Monday, September 23, 2013

15 Months!

At 15 months, Brayden...

... loves to practice his dance moves

... has started to realize he can't always get his way (and isn't too happy about that)

... has figured out that when playing fetch with our dogs, if he throws the ball down a hill, it goes a lot farther

... dislikes having his hands dirty (and after falling on the ground, will hold them out for me to wipe the dirt off of)

... has all four molars coming in (three of which have finally broken through the gum-line)

... still sits cross-legged all the time

... just came off of a huge growth spurt (this doctor's appointment showed some giant leaps on his growth chart since the 12 month mark)

... makes up his own obstacle course on the playground (and runs it over and over again)

... finally seems to be over his month of picky-eating and has been enjoying a lot of new foods lately (including walnut crusted chicken and fruit-filled crepes)

... loves helping out around the house (he knows most of our routines and will give us what we need to complete them - the right dog treat at the right time, or a handful of toilet paper when he sneaks into the bathroom)

... waves bye-bye to the dogs when going upstairs for his nap

... has started enthusiastically bobbing his head up and down for "yes" (while wearing his ear-to-ear grin)

... loves slides

... likes watching older kids at the park or playground

... really enjoys artistic endeavors (though finger-painting conflicts with the dirty-hands rule, so he caps it at 5-10 minutes)

... will gently rub my belly when I ask "where's the baby?"

... is way too good at looking sweet and saying "boooooppppp..." (his word for 'please')

... thinks blueberries are the greatest thing on Earth

...still loves reading (and has expanded his list of favorites to include a few non-interactive books)

... has the strangest eating rules. "This goes here and that should be there. Now, Mommy - here's my spoon. Feed me some peas. Now Daddy, you take the spoon and give me some pasta. Sip of milk. Sip of water. Daddy's turn... Mommy's turn..." (When the wrong person takes the spoon, it isn't very pretty...)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

20 Weeks

20 weeks down, 20 to go!

Baby: We finally got our first glance at the growing baby! Our ultrasound two weeks ago went great - the doctor said everything looks perfect so far (advising that "whatever you're doing - keep it up!"). The baby is even a bit on the large side - measuring almost a week bigger than "average." (Average this week  would be the size of a banana -- 10 inches from head to toe and about 2/3 lb.). We didn't find out the gender of the baby (although Lauren surprisingly protested a bit while we were in the ultrasound room!) so only the technician knows whether we've got a boy or girl cooking in there.

The little one is moving around in the womb quite a bit, now able to flex arms and legs (and really get those kicks and punches off!). He or she is also developing nerve cells for sense of smell, hearing, taste, vision and touch. Noises outside the womb can now be heard, so we've started reading to our little one at night. When I was pregnant with Brayden, we read to him regularly and loved it. It was only natural that we do the same with this one. Since Lauren was never much of a reader, I'm  picking books that I loved from my childhood. Currently at bat is Charlotte's Web. Apparently, I read that book one too many times when I was younger because while Daddy is reading it, I find myself knowing the lines that come next. :)

Me: Doing pretty good! ♥ Came down with a nasty bug this week that immobilized me (and am still trying to recover), but otherwise, things are going great. Still jogging and doing yoga, and starting to incorporate some prenatal strength training. Sleep is getting tricky now that I can't lie on my back (I've never been much of a side-sleeper), so that's a bit of a challenge for me. Otherwise, everything is great

Daddy: Now really busy at work, but still doing well. He felt the little one move for the first time this week which is always exciting! 

Next Up:Just our normal monthly doctor's visit in a few weeks. Still procrastinating on names, nurseries and the like. But we've got time, right? ;)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Keeping a Toddler Busy

It's true. My baby isn't a  baby anymore. He's a toddler. A running-through-the-house, louder-than-ever, demanding-my-attention, adorable-yet-sometimes-infuriating, miniature person.

With this wonderful shift to toddlerhood comes a variety of things. For Brayden, one of these changes is his preference of activities. He still plays quietly with his toys by himself sometimes (or preferably with me sitting right next to him). But more often than not, he wants to be doing stuff. Cool stuff. Different stuff. Fun stuff. (Come on mom, what the heck are you here for if not to constantly amuse and amaze me???) My little guy still has NO interest in television (which I love!) so these days, he really seems to be demanding that constant attention.

You're not paying attention to me? No problem.
I'll busy myself by emptying out this cabinet of dog stuff
and trying to stack it all on top of each other.
Sometimes it's easy. He brings me books to read him, asks for his bubbles, or gives me his shoes as a not-so-subtle hint that he wants to play outside. We also do the normal kid stuff - coloring, finger-painting, occasional use of markers (but really, with a 15 month old, that's just asking for something irreplaceable to have lines of red and blue drawn on it during the 10 seconds I turn my head). Brayden really enjoys artistic endeavors. But sometimes, I have to be more creative. Over the last few weeks, I've tried a variety of things:

Pasta Box
By far, Brayden's favorite "toy" that I made him. When the box is on a shelf, will stand by it and reach his arms up asking for it. He simply adores it. All I did was put a few boxes of different shaped pasta in a tupperware container (including all those half-used boxes in my kitchen), threw in some containers for him to fill, and added a set of miniature animals I bought at Michaels.

Brayden plays with this everyday and doesn't seem to get tired of it. He fills the cups, pours them out, uses shovels (and other toys) to move the pasta around. He especially loves the animals hidden in there. I used them as a way of teaching him different words. I started showing him an animal, saying its name, then putting it in the box and asking him to fetch it. After asking "Where's the giraffe?" so many times, he caught on. He now knows all the animal names and can get each one if I ask for it (wondering if I can turn this into some kind of party trick...). He also enjoys the game where I line all the animals up and ask him to give me a specific one. (Once he figures out the animal I want, he usually makes the animal noise as he grabs it)

Button Jar
Brayden was really interested in this at first. For the first few days, he loved playing with the buttons. Take one out. Put it back in. Hold the jar over head and pour everything out. Repeat. He goes through spurts with it now, but is still generally amused by it. I try to fit those teachable moments in here as well, since all the buttons I got are different colors and shapes.

Random Assortments
For those times when I need to make dinner and don't feel like doing it one-handed (or with a child attached to my legs), I try to give Brayden a collection of totally random things to play with. Things that could go together (in the mind of a 15-month-old). One of the most successful ones was empty toilet paper rolls (cut in half), pom-poms, bowls, and a muffin tin. Kept him busy for a while. I should really pull that stuff out again...

More Random Put-Togethers
Brayden has exhausted his interest in pots-and-pans, so I have to try to spice them up a bit. Most recently, I did this by putting pipe cleaners into a colander. I think he thought it was some kind of Rubix-Cube puzzle, because for the first few minutes, he just sat there staring at it with the quizzical eyebrows he gets. Then he started moving pieces around, taking some pipe cleaners out and putting other ones back in. Probably great for motor skills, but this kid already manages to open child-proof vitamin bottles (what a sham those things are!) so I'm not too concerned about that area of development.

Coloring Box
I've been terribly sick this week and needed something that would keep Brayden busy and allow me to only half-pay attention to him while I tried not to die. Answer = put toddler in an empty box (I buy a lot of crap from Amazon). Add crayons. Boom. It's like writing on the walls for him.

Not all of my endeavors have been successful. I tried making him a sensory bottle with pebbles and water. I thought it was pretty cool, but he played with it for a total of about 8 seconds before tossing it aside. He went back to it the next day, hoping it would be cooler. But it wasn't.

I also tried putting tempura paint in a zip-lock bag so he could "color" with his fingertips in a mess-free way. Unfortunately, he watched me put it together and was way more interested in the bright green tape I used to hold the bag down than in the paint itself.

I'm running out of new-and-exciting things for my little guy so I anticipate him getting antsy for new challenges any day now. Not sure what next week will bring, but with a little MacGyver-ing, I'm sure I'll think of something. (In the meantime, any other recommendations are welcome!)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The "8-Hour" Drive

When we asked our friends for advice on taking a baby on a road trip, they all said the same thing: "Don't do it." We didn't listen (of course) and the drive to Michigan was pretty rough.

The Plan

Lauren will leave work at 5 pm so he can drop the dogs off at doggy-daycare and still have enough time to help me finish getting everything together and packed before leaving around 6:30-7 pm. We'll arrive around 2:30 in the morning.

What Happened (and no, I'm not making this up)

5:15: Lauren calls. "Hey hun... I'm a bit tied up at work. I'll leave as soon as I can." No problem.

5:30: A grumpy Brayden is sitting on the kitchen floor crying for his dinner while I rush around making it. Lauren calls again: "Apparently, we were supposed to drop the dogs off by 5. You need to take them in as soon as possible. Still haven't left, but should be leaving in the next 10-15 minutes. Sorry."

5:32: Pick up my screaming son (who doesn't stop screaming). Try to get the dogs' belongings down two flights of stairs and into the car without dropping said child. Go back upstairs and get the dogs into the back of the car.

5:45: Arrive at the doggy daycare. Get my (still grumpy) child out of his carseat and try to carry both him and two 50 lb. dogs to the door while a couple stands 20 feet away from me staring. (Thanks for the help, by the way.) Feel like I'm in one of those Christmas movies where a frantic mother is trying to balance 48 gifts and a screaming toddler while talking on the phone. Yes, this is my life right now. Go back to the car to gather the dogs' belongings and realize that during the 10-minute ride, one of my dogs tore through the plastic bag and ate almost her entire allotment of treats for the weekend. Awesome.

At least she got to go shopping.

6:00: Back home. Finish Brayden's dinner. He decides he doesn't want what I made and just screams in his high chair for ten minutes.

6:45: Lauren finally gets home. We hurry up and give Brayden a bath, finish packing, get the car loaded and leave.

7:45: Finally on the road. Grumpy baby has become volatile baby. Alternates between laughing at his toys and crying because he's in his carseat.

8:35: I try to bring up happy things to improve everyone's mood. "So do you want to grab dinner in Ann Arbor Saturday before the game? ... You grabbed the tickets, right?"

8:36: Lauren is still bellowing out the longest, loudest string of expletives I've heard from him in our seven years of marriage. (No one grabbed the tickets)

8:38: We turn around. After 45 minutes of driving.

9:17: We get about two miles from the exit for our house and hit traffic. Cars are STOPPED. There was an accident. Blocking the entire interstate. No one is moving at all.

9:20: We get off at the last possible exit before the blockade of cars and navigate our way home from there.

9:40: Finally home. Grab the tickets and go. We are officially leaving our house for an eight hour drive at almost 10:00 at night. Amazing.

12:30: Hit a tollbooth. $13.50. We have $7 cash on us. Get a ticket to pay it online along with an awesome "you're an idiot" fee.

2:20 (am): Brayden wakes up. Realizing he is still in his car seat, he begins to cry. He does NOT want to be in there anymore. Lauren is tired anyway (as we should have already been to Michigan by now). We decide to stop for the night.

2:40: We get into our hotel room. Brayden is now 100 percent awake and ready to play. Mommy and Daddy are 100 percent tired and ready for sleep.

"I know you think I'm tired, but I'm about to torture you for almost two hours."

2:45: Because we're going to Grandma and Grandpa's house (where a nice comfy crib awaits Brayden), we have no place for him to sleep. He gets into bed with us (which he's never really done before).

3:00: Brayden decides it's playtime and chooses the game "professional wrestler." He bodyslams us, jumps up and down on the bed and laughs the whole time. Mommy and Daddy say it is NOT funny. Brayden disagrees.

4:30: Brayden finally tires himself out and goes to sleep. Mommy and Daddy immediately follow suit.

7:30: Brayden wakes up and is ready for morning. Fantastic three hours of sleep for the grown ups.

8:00: Holiday Inn breakfast

8:30: Leave the hotel and start on the last three hours of the trip.

8:32: The whole point of traveling at night was to do it while baby was sleeping. Brayden starts crying. Already.

8:35: I jump into the back seat and try to calm him down. I read him a book. Thirteen times in a row. That kills about 10 minutes and now I want to shoot myself.

8:45: Brayden starts crying again. I give him every toy we have in the car until he gets angry with it and throws it aside. That kills another 15 minutes.

9:00:  Construction zones. Traffic slows down. GPS adds another 20 minutes to the arrival time.

9:15: Daddy turns on Raffi and begins singing to Brayden. He calms down. Daddy goes through two CDs then sings the same song to Brayden for another 15 minutes. I want to shoot myself again.

10:30: Brayden gets fussy again. I move to the back seat and try to calm him down again.

11:45: We're closing in on our destination so naturally, Brayden decides to fall asleep now.

12:20: Finally arrive. Realize we have to do this again in two days.

At least Michigan won.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday's 10: Why I ♥ My Hubby

As of today, Lauren and I have been married seven years (holy cow!). Add to that the amount of time we were engaged, dating, and friends, and I've been graced with his lovely presence for well over a decade. There are hundreds of reasons why I love my amazing husband. For Mother's Day, he wrote a me a sentimental and super-sweet note. I could have returned the favor and written an equally sappy post. I could have gone on about how I love him because he always supports and encourages me (he does) and because he's an amazing father (he is). Instead, I chose to focus on the lesser known, yet more humorous reasons why I love my college sweetheart.

1. Your maturity level is well beyond other men of your age.

2. When I ask you to help with dinner, not only do I get assistance, but you also try to give me tips (and if that fails, you resort to inappropriate songs and white-boy dance moves).
Chef Lauren says "It's easier to chop an onion while wearing goggles."

3. You're a sleeping beauty.

4. I never have to worry about you being mugged on the way home from your fancy job.

5. You can eat whatever you want and not gain weight.

6. Even though you don't give yourself much credit, you are an extremely creative person.

7. You're a great problem-solver 
(even if you're the one that causes the problems to begin with).
Pouring defrosted champagne from a bowl
after leaving it in the freezer for too long.

8. You have so much to offer the next generation.

9. No one can ever fault you for doing what others are doing or for following the crowd.

10. We always make the best of any situation.
Studying for finals in college.