Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011- Part I

This year, my parents graciously allowed us to have an early Thanksgiving with them so we could attend a friend's wedding on the 12th. We avoided a ton of traffic, which was a huge blessing with an active toddler in tow. As a bonus, Uncle Josh also made the trip with us, and Caleb especially enjoyed having him along.

We broke the trip into 2 days, stopping overnight at the Tews. No matter how short our time together is, it's always sweet. The kids had a blast entertaining Caleb.

His adoring fans

After we arrived in Florida, Brian (David's next youngest brother) and his wife, Amy came to pick up Josh. It was Caleb's first time meeting his cousin and our first time getting to snuggle our nephew. It was a wonderful, but brief reunion. We are certainly looking forward to getting more time with them at Christmas!

Meeting his cousin for the first time. So precious.

Family photo time. I love how coordinated our clothes are, considering this was totally spontaneous

Trading babies. Everyone always asks where Caleb got his blond hair and where Zachary got his brown hair. Despite this, we decied not to make the trade permanent ; )

After a night of rest at my parents house, we headed to Tallahassee for the weekend to visit David's Grandfather and our church family in there. Our time in Florida is always so busy, but it was so wonderful to see how friend's children have grown and changed and see them interact with our son. It's still surreal to me that I left less than 3 years ago, a new bride.

Our visit with Grandaddy was a treasure as always. We met at our favorite restaurant, Hopkins, a little deli near Lake Ella. Our time together was brief, but it was so special seeing the two of them interacting, passing Caleb's fire truck back-and-forth across the table. Caleb ate his very first kids meal out, a grilled cheese sandwich. Mommy was too hungry to share!

Visiting with Grandaddy

After an overnight away, we returned to my parents house in the country. Caleb had a blast getting to know all the animals on the farm. In preparation for the trip we'd been working with him on learning to pet dogs and cats gently. Not only did he do a great job with that, he also learned to "call" the animals to himself. After watching David, he began standing still, sticking out his hand and clicking his tongue a few times. Ocelot especially was very willing to come over for a few pets when called.

Caleb taking over Jimbo's bed

Caleb and Ocelot

It was wonderful seeing Caleb interacting with his grandparents. He was definitely spoiled rotten with stories, play ground time and all the attention he could possibly want. By the time we left for our overnight away, I knew he would be totally comfortable being cared for by my parents. He did wonderfully the whole time we were away, but did break down a little when we started packing for PA. We kept reassuring him that he was coming with us this time. I definitely wouldn't leave him often at this age.

Grandpa Snuggles!

Swinging with Grandma

Group photo!

We had a wonderful time celebrating the wedding of Dan and Kristen. David and Dan were room mates in college and I got to know Kristen a little bit during my last year at FSU. Seeing their joy and being there as a couple, were such wonderful reminders to not lose sight of treasuring one another in the fun and busyness of parenthood.

The bride and groom. I love the look on Dan's face!

Weddings are pretty much the only events for which I will go through the hassle of straightening my hair : )

Photo Op with my handsome husband outside the church

Jeff, another one of David's college room mates, dragged me out to the dance floor and David snapped a photo
Unfortunately, the trip also brought Caleb's very first stomach bug, which we were still struggling with on the way back. It was fairly mild, no puking (whew!), but lots of pants changes. Combine that with 16 hours in the car over 2 days with an active-despite-being-sick toddler and we were worn out by the time we reached PA.

However, the time with family and friends was more than worth it and we have yet another "first" that we've survived : ) Stay-tuned for Thanksgiving- Part II, where in I commit to my own big bird and make my very first Thanksgiving meal from start to finish *gulp*!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Caleb: 17 Months

17 months. Before I was a parent, I wondered why when I asked a toddler's age I got the answer in months instead of years. I mean really, couldn't you just say "1" or even "1 and 1/2", but "17 months"? Really?

Of course, now that I'm a seasoned veteran (hahahahahaha!)I know it's because the 12 month old who had barely figured out how to put food in his own mouth, hadn't even learned to point yet, wasn't walking and didn't sign or use language in no way resembles my almost-one-and-a-half year old. In fact, my 17 month old doesn't even really resemble my 15 month old. We're steadily moving from older-baby/pre-toddler into full blown toddlerhood.

We were so excited at 12 months when Caleb started standing without holding on

17 month olds say, "See you later, alligator!"

This month, Caleb has really begun to assert his independence. He doesn't want his diaper changed, he doesn't want his teeth brushed (toddler toothpaste to the rescue...), he thinks he's hot stuff because mommy lets him walk around with a water sippy cup instead of confining him.

Clearly thrilled about being allowed to walk around with his sippy

He loves imitating us. Here he is pretending to be mommy

Now pretending to be daddy

Back to mommy again

It can be very challenging at times, especially when something that is usually a "yes" becomes a "no" (he wants to go outside when it's pouring, for instance). However, it is really exciting to see him becoming his own person. I know this is all part of the process (and I will keep repeating that to myself as I take deep, deep breaths...)

Caleb's language skills have taken another big step this month. Although his clear words are still limited to "ball, 'ello, and uh-oh" his babble is beginning to resemble "real" words more and more often. So many times he is clearly trying to say "more" (Mo!), "all done" (A-doe!), etc. He also says "yeah". He also started saying "moo" when he sees a cow. It's sooo adorable!

We've seen a huge leap in his understanding as well. When reading Go, Dogs, Go (for the 1000th time) he pointed to the page with the boat and water and started signing "bath". When he sees the banana in his "b" book, he signs "eat". If we talk about "night-night" or say "are you sleepy?" he pretends to sleep on the spot. He also waves bye-bye when people leave and signs bath when he's ready to start his bed time routine. It's so incredible to go from having to carry him and make choices for him to being able to say, "Are you ready for night nights?" and have him run into my arms and start sucking his thumb. Or have a tantrum. He is a toddler after all : )

Caleb, are you ready to go night-nights?

What happened next was not such a Kodak moment

Our little daredevil continues to be fearless in the face of danger. While at the playground with my parents, he decided he was a big boy and could climb the giant ladder to the slide all on his own. He did frighteningly well with Daddy spotting him.

Reaching the top

Worth the effort

This month also has the distinction of bringing a bittersweet milestone. My little guy has officially weaned himself from day time feedings. We're down to one short nurse in the morning and one longer one before bed. It's amazing how much my feelings and goals towards nursing have changed since we got the news we'd be having a baby.

Before he was born, I definitely wanted to nurse for a year. Afterwards, during those hard first weeks of nursing that felt unending, I just wanted to make it to 6 weeks, when I heard it got better (it did!). Then, as his first birthday rolled around, I knew neither of us was ready to wean. I hoped it would happen naturally sometime between his first and second birthday. Obviously, that's exactly what's happening...and yet I'm still a little sad. If had told me a year ago I'd have this response, I would have been a little surprised.

There were several times during the first year I felt a bit "trapped" by the feeling that I couldn't be away from Caleb longer than the space between feedings (3-4 hours) without pumping, which I am terrible at. However, I find that nursing a toddler is actually lots of fun. I can miss a feeing and it was no big deal since he's quite proficient with his sippy cup and cow milk. He needs to be held so much less, so those cuddle times are extra treasured. He's also a huge daddy's boy these days, so it's nice to feel needed.

All that said, I am really excited he feels ready to take this step, excited to see yet another sign my baby is growing up and increbily humbled and thankful that we've been able to nurse so long.

This month also included a wonderful visit to Florida with friends and family, but you'll have to wait to read all about it in Thanksgiving- Part I : )

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Halloween 2011

As I mentioned in the pumpkin patch post, our last Halloween was pretty much non-existent. No pumpkin, no candy, no fall parties. We did put Caleb into an adorable cowboy onesie his uncle and aunt had picked out for him. Halloween isn't a big holiday for us so I wasn't too disappointed, but I did want to at least host trick or treaters this year.

A photo from last year. Notice the adorable smile for his Papa.

Well, as you already know, Caleb suckered me into we picked out a very large pumpkin! So of course, we just had to make use of that huge blank canvas and carve the coolest Jack-O-Lantern I've ever had. David found the pattern online, I sketched it and David and I both carved it (ok, so I only did the nose!).

Caleb inspecting the blank canvas

Practicing his jack-o-latern face

What's in there Daddy?

Finished product

I bought candy (and, fyi, I only went over my grocery budget by a few dollars this month, even with candy! So excited!), roasted the pumpkin seeds and prepared for trick-or-treaters. Sadly, most of their parents weren't willing to come up our big hill, even for candy! Fortunately, because of the snow, there were plenty of parents taking their kids house-to-house in cars so we were able to get rid of some of the candy that way.

We also temporarily acquired a friendly cat who walked up and jumped in my lap for a pet and a cuddle. I thought the cat was acting weird, David informed me that I'm just used to anti-social cats...After a while I warmed up to our furry visitor, but he decided to go back to his home (where ever that is) after 15 or 20 minutes of lap time.

Although our little guy slept through the trick-or-treating festivities, we did get to dress him up for a friend's Halloween party. Why yes, we do force our nerdy-ness upon our adorable toddler : )

Captain Kirk in the seat of power

"I am the Captain. You will obey my orders!"

At the control panel

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's been a chocolate kind of day

It hasn't been a bad day. There have been some awesome moments. Still, as I write this, I'm thrilled that it's nap time and noshing on some dark chocolate. It's been that kind of day.

First, a little background information. We keep a towel along the bottom of Caleb's door these days because if he sees any light coming in underneath it, he knows we're awake and wants to join the party.

Well, we've all been battling a GI bug since earlier this week, but as Caleb hadn't had a dirty diaper all day yesterday, I hoped it had finally finished it's course.

Imagine my trepidation then, when an unpleasant odor reached my nose, by Caleb's door, despite the towel...Blessedly, the diaper (somehow) managed to contain it all.

Not a great start to the morning, but we had big plans to get to the library today to avoid incurring fines (one of my goals this year). Caleb and I were dressed and ready to walk out the door at 9am, opening time. Perfect.

That was, until Caleb spotted the car seat. Apparently, he's a little traumatized from spending the better part of 2 days pinned there. After much scratching, flailing, screaming (on his part) I managed to buckle him in with plenty of soothing reassurances (on my part) that it would be a short trip and he would have so much fun.

We arrived, and I'd just gotten him strapped into the front-carrier, books unloaded, diaper bag in tow, when another kind patron saved me the trip up the stairs with the simple words, "The library is closed today. In-services."

Cue the mom guilt. My little guy hadn't had any fun and I had to stuff him into the car seat yet again. After a flustered call to my friend Jen, I came up with the idea of taking him to the park. We weren't exactly dressed for a windy 40 degree outdoor play session, but I figured we could at least get 20 minutes in for the poor kid.

I figured wrong. In less than 10 minutes his un-mittened hands were bright red and freezing cold. I hated to do it, but it was time to make a retreat. More biting, scratching and flailing. I even had a bad moment where I wondered how on earth I was going to get him home if he didn't settle down, as I was the only one in the park on such a blustery morning. Fortunately, a little sippy cup distraction calmed him. I couldn't blame him for being upset.

We headed home, bundled up appropriately and spent an hour outside. At which point, I noticed little guy was stinky. Very stinky. Caleb isn't a big fan of diaper changes and today was no exception. After settling him down with a book, I got to work. Mid-wipe I see a book come sailing in my direction. Splat. I'm sure you can guess where it landed. Good thing I didn't like that book anyway.

Still, I wouldn't trade a single second of life with Mr. Adorable for anything. Even chocolate.

I'll be back to blogging about all the fun we've had over the past couple weeks soon!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Caleb: 16 Months

So much has changed since I began this post 2 or 3 weeks ago. While I'm sorely tempted to update all the exciting new things Caleb has started doing in the mean time, I'll save it for the 17 month update. This is such a great age and I feel so blessed to be his mom! Happy belated 16 months little guy : )

The second year of life seems to be 1 part acquiring new skills and 2 parts fine-tuning them. While last month was a huge acquisition month, this month has been lots of practicing those fun new skills. I think I say this every month, but I love watching his personality unfold a little bit more each day. This time in his life seems to be full of big swings between wanting to be fully independent (thank you very much) and wanting the comfort and closeness of mommy and daddy.

Last month, Caleb learned to sign "all done". This month he also added "more" and waves "bye bye". So basically, he has 3 signs to communicate everything he wants (and doesn't want) in the world. No wonder the poor kid gets frustrated. In the high chair, these new signs are great. They've really made feeding time a lot less challenging. When he tries to apply them to other situations however, things get a bit more interesting.

As near as I can figure, "all done" roughly translated means "Stop doing that mommy!". As in, "Stop wiping my nose, changing my diaper, brushing my teeth, etc."

"More" roughly translated means "Do what I want." AS in, "Open that door, take me outside, pick me up again, give me back to daddy, etc."

So far, no creative uses for bye-bye : )

He also has a few more words. Earlier this month, he started picking up random objects (blocks, dirty socks, cheerios, etc.), holding them to his ear and saying "Eh-Ya!" (Hello!) very enthusiastically. Now he's even refined it to, "Ay-Yo". I don't talk on the phone very often so it cracks me up. He is obsessed with our phones though, so maybe he's just paying extra close attention during those times. Our babysitter also taught him "Uh-oh", which he says often, and always very solemnly. We are trying to teach him the difference between "uh-oh" and "on purpose", not that I expect much success in that department at this point in his life!

Here are some of my favorite photos from October:

A Special Visit from Papa and Nana

Reading with Nana

Big grin for Papa

Tickling Papa's toes

Group Photo!

Fall Fun


He may or may not be trying to sit on his friend in this one

Mommy getting a "hug"

Multitasking, toddler-style

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin Patch Fun

I'm finally getting a chance to blog about one of my favorite events of this past month: The pumpkin patch!

I'd been pining to take Caleb to pick out his very first pumpkin ever since a friend posted pictures of her toddler at playing at a local farm's pumpkin patch event a week or two ago.

Last year, we were in the process of moving 1300 miles with a recovering colicky babe who was still waking every hour all night long. Even without the move, I doubt I would have had the mental focus to spell the word "pumpkin" much less think about going to pick one out.

Now that the bliss that is toddlerhood has arrived (year 2 is way more fun than year 1!) I'm feeling much braver about having outings and making memories. Not only that, but we had reinforcements for this field trip! David's dad and stepmom came to stay with us for the week and I was so excited to make them a part of this adventure.

Sunday afternoon looked like the perfect weather for pumpkin picking, sunny with highs in the low 60's. Despite starting the day with a minor scare that caused us to miss church and make a panicked call to the pediatrician (Caleb bit his inner cheek in the night and there were several saucer-sized splotches of blood in his crib) we got everything sorted out and were on our way around 3pm.

I was amazed by the number of people there. Everywhere I looked kids were playing- clamoring over hay bales, crawling through tubes, feeding goats, emerging from corn and grass mazes and playing in the dirt. Not to mention the continuous hayrides dropping families off in the pumpkin patch.

Where I grew up, the pumpkin patch is a big lot (usually a grassy space next to a church) full of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. Here in Southern PA farm country, it's literally a field full of pumpkins that have been cut from the vine where they sat growing all summer. Now, based on the number of people there, I have a suspicion that some pumpkins were non-natives, placed in the field by cover of darkness : )

Here's the photo recap of our day:

Hay Maze!

Fun in the Straw

Corn and Grass Mazes. We were not brave enough to try these with a toddler!

Giant Slide with Dad

Tunnel Time

We'd had a cardboard box tunnel set up in our livingroom for about a week before going on this adventure. I doubt he would have been brave enough to try it if he hadn't had some practice before hand. As it was, he went through twice!

Dare I enter?

Dove right in!

Trying to stand up

Finally emerging. Check out how long that tunnel was!


Of all the fun things to do, the sandbox was still his favorite : )

After sandbox time, we noticed Caleb was starting to get sleepy so we lined up for the hayride to the pumpkin patch.

Group Photo! Poor Caleb just wants to get down and explore the hay bales.

David and Caleb looking astonished at the size of the pumpkins in the field ; )

Time to Pick a Pumpkin

This one?

Or maybe this one...Be different, go with a green pumpkin!

No, the one I can ride is definitely it! (Notice my "this is so cute, I'm going to be a total sucker and buy you this huge pumpkin" face?)

Papa carrying Caleb's pumpkin (I'm not the only sucker in this family!). It weighed in at 37lbs! That would be almost twice Caleb's weight, for those keeping score at home : )

It really was magical to see Caleb going from pumpkin to pumpkin. I didn't expect him to really "pick out" his own, but he was instantly attracted to that one and clamored right on top of it. It was such a beautiful day to spend with family. Afterward, we drove home, put Caleb to bed and drank hot apple cider together. A wonderful ending to a wonderful day.