02 September 2015

August 2015 Recap

While I want to say that August went really fast, the reality is that there were a lot of long days during the month. Madeleine finished daycare at the end of July and spent August home full time. We had quite a few adventures and not too many naps, so there were definitely challenging times. But, a look back at the photos reminds me of all that we accomplished...where accomplished is defined by toddler outings and ridiculous costumes.

Throughout the month, there has been a major construction project behind our house, and M has loved spotting giant excavators and other exciting equipment.

At the beginning of the month, my good friend and her son, my godson, came over for a fun visit.

The kids loved splashing in the water table and pool together.

We went out to lunch on the afternoon of the Seafair hydroplane races, and Madeleine was enthralled with them and still asks about the way they work and why they need cranes to be lifted from the water.

Elliott was happy to much on Madeleine's leftovers of a crab apple from our yard. 

This is pretty much life at our house: one kid constantly in motion and a second trying to do as much as he can. 

Madeleine took swimming lessons twice a week during August. I'm so proud of her independence and confidence in the water. She made a lot of progress, and the teacher even experimented with removing her floats all together during her last lesson.

We hosted a couple of fun PEPS events at our house.

Busted! This cutie has started to chew on his crib. No bueno.

I love to see the toy combinations she creates (this ensemble includes strings from lacing cards, blocks from a shape sorting stacking toy, and small plush animals), but I don't love that she has started to ask for pets. Pure karma.

Elliott can get into things Madeleine couldn't reach until she was at least a year older (and more likely to listen to our logic and reason). Among them: wine fridge, range dials and buttons, top drawers, and countertops). 

To help Madeleine's visual learning, I've labeled various things around the house. After reading a new back to school book, she decided to swipe one of them for her nametag. Ha!

Salmon fillet as sandwich.

I laid down my 364 day old and woke up to a one year old. Birthday details to come.

Actually, I didn't wake Elliott on his birthday because I was out on a 9.5 mile run with Rachel. We were rewarded for our early morning hard work with several hot air balloons in the sky along with the most eerie red sunrise as a result of the devastating wildfires to our east. 

One day, I got out the nice camera to capture playtime in the yard.

Have no fear - I live with a firefighting super hero!

Madeleine was all bravery and excitement on her first visit to her new school. 

I scored this hiking pack for virtually nothing, and Elliott is super excited to have both a good view and easy access to pulling his mother's hair.

Friends visited from New Zealand, and Madeleine was more than happy to show their tot the ropes. 

After the brunt of the windstorm died down, Madeleine and I took our "babies" out for a walk. I just love her technique. I don't love that our neighbor's tree fell down, mostly in our yard.

On her last day at home before starting school, Madeleine chose to paint. No surprises there.

And, finally, I captured proof that George's prediction (months before Madeleine was born) that she would be able to scale her bookshelves like a ladder has come true. Part spiderwoman?

Part of me is really sad for summer to go, but the other part of me is grateful that it happened and ready to cozy up in that delicious fall wardrobe waiting for me. How about you?

31 August 2015

Seaside, Oregon

In early August, we spent a fabulous long weekend in Seaside, Oregon with our friends, whose family happens to include our kids' friends. As a bonus, the trip wrapped up on my birthday, so I got to kick off my new year with donuts and a spirited preschooler version of happy birthday. It really was a special trip!

We stayed in a large condo south of town, rented through this agency. When looking at accommodation, we had two primary requirements: oceanfront and large enough that most, if not all, of the kids could have their own rooms. With five bedrooms, the only ones who had to double up were the preschoolers - one on the bed provided and the other on this great bed. We all expected it to be a complete debacle, but it ended up working out pretty well. The first few nights provided plenty of entertainment for the adults watching on the video monitor; by the last night, they went to bed without a peep. Naps, on the other hand, were a fail, but you win some and lose some. Overall, I'd absolutely go back to this location. The beach was right across the street and down a short path, and the condo was well-appointed.

Photo Credit: Kelly/Rob
The younger siblings have a budding friendship.

Not a bad view toward town, eh?

What the beach is all about: piggies in the sand.

The beach was the main attraction. If not for meals and naps, we'd probably have spent all day every day on the beach. All of the kids were really into the sand and gentle surf and that made the adults very happy. I wasn't surprised that Madeleine loved the beach, but I was (pleasantly) surprised at Elliott's relative beach maturity. There was a minimum of sand-eating but lots of digging and pouring. Both kids loved to chase the birds on the beach, and Elliott's army crawl trail was pretty hilarious.

Photo Credit: Kelly/Rob

Hmmm...where has Elliott been?


Despite the constant (and sometimes chilly) wind, they all enjoyed splashing along the edge of the ocean. We typically tried to keep the kids from moving toward the water until our beach time was getting short because, once they were wet, chattering teeth and blue lips were not too far behind. That said, there were a few times when I was cold and the kids held out for more and more beach time.

These two are two peas in a pod.

Elliott was ready to crawl across the Pacific.

Having phones, and therefore cameras, at the beach is both a blessing and a curse. We were able to capture a lot of the special moments, but I had a hard time saying enough is enough and just enjoying the moment. Perhaps it was a good thing we had our phones on hand, though, on the afternoon when a stranger wandered by with several serious cameras hanging around his neck and generously agreed to snap a group shot for us on one of our phones. I'm pretty sure that we wouldn't have gotten a picture of all eight of us together otherwise.

When we weren't at the beach, we ventured into town. I feel like there are two different Seasides. Along the promenade, there are lots of carnival and fair type activities - such as bumper cars, arcades, a carousel, fried food, the amazing Zinger's ice cream and cheesy gift shops. A few blocks inland, you run into this cute downtown area with a pretty terrific antique mall and some restaurants, including the very (very) kid-friendly Seaside Brewing Company. Both areas were fun, just in different ways.

Enthralled by the bumper cars but not yet ready to ride themselves...

Photo Credit: Kelly/Rob
Madeleine insisted on ice cream, and we all thoroughly enjoyed our Zingers...except poor egg-allergic Elliott.

We got to watch the bulldozer leveling the mounds that had been created for fans watching a volleyball tournament.

For me, one of the perks of being at the beach was getting to run on and along the beach. I'm currently training for my second half marathon, so I did both a long run around town and a tempo run on the beach on my birthday. Running on my birthday takes me back to my high school cross country days, and it always makes me feel grateful for starting my new year with a bit of fitness and good health!

Photo Credit: Kelly/Rob
Run? Check. A little yoga on the beach? Check. Time to face reality.
Photo Credit: Kelly/Rob

We eventually had to pack up and head home, but I am so grateful for the memories we got to take with us!

Going back through these photos makes me that much more hopeful that we'll get to revisit Seaside again. Until next time...

26 August 2015

Elliott - 12 months old

Here we are at the last monthly update for our sweet Elliott, who turned one last weekend.

Sweet is a great way to describe our little boy. People often ask me if he's always that happy. Mostly. When he's not happy, he is really not happy. But most of the time, he is generously spreading cheer with that big, crazy grin. I think we're entering the third month of virtually non-stop teething with Elliott's sixth tooth just below the surface. Even so, none of his teeth are fully into place, so he looks pretty silly when all of his teeth are showing. I worry a bit that he has my dental genes, which basically means that we should start saving our pennies now.

Those teeth allow Elliott to eat any and everything. He continues to eat the same food as the rest of the family and consistently eats more than Madeleine and close to my portion. He's doing slightly better with the silverware that we introduced last month, though he has a long way to go, and meals are so messy now that he's feeding himself everything. We've also started pulling him straight up to the table without his tray, which does not help the mess factor. On his birthday, I gave him cow's milk for the first time, a bit fearful that he'd reject it. Nope. He downed the entire sippy cup. While he still won't sign for more, he does throw things on the floor, push himself away from the table, and wave his hands forcefully when he is finished.

All of the food is necessary to fuel this very, very, very busy boy. He has surprised me by not taking to walking ahead of his birthday, but I think that is because he wants to move and knows that crawling will get him around quickly. Within the last week, I'd say he's switched to more regular crawling than army crawl, but he definitely reverts to old faithful whenever he's on a mission. He pulls up on any and everything, even walls. And he is a climber. He has crawled up the fireplace hearth and the stool at the bathroom sink. He can also climb both up and down the stairs, though he can't yet get himself into the right position for the descent. He doesn't often stop moving, but when he does, I find that he's sucking his thumb more and more. I'm glad he can use it to soothe himself at sleeping times, but I'm not excited about this habit expanding as we're currently in the process of breaking Madeleine's finger sucking habit.

Elliott still takes two naps a day, but his afternoon nap has gotten noticeably shorter. I'm both excited about and dreading nap consolidation because we'll gain some more freedom from the house while I'll lose some quiet time. Overnight, he generally sleeps from about 7:30/8pm to 7am with earlier wake ups during particularly bad teething times. I'm still nursing Elliott when he wakes up in the morning and before bed, but I plan to have him weaned within the next month. Although I reeeeeeeally hate breastfeeding in the early months and tolerate it the rest of the year, I'm once again finding the end bittersweet. Of course, Elliott's current habit of ending each feeding with a little bite is helping to encourage me.

There is still plenty of babbling going on around here. Pretty much everybody is Dah-dah, and there are certain words that he will repeat. He attempted to say Madeleine the other day, which was both hilarious and adorable. I've been trying to teach him that owls say hoo-hoo, and he seems to say "ow" and "hooooo." I'm not sure if I have a higher standard or his language is just more muffled than Madeleine's was at this age, but I'm not really ready to say that he has his first word.

I can hardly believe I'm saying it, but Elliott is more a toddler every day. He loves spending chunks of time looking at books (but will not sit still to listen to them) and playing. He likes playing games and laughing at silly songs or funny faces. He loves riding the plasma car inside and giraffe tike outside. We do laugh that he's part dog because he loves to find and chew on shoes - gross. On the other hand, it was so fun to see him soak up all of the attention he received on his birthday and just bask in the celebration.

When my big (90th percentile for height and 75th for weight) boy tries to wiggle from my arms to go and explore, it's hard for me to believe that it was a year ago that a short and intense morning labor brought our sweet boy into this world. I just want to hold his soft, plump baby skin in my arms forever.

The fox that used to be the size of Elliott...well, isn't anymore.