Sunday, July 31, 2011


  • I feel a little guilty about the blog post I wrote the other night. Lauren's sleeping is awful, but it doesn't change anything about how much I love her and how she's the sweetest little thing that ever walked the planet. I was really frustrated and it was an exceptionally bad night. Sorry Lauren. Mommy loves you!
  • As we were driving all over creation yesterday, I really had some time to take in the beautiful landscape that we live in here in Western Pennsylvania. It really is a wonderful place. I long to get out of suburbia and into the lush green hills of the country. I doubt it will ever happen, really, but a girl can dream!
  • Ian's starting week two of his swimming lessons. I hope it goes as well as week one. He had a minor little hiccup on day 2...he thought the water was too cold and refused to get back in after the first 15 minutes. We came ready on day 3... with snappy new goggles, his ear plugs, and a 70% off Ironman toy to watch him swim. It worked and he went happily the rest of the week. 
  • I'm trying to come up with a plan for the week that involves some fun activities and some relaxation after our insane week last week. Problem is that swimming lessons are at 11:30...so we have to have fun before and relax after. Not sure what we're going to do.
  • Speaking of last week, did I ever give the rundown of how the week went? 
    • Monday: Lauren got tubes, but not until the afternoon. We went to swimming only to find the lessons canceled. We went to the market, then to the playground, then I took Lauren for her surgery. 
    • Tuesday: Ian had a doctor's appointment 40 minutes away at 9:00am. We were up and running early and went directly to swimming afterward. Then we spent the afternoon with my sister and her boys and had dinner together at PF Chang's. I've never seen 4 little boys eat so much food, it was really a sight to behold!
    • Wednesday: Lauren had her 12 month well visit. She got 3 shots. She weighed 19 pounds 7 oz and was 28 inches tall. She is "way ahead" developmentally, according to her doctor. After Lauren's appointment we had swimming.
    • Thursday: Bright and early Thursday morning, the bathroom guy came to do demo &prep on the tub/shower. We went to Target to buy swimming goggles for Ian and to the ENT to have him fitted for new ear plugs. (He doesn't technically need ear plugs anymore, but he was complaining about water in his ear and for $8 we could buy a new pair, so we did.) Then to swimming after Target. The bathroom guy finished up in time for a late nap for the kiddos, but really Aaron was the only one who napped.
    • Friday: The bathroom guy came earlier than on Thursday to finish up his install. I took my mom to Kohls to buy some new tennis shoes. We hurried home and my dad took Ian to swimming while I went to an appointment at Ian's school. Aaron stayed home with my mom and Roger. We reconvened for lunch and a triple nap (quadruple counting me...) for the first time in the entire week! 
  • It was exhausting. We never run that much. It makes me not ever want to run that much. It was a stressful week and I'm glad it is over. On to more fun and fewer doctor's appointments, hopefully!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Lauren's Birthday Wrap-Up


On Lauren's birthday (7/22) we went to Cici's pizza for dinner. Ian used to call it "pizza party" as we would drive past...so we started going to the pizza party on birthdays. Saturday we spent preparing for the big party. On Sunday, we celebrated in a grand ol' way!

We had the largest guest list for any party we have ever hosted. I was so surprised that almost everyone we invited was able to come. We missed the ones who couldn't make, but we had a blast! 

It was at Alpine Park in Monroeville, which we've decided is a perfect summer party location. It is open & airy, but mostly fenced. The pavilion, bathrooms, and playground are all very close to each other. It's a great place for parties with kids, especially! We had hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken wings. Lauren's uncles and papa manned the grill and did an awesome job! We had some delicious sides *thanks Danielle & Kim!! and cake from McGinnis Sisters Market. The theme was pink and orange, which are my favorite little girl colors. (I used to love purple, but pink and orange look so good on Lauren, I just love the color combo.)

listening to a crowd of nearly 40 singing happy birthday!


We were in awe of this huge pile of presents.
Lauren is so blessed to have so many people who love her!

She was all over opening her gifts, but happily shared with her brothers!
On July 27th, I got a chance to take some first birthday pictures of our sweet girl and her brothers. I don't know about you, but I am so very pleased with our front yard this summer. Everything is luscious and green (even if the grass needs mowed), the marigolds in our garden are beautiful, and of course, the children... I know I'm biased, but I think they are three of the cutest kids God ever made! 









All in all, this was one of my favorite birthdays yet! Being outside for the party (not limited by space inside our house) made for a great party. We had so much fun! Thank you to all who attended and for all her gifts! Someday, you might get a thank-you note in the mail, I hope anyway!

Happy, Happy birthday to my precious peach! We love you so much! God Bless Baby Lauren.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The sleep chronicles: Lauren and her screaming

I love my daughter deeply, but goodness! Right now, I'm not in love with her screaming. She does the normal one-year-old-need-to-express-myself yelling that all my children have done, but her voice is twenty times higher pitched and louder than the boys. The daytime screaming, although annoying at times, is not what is driving me to the looney bin. 

Tonight, just like every night for the past several months, she went to bed easily and fussed a moment when I laid her in her crib. I went to bed a bit later. Just as my eyes shut and I drifted off to sleep, a shrill, ear-piercing scream came across the monitor. Ahh yes, another night begins to shape into my current reality: up all day, up all night. I'm running on caffeine and adrenaline. 

She isn't sick. We have been to the doctor several times in the last few weeks. The ENT fellow at Children's assured me part of her sleep problems was the fluid in her ears, but she had tubes put in on Monday and it's Friday now... She's still screaming. 

She isn't hungry. She eats like a horse all day long and nurses 6-8 times each day, on demand. My boobs are at her beckon call during the daylight hours. 

She is generally a very happy baby. Until night arrives. She doesn't sleep any better in our bed. We coslept for her first 8 months or so...until she was thrashing around so much that it was keeping all of us from sleeping well.

When she is SLEEPING, she sleeps soundly and peacefully in her crib. She doesn't thrash around or toss and turn. But about every 45 min to 2 hours--all night long--she wakes suddenly and screams a scream that causes blood to pour out of my ears and my weary brain to resent her existence. 

I reached my nighttime breaking point about 4 months ago. We started letting her fuss it out (or in her case, screech it out) for periods of time, hoping to have the same results as with Ian & Aaron. But we haven't gotten there yet and I can't figure out why. 

All I know is I'm here, exhausted, not wanting to close my eyes because I know in just a few minutes I'll be jolted awake by blood-curdling screams. That can't be good for my heart, can it? 

Will you pray for us? Lauren needs to sleep for longer periods at a time... God willing, she will do that soon. Because I really, really love her. I don't like feeling so upset with her at night. I don't like resenting her keeping me up all night long. I want to have peace in my heart and mind about my baby girl. For our health--mental and physical--she really needs to sleep. 


Sent from my iPhone

New Tubby!

I don't have a before picture handy, but trust me, it was BAD.
Tiles falling off, drain not working right, etc.




If I had been picking by myself, I would have picked a nice pink-green-brown combo.
But Ian & Aaron were helping me decide. ;-)



Can't wait to try it tomorrow after it cures 24 hours! Hallelujah, Praise the Lord for a fabulous new tub!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lauren!

She's ONE.


I should be sleeping, but I'm sitting here trying to wrap my brain around the fact that my baby is a whole year old. If you have kids, you'll probably agree that never has time moved so quickly than during my babies' first years. Oh so exciting, but also so sad! It's no secret that I love babies. I was born to be a mother. So to see my sweet babies grow right before my very eyes and turn into toddlers and then preschoolers, it's just surreal. Anyway, this post is not about me. It's about my little baby girl who is quickly becoming a little toddler girl. 

Since I'm actually writing this on Lauren's birthday-eve, I'll start by saying that a year ago tonight, I was anxiously, very anxiously awaiting my call to come to the hospital. I don't think I slept a wink all night waiting for that phone to ring. When it didn't ring when it was supposed to, I was really upset. But God knows what he's doing and we got to the hospital at the perfect time and ended up with the right doctor, the right nurses, and everything was just fine. Lauren was my shortest labor and quickest delivery. She surprised us all with how quick she came in the final minutes! Just setting herself up for a life of dramatic entrances, perhaps?

She's a petite little thing, even though she has plenty of leg rolls... she weighs 19 pounds 10 oz, which is the 25th percentile for weight and is 28.5 inches tall, which is 15th percentile for height. She is still wearing mostly 9 months size clothes with a peppering of 12 months size in there. I'm very happy about this because she has the most adorable 9-12 months size summer clothes! I am really glad she is getting plenty of time to wear them. 

Lauren spends most of her time following her brothers around and trying to do the things they do. She really enjoys playing cars or with the imaginext bat cave with Ian and Aaron. She also loves playing with our play kitchen, crawling through her new play tunnel, and dancing to any and all music she hears. 

She has a wonderful voice and "talks" constantly. She doesn't say many words in English, but she has a whole language of her own right now! It is so cute to listen to her tell stories. 

She has four teeth with 2 more on top ready to break through. She can clap, stand without assistance, cruise all the furniture, climb our outdoor climber, crawl up steps, feed herself, point, and wave goodbye. 

Lauren is still breastfeeding several times a day, but also enjoys milk from a bottle or cup. I'm pretty sure that's because she wants to emulate her brothers in every way. She loves when one of them (usually Ian) shares his cup and lets her have a sip. Her favorite food is cottage cheese. She's going to have birthday cake for the first time tomorrow, though, so she's in for a real treat! 

My eyes are slamming shut, so I'm going to stop for now. Hopefully I'll get a chance to take some decent photos tomorrow. 

Happy Birthday, sweet girl. We love you SO much. Just ask Ian how much...he tells her all the time. He hugs and kisses her, plays with her, and asks to check on her when she is fussing. She's so blessed to have her brothers. 

We're so blessed to have her. 


  • It's too bad it is a million degrees today because I have some serious baking I need to do. Birthday cake for tomorrow (Lauren's actual birthday) and birthday cake for Sunday. Is it too late to order one? I really don't want to turn on the oven.
  • In related news, the heat index in Monroeville today is 115 degrees. I saw a picture posted on Facebook that read, "Satan called, he wants his weather back." To which I say, please take it!!! I refuse to complain about it being hot, but I prefer just a little less humidity. 
  • Did you know that on Air Quality Action Days young children, people with asthma or other breathing problems, heart conditions, and the elderly are supposed to stay indoors? It's difficult to explain to a 2 year old why he really shouldn't be outside for very long. 
  • I have about 12,000 things to do between now and Sunday and quite a few of them involve cooking, baking, or cleaning. I'm starting to panic....and sweat. 
  • Lauren had an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor appointment this morning because she has had 7 ear infections since January. I wasn't really surprised to learn she needs ear tubes, in fact I'm welcoming them with open arms. What I didn't like hearing was how "bad" her ear drums look as a result of chronic pressure and fluid in her ears. I feel a little guilty for waiting so long to take her. I was really trying to be patient in hopes that her ear infection days would pass with age. She will be getting them done on Monday.
  • Next week is one of the busiest weeks I've had in a LONG time. We have an appointment of some kind every single day. We're also getting a new tub/shower at long last! There are some other cool things happening, but I don't want to jynx them so I'll wait to blog about it!
  • Stay tuned for a happy birthday post featuring The big One-Year-Old tomorrow! If I can get my thoughts together and compose my emotions enough to write it. I can't believe she's one. Has it really been an whole year already?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Instead of Napping

Lauren had something really important to tell me.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Idlewild: Superhero Edition

I took the kiddos to Idlewild today. One of the things I love about having memberships to places is that we can come and go as we please. We can visit only parts of the park without feeling pressure to stay way past naptime and we can skip the high-stress areas. And I can go during the week when there are fewer people.

Today we went to Storybook Forest (because we got there before anything else was open) and we made sure to get in line to meet Spiderman and the Hulk right when they came out...before the line got crazy long, which it did. And as always, we rode the train...Aaron's favorite!


We always have so much fun at Idlewild! It really is a perfect amusement park for younger children. There are so many kiddie rides and you can avoid the "game traps" entirely if you pick the right path to walk on! Parking isn't too far, restrooms are abundant, and if you have to buy food there, it isn't insanely expensive. (We usually pack our lunch, or at least stop at one of the three Giant Eagle stores we pass to buy some berries and sandwich makin's.)

On the way out today, fully unprompted, Ian said, "Mommy? Thank you so much for taking us there today."

He can be sweet when he wants to be!

"Look mom! I'm a GIRRRRLLLLL!"


Meeting Spidey and the Hulk!


Having a brother means you (almost) always have someone to ride rides with!
(Sometimes brother isn't quite tall enough to ride, though.)

Don't even try to tell me you're not tired...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ian's Pictures

Ian asked me to take both of these pictures this week:

Ian & Grandma Miller

Yep. That's a donut hole kebab. From Oakmont Bakery.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Around Pittsburgh: North American Martyrs Festival

If you know the V5, you know we love a good local festival! I could seriously go to them every weekend (if we had the money!) so when one cropped up less than a mile from our house, we had to check it out. By my estimation, the first NAM Church Festival was a smashing success! Although the parking situation was a little crazy, it was very nice!


The kids' wristbands cost $5 & included unlimited bouncing, a face painting, a balloon animal, sand/spin art, and a little McDonald's toy. Seriously worth every penny!





Fastest Ferris wheel EVER!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Back to School Time Already? Label Everything!

I can't believe we're mid-July already. That's just crazy. Ian has 6 weeks until his last year of preschool begins. I don't know about your schools, but our school asks parents to label everything our child brings with him: backpack, jacket, clothing, shoes, school supplies, etc. Since Ian is the oldest of three and passes most of his belongings down to Aaron (and someday Lauren too), I don't like writing his name with permanent marker. So what's a mom to do?

We use Oliver's Labels!


Photobucket

Our labels say, "VANDERVORT Ian/Aaron/Lauren" on them so we can use them for all the kids. It has worked well. And they are cute labels! They are not super expensive as far as customized labels go. They stick to most everything and stick well! I used mini labels on the boys' Keen sandals this summer (since we are out of actual shoe labels) and they are still stuck after 8 weeks of mud, sand, creek walking, sweat, etc. Impressive.

If you'd like to order Oliver's Labels, I'd love if you would order through me. I'm a real, live sales agent for them and all you have to do to find my agent page is click on the image above or on the right side of the screen. It takes you directly to Oliver's Labels and you should see my name at the top of the page! Thanks in advance for your business! (I'm saving up to buy myself an Ergo Performance Carrier!)

And pass the word along about Oliver's Labels. They really are a fabulous way to make labeling your child's belongings for school easy, quick, and cute!

Photobucket

Saturday, July 9, 2011

When other kids hurt your kids...

Tonight we popped over to the playground for a couple of minutes. There was another little boy there with his grandpa. Ian was at the top of the slide, Roger was at the bottom. Aaron, Lauren & I were on the other end of the playground. I heard Roger say, "don't push him if he's not ready!"

I didn't know if it was Ian or Bobby* who was pushing at first, but the scene continued. (*I don't remember the boy's real name so I'm going to use Bobby.)

"Just come down, Ian. Excuse me? Don't push him on the slide," Roger said.

"Bobby! What did you doooooo?" Pappy said in a voice lacking any authority at all. Bobby didn't answer Pappy and Pappy didn't follow up. Roger encouraged Ian to do something else.

Fast-forward a couple minutes. Ian was minding his own business, trying to climb up the ladder to the slide. I didn't even see Bobby hiding behind the ladder on the other side until Ian came screaming across the playground holding his cheek.

"Mommmmmmeeeee?! That boy HIT ME ON THE FACE!"

"What? Are you serious?!" (I knew he was serious. Ian doesn't play like that and he was scared and upset. And he had a scratch mark on his face.)

Pappy did respond, but did not discipline Bobby at all. Not even a forced apology. Pappy apologized to Ian and I, but I had no idea what to say. I mean, my four year old just got assaulted on the playground. Two incidents involving the same aggressor. Ian was scared. He was really sad even after we got home he was still very upset about it.

We left the playground, hopefully in enough of a huff to show that the reason we were leaving was a bully on the loose. (And Pappy did apologize to us again as we crossed the parking lot.) But what do you say in situations like that?

I was at a loss for words. What do you say to the parent/guardian when something like that happens?

Especially when there was no disciplinary action at all! What kind of message does that send to my kid? Not only did Bobby just hit Ian, he didn't get in trouble for it. He didn't have to say he was sorry. He just... got away with it!

What do you say to your child when another child is physically mean to them?

We have "mean to me" incidents frequently within our family. It's just part of growing up with siblings. We do not have many physically violent interactions. If/when we do have hitting or kicking, it is immediately addressed and there are consequences. We. Don't. Hit. And Ian and Aaron know that. I'm pretty sure that's why it was so traumatic for Ian. Heck, it was shocking and traumatic for all of us.

It makes me so sad. I want to cry sitting here thinking about it. It's the first time Ian has ever really been hurt by another kid and it was awful.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who is this KID and what have you done with my BABY?

It's no secret we're inching ever closer to Lauren's first birthday. She's giving us tangible reminders all the time... like new teeth:

Taking Toddlers to Phipps Conservatory Pittsburgh!

I didn't include Phipps Conservatory on my Best Places in Pittsburgh for Toddlers post because, well, I didn't really think it was a great place for toddlers. The more we go, though, the more we enjoy it as a family with small children. (The kids are finally getting used to enjoying without touching everything and the weather is plenty warm enough to splash in the play fountain in the garden!)

My favorite time of year to go is the spring flower show, when the whole conservatory is bursting at the seams with daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. I haven't been there at Christmas yet, though, so we'll see!

Tips for taking toddlers:

  • Go early! Get there as soon as they open and beat the crowds. (There aren't usually tons of people there, but still, I think it's easier to have the place to ourselves!)
  • Get a "bingo" card for each kid and a little pencil at the ticket kiosk before you go in. The kids will at least want to find the squirrel, butterflies, and panda! Turn it in at the membership desk on the way out and get a prize from the basket!
  • Bring a towel and/or a change of clothes if it's hot out. There's a little fountain to splash in outside in the discovery garden.
  • On certain days they have tot time and also do activity stations for kids like planting a flower to take home! Check their website for all the details before you head out.
  • If you're planning on visiting more than once in a year, you can buy a membership for your family for unlimited entry! It's worth it, if you plan on hitting the fountain as often as we do!









I took these photos with my iPhone4. I'm actually amazed with the great quality of the photos it takes.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Welcome Home!

Too sweet not to share! This was the scene when Roger got home from his trip this evening.



Around Pittsburgh This Week

We also:

Tried to take pictures together

Played on the playground. (Baby no more! She got up there herself!)

And then did this!

Picked blueberries at Soergel's Orchard

Played peek-a-boo

Skated/Biked in the cul de sac

Found a feather in the back yard!