Monday, December 31, 2007

Farewell, 2007...

2007 has been a weird year. It started with Max tearing her ACL (or the canine equivalent thereof) and needing really expensive surgery with a 12 week recovery during which she was confined to the area under the dining room table, and we had to take her out on a leash with a sling around her waist, and she couldn't go up and down stairs or get on the furniture. Some dogs are crate trained. Ours is couch trained, which made the furniture thing especially hard on everyone. And I was in my last trimester of pregnancy at this point, which made the whole taking-the-dog-out-on-the-ice-with-the-crazy-sling-thing even more treacherous.

Then in February, our furnace died. If I'm going to spend that much money on something, I want to at least be able to show it off when people come over. But no one wants to see your new furnace when they come over. *sigh* While it was being repaired, MG and I hung out in the kitchen for a couple of days, quilts over the door between the kitchen and the living room to keep in the heat, fireplace burning, coats on... It was interesting. She was 18 months old at the time.

Oh, and meanwhile I was itching. A lot. So much so that it was interfering with my ability to sleep. I still have scars on my feet. Turns out I had Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy. Trust me, when you're 7 or 8 months pregnant, and you Google your pregnancy complication du jour, and you find an "In Memory Of..." page on the page that talks about babies who have died from what you've got? That's a Very Bad Day. Of course, I can't get something normal, something known. I have to get some random rare complication. The specialist basically said, "Beats me, we don't know a thing about it." Nice.

So, February and March were a bit tense. BJ and I had to decide, with the help of our OB and the profound lack of help from the specialist, how long to let the pregnancy go on before we induced labor (because ICP can cause stillbirth, if the pregnancy is allowed to continue to its natural end, or so they think, even though they don't know anything about it...). Induce too early, and the baby can have the problems associated with prematurity. Induce too late, and, well, there may not be a baby.

It's not nearly as scary, sitting here watching Claire wave and smile as it was at the time, hormonal and sleep deprived and not knowing that everything would be okay. We decided to induce at 37 weeks - the lower limit of "full term," which would've been March 21. But then I got this headache on the 13th, and it wouldn't go away. I remembered that symptom from my pregnancy with MG, so I went to the doctor's office and my blood pressure was ridiculous, and he said, "Meet you at the hospital..."

I spazzed. I have birth-o-phobia I think, which is ironic, considering that I've only been in labor for 5 hours of my life, and I have two kids. I mean, I'm good at birth. My labor with MG was 3 hours, 45 minutes. My labor with Claire? 1 hour and 9 minutes. But every time, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to die. So, I actually spent more time crying over being induced than I spent in labor. Some of my friends who have spent entire weekends in labor don't like me anymore. I was just glad that the doctor didn't spike her and yell, "Touchdown!"

One of my favorite teachers from high school died in April. My sister Jill got married. We adjusted to having two kids. The rest of March and most of April are kind of a blur. There went my plan to have MG potty trained before the new baby came. MG was not potty trained in March or April.

In May I started this blog. A lot of family stuff started happening, and my dad and my bonus mom ended up getting divorced. That has been really hard. Harder, in many ways, than when my parents originally got divorced. MG was not potty trained in May.

In June, I got thrown out of a liquor store. I found a drunk guy in a shopping cart. BJ had a birthday. These incidents are not related. MG was not potty trained in June.

In July, we lost our minds and drove to Washington DC. No one told us that it's 400 degrees and humid in DC in July. Claire chose that week to stop sleeping 23 hours a day. We lived. MG was not potty trained in July.

In August, MG turned two. I freaked out over lead paint in toys, precipitated by the Doomsday Duck. MG was not potty trained in August.

September was filled with rage, at vacuum salesmen and Bill Maher, mostly. I tried to steal Dear Abby's job, but failed. We went to the circus. MG was not potty trained in September.

October came and went. Mary Grace was Little Orphan Annie, Claire was Yoda. Little Orphan Annie was not potty trained in October.

November. I tried to steal Bobby McFarin's job and failed. We changed the light bulb which became a kitchen remodel. No, of course it's not done. We got the flu. MG may be the first kid in history who is trained to puke in the potty before she's trained to use the potty in the regular fashion.

December went by in a whizz of lights and sugar and music and rum punch. Claire and I went to St. Thomas. MG started singing songs, and learning them faster than I can keep up. Claire started crawling and using sign. We saw Wicked. We got yelled at at FAO Schwartz. Unless she's planning to take care of it in the next couple hours, MG was not potty trained in December either. Oh well.

It's been an eventful year. I guess you can cram a lot in when you're not sleeping much, huh? I wonder what 2008 will bring. Maybe MG will be potty trained by this time next year! Claire will be walking and talking by then, I'm sure. Mimi will be married. I just scanned through my calendar for '08, and other than the birthdays and anniversaries that repeat every year, we don't have anything scheduled yet. It's an open book, and that's kind of exciting.

I hope that it's a wonderful year for all of us, and for all of you. Happy new year, and thanks for being part of our family!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Playing together in matching suits

These were taken with BJ's cameraphone. A bit blurry, but the blur sort of shows the motion, too, so we'll call it 'artsy.' Claire is quite impressed with her new ability to pull herself up to standing, and now does it at every opportunity - even in the bathtub, which is not the least bit safe. She doesn't seem to mind, however, and continues to do it... much to our dismay. Nothing is safe - the fireplace, the couch, the toys, the side of the bathtub, the toilet (yes, and we're not going to talk about the fact that she licked the toilet. MG licked the toilet brush, once, and she lived to tell about it. But still, urgh...) She even tried to pull herself up on her carseat, and was really irritated when it rocked and knocked her down.

We've entered that "baby looks abused" portion of childhood that comes whenever the skills are gained faster than the sense of self-preservation that should go with them. MG has a permanent dimple on the middle of her forehead from her learning-to-walk days. Oh, who am I kidding? She still conks herself in the forehead at least twice a week. And now Claire, too, is showing the battle scars of mobility. Now they can both be bruised, and the people at Walmart can look at me like I'm some sort of monster, while the other moms look on and sigh, glad that their children aren't the ones with the bruises for a change.

I went to Walmart with the girls last night. Saturday night, 8 pm, at Walmart. Surprisingly, it's a good time to go. We got a really good parking spot, and there were few other people there. No drunks in carts, either. The people who were there were other moms with kids. I joked with a couple of them about how cool we were, hanging out at the Walmart with our kids on a Saturday night. They joked back. Misery loves company. I remember when I used to do stuff on Saturday nights... Aw, who am I kidding? A wild Saturday night, pre-kids, consisted of BJ playing games with his friends and me sitting home being annoyed and reading books.

Anyone in Our Local Area up for a playdate? I'm bored. BJ's working on proposals, and I'm running out of stuff to do. If so, call me. I'm home. Avoiding all the cleaning that needs to be done..........

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Saturday, December 29, 2007


I have no oomph. No energy, no enthusiasm, no charisma, no joie de vivre. It is all I can do to stay conscious, and I'm not even doing that very effectively the last couple days... Ask BJ. I find myself napping with the girls even when I'm not sleepy, just because I don't feel like doing anything else. I can't even summon the energy to go grocery shopping.

It could be candy toxicity - because God knows we have enough candy in this house to keep the 409th battalion in a diabetic coma until Valentine's day. It could be depression - I really need to stop moving my Zoloft and leave it in one place so I remember to take it (it never made it back to the medicine cabinet after we got back from Christmas. Duh, Amy). It could be post-Christmas let down. After all of the hustling and rushing and preparing and shopping, it's nice to just be able to not do anything...

I'd better go to the store. We really must eat something other than candy.

Does anyone else have the post-Christmas blahs?

Friday, December 28, 2007


Auntie Jill works at Nordstrom's, where she found the sassiest boots EVER! :) How cute are these? And today is a perfect puddly day for them.
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Christmas, Part 3

Ok, now she's lost interest and is playing jump rope with my computer cord, but before she said. "That's me!"

"That's me and Claire at Grandma Dinanas."
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Christmas, cont'd.

"What am I playing with? These are pictures of me. Which one is biggest? That's my sister. That's Uncle Chuck. Yes."
"That's a yucky banana. I don't like yucky bananas. We're going to have to find the big red gooey fish. Sounds like it's time for a Mousekatool."
"Maybe Tootle is outside. Tootle is out the window. That's Widgie and me in the boat."
"Yes! That's Pops! That's my friends."
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A pictoral Christmas...

Narrated by Mary Grace...

"Dat's our gingabread house. And that's Daddy and Claire... That's my Dad!"
"That's a piggie. Daddy is doing a fire."
"That's me and Claire. My piglet jams. I'm wearing my Sizzles jams, looking at pictures."
"These are my friends. That's Grandma's house. Hold on a minute. That's Mimi. That's right Mama. And that's... hold on a minute... is that... That's not Daddy. Ummmm... That's Uncle Trey! That's not Daddy. You are smart. Yes you are. And you've got to be really strong. Are you strong enough? We sure are! Just like Mickey Mouse!"

No, I don't know what she's trying to say. Best not to overanalyze... More in a moment.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all from the Prettybabies Family!

We were up at 6:30 am (ugh) to get everything ready. BJ's dad and Nancy came for breakfast and gifts with the kiddos. Then we drove up to Grammaland during nap, and opened gifts with Gramma Denna, Pops, Uncle Chuck, Aunt Mimi, and Uncle Trey. Now's the lull, and then Gramma Denna's brother, sister, and their families are coming to Gramma's for dinner.

Pictures will be posted when we get home.

Hope that you're having a wonderful time, wherever you are.

With Love,

Monday, December 24, 2007

The All-American Family

BJ's dad's wife's family (my step-in-laws, if you can follow all that) celebrated Christmas last night. This is one of those families that everyone should have. They get together every year for a meal, and then they do The Program, which is a tradition going back generations. These folks are so talented. All the children sing and play piano. When they sing Christmas carols, they sing in 4 part harmony. And they're good! It was a good, old-fashioned Courier and Ives Christmas celebration, all about faith and family and food and fun. We had a blast.

We are so fortunate to be included and accepted by our step-families. We really have more than our far share of relatives to love, and who love us. And we aren't ever treated any differently by our steps than the non-step-relatives are. Last night, as they were lining the fourth generation up for the Christmas portrait, BJ and I hung back with our girls, thinking that they would want a picture with only the non-step kids and grandkids. When Bryce came over and took Claire from my arms and placed her in his son's arms for the picture, I felt so loved and accepted, and so blessed to be loved and accepted by all of these wonderful people.

As you can see in the third picture, Mary Grace didn't quite realize the significance of being included in the picture, and chose that moment for her meltdown du jour... But everyone was very gracious about it.

Anyway, I wish everyone could have a family like ours. And I am so grateful that we do.


I may not have time to post again before Christmas. We have lots of Merry to make in the next 72 hours. I hope that wherever you are, that you know that you're loved. I hope that you have a holiday filled with faith, family, food, and fun. I hope that the magic and wonder of Christmas touches you, somehow, this year.

Merry Christmas, and thanks for being a part of our lives.
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Hey Kim!

My friend Kim made these cute suits for the girls - and they've finally grown into them!

Thanks again, Kim! You do beautiful work!

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Sunday, December 23, 2007


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Chicago pics 1

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And we're back...

Sorry for the drama. Had a bad day.

We went to Chicago on Friday and saw Wicked. If you get the chance, go see it. It was fantastic. I can't wait to get the soundtrack. I may have to download it. Not sure I can wait long enough to get an actual CD (who does CDs anymore, anyway? I am so old).

My cousin Kelly came up and watched the girlies for us while we went to the show, which was one of those "Circle of Life" moments for me, because when she was a baby, I did the same thing for her parents. She is an awesome babysitter, and I am completely bummed that I haven't managed to talk her into coming to college at The Big University in town, because it would be awesome to have her here. I may not be able to offer her a scholarship like the school in Grammaland did, but I could offer her free room and board in exchange for Nannying services.

She's going to be a NICU nurse. If her touch with my kids is any indication, she's going to be awesome. She really has a gift. I mean, she had both the kids asleep by the time we got back, and they didn't even have tear tracks on their faces. BJ and I can't get the girls to sleep without them crying half the time.

On Saturday we got up and had breakfast with all the other business owners and their families, and then we all went our own ways to go shopping. They were going to the American Girl store. I haven't let myself go in there since MG was born. I don't want to start it. That stuff is expensive and it's like a drug - once you get a little, you get hooked. I don't want to have to sell Claire to support MG's doll habit, you know?

Instead, we went to Marshall Field's (yes, I know they changed their name, but I refuse to cooperate with the name change. It will always be Field's to me). We bought some Frangos, and then we went to the toy area. MG and C were hilarious with all the giant "guys." We got some great pictures before the Toy Soldier/bouncer guy told us to knock it off. Claire was so excited, she kept clapping and bouncing up and down.

We were going to have tea in the Walnut Room, but the line was forever. We went to Mrs. Fields for cookies instead. But not before we got a few great pictures. We used to go to Chicago with my grandma at Christmas time, so it was another "Circle of Life" moment for me to take my kids there.

On the way out, a random shopper (a little old lady with this crazy sparkly hat) sat down at a piano and started to play Christmas songs. We sat and listened and sang for a while. MG danced. It was a great time.

After lunch at the Rock and Roll McDonald's (which used to rock and roll a lot more), we headed back to Grammaland to drop Kelly off, and then back home.

Pictures coming right up.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sometimes everything falls apart

How is it that the people you love the most are the same people who make you the most crazy?

How is it that the people who love you the most are always the ones you hurt the most?

How is it that the "most wonderful time of the year" hurts so badly?

Why can't I just be happy?

I heard this song on the radio a few minutes ago:

And now I try so hard to make it
I just want to make you proud
I'm never gonna be good enough for you.
I can't pretend that I'm alright
And you can't change me

'Cuz we lost it all.
Nothing lasts forever.
I'm sorry I can't be perfect.
Now it's just too late and
We can't go back
I'm sorry
I can't be perfect.

...and that just kind of said it all.

Sometimes there just. Isn't. Enough. Zoloft.

I'm sorry I can't be perfect.

Thursday's child is a great big nerd...

Babies like pickles...

Proof that "nerd" is a heritable trait. Hahahahaha....
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Things I wish I'd thought of sooner...


I mean, seriously. Duh.

I bought "To/From" labels for all of our gifts. Duh. Why not get some Avery labels (even the full sheet size, and then cut them out...) and make custom gift labels with photos of the kids, or our Christmas picture, or even snowflakes and stuff to match our wrapping paper. I mean, seriously. Duh.

Well, learn from my mistake. Steal this idea. Make your own labels. And don't look at me like I'm stupid when all of your gifts from us have two labels, too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My head is going to explode

It really is true that ignorance is bliss. Check this out.

The more I learn about our way of life - the things we eat, the things we buy (even the way we package the things we buy!), the things we give our kids to entertain them so that we have time to eat and buy more stuff, and the staggering and profound effect these activities have on our bodies, our budgets, and our planet.....

...the more I get overwhelmed, which makes me want to go out and eat things and buy stuff.

I do some things right. I buy our beef from BJ's uncle, who raises it about 45 minutes from here. While we still eat beef in restaurants, the majority of the beef we eat is healthy (no hormones or antibiotics, grown on a real farm not in a factory, etc.). I mean, if we wanted to we could go visit the cow that they're going to butcher for us. How many people can say that? I also buy produce at the farmer's market all summer. This year I'm going to buy a share of a farm co-op, so we'll have local fresh produce from about April to October - so we'll be eating locally and seasonally - using less energy (transport), and getting better nutrition. I asked for reusable grocery bags for Christmas. I try to buy local, both at home and at work, even when it means spending a bit more. And we recycle more than anyone else in our neighborhood. And we try to reuse, too. Plastic grocery bags are used to clean up after Max. Print outs from work come home for MG to color, then get recycled. I use Tupperware instead of Ziplocks whenever I can. We keep the thermostat between 65 and 68 in the winter, and between 75 and 78 in the summer...

But I could do better. Just like I could eat better. There's always room for improvement, right?

I think for 2008 I'm going to take a seriously look at living more "green." Some of my ideas include:
  • Using cloth napkins instead of paper.
  • Using rags instead of paper towels.
  • Eating at home instead of eating out.
  • Cooking from ingredients instead of buying pre-made ("perimeter shopping" they call it - shopping around the outside of the grocery store and staying out of the aisles).
  • Planning ahead when going out and taking things along (like coffee or drinks) rather than buying them out.
  • Buying less stuff. I have everything I need - I don't need any more "retail therapy."
  • Watching even less TV. Spending more time with people and less time in front of screens.
  • Walking/biking more, driving less. I'll have BJ put the trailer on my bike in the spring, and the girls and I can ride to the grocery store and the farmer's market. It's not far.
  • No longer shopping at "Big Box Marts," buying everything that I can locally (or going without).
  • Buying fewer things for the kids, spending the energy and money, instead, on outings and experiences (and books, of course).
  • Going to the library for books and videos, instead of going to the store.
  • Consuming less high fructose corn syrup - cutting out soda and packaged foods, and replacing them with water and things I've made myself from actual ingredients.
  • Phasing out harmful household chemicals, and phasing in more natural cleaning products.
  • Eating vegetarian more frequently.
What else could I do to reduce my footprint? What else could you do?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

WFMW: Restaurant Supply

My mom owns a ballroom. They host weddings, mainly, along with other events (showers, parties, bar mitzvahs, business meetings, etc.). They get a lot of their food from Gordon's Food Service, or GFS.

I didn't know a thing about GFS before Mom opened her business, 10 years ago. But now, I can't imagine how anyone throws a party without them. You can buy restaurant quality food, in bulk, at extremely reasonable prices. A lot of it is pre-made (especially the desserts and appetizers, which are identical to what you'd buy in a restaurant). The shrimp is fantastic. You might think that you'd have to buy everything in 50 gallon drums, but you'd be surprised... a lot of the stuff they sell is in reasonable quantities (in other words, quantities that a normal family will be able to consume before it goes bad).

I was there last week, and I bought mini quiches for my sister's Christmas party. While I was there, I picked up a bottle of Toasted Marshmallow syrup, which is unspeakably good in hot chocolate. I also got two new half-sheet pans for making cookies (larger and nicer than the cookie sheets you buy elsewhere).

Best of all, unlike Sam's Club and Costco, there is no membership fee. I just wish they sold diapers.

So, if you have a restaurant supply store in your town, call and ask if they sell to the public. You can get awesome food at reasonable prices, and it just might make planning your next party a lot easier. Be careful though - you might get the same reputation I have for always making entirely too much food for a party.

Are you here for WFMW? Check out my other tips:

How to pack a smaller diaper bag.
How to make Mush McPuna.
How to organize your Christmas list.
How to breathe new life into your lamps with spray paint.
How to use calling cards to give the illusion that you have it all together.
How to use GCal (again) for menu planning.
How to save yourself time in the kitchen with a hot water tap.
How to tie your shoes if you have lollypop thumbs like me.
How to feel good about spending insane money at Christmas.
How to prevent dryer fires.
How to use Google Calendar to organize your family.
How to save a zillion dollars with the Magic Bullet.
How to quickly cool Mac & Cheese.
How to soothe a teething baby without whiskey - oops! I mean Tylenol.
How to do Time Outs correctly.
How to improvise a changing table.
How to get a baby and a toddler into the car.
How to keep your house decluttered with an old waitressing mantra.
How to find a great baby sling.
How to manage your grocery list online.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you again soon!

Visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer for more WFMW tips!

I am very tired and have nothing cute to say

(insert witty post here, I am just too tired)

(That's Claire and me in St. Thomas, by the way.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

My new favorite Christmas song

Previous discussions notwithstanding, there are some things that I love about Christmas. I love the lights. I love the food. Most of all, though, I love the music. So when I saw this video this morning, I knew I had to share it with you. I'm still giggling...

(Note that it's from Indiana U. Too cool! I hope it goes viral and those guys end up on Oprah or something...)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Oops, I did it again!

So, we got new phones, but I forgot to grab all of my contacts off of my old phone before I switched to the new one...

Can y'all do me a favor? Please send your contact info (in as great a detail as you'd like) to me at It would be even cooler if you could make the subject line "Address."

I've e-mailed Google and asked them to wave their magic over keeping contacts - so that I could keep my own info current, and you keep yours, and then if I move or change phone numbers, I update my own and your listing for me magically updates, too. They haven't replied, but I noticed that they switched up the way Gmail is doing contact details, so I'm hopeful that it won't be long...

Anyway, names, addresses, phone numbers, birthdays, etc. to would be appreciated. Thanks! Even if you think I know this info, send it to me so I can cut it and paste it, ok? I'm lazy like that.

Santa: The Controversy Continues

Ok, people, no fair getting into Great E-mail Debates when I am limited to the typing capacity of a cell phone. I'm borrowing Grandmother Diana's computer so that I can actually type my usual 100 wpm, rather than hunting and pecking on a keyboard the size of a pack of gum...

From the level of emotional investment in this conversation, you'd think that we'd announced our intention to raise the kids in the Heaven's Gate cult or something! I had no idea that I was starting this with that little post a couple of days ago. Wow.

I want you all to know that we are taking your arguments/debate points (both via e-mail and in person) into consideration (after all, I did say, "Any thoughts?" Oh, dopey me...). However, we are not raising these kids by committee. As ever, BJ and I will do what we think is right. If you disagree, I would invite you to have kids of your own and raise them however you want! I'm grateful to Grandma Susan, who said of us (in e-mail), "They are intelligent and loving parents who want only what is best for the kids."

Again, I would like to reiterate that if we choose to do something differently from the way you did it, we're not saying that you did something wrong. When BJ and I were kids, we didn't have 11 grandparents. So, the choices we might make with regard to gift giving may be different from the choices you made, when we had 4 grandparents a piece. (And by the way, my kids are totally lucky and blessed to have so many wonderful people in their lives who love them!!!) We rode all over creation, unbuckled, in the back of a station wagon. That my kids ride in car seats doesn't mean that I think you were a bad parent back then - it means that things have changed, and we're doing the best we can. We know that you did the best you could.

I am reminded of all the ideas I had about parenting before we had kids - my kids were never going to watch TV or eat fast food, for example. Well, my little Playhouse Disney Happy Meal addict would laugh if she knew how that idea had changed. Perhaps next year, when Mary Grace is old enough to want to have a relationship with Santa, our ideas about this will change. But for now, it's still something we're kicking around. And like I said, we'll take your thoughts into consideration, but don't get pissed off if/when we go our own way. And I promise that I'll have the same respect for your parenting decisions with your kids, past, present, and future.

Merry Christmas, damnit! :)

P.S. I continue to be astonished at how many people read this little blog. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for caring enough about us and our little family to take time out of your day to read what is going on with us, and for caring enough about my kids to have an opinion on how we're raising them. If you didn't care, you wouldn't bother to call us and tell us that we're horrible (Mimi!!), and you wouldn't bother to comment or e-mail, and it means a lot to me that you do care, even when we disagree. You are all Santas to me.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

How cool am I??

I am posting this from my new phone. We got Tilts from AT&T. Too fun.

That is not the big news, though. The real scoop is that Claire crawled this morning. I will post the video when we get home... We're in Grammaland for Christmas with Gramma Susan tonight. Mimi had a party last night. MG had a great time playing with Mimi's neighbors' kids.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

...but inside, it's so tropical!



Mary Grace and Claire wanted to model the dresses I got for them in St. Thomas. Too bad they're going to outgrow them before summer. So much for sizing - MG's dress is a 4 and Claire's is a 12 month! MG typically wears a size 3T and Claire usually wears 9 - 12 month stuff right now. I thought I'd bought them big enough. Oh well...
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