posted anything photography related lately, so I thought I would take a step back from crafting and share a few favorites from the adorable Kylie’s photo session last week.  This little girl is too cute and full of spunk!  I swear I would adopt her.  She would make the perfect big sister for Elise!!  Take a look at them cuddling it up after her session was over on Valentine’s Day!

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Valentine’s Day with Elise! (Recipe inside!)

I didn’t go crazy and plaster her walls with hearts, buy her an expensive gift, or plan 475 Valentine’s activities.  There were only a few small melt downs.  Mostly on my part when I went to pick up her Valentine’s Day cards Wednesday evening and they never received the order which I had already paid for.  But that’s okay, the world went on without Valentine’s day cards, and I slapped a little online card together last minute.  Visit yesterday’s post to see it.  My husband and I didn’t go on a date, nor did we exchange gifts, but I had the best Valentine’s day ever.  Why?  Because I have the best little Valentine.  She’s sweeter than chocolate and prettier than roses!

We started our morning off with pink white chocolate and strawberry pancakes!    I made these from scratch, and I must say, I am quite proud of myself.  They were DELICIOUS!  My husband even gave rave reviews, and he can be a tough critic!  Elise’s of course were heart shaped!

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Recipe (I don’t really measure much, so some of the measurements are slightly guestimated):

  • red/pink food coloring (I used neon pink)
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • about a cup of diced strawberries
  • a couple handfuls of white chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar
  • strawberry syrup

Preheat griddle or skillet.  Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar in a large bowl.  Mix the eggs, honey, butter, vanilla, milk in a separate bowl.  Combine the mixtures slowly and stir slightly.  Mixture should be lumpy.  Add food coloring until you achieve the desired color.  Stir in the diced strawberries and white chocolate chips.  Save some strawberries to go on top if desired.  Pour approx 1/4 cup of mix for each pancake and flip when they start to bubble.  The color will brown slightly when you cook them, that is inevitable, but the inside will still be nice and bright!  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and diced strawberries after removing from griddle and then pour on the yummy strawberry syrup!  I used a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut hearts out for Elise.

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These were awesome.  Typing this out is making me wish I had them right now!  It’s like dessert for breakfast!

After breakfast, Elise and I cuddled and watched the Valentine’s day episode of Doc Mcstuffins (for the 80th time).  I never get tired of seeing how excited she gets when Lambie starts singing the “I feel better” song after Doc cures her little broken heart.

Miss Kylie was due to come over for a photo session, and luckily we were finishing up right when the princess started waking up from her nap.  That meant it was time for her play date!  They had a blast and both wore each other out.  Elise adores her and smiles the entire time she is here.

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They snacked on fruit plates while they were here, but after her play date was over, Elise had a special heart shaped turkey sandwich!

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You can really tell how tired she was from playing so hard.  Surprisingly, she didn’t take a nap for hours later.

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So instead, we had more cuddling!

Finally when her daddy got up to get ready for work (boo night shift!), she agreed to take a nap for him.  She slept for the longest time.  When she got up, she had a special dinner of steak, steamed carrots, and steamed potatoes.  For dessert, she has a sweet little heart shaped brownie.  Mississippi Mud to be exact, which was totally made from a box mix, so no fancy recipe with that!  Everyone has to take a few shortcuts from time to time!  Overall, it was definitely a wonderful day and my sweet angel’s cuddles were by far, the best possible gift!  I couldn’t ask for a more precious valentine!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Elise

We are SUPER busy today haven’t all kinds of Valentine’s day fun!  (Details in the days to come).  So here is a super quick post with a card from Elise!  Elise's Vday card

…and yes I did totally procrastinate and just threw that together in picmonkey, but that is the life of a procrastinator. 🙂

Be sure to take a moment and walk down memory lane to Elise’s valentine last year and see how much she has grown!

Battling a tiny, clingy monster!

It is no secret that Elise is super clingy to me.  Anyone who knows her knows that although she LOVES attention, she doesn’t want you to come near her.  It is getting worse, as now she will try to shy away in my chest.  She loves other kids and to play, but she wants me to be close by.  If I’m home, she must be climbing me at all times.  If it is her and daddy then she will go on about her business and play, but as soon as mommy comes around, she’s a fussy clingy mess.  It is probably my own fault.  When she was a little baby, I hoarded her up and wouldn’t let anyone hold her, feed her, care for her, etc.  It’s true, I’m a baby hoarder.  I don’t regret that.  Those fresh baby moments don’t last long, but I kind of created a monster.  I adore having a little cuddle bug, but baby girl needs a little independence too.  So in order to battle her clinginess (yes I’m aware that is not a real word), I am trying to get her involved in more social activities that I can still be present to make her feel safe, but that encourage her to be engaged and go play with others.

My first idea was babygarten at our local library.  It is at a horrible time for us, because it runs into nap time, and because I suck at getting us up and out of the house in the mornings.  I’ve been trying for weeks to actually get us there, with lots of failure.  She either rocks out all night so that w are too exhausted to put forth the effort, or like last week I was sick, or we have other plans.  However this week I was determined that we were going to make it.  I set my alarm for 6:00 AM, hours before we would need to leave, so that I could get myself up and showered and the diaper bag ready before she ever woke up.  There’s no fooling this child though.  After being up most of the night (what’s new there, maybe I need to revisit my Real life mommyhood – Sleep Deprivation post) she woke up around 5:30 saying “ma ma ma momma ma ma MOMMA.”  I tried to ignore her in hopes that she would lay back down and sleep to her normal time.  But no way, she was up.  So up we were, cuddling on the couch.  We played around, had a snack, and then she wanted to cuddle on the couch more.  About 7:30, I looked down, and found this angelic face.

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Victory.  Taking an early morning nap for a hour or so would give her enough of an energy burst to be pleasant for library time and give me time to get a shower.  I ever so gracefully picked her up to carry her to her crib and laid her down on her big fluffy quilt.  Fail.  Instant screaming.  Back up she was, and then she was so over the cuddling on the couch time, but she was still a tired fussy mess.  I was ready to call it quits and make another excuse as to why we weren’t going to make it this week.  Then mom guilt kicked in and I decided it was time to suck it up and actually get her there.

She finally came around and let me get semi ready and get her beautiful self dressed and ready to go to her first day of babygarten.  She was too cute in her little sweater.  Perfect to make a smart but casual impression on the other toddlers! 😉

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We made it with 5 minutes to spare.  She was hesitant at first, and stuck very close.  When it was time to get started she was a little happier, as we were all spread out on chairs in a large circle.  She could see everyone, but no one was close enough to be threatening (because heaven forbid they may touch her).  She could smile and flirt from a distance, which was perfect for her.  Then the songs started, and that was lots of fun.  She clapped a long and watched the older toddlers dance.  (She was by many months the youngest one there).  But, what finally broke the ice, the bubble machine!  They turned on two bubble machines and then mommy was old news.  She still stayed semi close for the first few minutes, which was probably good because the older kids were playing, running, and having fun, and I didn’t want her to get knocked down or trip one of them.  But after they calmed down a bit, she was mesmerized by the bubble machine.  She literally played in the bubbles until they cut it off (a good 15 minutes).  I guess I know what is on my purchase list for this summer!

I’m only posting a couple of photos, because I don’t want to post pictures of children that we don’t know.  🙂

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Crappy cell shots, but I wasn’t lugging the massive DSLR around.

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She met two little girls who she enjoyed watching and got a special Valentine’s Day treat bag!  We didn’t stay for story time after babygarten because she was getting very tired and ready for a nap, but we will definitely make more of an effort to go back.  It is so hard to believe that my little tiny baby is even big enough to join in these fun programs!  We are also looking at getting her started in a mommy and me gymnastics, because the child is a monkey, and maybe if we tire her out more she will sleep better.  (Yeah right.)

Look around your local listings.  Most libraries have free programs for little ones which can be very helpful when you are stuck inside on these nasty winter days!

Minnie Mouse Birthday Cake

I just realized that I never shared Elise’s Minnie Mouse birthday cake!  Better late than never right??  Cristy from ~All Things Sweet~ made Elise’s birthday cake, cupcakes, and smash cake.  She did such a great job and the cake was so yummy!

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I need to get on the ball and post the rest of the decorations from her party!
Check out more of birthday related posts:

Meeska Mooska Minnie Mouse

Minnie & Mickey Hat Tutorial

Minnie Mouse Car Tutorial (Cozy Coupe)

Birthday Cake Pancakes

Happy Birthday Elise!

Minnie Mouse Centerpiece Tutorial

Birthday Traditions – A Room Full of Balloons

Fake Snow Sensory Bin

In my mom’s group, sensory bins are all the rage.  At first I was reluctant.  It really seemed like a big mess to me.  But everyone kept posting pictures of their babies having a blast with different bins, and sensory play is important at this age, so I decided to hop on board!  I decided to start out by making a fake snow sensory bin!

Fake Snow Sensory Bin

This was SUPER easy for me to make, because back in my wedding planning days when I had decided I would have a winter wonderland wedding (which later turned into a fall outdoor wedding), I bought this fake snow at the Christmas store in Pigeon Forge, TN.  It is a small container of powder that you mix with water and it multiplies itself times a zillion and makes snow.  It feels so much like the real stuff.  It is wet, fluffy, and cold (if you use cold water).  PERFECT for an easy sensory bin if you are like me and get the sudden urge to do these kind of things a hour before bedtime.  Also it lasts for days.  I kept the sensory bin out for almost a week before I finally got rid of it and the “snow” was just as fresh as the day I made it.  If you don’t want to order this stuff (which is awesome and evidently has a shelf life of like eternity since I’ve had it for years), I’ve compiled a lists of a couple of websites which have recipes for fake snow.  I’ve not used any of them though, so try at your own risk. 😉

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I was overly excited and just poured 1/4 the container into my bin and started adding water, so it took me a bit to get the right consistency.  (Why do I never take the time to measure anything???)  It was totally awesome watching it grow with the more water I added, and an older toddler (or anyone old enough to realize what was happening) would be super excited.  Let’s face it, I’m an adult and I was acting like I was going to build the world’s biggest snow village.  It took me a few minutes to do this, so while the princess was waiting, she had some sensory fun with a container of Halloween sprinkles and Christmas sprinkles.

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She was having TONS of fun carrying them around the house shaking them.  She continued to play with these two sprinkle bottles for days.  Silly girl, all these expensive toys and the simplest things bring the most joy!

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After I had the “snow” made, I decided to hide a few of her favorite toys in there.  I put a Mickey bath toy and a few blocks from her alphabet train, in hopes that she would enjoy digging them out.

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Elise on the other hand, wasn’t so sure about slushy mess in front of her.

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She would NOT stick her hand down in it.  She kept touching it and making the grossest face.  I even put her hand down in it at one point thinking it would win her over, but she didn’t like the feel of it.  Although she didn’t dive in and go crazy with it like I wanted her to, THAT’S OKAY.  The sensory bin still served it’s purpose and exposed her to a new feeling.  Maybe she will have more fun with our next sensory project.  Each child is different and will enjoy different textures, tastes, sights, and smells.  Give it a try and see what your child ends up liking!

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**Spin off idea**

Have a toddler that is a little older?  Take an eye dropper and have them drop food coloring (or koolaid if you don’t want to use food coloring) onto the snow to “paint the snow” for a fun and educational activity that helps develop their fine motor skills!

As promised, a couple of fake snow recipes.  Like I said, I haven’t used any of these, so attempt at your own risk!

Living Life Crafty

LIFEOLOGIA has three different eco friendly recipes!

Do you have a recipe for fake snow?  Please feel free to comment and share!  Also I would love to hear about your experiences and how your little one reacted to the fake snow sensory bin!

A Week of Toddler Meals/Snacks

A week of Toddler Meals and Snacks

Toddler food is always being discussed in my mom’s group, so I thought I would share a sample of what Elise eats. It can be hard to come up with different ideas and not get stuck into easy (and often unhealthy) foods and snacks.

I work on the weekends, so I’m not with E and not the one preparing her food on those days, so I am including all of her food for Monday through Friday this week.

Monday:
Breakfast – Mommy was at work, so daddy fed her. She had a banana, Cheerios, and milk.
Snack – Animal cracker cookie and part of a cutie (those little oranges) and milk
Lunch – honey breaded chicken finger, Mac and cheese, steamed veggies with water
Snacks – apple slices, 1/2 a graham cracker, milk
Dinner – French toast (I gave her a tiny amount of syrup) and pineapple chunks, water.
Bedtime – Milk

Here she is enjoying her lunch!

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I still have to cut up her food pretty small for her.  Poor baby still only has two teeth (two bottom ones).  However, we have 6 top teeth poking through all at the same time!

Tuesday was a sleepy day with lots of naps because the princess was up most of the night.
Breakfast – peanut butter and jelly sandwich with milk
Snack – she partied all night and woke up late, so breakfast was later than normal. She did have an animal cracker and a couple yogurt melts though, milk with nap time.
Lunch – She insisted on having a Gerber pouch. It was sweet potatoes mixed with some fruit, so to add something a little heavier with it, she had one of her favorite snacks for lunch, what I call snack pizzas. Crackers, a stick of cheese (mozzarella and cheddar), and pepperoni. She had water to drink.
Snack – Milk (Snack idea to make up for her lack of snack though – YOGURT!)
Dinner – Alfredo bow tie pasta with ham and broccoli with water.
Bedtime – milk

Wednesday
Breakfast – grapefruit and Cheerios, milk
Snack – chocolate chip cookie (this was a big treat), milk
Lunch – fruit plate (bananas and blueberries), water.
Snack – 1/2 graham cracker, milk
Dinner – Pork chops, steamed carrots and potatoes, and water
Another snack – part of a cutie, yogurt melts
Bedtime – milk

Thursday
Breakfast – Blueberry muffin with fresh blueberries, water.
Snack – animal cracker cookie, milk.
Lunch – a banana, rotini pasta, 1/4 a cheesy breadstick (we were out to eat), water
Snack – frozen yogurt with assorted fruit as toppings (on her play date with Miss Kylie!), milk.
Dinner – baked chicken, garlic rice, corn, peas, water.
Bedtime – milk

Friday
Breakfast – Fruit plate (banana and apple slices), milk.
Snack – milk (took an early nap, but she was going to have fresh kiwi).
Lunch – turkey and cheese sandwich, peas, fresh pineapple, water.
Snack – apple cinnamon oatmeal, milk
Dinner – roast beef and scalloped potatoes.
Bedtime – milk

Another fun lunchtime:

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Bonus! Saturday(I’m including even though I wasn’t there)
Breakfast – mini pancakes, apple slices, water.
Snack – Gerber fruit pouch, milk
Lunch – meatloaf and carrots, water
Snack – banana, milk
Dinner – grilled cheese and diced strawberries, water
Bedtime – milk

Sunday– I was at work and she was with her Grammie.  I’m not sure what her meals consisted of, but I know that she did have pineapple, grilled cheese, peas, and shredded cheese. 

My child LOVES to eat.  Here are a couple of photos of her enjoying a few favorites, even though they aren’t from this week!

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Chicken Cordon Bleu pizza with spinach!  YUM!

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Honey breaded chicken finger with broccoli!  Baby likes her veggies!

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Elise loves it when I give her baby trail mix as a snack!

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Spaghetti is always a fun and very messy dinner!

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As soon as you open the refrigerator, she is climbing in it and pulling whatever looks yummy (or colorful) out.  She currently has a obsession with getting the mustard bottle out and carrying it around the house.  I let her taste it once.  She wasn’t a fan!

Other ideas and tips to promote healthy toddler eating:

  • Eggs – This is such a great breakfast for a toddler and it is packed with protein.  You can make an omelet and add veggies to get in more nutrition!  Unfortunately, Elise will not touch eggs with a ten foot pole no matter how much I try to disguise them!
  • Shredded Cheese – Elise LOVES shredded cheese.  It makes for such an easy addition to a snack!
  • Any kind of fresh fruit – Kiwi, watermelon, berries (be careful with possible choking), grapes (always cut in half!), cantaloupe, mango, etc.  Fruit is nature’s candy!
  • PEAS.  Elise loves peas.  They are easy for her to pick up and healthy, so I love them for her!  She eats peas a lot, so I have no idea how we made it through a week of meals without me serving them to her!  They require no prep and can go great with dinner or be a great snack.
  • Yogurt is packed full of nutrition and also satisfies a little sweet tooth in a healthy way!  Elise loves yogurt, but is having an independent streak of not wanting mommy and daddy to feed her with a spoon, so she hasn’t been getting as much of it lately.
  • Pasta is a great way to work on fine motor skills and great for little ones like Elise who are still lacking in the teeth department!  Not to mention it is a family friendly dinner that takes minimal prep time!
  • Oatmeal is your friend!  Again, Elise isn’t in to being fed right now so we’ve held off on it for a couple of weeks, but it is such a healthy and easy breakfast.  Try buying oats in bulk and making your own instant oatmeal in ziplock bags to quickly make!  The flavor possibilities are endless and it is so much healthier and cheaper than buying premade instant oatmeal!
  • Peanut butter!  It goes great on everything!  Toast, bananas, crackers, apples, and so much more!  I recommend speaking with your pediatrician about when it is right to introduce it to your baby though.  We gave it to Elise a couple of days before her one year birthday.
  • Always make extra for dinner and save the left overs!  They make for great toddler lunches the next day!  Did you make baked chicken for dinner?  Try revamping it tomorrow and making a yummy quesadilla with veggies insides as a toddler lunch!
  • We always try to make things for dinner that are baby friendly.  Elise seems to eat more of her food if we are eating the same thing.  If we are eating something different, she is interested to know what we have!
  • This is a given, but sit down at the table together and turn the TV off.  I am always so tempted to do the dishes or wipe down the kitchen quickly while she is eating in the highchair.  I have to stop and remind myself that meal time is family time!
  • I try to offer water at meals instead of milk so that she doesn’t just fill up on milk.  We do often allow her to have milk at breakfast though.
  • We do not do juice at all.  I know a lot of people have to use it for constipation issues once they switch to whole cow’s milk, but I would still encourage it to be with snacks and not meal time.
  • We keep water available to Elise all day.  She always has a sippy full of water close by.
  • Don’t be afraid to give them a treat every now and then!  No hiding in the kitchen eating cookies while they aren’t looking.  Let them share in the snack, and teach them moderation and self control.  Model good eating habits for them.  I think it is absolutely okay for a toddler to have a cookie or other dessert/treat every now and then if they ate their healthy foods first.
  • Keep healthy snacks with you.  When we are going out with others, I will pack a banana or other easy fruit just in case there’s not a healthy option for her.  We also keep yogurt melts, cheerios, and animal crackers in the diaper bag to help with those screaming fits in the car seat or while waiting on meals at restaurants!
  • Depending on what Elise is having, I sometimes offer the healthiest option first.  For example, if we are having steamed broccoli and mac and cheese for lunch (this is a common lunch for us), then I offer the broccoli first.  Elise LOVES mac and cheese, so she will devour that and fill up if they are both offered together.
  • Food is for eating, not for playing.  I know a lot of people say that throwing food off the highchair is a learning process and to just ignore it, but we do not.  If she starts throwing her food instead of eating, then we take it away.  Normally by that point she is full anyway, but if it happens to be a time where she didn’t eat, I will save it and offer it again a little later.
  • I very much believe that a baby with no underlying health problems will not let themselves starve.  If they go a couple of days without really eating much food, don’t stress.  Maybe they are teething or just more interested in exploring the world, but they will come around.  Just keep offering and ensuring they are getting enough milk!

Do you have any other toddler meal or snack ideas?  Any healthy eating tips?  Please feel free to share!

The Adventures of a Toddler

The weather was actually pleasant one day last week, so Elise and I headed out to enjoy the temperature and went to the duck pond.  I of course wanted to take the opportunity to to capture a few photos of her in her adorable little outfit and big girl hair clip.  I should have known I was setting myself up for failure.  Mommy carrying a big heavy camera, a one year old who is no longer the least bit amazed by said big black box, water, muddy grass, ducks, a toddler who has been stuck in the house for weeks who just started walking and wants to run from mommy = a recipe for disaster, not beautiful portraits.  But that is okay, we still had fun!

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I really wanted a photo of her looking at me in this spot, but she wasn’t having it.  She was ready to explore.  Maybe we will have another pretty day soon, when my husband can come too and he can chase her while I snap away.

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She was SUPER excited when she spotted the ducks!

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We were there for maybe 5 minutes when this little dog ran up to us and was trying to jump on Elise.  She loves animals and was all about playing with it, but I didn’t want a strange dog around her so I picked her up and tried to make it leave.  Then this young guy shows up and starts talking to us.  He was very odd and asking if I was a geological person since I had a camera with me.  He even knew what I drive and had read my license plate, so I was a little creeped out.  Since my mom senses were tingling and this guy was not leaving, I decided it was best to get Elise out of there.  Having a baby has made me super paranoid!  So we packed up and left the pond, and went to the playground.  Elise was mad to leave the ducks, but was excited to see the swings and playground!

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There were a few “big kids” aka 3 and 4 year olds there too, and she was amazed by them.  One little boy came to swing next to her, and she wouldn’t take her eyes off of him.

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The other children were playing on the actual playground, and she insisted that she get to play on it too.  The child has never been around stairs in her life and climbed up to the top of the playground like she had been doing it for months.  My little girl is growing up so quickly!  Before long, it started to look like rain, so I decided it was time to head home.  Elise was devastated and carried on like she would never see the outdoors again and her little tiny heart was shattering into a million zillion pieces, so I let her have a few more minutes playing outside at home before we came in.

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Learning to walk in grass is a little bit tougher.  But she’s getting the hang of it…

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…with the occasional fall.

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It is the end of the world as we know it if she falls inside, but as long as she’s outside, she’s a happy girl!

 

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Elise vs The Hood

We actually had warm temps yesterday, so Elise got to enjoy the great outdoors for the day.  (Her favorite thing!)  After dinner she insisted that we would go back outside for more playing.  The sun was long gone behind rain clouds, and the wind was chilly, so I made her wear a sweater.  Clearly, that was unacceptable in toddlerland!

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How is it possible for one little girl to be so stinking cute?!?!

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She cracks me up.  I can’t wait until spring when she can spend her days outside adventuring and toddling in the grass!