Monday, April 23, 2012


A week ago I celebrated my birthday and turned another year older. Each birthday for the past few years I have tried to make a to-do/goal list for the upcoming year. Two years ago, I made a bucket list-type where I tried to complete 22 new objectives before turning 22 (and failed miserably), and last year I set out to read 23 books before I turned 23.

You see, as I had mentioned before, I was a late bloomer on the loving-to-read-wagon; as in, I just jumped on last year. Since moving to Chicago, I realized that my commutes (which have always been at least a half hour... my current one being an hour long) could be put to much better use (rather than people watching or sitting with a blank stare) by reading. So, my love for reading was born, and I decided to really get the ball moving at my 22nd birthday with the 23 books by 23.

Well, back in January or February I stumbled across the list that I had been making of the books I had read, and I realized then that I wasn't really on track to finish my goal, but still had read over 15 books - which was a huge deal for me, being new to this whole reading-outside-of-class-thing. I was still extremely proud of myself.

Then, a few weeks ago when I was packing up our old apartment for the move, I came across the list again, sat down with it for a few minutes, added a few books that I had read, and when I counted them all up - I HAD READ 23!! I didn't even know how close I was, and yet, I had accomplished my goal!

So, here is my list of 23 books that I read in the past year:
The Help (my first book of the year, and a great one at that)
Blue Like Jazz (I had read it before in high school and enjoyed it then, but maybe even more so now.)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (All of these were read within 2 weeks, finished before the last movie's premiere.)
Ordinary People (upon Mr. Allen's recommendation)
The Nanny Diaries (extremely fitting for my current job situation)
The Hunger Games
Chasing Fire
Mockingjay (all read back to back rather quickly)
Mere Christianity (good, but hard to get through)
The Screwtape Letters (upon Mr. Allen's recommendation)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (good plot, too much graphic-ness, not worth reading the others)
The Catcher in the Rye (I had read this in high school for class and loved it; not so much this time.)
Cold Tangerines (second time through, still amazing)
Bittersweet (not as good as Cold Tangerines, but good stories)
Water for Elephants (one of the first books I read in the year)
The Four Seasons of Marriage (not extremely applicable right now in our marriage, but good to know)
Start Something that Matters (I've written about this before)
Breastfeeding, A Parent's Guide (I read this in a weekend, but I'm sure it will be pulled back out often in the next few months)
The Dubious Salvation of Jack V (I just randomly found this book on the new titles shelf at the library and picked it up.)
Heaven is For Real (This was an amazing book - go pick it up and read it. I read it in a matter of a few hours, on a trip from Michigan to Chicago. It was that good.)

And there you have it, 23 books. I know for some of you that list may seem miniscule, but for me it was a big challenge. I am so proud of myself for really finishing it! And, with that mindset, I should probably make my "by 24" list for this year I'm currently 6 days into. Look for that post coming soon!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

one month old

Well, friends, say goodbye to your weekly pictures of our little girl. She is still turning one week older each Sunday, but I'm not going to be capturing it quite that often. I will still be pulling out our camera often to catch those little moments throughout our days (which can be found on facebook), but you will have to chart her growth via the blog only at monthly milestones from here on out.

So, here are her ONE MONTH PICTURES.

On Wednesday Nora turned one month old! And I handled it a lot better than I had anticipated - no tears. I just kept staring at her in awe of how much she has grown and changed, and I just can't fathom how quickly she is growing up. (I'm already saying this stuff... imagine me in 15 years.) I waited to post pictures until after her one-month doctor's appointment, which was yesterday. Little Miss is 21.5 inches long and 9 pounds, 10 ounces. She has gained 2.5 pounds since birth and grew 2 inches! She's quite the little bowling ball now... not so easy to hold for long periods of time. :]

In the last 2 weeks, she has learned to create that melt-my-heart social smile (it's not just gas anymore , folks), and it seriously gets me EVERY time. She also learned to coo/talk to friendly faces (and the ceiling fans, picture frames, and any other easily-spotted inanimate objects.) She is incredibly alert and active when she is awake, loving tummy time (a weird baby, I know), holding her head just fine on her own, and kicking those strong legs constantly.

We went to Michigan last weekend for my birthday and to celebrate my best friend's upcoming wedding with a bridal shower. I was an awful mommy: ONLY in the sense that I took NO pictures of Nora meeting so many new family members. I'm sorry everyone. I really dropped the ball on that one. Big time. Hopefully our next child will be an identical replica of baby Nora and we can take those pictures and just say they were Nora and baby #2.

Nora did amazing traveling. We were worried about the car ride to Michigan, since the longest we ever drive with her in the city is 20-30 minutes (and that is really like 5 miles, just considering Chicago traffic.) We had done a few trips out to the suburbs last week, which takes about 45 minutes and she had slept on all those trips. But she did great in the long car ride, sleeping the whole way. And on the way back, Nora and I took the train, which was supposed to take 3 hours and ended up being a 5 hour trip (plus commuting on public transportation once we got into the city) and she was a gem through it all. Thank God for such a good baby!

And, as I write this, I can hear that little one sleeping her little heart out (per usual)... along with her daddy who joined her 8 pm bedtime tonight (late for her, early for him) because he is feeling a little under the weather. That being said, Mommy gets some time to update the blog for all you lovely readers.
...and maybe a little Martha Stewart time too(?).

Sunday, April 8, 2012

3 weeks old

Our little girl is 3 weeks old and is a growing machine.

Here are her 2 week old pictures from last Sunday:

She was really rocking that leopard print. :] As of a week ago Friday (a few days before these pictures were taken), she had gained 12 ounces between week 1 and week 2, weighing 8 pounds at the doctor's office. The doctor was so happy with her weight gain, so we're obviously doing something right.

Today, Easter Sunday, Nora is 3 weeks old! I can't believe it. I feel like we have had her forever, in a great way, and at the same time, I can only imagine the tears I will cry next week as my little baby will turn 1 month old. It's unreal in every possible way.

If you didn't have the chance to see my facebook status tonight... Nora was dressed in a fancy, beautiful pink dress for Easter this morning, and after about an hour of church, she decided to have her first explosive diaper. She pooped through a onesie, through a pair of tights, and into her beautiful dress. It was a good thing Mom decided to grab an extra whole outfit for the day. (Usually I just pack a t-shirt onesie.) We did get one picture this morning in her dress on Mr. Allen's cell phone.

 And for her 3 week old photo: (check out that belly!!)

Nora hit her first growth spurt this week. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, she was crazy about eating. I swear it was practically every hour and a half that she was hungry. I mentioned it to my sister-in-law, and she told me to expect a few days of heavy sleep coming afterward. Boy, was she right! Yesterday Nora was awake from 7am to 8am, and then slept practically the rest of the day with the exception of waking up to eat. Today, we went to an Easter dinner, and she slept through it all. (No worries - she ate again, mid nap.) This being said, she is still sleeping all night. Oh boy, I needed these past two days to relax a little myself, not having as eager of an eater. Maybe tomorrow or Tuesday we'll be back on schedule and to normal life. (Doubtful since Tuesday is our moving day, and then we'll be settling into our new apartment.)

Please pardon my lack of adding the weekly pictures on time, we are going through a lot right now as a family: you know, adding a newborn, adjusting to said newborn-family-life/sleep-deprivation, and, on top of that, we're moving this coming week and are trying to get everything packed up. It's a whirlwind life right now, but a beautifully blessed one. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

NJFacts [part 2]

More Nora-provoked facts:

#1: This post has to be short, because a little girl named Nora Jean not only takes all my time, but all my energy. I keep having to-do lists to accomplish once Mr. Allen gets home from school and can back me up on Nora-duty, but then most nights (like last night for example) I run out of energy way earlier than even looking at that to-do list, let alone tackleing it. Last night, Mr. Allen got home at 5:00 (to a cranky, tired baby) and then we tried to eat dinner while she napped. The nap lasted 20 minutes and we had a crier. Then, at 7:00, she was finally bathed, fed, and asleep in bed, and I immediately climbed in bed too. Not much more can get accomplished when that happens.

#2: When we told our families and the world that we had picked the name "Nora" for our little girl, my mother-in-law quickly told me about a book she used to read to her daughter, my sister-in-law, Erin, often when she was little. Here it is:

As a new grandma, not only was she excited for her new granddaughter, but excited also for the chance to share this book again with a little one, especially a little one named "Nora." Last weekend, when Grandma was here, she was able to introduce Nora (and myself) to this little book... so cute.

The fact I'm trying to share here, is that Nora is most definitely living up to the name "Noisy Nora". I mean, I've been around my share of children and babies, but this girl is the loudest sleeper I've ever met. She falls asleep peacefully, then as she shuffles between REM cycles and deep sleeps, she makes noises... LOUD noises: grunts, squeaks, more grunts. She just makes sure her father and I know she's still around. Oh, lady, we could never forget about you; but thank you for the reminder. Mr. Allen and I have decided she may be part goose with all those un-human-like noises.

But, we sure do love our little noisy Nora!

Some night, if I remember, I might take a video of her mid-cycle-"soundtrack" for you all to experience and enjoy.

PS - Two week old pictures were taken last Sunday; do not worry! I just haven't had a chance to load them from the camera. (Remember that no time/no energy thing? Yeah... I can't wait for that to go away.)