Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Fun

The month of November has been a blur. We've been busier than usual (birthday festivities for the hubby... a visit from some out-of-town friends... doing all the necessary cleaning/painting/preparations to convert the guest room into Brayden's new room... etc.). I was hoping to do a daily holiday craft or activity with Brayden again, but it didn't quite work out that way this month. We did manage to do some festive activities however...

Goody Box
I love getting Brayden a few small things for an upcoming holiday. For Thanksgiving, it included some fall themed plates/bowls, a little toy scarecrow and some festive utensils (which doesn't sounds so exciting, but since Brayden has decided he simply must eat every item of food - including blueberries - with a fork, it actually is).

Autumn Advent Jar
I wanted to do some kind of countdown until Thanksgiving, but since Brayden is too young for something number-based, I had to get creative. We went out to the park and collected seeds together (acorns would have been better, but I couldn't find any around here!). Brayden had a great time looking for the seeds and putting them in a bucket. Afterwards, I just put them in a box with a glass jar and had Brayden move one from the box to the jar each morning. For a while, he was really into it (and would point to the jar while in his crib to remind me to get it for him). When things started to get crazy over here, the daily activity stopped and the jar morphed into a "filling and emptying" game. :)

Holiday Books
I found a few super cute ones out there with a Thanksgiving or fall theme. One of the more interesting ones is the true story of the Macy's Day Parade - and the man who created all the puppets for it. (It's called Balloons Over Broadway if you're interested)

Fall Ornaments
I'm really glad the Michaels store near us keeps carrying these holiday-themed wooden ornaments. For some reason, Brayden just loves them. Again, he had a great time using markers to color in ornaments.

Pilgrim Hat Game
Essentially, this is just a baby shell game. I made little pilgrim hats out of cardstock and used one of the seeds we collected in it. I put it under a hat and had Brayden find it. I progressively made the game harder, by adding another hat, moving one of the hats or even moving two of the hats. Brayden had a great time trying to figure out where the seed was and would get a huge grin on his face when he got it right! (...until he decided it was more fun to try to tear apart the hats, that is...)

Thanksgiving Cards
Definitely a fan of stickers and stamps, Brayden had fun (once again) making holiday cards for family members. (Too bad I only got them in the mail today...)

Handprint Art
To be included in the above activity, we did another handprint project together. Brayden has grown to love these. He giggles when I paint his hand and then has a great time using it as a stamper. This time, we did turkeys - brown for the palm and thumb (body and head of the bird) and then different colors on his fingers for the turkey's feathers. I then went back and added a beak, eyes and feet for the little critters. They ended up looking darn adorable!

Fall Beads
I wasn't sure Brayden was going to be able to do anything with beads (since they're so small), but after finding some fall-themed beads at the store, we went ahead and strung them together to make a necklace anyway. I was really surprised by how precise Brayden was (he was holding the beads still while I put the string through) and how interested he was in the activity.

Fun with Leaves
Throughout the month, we did a lot of playing with leaves. Running through them, throwing them in the air, collecting them, identifying the colors of them. By far, the biggest winner was running through them. ♥

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

10 Things Tuesday: Silly Toddler

At his core, my little guy is an adorable combination of silly and sweet. Below are a few of my favorite snapshots/videos from recent weeks that illustrate the sillier side (with a few sweet ones mixed in just 'cause)... ♥

Sporting a new hat

Making another fashion statement... with a changing pad.

He always has something to giggle about. ♥ 

Trying to balance on Daddy's chest

His new favorite play area... the spot between his high chair and the wall.
Loves to try to fit through there (and most recently has been taking
toys there and getting them stuck).

The day he decided it was Mommy's turn to drink from a sippy cup
(after trying to feed me his banana slices)

Sweetest picture ever. Daddy and Baby at the WWII Memorial

Coloring in a box. Because I did that with him one time,
every time we get a box in the mail - no matter how large or small -
he wants to sit in it and color.

When he wants to be tickled, he lays on the floor and giggles.

And then there's this craziness. I love how when one of the pieces comes off, he calmly stops to fix it before proceeding with the insanity. ♥

And there you have it. My little boy.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Back in Time

My maternal grandmother died long before I was born, and although I never got to meet her, this week I definitely felt like I got to know her a little.

I always have a dozen projects going on at once (and another three dozen sitting in my queue). I started working on one project this week and ended up getting quite sidetracked on another. While cleaning out the guest room to start converting it into Brayden's toddler room, I came across the stack of recipes I brought here from Florida a few months back. Recipes that were from my grandmother's kitchen.

My grandmother was a famously good cook and I always hear stories from my mom about her parties and amazing hostess abilities. I've long wanted to type up some of her recipes into a book for the other females in my family, but it's quite a large undertaking. There are literally piles of recipes.

Yesterday, I finally started the process and began sifting through everything (nearly 500 recipes it turns out). I ended up rather enjoying the process, as I began to learn more about my grandmother through her cooking. For example, she loved pineapple and bananas (I must have seen at least two dozen banana bread or banana cake recipes alone). She liked cooking with nuts - especially pecans - and was strongly connected to her own heritage (I never realized kolacky could be spelled in so many different ways!). Certain items were held in higher favor than others -- coffee cakes and cheesecakes seemed to be definite favorites of hers.

And then there was the time lapse. It was so interesting to see all these recipes -- taken from newspapers decades ago. Every now and then, I'd come across something else on the page that made me chuckle. My favorite gem was: "The clever hostess will tuck fruit into her cream puff fillings." Lauren couldn't understand why I found that so amusing, but everything about that quote just made me smile at the generation I was immersed in.

It's no secret that I love baking and cooking myself... and some of my grandmother's inclinations and habits made me feel closer to her. Things that she and I both do (i.e. recipe hoarding, adjusting recipes until they're perfect), or just that internal need to make everything from scratch. I loved seeing a recipe jotted down on the back of a bank deposit slip... or something printed from a typewriter rather than a computer.

There was just so much personality, so many stories, and so much tradition in the papers I was looking through. It's funny how something as simple as a pile of recipes can hold so much more than that. ♥

Thursday, November 7, 2013

27 Weeks

This is the last week of my second trimester. I can not believe there's less than three months to go before my due date (and since my suspicion is that the antsy little bundle of joy won't last until the due date, it could be even closer).

Baby: The baby must have just gone through a growth spurt (or else all the Halloween candy has taken its toll) because I seem to have had a belly-spurt the last week or two. People still tell me I look small for six months, but I'm measuring just right. Right now the baby weighs about 2 pounds. During the third trimester, I think the baby starts putting on almost half a pound per week. Yikes!

Mommy: No complaints. ♥ I enjoy the nightly gymnastics sessions baby performs (usually between 9-11 pm) and am getting a kick out of how he or she responds to Brayden's voice. I'm finally starting to prepare for the arrival - getting necessary items and starting work on the rooms. It's nice to be doing something to get ready; it's getting me more excited and making the big day feel even closer. Otherwise, everything is going great. Very healthy, very happy. :)

Daddy: Finally finished his big projects and is able to come home at normal hours (yay!). Has been doing sweet things for me now that I'm getting bigger (I adore the foot rubs and dishwashing-duty he's taken on). He also knows his role well when it comes to room design: telling me everything sounds great and to go ahead and order what I want. Love that man.

Next Up: I now start going to the doctor every two weeks... which is always a fun adventure with Brayden in tow!). I think we're going to start painting and putting Brayden's new room together next weekend (so excited to do that). And eventually, we probably have to... oh, I don't know... come up with a name or two??

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

10 Things Tuesday: Recently...

What I've been up to lately (aside from making a person and chasing a toddler, of course...)

Finalized babymoon plans for next month
We're all set for a weekend away (can't believe it's our first without the little guy!) in mid-December. Picked a historic plantation built by George Washington's grandparents in 1642 (gotta love historic Virginia!) and located close enough to Colonial Williamsburg for a visit (since I've still never been). So excited. ♥

The B&B we're staying at (including the suite we booked on bottom right)

Outlawed to-do lists
It's no secret that I'm a list maker. The problem is that my to-do lists end up three pages long and are entirely unrealistic. So instead of feeling like I accomplished things at the end of the day, I usually just remember how long that list still is and feel stressed. I abandoned lists once before and loved it. My insightful husband had reassured me that "You'll get done what needs to get done. Things will get accomplished when you think of them and make it a priority." And he was right. Not sure when I fell back on the habit, but lately, I started feeling overwhelmed again. Instead of working harder and doing more, my answer is to do less (sort of). The irony is that I actually get more accomplished this way (and don't feel stressed out in the process!).

Watched Monsters University via Netflix
It was cute. And I'm pretty sure Lauren cried at the end of it.

Enjoying my dancing, cleaning fool
Brayden loves dancing. To everything and anything. Toy jingles. Silly songs that mommy and daddy make up. Even daddy drumming his fingers on the table at breakfast gets him moving. We've been having a ball watching him get his groove on (and joining in of course!). Brayden is also the cleanest toddler I've ever met. He is constantly wiping and tidying things. If he sees a piece of pasta lying on the floor (from his sensory bin), he picks it up, walks over to the bin and makes me get it down so he can put it where it goes. In the morning, when I clean his face after breakfast, he won't let go of the wipe. Instead, he starts cleaning everything in sight (including the dog and my belly) and then walks to the trash and throws it away. And most recently, I saw him playing pretend...

Bought some new kicks
My old running shoes had way too much mileage on them. And since I'm six months pregnant and still jogging regularly, I wanted to make sure I didn't cause unnecessary strain on my body.

P.S. They're pink.

Resumed working on my book
I came up with a few days a week that I can reliably work on it, and have actually been doing so. Started organizing my notes and story ideas and hope to be onto an outline and then narrative writing in the not-too-distant future.

Baked a homemade pumpkin pie from scratch
Not too bad for a first attempt. I've never blind-baked a pie crust before (when I make homemade dough, it's for things like apple pie which can get baked at the same time as the crust). That was the most difficult part of the process. The filling was excellent but the crust was a bit burnt. I learned a lot though, and think I could do much better next time.

Funny that fresh pumpkin puree isn't orange. Makes you wonder what's in the cans...
Ordered all of Brayden's furniture and designed his room
Finally settled on a color and theme for Brayden's toddler room. So excited to start work on it... I think it's going to look amazing. Furniture is ordered (and being delivered tomorrow and next weekend) so we're on track to have it put together by the beginning of December. Hooray!

Started working on colors with my little guy (and made some pretty sweet sensory boxes for him)
I sort of started working on colors last month with one of his Halloween projects, but he didn't seem terribly interested so I dropped it. Recently, I realized that all of Brayden's major milestones came after he seemed not interested. All those times he didn't seem like he was picking something up (like walking or pointing to body parts) he was actually observing and taking it all in. And then one day he just decided to do it. Since that seems to be his thing, I decided to go back to colors and let him play with the concepts a bit more. I'm planning on giving him one color box every 3-5 days and trying to emphasize the same color for that time. We just started red this week... so we'll see how the process goes!

Color sensory boxes (with pasta I dyed each color)
Overheard someone talking about me
At my last appointment, my doctor was working with an intern. The door to my exam room was barely cracked - just enough for me to (unintentionally) hear their conversation. Standing outside my door, my doctor started giving the intern a summary of me and my pregnancy. It made my day that the very first thing she said about me was "This is Krystin. She is super sweet. She's also having another ultra-healthy pregnancy and will be the easiest patient all day."

Kind nice to overhear someone saying good things about you. :)