Adelie and Staley's World

Adelie and Staley's World

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Letter

*Many of you have received our Christmas letter this year, but as this blog is as much for us as it is for you, I'm posting it here as well.  So if you've already read our letter, feel free to skip this blog post and check back later when I post something that isn't old news.

Dear Santa,

We don’t have an elf on our shelf, but I know you’ve probably been keeping an eye on us throughout the year.  For what it’s worth, I think I’ve been pretty good.  True, I haven’t shown the self-control necessary to lose the last of my baby weight (from my now 9 month old baby.)  My patience for toddler tears over ridiculous things (like being ‘too wet’ after a bath) has worn a little thin.  And I’ll admit.  Sometimes I intentionally bump my soundly sleeping husband as I’m getting into or out of bed in the middle of the night to feed a crying baby.  But all things considered, I still think I’ve done enough to slide onto the ‘good’ list.  And to be honest, I’m not really asking for anything for myself this year.  I already have a job I love with the perfect part-time schedule.  (In case you’re curious, I just work 2 days/week at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois as a pediatric occupational therapist.)  Both my daughters are happy and healthy.  My husband is loving and helpful.  We finished our basement this year, enjoyed a week in Michigan, and are surrounded by wonderful family and friends.  So this year, I just have a few Christmas wishes for my family instead.

Let’s start with Adelie.  This will be her first Christmas as she was born in March of this year.  She’s my happy, active, adventurous, wrecking ball of a baby girl.  She is on the move and likes emptying shelves, eating things she finds on the floor, getting into whatever her big sister is playing with, and crawling after the cats.  I’m sure if you are going off her list, you probably have a few empty water bottles or tasty pieces of paper in your sack of gifts for her.  However, I’d like to make another request.  All I ask is for you to bring her something so wonderful that it will cause her to sit still in quiet amazement for long periods of time.  And if I can be so bold as to ask for 2 gifts on Adelie’s behalf, I’m sure she would enjoy consistently sleeping through the night.

Now I’m sure your sack is overflowing with Staley’s gifts.  As my almost 3 year old, Staley is no longer a toddler.  She has become a little girl—my talkative, social, opinionated, independent, confident, imaginative, sweet, happy little girl.  Staley loves singing and dancing, princesses and mermaids, horses and Dora.  I’m sure the Sophia doll she wants is already wrapped up and ready to go.  But my little girl has outgrown many things in this past year.  She is done with diapers (hooray) and naps (boo).  My Christmas wish for Staley is to continue to outgrow her toddler ways so that we she can enjoy consistently stable emotions and tear-free days.

Zach’s a little trickier.  Like me, he doesn’t need much.  He is now supervising the Financial Statement Unit at State Farm…and loves it.  He decided not to run for city council again so that he has more time home with his girls.  He fits in a little running, a little teaching, and plenty of Play-Doh and princesses.  This may be a tall order, but some miraculous maneuvering to get the Bears into the play-offs and, if possible, a Super Bowl win would be the icing on the cake for an already great year for Zach.

Jake and Elwood never really change.  They have a plethora of places to sleep, plenty of food and water, and enough exercise from trying to stay away from Adelie.  Save yourself the sleigh space.  They don’t need anything.

Thanks for your consideration.  If you feel like you need a little more information before making your decision about whether or not we will end up on the ‘nice’ list, you can always check out our blog at  Otherwise, enjoy the cookies and I’ll look forward to a little more quiet, a little more sleep, a few less tears, and a Bear’s Super Bowl win.

Until next year,

Ellen Sancken

Staley's Words of Wisdom

Today on the way to the baby-sitters, we passed a bunch of cars parked along both sides of the road that the baby-sitter lives on.

Me:  "There are a lot of cars on the road today."
Staley:  (very matter-of-factly) "Sometimes there are a lot of cars and sometimes there are a little cars.  That's just how a road works."

Thursday, December 26, 2013


There were many things that I worried about before having a second child.  I worried about neglecting one or the other, not being able to meet the needs of two children at the same time.   I wondered about how I would navigate outings.  I wasn't sure what our daily schedule would be like--how I would keep both children entertained and stimulated and well-rested and happy throughout the day.  I even wondered if I could love 2 children as fiercely as I did one.

And although parenting two can be tricky at times, those worries have generally been put to rest.  My girls can't be neglected because they have two loving parents...and more importantly, each other.  Getting out of the house takes a little longer, but my girls love a good outing.  Our daily schedule may not meet all of my needs (like having 2 girls napping at the same time), but we make it work.  And the love I feel for both my girls is beyond measure.  I can't say that I'm rocking it everyday, but I feel like we've got a pretty good handle on this parenting two kids thing.

Well, except for one thing.  There is one area that I didn't worry about.  Something I never really thought about before Adelie was born.  And something that has proven exponentially harder with 2 kids than it was with one.  We've tried lots of different ways to make it work.  It has caused tears and frustration and yes, even some minor injuries.  I'm hopeful that it will get easier as the girls get older, but for now I've almost given up.  So if anyone has any helpful hints, I'm all ears.  How in the world do you get a good picture of 2 children together???? 

IF (big if) I can get my 2 girls to stay together in the same place for any period of time, I get about 80 pictures that look like this...


But more often, I can't get them to pose together...

Yes, this started as an attempt at a photo op.
And yes, my older daughter is holding a handful of scratch off lottery tickets.
And yes, my younger daughter is making a break for it with her sister's headband.
Don't judge.
Or if they do pose together, it is VERY short lived...
Taken a few seconds before Adelie took a header off her perch.
And sometimes, one (or both) of them is just over having their picture taken.
Attempting sister pictures AFTER family pictures was just not going to happen.
And so, although miracles do happen and we occasionally get a photo like this...

to truly represent our daily life, next year's Christmas card should probably look more like this...
...because this is my life!

Nine Months

Nine months.  How can Adelie already be 9 months old?  In 9 short months, my snuggly, sleepy, mellow baby has turned into my smiley, vocal, active infant.  Her 9 month check-up is on Monday (so I don't have current stats), but Adelie remains long and lean.  She wears size 3 diapers and her 9 and 12 month clothes.  Adelie nurses 3-4 times/day, eats 3 meals, generally takes 2 naps (one long, one short), and remains wildly inconsistent with her nighttime sleep.  Some nights she sleeps for 5 hours at a time, and other nights for 12.  Your guess is as a good as mine.  She smiles big with her 6 teeth.  She spends her days smiling, laughing, playing,...and keeping me on my toes.

Likes:  Adelie is happy and social.  Her favorite activity: moving and getting into things.  She LOVES her sister, and wants to be a part of whatever Staley is doing.  Her play with toys remains fleeting, but she enjoys Little People, balls, books, stuffed animals, and anything Staley is playing with.  Adelie's favorite toys remain things that aren't toys:  phones, DVDs, paper, water bottles, socks,...  She likes playing peek-a-boo and looking in the mirror.  Adelie enjoys books with her favorites being those with flaps, buttons, sounds, or textures.  She is a great eater, preferring finger foods to being fed.  Current favorites include crackers, Puffs, fruit, toast, and yogurt melts. 

Always happy to be playing with toys

Dislikes:  Adelie gets fussy when she is hungry or tired.  She'll make in known when she is mad about something, like having a preferred item taken away, being stuck in her carseat when she's tired, or when she's lonely or bored.  Green veggies still aren't her favorite, especially when they start to get cold.

Skills:  Adelie remains my highly active, mobile little girl.  She is FAST--especially when she's headed toward something she shouldn't have.  She crawls, pulls to stand, cruises, and climbs.  She will now let go of something and stand for a few seconds before lowering to the ground.  Adelie will turn pages of a book, cover her face with a blanket for peek-a-boo, bang toys together, push buttons, and activate cause/effect toys.  She can finger feed and drink from a sippy cup by herself.  Adelie plays 'so big' and gives high fives.  She can sign 'more' and 'drink' (I think).  She is maybe starting to clap, but it's a work in progress.  Adelie makes lots of noises (squealing, grunting, growling, babbling), but we have declared 'dada' her first official word.  It also seems like she will occasionally say 'mama', but not consistently enough to declare it a word. 

Adelie is continually growing and changing, but there is one constant.  She continues to fill our lives with joy!!

My 9 month old

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


We spent a month preparing.  We shopped.  We baked.  We decorated.  We wrapped.

Helping make Oreo balls

Cookie decorating party with the Walles clan

Our Christmas started this past week-end.  We spent time with Zach's family, immediate and extended.  There was unwrapping.  There was playing.  There were cousins and grandparents, aunts and uncles.  There were gifts and food and visiting and fun. 

Staley with her Bradford cousins

Adelie and Papa

Wearing matching Christmas outfits while posing with Great-Grams

On Christmas Eve, we enjoyed the Festival of Lights and reading the Christmas story before bed.  Early Christmas morning--I mean, EARLY Christmas morning-- found us with an almost 3 year old who couldn't sleep.  Upset?  No.  Awake?  You bet.  Staley has a nightlight on her monitor that turns off after 15 minutes.  So from 3:30 until about 6:00, she would call for us every 15 minutes to turn her nightlight back on.  (Note to self:  Buy daughter a nightlight that stays on.)  Although she slept in, our tired girl started off her Christmas like this...

At least Adelie was pretty happy about Christmas morning

Staley rebounded nicely and we had a wonderful Christmas morning at home.  There were stockings and presents and playing, playing, playing, playing with our new stuff.

Like last year, Staley's stocking stuff was a highlight.  
Who knew that socks, underwear, and a new toothbrush could bring so much joy to a little girl.

Staley and Adelie checking out the new princess dolls

Adelie playing with her new 'house'

After a fun morning at home and a nice Adelie nap, we headed to Morton for one last family gathering.  More cousins.  More presents.  More food.  More fun.  And let's be honest.  A few more tears.

The Walles cousins

Adelie's best attempt at opening a gift.
She was generally more interested in playing with the wrapping paper and boxes.

A valiant effort at a Walles family photo.  
Unfortunately, Staley was ending her day just like it started.

It was a wonderful Christmas season.  We enjoyed family.  We enjoyed friends.  We gave.  We received.  We celebrated.  And now...we rest.  


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!!

Wishing you love and joy as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Monday, December 23, 2013

It's a First

She looks like her Daddy.  She inherited her Daddy's early mobility and decreased need to nap.  She has her Daddy's easy temperament.  So it is only fitting that Adelie's first official word is...


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

She's So Good to Me

On our trip to the grocery store today, I told Staley she could pick out 2 boxes of fruit snacks.  She picked out Kung Fu Panda ("the panda ones") and My Little Pony.  Scanning the shelves, I pointed out, "Look, Staley!  They have Mickey Mouse ones now."  Staley replied concedingly, "Okay, Mommy.  We can get 3."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

And Then There Were...

6!  In the past two days, Adelie has cut two more teeth.  Her next bottom right tooth came in yesterday, and the bottom left one broke through today.  Here's hoping that's why she was up twice last night.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Life With a 2-Year Old

Today I watched Liam for the day since his baby-sitter was off.  (Liam is Staley's cousin and birthday twin.) He and Staley were playing with Play-Doh in the playroom while I was feeding Adelie breakfast.  All of a sudden, I heard loud crying.  I rushed into the playroom to find both Staley and Liam in tears.  I asked Liam, "What happened?" (Based on the serious crying, I assumed there was some hitting, pushing, or toy stealing that had ensued.)  Liam responded through his tears, "I wanted to help Staley."  Confused, I asked Staley, "Why are you crying?"  She sobbed, "Liam was helping me, and I wanted to do it by myself."

There was no physical injury.  There was no lack of sharing or stealing a favorite toy or saying something mean.  Just a lot of tears over one child trying to help another.  And that, my friends, is life with a 2 year old.

My Little Wrecking Ball

Staley at 8 months was content to sit and play, read book after book after book, and delicately pick one card after another out of the Christmas card basket.  I thought that's what little girls were like.  Not my Adelie.  She never stops moving.  EVER!  She plays with toys in short bursts, but would rather empty the shelves, find something to eat on the floor, knock down whatever Staley is building, swipe everything off the table in the playroom, pull to stand on an unstable object, pull it over while falling down, and move on.  Adelie spends most of bath time trying to stand up.  Getting her dressed and changing her diaper is more like a wrestling match.  And keeping her quiet and entertained in church?  Let's just say that she will be going to the nursery starting next week.

The other day while playing in the playroom, I walked across the room to look at what Staley was coloring.  By the time I turned back around, Adelie had crawled onto the chair in the playroom and had pulled to stand at the mirror.  And like any good mom, I quickly grabbed my camera before removing my daughter from the dangerous situation she was in.

I love my daughter.  I love that she has her own unique personality and set of strengths.  But I'll admit.  By the end of the day at home with her, I'm exhausted.

Checking out our Christmas cards

In the 2 minutes it took me to get my shoes and coat

She's my little wrecking ball...and she sure is happy about it.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

No More Christmas Surprises

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Staley couldn't contain her excitement about the ornament she got me for Christmas.  The secret came out, and it is now hanging proudly on our tree.  She also told Zach what she picked out for him for Christmas the evening after we got it.

Yesterday, I took Staley and Adelie to the Hallmark store to pick up a few Christmas gifts for Staley's Sunday School teachers.  As we were walking through the store, we passed a display of necklaces.  Staley said, "I like the necklaces.  I got you the orange one for Christmas."

Staley is sweet and thoughtful and honest.  Too honest.  And definitely not good at keeping secrets.


When you are only a few years into life, it's difficult to figure out what is real and what is not.  How is it that exotic animals like zebras and rhinos are real while unicorns are not?  Why can whales and dolphins live in the ocean but not mermaids?  Magic wands.  Flying horses.  Fairies.  Talking animals.  So many of the objects of fascination in Staley's life, the things that she watches in her cartoons and reads about in books, are not real.  Staley is still trying to figure this out.

Staley was disappointed at Halloween when she realized that her mermaid costume was simply a costume.  She had hoped to turn into a real mermaid, and realizing that she still had feet and not just a fin was a major disappointment.  But she has not let go of this dream.  The other day, out of the blue, Staley informed me, "I will not be a real mermaid for a long time because I will have to be by the water where the real fairies are."  And yesterday after running into one of her little friends at the grocery store, she told me, "When I am a real mermaid, I will let Kyli come to my house so she can see my fin."  So when you hear that we have moved by a large body of water inhabited by fairies and that Kyli is coming over, it's quite possible that our daughter has, in fact, become a mermaid.

Flying horses are a regular part of one of the shows that Staley enjoys.  With her fascination with horses, you can only imagine how exciting the prospect of a flying horse would be.  A few weeks ago as we were leaving the house to run errands, Staley asked, "When we are done at the grocery store, can we get a flying horse?"  Generally one to join in with Staley's imaginary play, I said, "Sure" (thinking that we'd play 'flying horse' in the basement when we got home).  After stopping at a few places, we pulled into the garage.  Immediately Staley told me, "We forgot to get my flying horse."  I responded, "I think the flying horse is in the basement."  Staley corrected me by saying, "I want to get a real flying horse."  At that point, I explained to her that flying horses aren't real.  They are pretend, but we could pretend to ride flying horses.  And my heart broke as Staley's eyes filled with tears and she tried to hold them back.  They were tears of disappointment, and I hated that I stole a little of Staley's belief that anything is possible.

Navigating this world of real and pretend is tricky.  Not just for children, but for parents as well.  I love Staley's imagination, but I also feel like it's part of my job as a parent to teach my children what is real and what is not.  But where is the line between a child with a good imagination making up stories versus telling lies?  And how do we keep the magic innocence of childhood alive without misleading our children with false information? 

As Staley gets older, I struggle each year with Santa.  I want Staley and Adelie to realize that Christmas is about Jesus.  I want them to know that Jesus is real, and that Santa is not.  We don't do gifts from Santa.  We don't talk much about Santa.  I don't really want to do the Santa thing.  But as Staley is getting older and older, it gets trickier.  Santa is part of several of the Christmas activities we enjoy.  All her friends talk about Santa.  I don't want her to wonder why Santa doesn't bring her presents, but I also don't want to be so truthful before she's ready that she becomes that pre-schooler who tells all her friends that Santa isn't real.  The only thing I know to do is take things day by day, month by month, year by year.  To make the decisions we think are best in the moment, understanding that we are going to make mistakes along the way.  To raise our children by being honest with them in hopes that, as they get older, they will be honest with us.  Mermaids may not be real.  Flying horses may not exist.  Staley and Adelie may not grow up believing in Santa.  But hopefully they will still believe that anything is possible.  In miracles.  And in the fact that, even grounded in reality, life can be magical.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Staley Quote of the Day

While trying to go potty before bedtime:
"I don't need to go pee pee or poo poo.  I'm going to do zero things."

Christmas Fun

Christmas is coming up fast.  We enjoyed the Polar Express last week-end, and this week-end again found us enjoying some Christmas-y activities.

On Saturday, we went to State Farm to meet Santa.

Staley didn't want to sit on Santa's lap, but happily told him what she wanted.

Adelie was the opposite.  She was happy to sit on his lap, but wasn't real vocal about what she wanted.

We also enjoyed the opportunity to take some festive pictures.

Zach and I did most of the Christmas decorating on Saturday night after the girls went to bed, but we left some ornaments for Staley to put on the tree.  We also got an advent calendar for this year.  So on Sunday morning, we had some fun decorating time as a family.

Staley enjoyed putting her ornaments on the tree, although many of them ended up in the same general area.

Adelie enjoyed trying to climb into the ornament box.

Staley and Adelie with the advent calendar.
Staley wasn't too keen on the 'only putting one ornament on each day' plan.  So according to our calendar, Christmas is already here.

To top off our week-end of Christmas fun, Staley sang in her very first church Christmas program this afternoon.  She'd been practicing her 2 songs for the past several weeks, and enjoyed her 2 minutes of fame. 

She did some singing...

and some turning around to see the other kids.

I love Christmas.  I love all the Christmas festivities.  And I love enjoying the magic of Christmas through the eyes of my children.

Here's looking forward to more Christmas fun!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Toddlers want to keep you on your toes.  It's what they do.  It's how they're wired.  And so once you think you've got them figured out, they switch things up.  It may be because they are still growing and changing so quickly.  It may be because there are too many things to experience in life to settle on just one.  Or it may just be to confuse, exhaust, and exasperate their parents.  Whatever the reason, toddlers are fickle.

Staley is no exception to this rule.  Her thoughts and opinions, likes and dislikes can change at a moments notice.  When anyone asks what she wants for Christmas, she always has an answer.  True to form, however, it has seldom been the same answer twice.  Sometimes it's a princess dress.  Sometimes it's a purple Hello Kitty car.  Sometimes it's a trampoline.  Today it was a Sophia doll.  And because it will probably change again tomorrow, I just got her what I think she'll like...and hopefully that will be what she wants on Christmas day.

It's not just her Christmas list that is forever changing.  She has also had about 6 different decisions about her birthday party theme.  It's not uncommon for her to proclaim her dislike for a food that she chowed down the last time we had it.  On the other hand, she will now ask to eat foods (like prunes) that I couldn't even bribe her to eat 2 months ago.  Her favorite show, her favorite princess, her favorite character changes on an almost daily basis.  If I set her plate at a big chair, she wants to sit in her booster.  If I give her a big-girl cup, she wants a lid.  If I pick out the Dora pajamas, she wants her owl ones.  I think that toddler independence dictates that if someone chooses something for you, you must automatically choose something else.  Thus the ever-changing desires of the toddler are born.

Staley continues to have definite opinions about what she wants to wear.  And although her almost outgrown 'I love to twirl' dress remains a constant favorite, her changing opinions extend to her wardrobe as well  And her biggest recent change--her pants.  For months, Staley would only wear 'soft pants.'  Even the mention of jeans or khaki pants could bring her to tears.  About two weeks ago, as I was about to loan out all her jeans since I'd given up trying to get her to wear them, Staley changed her mind.  Now she chooses to wear jeans or khaki pants most days.   Go figure.

There are a few certainties in the life of our toddler.  Fruit snacks.  Twirly dresses.  Horses.  Dora.  Everything else is a revolving carousel of change.  And all we can do is just sit back and go along for the ride.

Polar Express

To kick off our holiday season, we once again took Staley to Monticello, IL to ride the Polar Express.  As we felt Adelie would still be too young to appreciate it (and it's a long car ride and it would be past her bedtime and we didn't want to end up being those people who bring a tired, crying baby on the train), Adelie stayed home with Grammie.  Staley enjoyed her special alone time with us.

The experience itself was exactly the same as last year.  There was a golden ticket, cookies and hot chocolate, dancing girls, songs, a reading of the Polar Express story, a train trip to the North Pole, a bell, and a somewhat creepy Santa.  The only difference was that Santa did not make Staley cry.  Instead, she was excited to show him her bunny toy that she got in her Happy Meal before the trip and was ready to tell him that she wanted a princess dress for Christmas.  Zach told her that Santa might ask her if she's been good to which Staley replied, "I went pee pee and a little bit of poo poo."  It was true that she had done both those things before boarding the train, although I'm not sure if that is Santa's only criteria to get on the good list.

Cheesing with her golden ticket

Staley and Santa

All in all, it was a great way to start our holiday season.  And because Staley has been good this year (both with her potty skills and otherwise), a princess dress may just find its way under the tree.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

New Year's Resolution

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions.  I generally don't make them.  But yesterday at work, I received the motivation I need to make my official New Year's resolution for 2014.  I was walking towards the hospital to see a child for therapy.  As I passed a random stranger walking the other way, she smiled at me and said, "Looks like you're going to have a little one."  I looked right at her, said "nope", and continued on my way.

And therein lies my New Year's resolution.  I don't really care what the scale says.  I'm happy with how my clothes fit.  I don't feel the need to work back into my pre-kids skinny jeans.  My goal for 2014 is no longer look pregnant.  But until 2014, bring on the Christmas goodies!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The First Gift of Christmas

I had to work on Friday after Thanksgiving, so Zach stayed home with the girls.  He took them to the Hallmark Store in town, and Staley picked out something for me for Christmas.  When I got home, she told me that she got me a surprise, but it was a secret.  I was impressed by her ability to keep the cat in the bag.

Well, it lasted 2 days.  Zach and Staley went and picked out a Christmas tree on Saturday morning.  On Sunday morning, Staley told me, "I'm going to give you your surprise."  I said, "I think it's a surprise for Christmas.  Let's wait until Christmas."  Staley responded, "I will give it to you after breakfast.  It's an ornament."  She REALLY wanted to give it to me so I could put it on the tree.

And so, the first gift of Christmas has been given.  It's a red, sparkly heart ornament with a nurse's cap in the middle.

And I couldn't love anything more!

Question of the Day

Which is better?

A daughter who sleeps through the night for two straight weeks and then stops
one who never gave you a taste of a full night's sleep to begin with?

Trick question.  Neither is better because either way I'm still up in the middle of the night.