1: "We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have." FREDERICK KEONIG
2: September 24th, 2013 at about 6pm I called my mom to tell her that I thought my water broke. Venessa and my mom came over right away to drive me to the Hunter Family Center for Women's Health in Lake Forest, IL. They verified that a new family member was about to enter the world and we realized he or she would be joining the 9/25 posse comprised of: my mom, Uncle Ron Kraut, Liam Markadonis and Great Grandma Mabel Watkins.
3: The initial plan was to deliver naturally, but after my water broke before active labor started and I was not dilating after 2 hours of intense contractions I opted for the epidural. It was an amazing difference. I was ready to begin pushing at about 7a.m on September 25th.
4: Dr Adam Cohan announced, at 8:57am, "It's not a boy" after a discussion between Travis and my mom about what gender the baby would be during the last stages of labor. Claire Myrna Joy Hilligoss was born 7 pounds 1 oz and 18 inches
9: Meeting Claire Myrna
13: "Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE
14: Happy Grandparents
15: Time to go home! 9-27-13
16: Welcome Home Baby Girl | Grandma, Uncle Allen, Aunt Violette, and Uncle Thomas worked very hard to clean and decorate the house to welcome baby Claire home. It was beautiful and very well appreciated.
18: "Children are a wonderful gift. They have an extraordinary capacity to see into the heart of things and to expose sham and humbug for what they are." DESMOND TUTU
19: Granny is very honored to have a great granddaughter named after her
20: I think this pose in utero was the biggest reason for the persistent pain in my back at the end of pregnancy. For the first month or so Claire kept her one leg kicked out most of the time.
21: We had to take you back to the hospital on Sept 29th because you lost so much weight, were lethargic, and very jaundice. Daddy and I were pretty scared, but you were tough and such a good natured baby- the nurses commented on how little you fussed even when getting your blood drawn.
22: Ticket to your first rave! As sad we were that you had to be back in the hospital we made a lot of fun memories here- with your cool rave look and our first poop explosion! It was nice to have nurses there to help us clean up from that one! | Claire and Jake's first picture together
23: We had an appointment scheduled to get your newborn pictures done on the day we found out you had to be hospitalized. Our photographer, Jocelyn, was very understanding and we rescheduled for October 3rd. We were so happy with the way the shoot turned out.
24: "Sweet little C. She was such a doll today." -Jocelyn, Windows in Time Photography
27: "A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them." VICTOR HUGO
29: First Bath | Contrary to how the pictures look, Claire really seemed to enjoy her first bath
30: Aunt Dana was able to come visit much earlier than expected. We were both so happy she was able to meet Claire at such a young age. I went with her to Six Flags for my first trip away from my little girl.
31: Everyone said Claire looked so much like me after seeing this picture. | I drove by a grocery store with a huge pumpkin display and thought it would be great for some Halloween themed photos.
32: Claire visited more places in her first month of life than most people do in a year! I expect her to have the "travel bug" like her parents and will definitely encourage her to see the world and sample all it has to offer. "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." SAINT AUGUSTINE
33: Claire's first Bear's party | Aunt Diane | Aunt Jessyka | Great Uncle Mike and Gumpa
34: "... he will be our friend for always and always and always." RUDYARD KIPLING
35: Baby's first Girl's Night at Aunt Kim's in Indiana was also the day that Claire turned 1 month old! | Uh oh... already reaching for the wine bottle. Daddy and I refer to her as a milk drunkard but this is a little too much
37: Claire, Mama, and Daddy's pumpkins.
38: Aunt Nat called for a clown theme for this year's Halloween party.
40: Poor Claire's first shots. Luckily, she calms down very quickly after it's all over. She gained almost all the weight she lost after birth back.
41: Meeting Uncles Justin and Ryan for the first time at Maggiano's | First snow of the year and Claire's life on November 11th.
42: 2 months old today! Claire weighed 9 lbs 8 oz Visiting the Field Museum and chilling in an Apatosaurus footprint.
43: First Thanksgiving. The turkey weighed quite a bit more than Claire though the pictures don't really reflect that. Everything was delicious. When Granny took the picture in the upper right she said she was with three of her favorite things: Claire, Jess, and coffee.
44: Great Grandma Shirley and Marc came to visit in the beginning of December. It was a great visit and we were able to take the big family photos that have been impossible to get due to everyone's different schedules the past couple years.
45: First big smiles on Dec 10th
47: Claire came to Macomb with Mama for Christmas drill. The weather was awful and it took forever to get there. I got a bit scared driving and Claire had a huge blowout minutes before we reached the hotel. Our first trip was fun anyway and we got her first picture with Santa.
48: "A daughter is a day brightener and a heart warmer." Unknown | Celebrating Christmas early with Gammy and Gumpa. The rocking hippo is super cute.
49: Claire and I took a road trip to Saint Louis to meet all of Gammy's family and celebrate the holiday. Aunt Dana came to the Christmas party with us. We renamed the whole family and referred to each other the rest of the night by our new monikers.
50: Great, Great Grandpa Ralph thinks Claire is "a dandy" | After St. Louis Claire and I went to Austin, IN. | One day is not enough, but even though the trip was short it made Claire's Great Grandparents very happy
52: Christmas Eve at Granny's house- the theme was Ugly Sweaters | Most everyone brought a change of clothes | Christmas at Granny's is a packed house! Always a fun and happy time.
53: First family Christmas and Claire turned 3 months!
54: First family Christmas with the Grandkids. There is no doubt about it; we are spoiled rotten and our children will be loaded up with gifts this time of year as well. It was a morning filled with smiles.
55: Aunt Venessa made two skirts and headbands for Claire. At first I thought they were some kind of drape for when she got her first haircut. I felt like an idiot. Claire looked so cute in her new outfits. | I got a beautiful necklace that says Claire's name and birth date from Ness. I love it. We are really lucky to have such a loving and generous family to share the holidays with. After presents was a big dinner including a delicious beef roast.
56: New Year's Eve party at my house. We are thinking of cutting out some of the courses next year- it's so hard to get all the traditions done before midnight!
58: After ringing in the New Year a number of people bundled up and headed to the park to go sledding. | "Good parties create a temporary youthfulness." MASON COOLEY
59: Three generations of goofballs taking pictures of themselves after a long night of partying. Claire was definitely ready for bed and Mama learned a valuable lesson: Don't lick your baby. "Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties." HELEN KELLER
60: At her 4 month check, Claire weighed 12 lbs, 3.5 oz and was 23.5 inches long. We were told to be extra diligent with "tummy time" because she had a big bald spot on the back of her head. | 4 months today
61: We went to Springfield on Jan 31st with Daddy when he had to get his DA Photo taken. We found out that day that he was promoted to 1LT! | This was the first day that I saw Claire hold herself up in a standing position. | Claire had a lot of fun playing with the hotel mirrors and in the hotel bathtub on our first family mini vacation.
62: Carrying Claire like this always seemed to calm her down quickly. | Claire got a prize at Gameworks in Schaumburg
63: Claire loved her first time in the pool- the water was very warm
67: It is so fun to watch Claire's personality emerge- she was really goofing around with that red blanket and cracking me up. | Deggy is still the best and most reliable way to calm her down at this point- especially when first getting put in the car seat. | Claire started paying more attention to the pets this month. | Aunt Violette and Uncle Thomas started watching Claire so that she could be more stimulated and hopefully spend more time off her back.
68: Grandma is always calling Claire her little Kewpie doll as of late. It is hard to deny the resemblance with her round face and big eyes. The way her hair is sort of sticking up in the back in these pictures adds to the image even more. Grandma is always pointing out that Claire loves Grandpa best; he WAS the first person to get her to smile.
69: We really need to make more time to spend at Granny's. She loves to see her Great Grandchildren and the rest of the generations. We always have a good time and great food.
70: Claire had a number of nicknames at this point: Dactyl Baby Zombaby Sucker Fish Claire Bear Clairebee Clarice (Aunt Violette) Clara (Uncle Thomas) Cwaire (Aunt Nat and Wendy) Claire Myrna Joy Chow (Jaja) Baby Girl Chubber Cheekers
71: Claire has always loved to stand up and she was having a blast playing a game where she fell back on a pile of pillows and then would go from laying down to sitting to standing. We also were fortunate enough to be able to bring Claire to many restaurants because she was so well behaved | Stella and Ruby really love hanging out with Claire. They like to decorate her and balance toys on her. The more mobile she is getting the more fun they have with her. Stella goes to great lengths to get Claire smiling. Maybe one day Stella will be babysitting!
72: Aunt Venessa and Claire had a fickle relationship in the beginning. In all pictures of them in the past Claire looked pretty miserable. Finally, at Granny's, she was able to get her to smile playing rocket ship. | Jake is getting so big!
73: Luckily, Claire seems to have inherited Mama's ability to fall asleep almost anywhere and in positions that would be pretty uncomfortable for most people. She is so great to cuddle with.
74: The military ball was a lot of fun this year. There were so many people in attendance and I was able to see some people I haven't in a very long time. We thanked our Battalion Commander LTC Padavana for her great service as she was leaving command. I am especially grateful to her for being my mentor and helping me to get company command as quickly as I did. I have definitely made some wonderful friends throughout my military career so far.
75: While I was at the Brigade Ball, Claire was spending her first overnight with Gammy, Gumpa and Uncle Matt. She was very good from what I was told though she woke up very suddenly at one point with a loud cry that had Gumpa running into the room demanding Gammy give him the baby. He later admitted he didn't know what he was planning to do though to calm her down...
76: The cousins love to hang out at Grandma and Grandpa's with Uncle Thomas and Aunt Violette. Claire was happy to be in the exersaucer to have a barrier between her and her "brute" of a cousin, Jake, who likes to try to smother her in kisses.
77: I realized I didn't have any nakey pictures of Claire so I did a little shoot on February 24th
78: 5 months today! Looking at Jake; glad he's ripping the doll's arm off and not hers | Best buds: Claire and Grandpa
79: Grandpa's 50th birthday. Had a great time trying out DKs Italian Kitchen in Winthrop Harbor | New undies! Literally just what he wanted.
80: Jake trying to drink out of this big bottle and help Grandma cook. | Claire is growing up with so many great friends. Her cousin Jake, friends Stella and Ruby, and even her kitty friend Chuck all help her learn about the world.
81: Claire loves to hang out with her big, girl friends! Stella and Ruby are especially excited for when Claire can move around better and actually participate in their games.
82: Time for real food! | Not a huge fan of her first taste of rice cereal. But she did thoroughly enjoy Daddy throwing her up in the air. | I made the cereal a bit thicker the next time and Claire liked holding the spoon herself and eating it that way. The flavor is very bland so I couldn't blame her for not really liking it.
83: There was so much snow this year and I really wanted to get some pictures of Claire in it before it started melting. People were impressed by her standing pictures even though she is pretty well propped up by snow!
86: Date night: went to see 300 in 3D and then went to the Bulls game since our tickets didn't sell.
87: Claire has discovered her feet! She also loves when Mama kisses her feet. Grandma had a funny photo shoot with her while Mama and Daddy were on their date night.
88: Happy St Patrick's Day! We decided this would be the perfect day to take Claire to her first Bull's game; especially since it was Joakim Noah bobblehead giveaway night! It was the first time we ever got to a game early enough to get the free gift.
89: We were hoping Claire would bring the luck o' the Irish to her first Bulls game like we wrote on the sign... Apparently the fact that there is NO IRISH in her blood affected that and the Bulls lost.
90: Six months today! We had a photo shoot to celebrate the occasion. Claire is such a happy girl
93: Wendy and Scarlett's baby shower in Des Plaines
94: Drinking a bottle is not as easy as it looks! It is fun watching Claire figure out how to do new things as she becomes more independent. She is a little joker and loves her melks. | "Pero, Papi! Yo bebo mas leche de todas las personas!" -Claire to Daddy while he was studying Spanish
95: Working on fine motor skills trying to pick up and eat yogurt melts. It definitely looks like the delicious reward was worth the work.
96: Playing around with Mama on the couch now that Claire can move around a bit better. The dogs are jealous.
97: We are working on getting the dogs to see that Claire gives pets and attention, too. Yoshi loves to give her kisses; Static and Kaz are a bit more stand offish.
98: Finally! We had a nice day this year so we had a huge feast with seafood and steak and grilled vegetables. Claire also got to touch grass for the first time even though it was still very brown.
99: Mama got a new tattoo! | Professional Hippo Rider | Hanging out with the dirty pups | Claire's first brothers and sister | Claire always enjoys bath time... | ...especially now that she can hold her head up better
100: Claire was not particularly happy about being told she was going to attend a "party". However, after arriving to Stella's 5th birthday movie party, she ended up having a good time with the big girls.
101: Claire went to Gammy's house with Daddy to help celebrate her birthday. She got to spend the night with Aunt Jill (Au Jus), Emily, and Josh from St. Louis.
103: Claire's first trip to the park. Mama had a surprise day off of work and it was too nice out to pass up.
104: Happy baby! | Ladies night at Chili U with Mama, Nicole, Katie, and Crystal. | Not so happy baby | I don't like the drive in | Wait- what's a drive in? | Hey?!? When's the movie going to start? | Drive in fun with Mama, Claire and Ebby.
105: Claire dropped hers in red | Time to color Easter eggs! | Jake chose green for his first egg | Claire loves Grandpa!
106: Claire's first Easter started with Daddy taking her to see the Easter Bunny. On Easter morning there was a basket from Mama and then a 5K Bunny Wabbit race at Independence Grove. Before Granny's house we stopped at Grandma and Grandpa's to see what the Easter Bunny left for her there.
107: Easter at Granny and Jaja's house. Good Polish food and Granny's homemade whipped cream always bring me back to my childhood.
108: As Claire enters her 7th month she is starting to really enjoy eating a variety of foods and is learning new things from her cousin, Jake. The day she turned 7 months she decided to try her hand at being a gargoyle like the one in Grandma's garden.
109: Daddy and Claire love to wrestle when he comes to visit. | Now that the weather is finally starting to warm up a little, Claire is getting to enjoy a lot more outside time.
110: My first Mother's Day. I got a cute locket from Claire and some pretty flowers.
112: May 22nd the first time Claire ever pulled herself up in her crib before we headed to St Louis to see Dana. She's mischievous now that she's more mobile!
113: On the 23rd we went to Grant's Farm and Claire got her first souvenir. She passed out on a table while we were waiting for the train back. Everyone thought she was so cute. Quincy and Henry kept Mama busy while we were waiting to go pick up Jake from the Amtrak station.
114: We all went to the St Louis Botanic Gardens to see the Lego exhibit. May 24th is Jake and Mama's anniversary. Claire had a lot of fun playing with Jake through the park.
115: 8 months old!
116: After seeing Aunt Dana we visited Daddy's family for Sydnee and Emily's high school graduation party
118: Claire and Jake have become fast friends. Jake and I saw a cute baby sugar glider at Banfield when we went to pick up Ebby from her dental cleaning. | Claire gets so excited for her bottle! She also is now obsessed with mouths and teeth
119: Fun at the park with Ruby and Stella. They just met Jake for the first time and had a lot of fun with him. Claire is having more and more fun outdoors now that she moves better.
120: Babysitting Ruby and Stella- wrestling break while watching How to Train Your Dragon
121: All the girls loved for Jake to pick them up by their feet. | Ruby and Stella absolutely love Claire. Sometimes they get a bit overzealous in their affections and Claire lets them know!
122: Meeting Scarlett for the first time. She and Wendy seem so happy! | New haircuts!!
123: Claire looked HUGE ! | Claire discovered the dog water on the last day of May- our lives would never be the same... TROUBLE MAKER!
124: Doing yard work! This summer we built a garden and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapeño peppers, and winter melons. We also built a shed.
125: Claire wants to know if these tags are current! Rat mansion! | Claire got a new roommate- Seji moved back in. | Macomb had a whole bunch of these bulldogs painted all over the city for a fund raiser. I couldn't help but take a picture with the military one. | Hanging out in Macomb after drill. | Mama promoting a Soldier to Sergeant.
126: Fun at Lincoln Park Zoo! Margaret got us behind the scenes to feed the giraffes.
128: Navy Corpsman Ball at Key Lime Cove
129: Father's Day Train Ride with Daddy | Then spending time with Grandpa for Father's Day | Finally, a Father's Day trip to the Kenosha Drive In Theater
131: June was filled with fun times. Jake's first birthday was fiesta themed and Claire got to see her Great Great Grandpa Ralph again. She visited Dad at work on her 9 month-day and met our good friend Renee. Mama and Dad went to Summerfest a few times and saw some great bands.
132: At Claire's 9 month check up she weighed 17 lbs, 15 oz and had to get some more shots. She picked out a stuffed animal at Toys R Us and then we went to Brookfield Zoo before meeting up with Daddy so they could spend some quality time together. Jake and I went to Summerfest with some of his friends. This summer had us at the boat a couple times, but not nearly as often as we would have liked.
134: Jake's dad came to visit for the 4th of July. We spent it at my Dad's boat as has become the tradition. It was a gorgeous day; perfect for taking out the jet ski. The day after, Jake, Terry and I "ran" the Hit and Run 5k- a kind of Wipe Out themed race. We had a great time.
136: Before I had to leave for my 2 week annual training, Jake took me out for a nice date night. I also discovered that Static was covered in bumps and took her for biopsies at the vet. While at AT, Jake visited to pin my CPT bars on at my promotion ceremony and we celebrated by going to Zip Chicago.
138: While at AT, Claire spent a lot of her time at Grandma and Grandpa's. She learned how to open drawers and pull everything out for fun. She also discovered the joys of chalk while staying at Gammy's.
139: Jake visited some friends in FL while I was away.
141: After AT, Grandma, Mama, and Claire flew to Georgia to visit the Krauts for a semi-annual family reunion that was coined "Hullabaloo" this year. Claire did so well on the plane! She went to the beach for the first time and ate crab legs. Overall, everyone had a really great time and we enjoyed some fantastic dinners.
144: Chattanooga Zoo
147: In Loving Memory of Static 4/20/06 - 7/29/14 | Lil Pup and Staticy Static Inspired the "Static Wiggle" that I do when I am really happy. Sweet, snoring, deaf, girl. We miss you!
151: Dana came to visit for our birthdays! She even brought some early birthday gifts for Claire! She could not believe how big Claire has grown already! | Mama and Jake had a fun summer - we went to the WI State Fair, Summerfest, and the Renaissance Faire in Bristol, WI. Dad wants to be a Falconer.
153: Jake, Mama, Dana, Seji, and Greg had an awesome time celebrating birthdays at America's Action Territory in Kenosha! We went on the go-karts, bumper boats, bumper cars, played laser tag and went mini golfing. Great night!
154: After Static passed away we started looking for another deaf dog. Secondhand Snoots rescue found "Ruxin" for us. We renamed him Cypher- he and Claire became very fast friends.
155: Mama took Jake out for his birthday to Chicago. First stop was a comedy show by the Second City. | Second stop was a fondue restaurant called the Melting Pot- Jake spilled water everywhere taking this picture!
157: Happy Birthday, Jake!
158: Staying in downtown Chicago for the NGAUS conference. I met a lot of retired and current Generals
159: I ran into my recruiter! He is now a lieutenant. Jake brought Claire to visit one evening and I took them for their first visit to Portillo's. Claire enjoyed the view from the hotel window almost as much as Mama did! She ended up falling asleep on the walk back to the car from the restaurant and stayed asleep even when Jake buckled her into the seat to go home.
160: Claire turned 11 months old while Mama was in Chicago. Jake took some cute Army/Navy pictures to commemorate. I discovered we had no tomatoes in the garden because Kaz kept eating them!
161: Mama and Jake went on a date night; roller rink and ice cream! | First family trip to Michigan to see where Dad grew up and meet his family.
163: Jake: I like that Claire talks more. We were talking the other day and she said she thought it was okay for us to get married. Veronica: Oh yeah? Jake: Yeah. Your parents said it was okay, too. Veronica: What? Jake: "If I'm going to make you my wife in Illinois, can I make you my fiancé in Beaverton?" Veronica: I guess... Jake kneels Veronica: Are you serious? Veronica looks down at an empty ring box... Jake scrambles in the grass to find and then put on Veronica's finger the most beautiful ring she's ever laid eyes on. | August 31, 2014 Mama and Dad got engaged
164: Dad feeding Claire | She loves bananas!! | Sad because all the banana is gone. | Claire and Sophie, her "cousin" | Papa and Claire | Dad looking like he's in a paparazzi picture
165: The greatest legacy we can leave our children is enough happiness to fill their hearts and more love than they can spend in a lifetime.
166: For Mama's 31st birthday, Dad took her to iFly (indoor skydiving), Navy Pier to ride the ferris wheel, and to the Signature Room. It was a lovely night.
167: We had a birthday celebration at my parents' house as well; we ate galumpkis and polish chili while we cheered on the Bears.
168: NEW CAR!
169: Meeting Scarlett for the first time | Fun at Ravinia
171: Claire played in a big pile of leaves on the first day of Fall. We finally caught Cypher actually playing with the other dogs.
174: Claire spent her first birthday at Key Lime Cove with Mama, Dad, and Seji. | Mama had to do her customary "Woeful Adventures of My Right Hand" picture | Asking for more snacks!
175: Claire's 1 Year Pictures!
177: We visited Grandma at work to wish her a happy birthday, too!
178: Claire's first birthday party was huge!
181: Claire loved running around the corn maze!
195: Dad asked to bring home a kitten to help a co-worker out. Todd never left
197: Happy Thanksgiving!
198: Grizzly May, the day we picked her out- she was about 10 days old
199: Holiday photo shoot by Windows In Time Photography
214: We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential. - Ellen Goodman