Thursday, December 27, 2012

First Snow

Snow! Or as Nora says, "Noooooo!" The day after Christmas, while we were still in New York, we got a few inches of snow. After bundling Nora up the best we could (leg-warmers as snow pants!) and went outside to play in the winter wonderland. 

It was Nora's first time actually playing in the snow. At first, she was a little tentative but soon yelled "Nooooo!" with a big grin on her face. After a little coaxing, Nora enjoyed touching the snow and climbing on the pile left by the snow plow. Aunt Mary Anne added some fun to the experience, as she did when I was a kid playing in the snow, too! 

December 26, 2012
Stillwater, NY

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas - with the Wells'

2nd Christmas - at Mom's house with Aunt Marge and Fred. Opening presents for the second time in one day was just as fun for Nora. I think it is pretty clear by the smile on her face that she enjoyed it all. She especially loved her new helicopter and spent a lot of time playing with it while the rest of us opened our gifts. 

 Like I have said already, we are so lucky to be able to get to New York to celebrate the holidays with our family. And Nora is so lucky to have so many people who want to be with her for these special events!

Nora with Gramma and Aunt Marge

Christmas - with the Bendons

Christmas! We love Christmas. Last year we stayed in Illinois because Nora was just a few months old. It was very cozy and relaxing and sweet. Since Nora is older and has flown a few times already, we decided we would spend the holiday in Upstate New York. 

On Christmas Eve we had dinner with my Dad, Aunt Mary Anne, Great Gam Gam, and Grandpa. Then we enjoyed our annual viewing of Christmas Vacation. It just isn't Christmas without watching Clark Griswold!

Christmas Morning
Waiting to open presents

Nora had fun opening up her gifts and playing with each one for a little bit before opening the next. Of course she loved the "dog dog" that Gam Gam and Grandpa gave her. She also got some Little People, Weeble Wobbles, and a fun "learn to dress" kitty.


We are so lucky that we were able to travel for the holidays so Nora can build memories with our family. And so that our family can see how much Nora is growing and changing.

Merry Merry!

Fun with Gam Gam!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Visit with Grandma & Pop Pop

Grandma Linda & Pop Pop Saul came to visit for a couple of days before heading South for Christmas and the winter. There was a LOT of playing during the visit. Play, play, play was the theme! And it was a lot of fun for everyone. Nora even had her first trip to a local indoor playground. 

Since we were heading to Upstate NY to see my family for Christmas, we had our own celebration a little early in Illinois. This is the face that Linda and Saul got to see as Nora spied her gifts:

The bubble gum pink piano from Aunt Cheryl, Uncle Bill, Jake, and Mckenna was an immediate hit. Nora also enjoyed sitting in her very own chair playing with her Leap Frog Move and Groove toy. Another big hit of the day was the peanuts that were used to pack some of the gifts. :)

We can't wait to head to NY for the rest of our Christmas celebration!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Winter Fun

There is a small children's museum in town called The Orpheum. We visited the museum for the first time to see how they turned their auditorium into a snow globe. There were trees decorated with lights,  there were light-up reindeer and sleds, and activities for kids to participate in. We threw "snow balls" (white cotton balls) into an igloo, went "ice fishing" and got a prize from a mermaid, and decorated trees and snowmen. Nora loved playing with the ornaments used to doctorate the trees and tried to eat the fake carrots used as the snowman's nose. We loved watching the excitement in Nora's eyes as she took it all in.

Building a snowman

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I love to hear Nora talking. Her little voice just makes my heart so dang happy!

It is so amazing to hear her learn and use new words. It is also fun to hear the tone that she uses when saying different words. In the morning, it is especially sweet to hear her babble away in her bed when she wakes up.

I've been trying to keep a log of all the words that she is using. Here is what we've got:

Mom Mom
Ma (usually shouted)
Dog Dog
Oof Oof (what the dog-dog says)
Hat (said while she taps her head)
What's That
Uht oh
Nunt-uh (for no)
Knock Knock
Baaaaa (what the sheep says)
Thank you (well, sometimes)
Boom (while bumping fists or feet)
Cheeeese (into the camera)

As Nora's vocabulary grows, I'll add them to the list. Next up, saying 2 words together?? I can't wait!

Good Morning!
Snuggles with Daddy, Dolly, and Bunny.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Decorating the Tree

I'm not sure words can capture the joy of putting up our tree the way that this picture does:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving in Baltimore

For this year's Thanksgiving holiday we traveled out to Baltimore to visit Jeff's family. Nora spent time with so many people! The pictures we have don't even do it all justice.

My favorite Thanksgiving tradition is watching the Macy's Parade. Although Nora still likes playing with her toys more than the parade, she did enjoy the giant hot air balloons.

The Thanksgiving crowd at Linda and Saul's is usually a big one! And this year we had two babies in the bunch, Nora and Saul's great-granddaughter JuJu. Nora enjoyed olives and pickled tomatoes for the first time and had some play time with JuJu. She was also eager to give fist bumps to all of her cousins.

The Rubel-Dalnekoff Clan

We also had play-time with Grandma Linda, Pop-Pop Saul, Uncle Bill, Aunt Cheryl, and cousins Jake & Mckenna. Grandma Linda had a big box of building blocks that she's had since Jake & Mckenna were kids and they were still a hit after all these years.

With Grandma Linda
Playing with Mckenna and Uncle Bill
Hiding in the big box of blocks was a play necklace. Nora found it with an "Oooooo" and put it on immediately.

There are a lot of things we didn't capture on film...such as Nora's first potato latkes at Grandpa Sheldon's house, visiting with with Daddy's best friend Doug and his family, and hanging out with Mommy's BFF Hope and her family. What a fun trip!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gramma Wells

Many months ago, I agreed to go to a conference in Connecticut for work. Jeff would also be at the conference so that would mean that Nora would be coming along, too.

As we got closer to the conference date, I started to doubt the confidence about managing this trip that I felt earlier. Nora had changed so much since I agreed to travel halfway across the country and spend 5 days in a hotel with a toddler. My mom lives just a couple hours away so she agreed to join us and help with Nora when I would be working. Great! Except that Nora had been going through a stage where there were very few people she was totally comfortable with. This made me really nervous! To help ease my concerns, my mom came out to Illinois to spend a weekend with Nora. Thankfully, it was a weekend that put my mind at ease a bit.

Taking a walk around the neighborhood.

So my mom and Fred (Gramma and Happy) made the trek to Connecticut armed with toys, snacks, and confidence. The hotel room provided fun play time with things like mirrored closet doors and the weather was nice enough to get out to a nearby park.

Pooped out after the park.
The trip also gave us a chance to introduce our sweet girl to so many of our friends. She was eager to give everyone she met fist and foot "booms" (bumps) and was quick to giggle with us all.

Although being at the conference wasn't stress-free (Nora was up for most of 3 of the nights we were in the hotel), it certainly was made easier by having Gramma and Happy there with us.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day Care-iversary

It's been one year since Nora has started going to day care up the street at Miss Laura's house. You can revisit that post from last year here. You can also see the changes in Nora and her day care pals Evan and Lily below.

I'm not sure we could have a better day care situation. Nora is truly cared for by Laura and she gets along well with the other kids. Lily and Evan are always kissing Nora goodbye at the end of each day and Amelia likes laying dress-up with her. She goes on field trips, does some crafts, listens to music, and has a lot of toys to play with. It's wild and loving and loud and tender and perfect for us. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Swarm

The Swarm, The Hyman Hive, The Bees
Trick or treat from the Swarm! Our family of bees enjoyed going from door to door up and down our street saying "Trick or Treat." Nora was grinning from ear to ear the entire time  and we got lots of props for our costumes. Nora especially enjoyed putting her treats in her bucket.


The biggest hit of the night was the glow sticks that Daddy bought for us. Nora ended up with three and held on to them all night. In fact, it was a little traumatic when it was bed time and she couldn't take them with her into the crib. :(

Glow Sticks

It was a lot of fun having themed family costumes. I think we'll do that again next year...and until Nora won't tolerate it anymore.

Curtis Orchards in September

Nora is saying, "Oooooo" at the sight of all the pumpkins

Back in September, we took Nora to the pumpkin patch at Curtis Orchards. She had such a great time wandering through the paths and plants, looking at pumpkins and pumpkin blossoms. It was so fun to watch her explore! She liked touching the pumpkins and vines, trying to sit on the pumpkins, and walking along the paths that weaved all through the patch. There were a lot of squeals of delight!

Daddy & Nora

You might remember that we took Nora to Curtis Orchards last year. Look at how tiny she was!

Curtis Orchards 2011
Despite Nora's protests, we were able to take a picture in front of the Yellow Brick Road wall. It's fun to see the difference from year to year. We'll definitely be taking this picture each year as long as we live in Champaign. 

Curtis Orchards 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mommy's Bed

Last week Nora woke up at 3am very upset. Thankfully this isn't something that happens often, but when it does it usually takes some time to comfort Nora and get her back to sleep. So 3am becomes 5am and it's just me and Nora; Jeff is out of town. Nora and I both need some sleep and I do something that so many people say you shouldn't; I bring Nora into our bed.

Honestly, it makes me nervous me to have Nora sleep in our bed. But we were both so tired and no sleep was coming so to Mommy's bed we went. 

After creating what I hoped was a safety zone of pillows around us to prevent falling off the bed, I sat up against the headboard with Nora on my chest and felt my sweet girl relax and go to sleep. I half-dozed a bit, frankly enjoying a snuggle with my babe. Eventually Nora wanted to sleep on the bed so we shared the mattress with me in a "C" around her and my hand on her chest, hoping that would provide some added safety. Nora was fast, fast, fast asleep.

When it was time to rise and shine, Miss Nora was not interested. This is her after my attempt of waking her:

Still out like a light! Although it was helpful to get some rest (for both of us!) and I did enjoy the baby snuggles, I hope that sweet slumbers in her crib continue to be the norm.

Until it is time for Saturday morning cartoons in bed. Can't wait for that!

Monday, October 8, 2012

14 Months Old

Nora is 14 months old. There are so many things that I have been neglecting to share on the blog about what she is doing now. Mostly because what she is doing sure does keep me busy!!

She is walking. Her first steps were at Day Care on August 20. Four little steps. The next morning she took three more, which we got on video. Last week she started walking backwards. She attempts to run a bit, but that skill is still in the "trying to perfect" phase. Sometimes she trips and falls, giving me yet another baby-induced heart attack.  Sometimes when she trips and falls, she knocks her noggin. I feel terrible every time it happens. I suppose this is an early lesson that I can't protect her from everything.

She is talking. I know she has been for a while, but her vocabulary is increasing. She is saying thank you, ta da, mom mom, tick-tick (tickle-tickle), hi (which sometimes also mean bye), up (we are working on please with that), duck, and nuht-uh (no). She has been saying da da and dog dog for quite some time. She is also making animal sounds like "oof oof" for a dog, "mmmmmm" for a cow, and "na" for a horse. It's dang cute.

Nora also very clearly understands what we say more and more. What an amazing process to watch unfold, cognition!

And laughing. What a laugh this little girl has! Her giggles are the best. We love her cheerfulness.

Nora loves to pick out a book, sit on our laps, and have us read it to her. She also loves being outdoors. Whether it is in the back yard, taking a walk down the street, going for a spin in her stroller, or playing at the park, this child loves being outside.

She is also a bit of a momma's girl. We spend a lot of time together, especially now that Jeff is in his travel season, so I suppose it is to be expected. I don't mind a momma's girl; I love the snuggles and playtime and being a part of her growing and discovering. I just want her to also be ok spending time with other people. I understand this is a common phase for kids to go through and we do get out and about. On M, W, F she is at daycare. On Tuesdays we have lunch at my office. We run errands on the weekend. We go to the park. We have baby swim class on Saturdays.

So 14 months. Here we are. Happy. Talking. Walking. Loving.

Monday, September 24, 2012


It is so interesting and amazing to watch Nora, especially how her experiences show on her cute little face. 

Bath time toys

The many looks of Nora

Go Vols!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Bye Bye Bottles

The week before Nora turned 13 months old, we decided to stop the bottle. Our pediatrician told us that once she turned one, she wouldn't need formula any longer. I procrastinated a little bit because I was feeling a little sad about this milestone. 

How funny that I was feeling so reticent given how our bottle adventure began. First of all, I didn't even expect to be using bottles and formula. And when we did have to depend on the bottle, I certainly thought it would be easier than it was. Getting Nora to take 3 ounces in less than an hour felt like a miracle. I was nervous and afraid when she wouldn't take her bottle. There were times when I would be in tears because she wouldn't eat, something that was incredibly important given Nora's weight when she was born. 

Then things changed. 

And Nora took a bottle from me. And we had sweet snuggles during her feedings throughout the day and night. She grew and the pediatrician was pleased. Jeff and I were ecstatic. 

Fast forward to the recent past...first night without the bottle. Nora was angry. She was crying and pointing (with frustration) to where her bottle normally sat. She wouldn't take solace in her sippy cup of water. She did not want to read a book. She wanted her bottle. She continued to cry after being put to bed, resulting in some rocking chair snuggles to calm down. 

Second night without the bottle...Nora still cried but did take her sippy cup and we read a book. Again, she continued to cry after being put to bed and again we had some rocking chair snuggles. 

On the third night, Nora was sulky but was willing to have her bedtime stories. I still had to go back to her for some soothing after she was put in her crib. 

4th night? It was as though there was never an issue. Bath, pajamas, story time, bed. And the thing I was worried about missing the most - our night time snuggles - we still have when we read our books. Books and snuggles! I'll take it. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nora Turns 1

Nora has turned 1. She is about the cross the 13 month threshold. I am so, so happy and thankful that she is growing and developing as she should. And sometimes I just want to keep her small and eager to sleep in my arms.

July 2012

Birthday Celebrations, Part 3

The day after Nora officially turned 1, we had a party at our house. In addition to the wonderful neighbors and friends who joined us to celebrate the cutest and sweetest girl ever, the grandparents from Maryland traveled to Illinois for the festivities! 

Grandma Linda and Pop Pop Saul

Grandpa Sheldon

Some months back, Nora received an adorable little dress from her Gramma Wells, which served as inspiration for the party. Yellow, white, black, polka dots, and gingham with some bumble bees and daisies were all present in the decorations and outfits. My favorite decoration was a series of photos of Nora in her "monthsies" (made by my friend Sarah!).

Of course there were cupcakes! #3 kinds! Nora enjoyed the vanilla on vanilla cupcake. Mommy had the chocolate on chocolate and Daddy was loving the lemon on lemon. Yum!

I loooove cupcakes!