Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ellie's 1st Birthday Party

When Jesse and I finally started trying for a baby, there was one month we wanted to avoid having a baby - December! But, God laughed at our planning ways and BOOM - I'm pregnant and due December 26th! Luckily, I had her a week early, but I knew that we would need to make her birthday extra special and separate from Christmas. I've seen other people with birthdays around Christmas and their biggest complaint is always having their birthday lumped in with Christmas and not having their own special day. Some may think I did a lot for Ellie's 1st birthday, but I wanted to create a fun, themed party for her where her family and our close friends could come and celebrate her becoming a toddler. When planning her party, there was only one theme that I could think of that I knew she would love - KITTY CATS!! We had all the kids put on their kitty faces and eat Kitty Snacks (PB&J's), Meow (Chex) Mix, Fishies (goldfish), and Jello Kitties (Jigglers in cat shapes). We even used a kitten calendar from the dollar store to decorate the house with the pictures - Ellie loved those! Another detail was the most time consuming - the cake! A few years back, I took Wilton cake decorating classes so I could make my children's birthday cakes. After lots of planning, baking and making lots of icing, her cat cake was finished and turned out great - mission accomplished! Ellie got some great new toys that are age appropriate (finally!!) and she got to eat her first piece of true sugar - the ear of the cat! Some kids choose to play in it or smear it on their face and everywhere else, but my baby girl ate it like a finger food and took bites of it, making sure to get all the crumbs! HA! We sent all the kids home with their own "kitty treats" to thank them for coming. Overall, the party was a huge success and a good excuse to get everyone together under the same roof! She is so blessed to have so many people love and celebrate her!

1 Year Old

Ellie is officially 1 year old, I can't believe it! She is no longer considered an infant, but now a toddler. It's crazy how fast it seems that this year has flown, but at the same time, there were moments that dragged on FOREVER! She is starting to really develop her "look" and it's a guessing game each day on who she looks like more. Here's a list of a few things about her that are new:

1. Tooth #8 cut through this past week so she has the middle four top and bottom teeth now. She is able to chew/bite into her food well.

2. She is starting to eat more of the same food as us, which is great! I still chop or cut stuff up for her compared to how we eat it, but she loves picking food up and feeding herself (definitely some independence in her personality).

3. She is weaned from the bottle to a sippy cup for her formula (soon to be milk). She is also only drinking a "bottle" when she wakes up and before she goes to bed.

4. She has really started laughing (see earlier video post) and enjoys doing it the most with her Daddy (especially at bath time).

5. She isn't walking yet, but she can stand on her own for a while and we've seen her getting more confident to start trying soon when she goes from the couch to the table without falling or when she pops up with her butt in the air in a sort of push up position.

6. She has gotten ear infection #2 this past week, but is feeling much better.

7. She can crawl up the stairs all by herself (hence baby gates being put up in the past 2 weeks).

8. She is fully in 12 month clothing, but will still not tolerate shoes or socks on her feet (her Mommy has a plan up her sleeves for this one).

9. She is much better at communicating than before with pointing and noises for the things she wants. She is also better at back and forth "talking" with us.

10. She still cries if we leave the room, but it's never for long.

Motherhood has completely changed my life with good days and bad, but the one thing that remains constant is an undescribable love for this child. I look at her and can't believe that she is mine, she is healthy, and I am one of her favorite people! Thank you, Lord, for giving me this amazing and beautiful baby girl.

Early Nashville Christmas

The Cragwall's decided to do an early Nashville Christmas with our extended family so we all packed up and headed over in shifts. Our first stop was on Friday evening at Nana's house. The Mullens' (Jesse's Uncle Spunky, Aunt Linda and Cousin Hannah) came over to visit with us as well and we exchanged presents. Nana gave Ellie a really neat book and the Mullens' gave Ellie some new bath toys she loves and a stuffed animal with a blanket. She had met Nana and Aunt Linda before, but had not met Spunky or Hannah. Suprisingly, she went right to Hannah the moment she met her! Ellie also loved Nana (and especially the necklace she was wearing)! It was a nice visit with that portion of the family. We left and met up with Jason and Lena Cox for dinner at Cracker Barrell and then we went to their house for the night and stayed with them (thank you!). Lena had to work in the morning, but Jason took us out to Waffle House for breakfast! :) We then did some errands and headed over to the Fuller's House (Uncle Cecil, Aunt Jana and Cousins Evan, Jansen and Spencer). Jesse's Uncle Jeff also joined us for a yummy brunch and then presents! Ellie got a new Winnie the Poo stacker toy that she loves to dance with when the music comes on and some fabric ornaments for the bottom of our Christmas tree from the Fuller's. She loved being around her cousins and getting all the attention she got! Despite the bad weather on the way back, it was a great day with family. We took this video of Ellie with her counsin Taylor as they were playing with this singing snowman and dog - Ellie really liked it and danced to the music!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Best Sound on Earth

There is nothing like the sound of a child laughing - it is the best thing in the world! Jesse was playing with her and she started play hitting Jesse on his stomach and he would act like she got him good. Oh boy did it make her laugh!

Ellie's 1st Parade

We attempted to go to the Knoxville Christmas Parade so that Ellie could see all the lights and hear the music. We joined up with Aunt Jamie downtown for a yummy dinner at Tomato Head and then headed down to Gay Street to see all the festivities. It was definitely a cold night so we were all bundled up, especially Ellie! At first, she was really excited about the parade...she saw dogs and horses and lights and music! Then, she gradually went into her observation mode and it wasn't making the impact I was hoping on her anymore. So, time to head out and go home! We made it through over half the parade, but didn't make it to Santa. Next year!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ellie Meets the Hardwick Clan

For Thanksgiving this year, we traveled to Macon, GA to meet up with my parents for a visit with the Hardwick side of our family. We haven't seen them since I was pregnant with Ellie, so we were excited to introduce Ellie to them all. My brother hooked us up with a great hotel suite and my parents did the RV thing at a beautiful park on the lake. We met up for a yummy dinner at S&S Cafeteria and then called it a night on Wednesday. Thursday, we had a slow morning at the hotel and met up with my parents at the RV after Ellie's morning nap. She had fun crawling around the RV and then we headed over to Bobbie Jo & Hugh Carver's house (Bobbie Jo was the caterer for our wedding - amazing cook!). One of the people I most wanted Ellie to meet was my Great Aunt Barbara. She was one of my grandmother's best friends and once Mama passed away, Aunt Barbara was our honorary grandmother. She is also Bobbie Jo's mom (for family connection). Ellie immediately liked Aunt Barbara and had a good time with her. She also really liked Bobbie Jo's husband, Hugh, as well as Jeanne (Bobbie Jo's sister-in-law). It was great to hang out with that side of the family for a while and catch up with them. It was also an amazing meal (as expected). Friday morning, we had a good breakfast, packed up and spent a little time with my parents before we headed back to Knoxville. We spent the rest of Thanksgiving weekend decorating for Christmas and spending some time with Jesse's family watching football. It was a great Thanksgiving, full of family, good food and rest. We are so thankful to have such a large family (Cragwall's and Hardwick's) that care about us!
(The following video is Ellie playing in the hotel...the best is at the end! - sorry it's sideways)

All sick - at the same time!

The last few weeks have been crazy for us - it started with Ellie getting sick from allergies and then Jesse got Bronchitis and gave some of his cold to me. First, Ellie started having allergy symptoms when the weather started changing - runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes - and then it lead to bad congestion and eventually an ugly cough. This was the first time Ellie has been really sick. So, I took her to the Dr and he gave her the good stuff - bubble gum medicine (amoxicillian) along with some allergy meds for her ear infection I had no idea she had. Well, 8 days later, my baby girl breaks out in a rash and hives! So, no more bubble gum medicine, lots of benedryl, and a new antibiotic (z-pack for kids). The rash finally goes away, but the ear infection, congestion and cough did not so a 3rd antibiotic was in order along with meds for reflux to stop the coughing. 3rd times a charm! Now, my baby is ear infection free, congestion free, and cough free! FINALLY!

I was sick with the common cold. I went through 2 Z-packs to clear it up, but oddly enough, some over the counter medication finally did the trick for me.

Now, on to Jesse. So he gets a cold that leads to lovely bronchitis. Well, he goes through an antibiotic and cough meds and they didn't work. Unfortunately, due to the coughing, it triggered a recurring spell he has had since he was 11 that only happens every few years. He started coughing up blood. Well, the last time this had happened was the week before he deployed to Iraq. He was checked out but they didn't do enough to find out what the cause was and in the past it always stopped. Well, this time, it started happening more frequent and it got to the point on Friday night (11/13) that it wouldn't stop. Ellie was sick and up crying and so Jesse had to drive himself to the ER. He ends up being sent to the pulmonary wing and then sent to ICU so they could sedate him to do a bronchial scope. This didn't produce any answers due to the amount of blood so they kept him in an induced coma so they could figure it out through radiology. They found that it was coming from a cluster of blood vessels on the lower lobe of his right lung and they used chemicals to basically internally cauterize the vessels. Then, they had to keep him sedated to prevent any coughing for 24 hours, so he was on a respirator and still in a drug induced coma. That was one scene in my mind that I wish I could forget. They kept him for 2 more days for observation, but thankfully, the procedure worked! We are hoping this is a long-term fix but if it happens again, we know what the problem is.

Whew...that's a lot of medical junk. We are thankful to be healthy and together. Thanks to all the family and friends that were praying for us!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quick Visit from Uncle Yar

Some of you that know my family know that my brother and I call each other "Yar". This has been a name that we have used since we were really young. Well, I have taught Ellie that my brother is Uncle Yar. Jonathan has a fabulous job that sometimes warrants a visit through Knoxville, whether he is driving through or flying some big whig here. He was able to drive through Knoxville a few weeks ago and came by the house to have some dinner and see Ellie. She really likes Uncle Yar and wanted him to hold her the entire time he was here. I love that she is getting to know both sides of our family and really likes our siblings. Thanks for coming by, Uncle Yar!

11 Months Old!

Ellie turning 11 months old has really hit me hard - only one more month until she is not an infant anymore...and I have a party to plan! This past month has been filled with some highs and some lows, but Ellie has been a trooper. We've dealt with the first ear infection, the first allergic reaction to the antibiotic (amoxicillian - bubble gum medicine) with a full body rash and hives, lots of Benedryl, more medicine and she is just now feeling better. She's had to stay out of her Parents Day Out program for the last 2 weeks (NOT COOL) but she is clear to go now. We've had to adjust to Daddy going back to work and lots of "Mommy & Ellie" time. Some new things that have happened this month:

1. She got her 5th tooth on her lower teeth and she is about to cut one on her upper gum.
2. She is no longer in the baby tub - we have graduated to the big girl tub but are trying to keep her from standing so much!
3. Her hair is so much thicker! I love it.

4. She walks on her walker and crawls very fast, but isn't quite in to the walking world.

5. She still loves cats (all animals in general but definitely likes cats the best) - thank you Lord!

6. She is wearing some 12 month clothes but is in the transition phase from 9 month to 12 month.

7. Her last weight check as of last week was 20 lbs 12 oz so we are GOLDEN on turning her car seat around next month!

8. She is much more responsive to things we say and likes to play "copy cat" when we do little things (i.e. shake our heads no and she will do the same)

9. She has entered into the I want mommy and daddy with me all the time phase recently and cries for a while if we leave her with someone.

10. She does great going to the grocery store and sitting in the cart!

11. She is eating a few of the things we eat but still getting a balanced diet of her fruits, veggies and meat.

We can't believe how much time has passed since those insanely tired, frustrating first few weeks of being a parent. We are really looking forward to introducing Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and hope that she really enjoys all the festivities and family time she will get!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ellie's 1st Halloween

Halloween took on a different meaning this year when I had a little girl to dress up and show off! By no means do I support ghosts and goblins, but I think it's a fun holiday for kids. They get to play dress-up and get free candy! This year, Jesse's parents hosted a Cragwall Halloween Party so they could see the kids dressed up and all of us could get together. We had a great dinner together and played a fun game with the kids. Ellie had a blast being around everyone, especially Parker, Taylor and the family dog, Jake. Grandmommy gave out lots of treats, including a new rubber ducky and a Halloween book for Ellie. Thanks, Grandmommy!

On the actual day of Halloween, we dressed up Ellie in her kitty costume again for all the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. She LOVED seeing all the kids at the door, so much that she reached for me each time she heard the doorbell. Everyone thought she was adorable in her outfit and all she could do was smile and grunt at all the kids. Jamie came over and donated her candy to all the kids that came out and we still ran out! I love the fact that we live in a neighborhood full of kids that participate in things like this - when you have a child of your own, it takes on a whole new meaning!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jesse's New Job

So, one of the many challenges we had from getting out of the Army was for Jesse to find a job while he's in school. After many frustrating attempts at various prospects, Jesse found an opportunity with One Vision International! Jesse called John Miller (founder, Exec Director) and asked if there were any opportunities to work with him back in June, primarily with the work his organization is doing in Haiti. Low and behold John had been wanting to create a position that would eventually take over the work in Haiti since it has become so much work in the last few years. Since John had wanted to add this position, he was elated to have the chance to hire Jesse and jumped right on it. After a long process of going through the board and creating the position, Jesse was hired and started last week. He just returned from a 4 day trip to Haiti to network and see what progress has been made and what needs are there. This is a job that will go hand in hand with his research in graduate school, so the opportunity is a win-win. I am so proud of my husband for seeking out this opportunity and finding a job PERFECT for him! If you want to check out this organization and the work they are doing, go to We have supported this non-profit for a long time - John was in our small group at church before we even went into the Army. Check it out and if you are interested in getting involved, let us know!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10 Months Old!

Well, another month has passed and Ellie has changed and grown even more! Our little girl is so stinkin' cute and makes us laugh all the time. Some of ther new accomplishments are:

1. She is down to 3 bottles a day and more on a normal eating time schedule with us. It's nice to eat meals together at the table now.

2. She was 19lbs 8 oz last week at the doctors office. Getting closed to that 20lb mark!

3. She has ANOTHER tooth! One of her bottom teeth next to the 2 middle ones have cut through. Everyone keeps telling us how crazy it is that she has so many teeth already!

4. She can walk with her walker a few steps on her own (scroll down to see past blog entry for video of this).

5. She converses with me back and forth with her sounds. I'm trying to teach her some sounds and words and she will "answer" me with one she knows.

6. She is pulling herself up and standing holding on to EVERYTHING!

7. She's been going through a phase of "I want Mommy" the last few weeks but it hasn't been too bad.

8. She is eating finger foods like cheese cubes, toast pieces, cheerios, and avacado. She also loves to drink ice cold water from a cup like a normal adult.

9. She is much more fun to take to the store now that she can sit up well in her seat cover!

10. She can crawl much better up on her knees and hands, especially when she is on carpet.

Ellie is a beautiful baby girl and we fall in love with her more and more each day. In my mother's words, "She is such a good baby!" I love watching her around our family and recognizing people. Hope you have enjoyed the update!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Why I LOVE Fall

Here is the view from my driveway, at the front of our subdivision. This is why I LOVE Fall!

Date Day

Thanks to our generous friends, The Mason's, we were able to plan a date day baby free. It was great timing for us. Jesse's mom watched Ellie all day (THANK YOU) to give us the time to devote to each other. We went on a hike to House Mountain (off Rutledge Pike) and had an amazing time. The view was awesome and the weather was perfect! Here is a little video from our view at the top of the ridge:

We went to lunch at Horn of Plenty (a little country store up the road from our house) and had the usual amazing catfish and southern sides. We showered and got ready for our evening. Then, we went to visit Becca and Steve to meet their new little boy, Thad (Ellie isn't allowed to go so it was perfect timing). We rented a movie and watched part of it before going to the Melting Pot for dinner. We had this French themed 4 course dinner with a cheese fondue, salad, lots of different meats and then an AWESOME white chocolate creme brulee fondue. It was an amazing treat to go there and to have a day to devote to each other. We had great discussion, lots of laughts, and we even did our usual strategizing of the future! I love my husband more and more and I am so happy to have had such great quality time with him. Thanks to the Sr Cragwall's for babysitting and the Mason's for the date $$!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Braggin' on My Baby Girl

Check out what she can do now after only a few days of having this toy! :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Duck Duck Goose Consignment Supporter

It's all Becca's fault (my bff). She sent me to this twice a year consignment sale called Duck Duck Goose ( and it was AWESOME! I got Ellie a few clothes and staples for the winter for super cheap, like a good winter coat and fleece and some pants and sleepers, but more importantly, I got her some big girl toys that she has needed. She is getting bored with the toys she has so it was time to get her some that encouraged standing and playing, since that's pretty much all she wants to do now. So, here are her 3 new toys that she is really enjoying! I will definitely be returning to this sale when it happens again in March!

Hosting Company

My brother and his wife flew down yesterday to visit us (an excuse to see Ellie). We took Ellie out to the Island Home Airport to see them fly in and pick them up.
We went to Horn of Plenty (a little country store down from our house) for a southern lunch and then spent the rest of the day at our house watching football, catching up, eating and relaxing. I love it when Ellie gets to spend time with my family since they aren't around on a regular basis. Ellie really likes Jonathan and Jennifer - she was super smiley and definitely was showing off her new skills to them. We are so glad that we didn't have to wait until Christmas to see them!


Lilypie Third Birthday tickers