Sunday, August 30, 2009

Finish What You Start

That's our lesson for this week. Jack is learning so many new things, it's hard to keep up. And exhausting too! Plus, it was deadline time for my job, thus the lack of posts last week. So anyway, I'm learning how challenging it is to keep a 10.5 month old entertained. Most of the things I offer distract him for about, oh, 10 seconds.
And the things that he does seem to enjoy for any considerable length of time are the activities that I only find fun for a few minutes. Like - giving airplane rides (that's a lot of weight to lift!), chasing him around the coffee table (it's all good until the rug burn sets in), and sitting on my lap at the computer desk (works great until he starts sending off unintelligible emails). What it really comes down to is that Jack's a boy on the move, with a newfound ability to explore his huge world. And he doesn't appreciate when something gets in the way of his independence. This includes naps and meal times, which have suddenly become a challenge.
He has no problems telling me when he's done with applesauce and rice cereal, and ready to hit the ground again. So, while Jack has learned a number of new "tricks" these past few days, he unfortunately, has failed to figure them out completely. Hence our need this week to learn how to "finish the job." For instance...
Jack taught himself how to stand in his crib. Too bad he hasn't lyet earned how to get back down without yelling for mom to come rescue him. This makes naptimes very interesting.
Once standing, hands gribbing the foot of the crib and legs bouncing on the mattress, Jack figured out how to turn off the ceiling fan switch, but has yet captured how to turn it back on. It took me a few days to realize that, no I hadn't forgotten to turn the fan on for 3 naps in a row, I just didn't know my son was this smart.
And the big accomplishment, he has managed to crawl up the entire flight of stairs, breathless with a sense of victory when he reaches the top, but has no idea how to get back down again.
Other exciting milestones this week include a new attraction to the blinking, blue button on the computer - the one that shuts it down when mommy is in the middle of typing. The television remote - pushing random buttons is so fun, who has time to notice that the picture on the TV is now backwards, in the upper right corner, with captions in French. And a strange drawing towards toilets - I've had to start keeping the bathroom doors shut because the whole idea of my child crawling around the toilet kinda grosses me out. His favorite thing to do is pull the little cap off the bolts at the bottom and then carry this around the house with him.
So, in an effort to escape the house, a.k.a. the danger zone, we've been taking more walks (the only time he sits still), frequent trips to the beach (because sand and water is something we both enjoy), and running lots of errands (Jack is always the perfect child when we're out in public). I'm thinking this will get us through until Fall and cooler weather. And then we'll have to figure something else out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our first casualty ...

... now that we have a crawler on our hands. Poor lamp. Jack knocked it over it snapped in half. Other losses this past week include:
- one decorative ball
- one Richard Nixon page out of our US presidents book
- one branch off Mommy's favorite plant
- one back to Grammie and Grampa's picture frame
Oh well, it's just "stuff" right? :)

While Jack's vocabulary has expanded to "Momomoma," "Dadadada," and "Blablabla" mine has regressed to "No no no!" "No Jack, please don't touch the DVD player." "Jack, you may not pull the CDs out of the cupboard." "No Jack, don't put your finger into the electrical outlet." And so on and so on. He doesn't even seem to notice. In fact, the more I say no the faster he goes. One time I caught him pulling baby wipes out of the diaper bag one by one. I said, "No Jack" from across the room and he started pulling them out faster and faster until I got to him and took them away. Same thing with the CDs. Every day he opens the cupboard and starts pulling them out and every day I try to stop him and he only does it faster. He pretty much spends his free time alternating between the CD cupboard and the bookshelf. With an occasional roll by the laptop cord/electrical outlet and then a stop to pull dirt out of the plant in the corner.
The weird thing is that it's almost like his toys don't even exist anymore. He's much more interested in things he shouldn't have. So we've worked out a compromise. Jack stays away from life-threatening objects and Mommy lets him play with cool stuff like mixing bowls, empty boxes and Swiffer handles. It's amazing how much life can change in a week!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Levels, New Devils

Well, it appears that we finally have a crawler! After a long and frustrating road to get there, Jack has at last figured out the art of locomotion. And after listening to his whining for the past 3 weeks, I'm more than happy to have him crawling about and getting into every nook and cranny in the house. I think.
Once Jack figured out how to roll he started using that as his main form of tranportation. He was pretty good at judging proper distances and angles in order to roll to his desired destination. And the activity was just enough to keep him busy without getting into too much trouble. Then he learned how to get up on his hands and knees. That was cute for a while. He'd push and push until he could heave those 27 pounds up, and then plop back down with an exhaustive sigh of victory. By the time we left for camping, he was getting up on all fours, rocking and then taking one step forward before collapsing in a heap. At this point, he was starting to get pretty ticked. I think he was sick of hearing me say, "Yay Jack you're gettingt it! Good job! ... Ohhh, it's okay, try again!" Even "Nonnie's School of Hard Knocks" couldn't help.

When he wasn't upset with himself for not getting the hang of it, he was upset with me for not picking him up and carrying him everywhere. For the first few days after we got back from vacation, he would just about lose it every time I stepped out of the room. Surprisingly, it was one of those moments of baby rage that motivated him to take matters into his own hands (and knees) and go get mommy himself. And so, screaming all the way, he crawled the whole 9 "steps" from living room to hallway, grabbed my ankles, and sobbed into my feet. From then on there was no turning back.

It's amazing how quickly things move from there. In less than a week he went from crawling, to pulling himself up using furniture. Instead of crying for me to pick him up he now gets annoyed if I don't put him down. And instead of whining whenever I leave the room he now chases me around the coffee table. It's kind of fun, and just a tad exhausting, watching him exert his newfound indepence, otherwise known as strong-will. Alas, all of a sudden rubber blocks and moving elephant trains are no longer good enough for Jack. Oh no, he finds things like CD cases, blinking modems, and electrical outlets much, much more exciting. We'll save those stories for another day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happy Engagemeversary!

This week Jon and I celebrated what I like to call our "engagemeversary." It was 4 years ago that I came to visit him here at the beach with his parents and sister's family. Within minutes of pulling into the driveway he whisked me off to the lighthouses for a walk on the beach. I should have thought it was strange that he wanted to go on a walk in the middle of the day, especially when his sister, brother-in-law and new neice had just arrived all the way from Israel. But I didn't. I must not have been thinking clearly.
So it was there, with the sea on our left and the lighthouse on our right, that he pulled a beautiful diamond out of his pocket and asked me to be his wife. I'd love to tell you more but honestly I don't remember. What I do remember is thinking, "I wish I would have taken this chipped nailpolish off my fingers yesterday!" And then I remember going back to the house and telling everyone what they already knew.
So, as this is our last engagemeversary in the same area where the happy event occurred, we thought it called for a celebration. Jon and I went out for an incredible dinner at a woodfire restaurant in town. We both got woodfire steaks with potatoes, along with the delicious New World Chef's table, which is like "worldly" salad bar. Can you tell I'm so ready to dig into this skillet?

So you may be wondering where our son is on this lovely evening. We left him at home of course! Sorry Jack, but you are not part of our engagemeversary. No matter. He was very happy to spend the evenings with two top-notch babysitters that we had shipped down all the way from Pennsylvania - Uncle Jared and his friend, Mr. Dan.

On Jack's end, the evening included dinner, a BATH, and then jammies and bed. I know that Uncle Jared can get overloaded easily and that Mr. Dan comes from a very organized and detailed household, so I wrote out explicit instructions and did a walk-through before we left.

Oh and I also set up the Nanny Cam:

Haha just kidding. This is actually a video text Mr. Dan sent me in the middle of our dinner. Later followed by the message, "Just put him down. He's not even crying... just talkin up there .... to himself. Ha ha." It sounded like things were going well so we decided to order dessert. Creme brulee - my favorite!

When we got back that night, Uncle Jared said it was the "easiest time I've ever had with him." We were almost tempted to go out again another night, but since the guys really hadn't driven all that way just to babysit, we didn't want to push our luck. So there you have it, our THIRD official childless date - SUCCESS!

Note: Facebook readers will have to click on "View original post" to see videos.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Are the sunsets this beautiful ...

... in DC? Because it looks like that's where we're going to be living next year.

*insert mixed emoticons :) + :( + :+ ;/+ =*

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

And that's not all!!

Our vacation didn't end up with camping. After we packed up the gear and washed the campfire smell out of our clothes we spent a few more days back home hanging out with some of our favorite people, including my brother's fiancee who was in town all the way from Holland!
Jack was very excited to meet his future Aunt Pricilla for the first time. They really hit it off! Then I left Jack behind to spend the day with his grandparents while I went out for a "girls' day." After trying on a bazillion bridesmaid dresses we did a little shopping and had a lovely lunch. Jack and I were apart for the longest amount of time EVER since his conception - almost 9 hours! I don't even think he noticed. He was having too much fun visiting with Marmie and playing outside with Poppa. But he was happy to have me back, just in time to head to Uncle Micah's new digs for a housewarming party. Lucky for Jack, his girl Edie just happens to be Uncle Micah's neighbor. Now if you remember, the last time we were home Edie was playing hard-to-get with Jack. Well someone must have shown her the video of Jack and Abbie because now she really turned up the charm!
"Hey Handsome, goin' my way?"

"Yo girl, check out what I can do. As soon as I figure out how to get around I'll take you out for a date."

"That's nothin'. I'll show you what I learned from my Mommy and Daddy."


All I can say is it's a good thing these two are in a long-distance relationship!
After being passed all around church on Sunday, we took Jack out to one of my favorite Central PA attractions - Knoebels! No summer is complete without at least one trip to this awesome amusement park. In fact, now that I think about it, last summer may have been the first time in MY LIFE that I didn't go to Knoebels. Now that I'm older, and more prone to motion sickness, I look forward to all the delicious food almost as much as the rides. We had frozen lemonade, french fries, alligator bites, nachos, iced coffee, pizza, funnel cakes and banana splits.
Jack, on the other hand, wasn't so easily "amused" at the "amusement park." I was soooo excited to get in line to ride the Phoenix... until the brakes failed on the ride in front of us and they ending up shutting it down the rest of the night. Bummer. I did get one front-seat rollercoaster ride on the Twister though. Jack also had his first amusement park ride experience - on the carousel.
Doesn't he look so grown up in this picture? *sigh* What happened to my widdle baby!?
Anyway, the next day we began our long trek home. It wasn't our best trip with the babe. But it wasn't his fault he was exhausted from 10 days of vacation and getting two new teeth! I spent most of the ride in the backseat, or in the front passenger seat reclined all the way to the back, trying to make a grumpy baby happy. The worst part was when Jack took a smash while we were maneuvering through DC traffic. He wasn't too happy about having to sit in a dirty diaper, and Daddy wasn't too happy about trying to drive to the soundtrack of Jack. Then, about 1 minute before we came upon a rest stop, Jack fell asleep. Instead of waking up the child that we had just spent the past hour trying to get to sleep, we opted to continue with our travels despite the fresh scent rising from the car seat. Nasty.
Needless to say, all involved were very relieved when we pulled into the beach house. We had THE BEST vacation. But are more than happy to be home and back in the groove again.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Falls Trail

The highlight of our vacation, and my favorite part about Rickett's Glen, is the Falls Trail. There are, I think, about 22 waterfalls in the park. On Saturday I went with some of our friends to the lower 4, which are easily accessed from the nearest road. But later that week, our whole group hiked down to the "Waters Meet" and back up the other branch and covered the other 18 falls.

It's a long, steep hike, and half of it is uphill, but sooo worth it. No matter how many times I've seen the waterfalls, they still take my breath away. It's just a really beautiful piece of God's creation.
Nothing compares with standing at the top of a waterfall one minute, looking out across the tree tops,

and then standing at the bottom of the waterfall a few minutes later the mist blowing in your face.
The waterfalls weren't the only amazing scenery on the hike, there were also some incredible trees and rock formations.
Jon carried Jack on his back for the 3+ hour trek. He did really well until about the last 30 minutes at which point I'm sure he was hungry and ready to get some exercise.

He even managed to take a nap despite the din of rushing water and the jolt of riding on Daddy's back during a somewhat treachorous journey.
And just in case the pictures don't do it justice, I also have a video of a few of the falls. I love the part where Jack is on the verge of passing out and can only manage to keep one eye open. He's too cute!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

When it rains, it pours

And that is just what it did while we were camping. We arrived on a Thursday evening and had just enough time to set up camp before night fall. Exhausted from a day of traveling and hard work we crashed on our queen size double-thickness air mattress for a wonderful night of sleep in the cool, mountain air. We were awoken from our perfect sleep by the pitter-patter of rain on the tent at 5am. "Better to have it over with now then in the middle of the day," I thought as the rain started pounding down even harder.

By the time Jack was up and we were ready for breakfast it had slowed back down to a drizzle. Jon and I were anxious to try out our new camping gear. So he set to work making hot coffee while I fed Jack. Everything was soaked - the table, dishes, camping chairs, the clothes we were wearing, etc. It didn't take long to run out of ways to keep Jack entertained. The rain started falling faster and the baby got crankier. "That's it," I said, "We're all taking a nap." Just as we got into the tent for mandatory nap time the heavens opened and the rain poured down. Jon and I were huddled in our damp sleeping bags, listening to the rain drown out Jack's crying. We were both thinking what a huge mistake trying to camp with a 9 month old would be and trying to calculate how long it would take to pack everything up and head home. I fell asleep while repeating to myself, "It can't rain forever, it can't rain forever."
When we woke up it was still raining. The rest of the family was up at this time too so we all took turns keeping a wet baby happy. It rained the entire day. There was no point in taking a shower or putting on dry clothes since there was no way to keep dry. I was soaked through my rain jacket, sweatshirt and t-shirt. We just kept reminding ourselves that all this rain would surely make the waterfalls spectacular!
Finally, around dinner time, the rain tapered off. I just remember thinking how great it felt to put on dry clothes even if there wasn't a dry place to sit down.
Saturday dawned bright and beautiful. It was a perfect day in the mountains, which worked out great since we had a number of friends who came to visit. I began to feel a little better about this whole camping idea. Jack went on his first kayaking adventure. Jon went on a hike with my brothers. And I got caught up on some reading. We ended the day with perfectly roasted marshmallows and s'mores.
And then Sunday morning rolled around and the dark clouds rolled in with it. I woke up to the sound of rain again and suddenly realized that I had left my only pair of sneakers outside the tent. Then I realized that Jon had brought them into the tent when it started raining. When I got up in the morning I found out that I had dreamed that Jon got my shoes, they were really still outside, and completely soaked. So I wore flip-flops the rest of the day, not that it mattered since my feet would have gotten wet anyway. Jon had a test due that evening so he was going into town to get on the computer. I considered going along with him but thought surely it wouldn't rain all day again, I didn't want to miss out on what could potentially be another perfect afternoon in the mountains. Well, I was wrong. Since there was yet again no dry place to place a baby, we cleared a space in my parents second tent to put down a blanket and some toys for Jack to have some playtime. He was chewing on toys and picking up every speck of dirt in the tent while I was reading a book next to him when the skies opened up yet again. This time it poured even worse than on Friday. The tent started leaking and Jack started to fuss. We were trapped in the tent while everyone else was across the campsite at the table. I tried to find a dry spot to cuddle but without success. So I sat in the tent, holding Jack, with rain dripping on my head and foot. At first Jack wasn't happy about being held captive. But after he realized Mom wasn't happy either he calmed down a bit and actually snuggled with me. He hardly even snuggles so I figured this was one good thing to come out of the storm. Thankfully, the heavy rain didn't last too long and we were finally able to emerge from the tent - wet mama, wet baby, wet blankets.
But I am happy to say that that was the last of rainy days whilst camping. And it wasn't all horrible. I was able to capture some "morning drizzle at the campground" pictures. And the mixture of puddles after the storm and two 4 year old twins proved highly entertaining to the whole family, as well as all of our camping neighbors.

And the waterfalls the next day were quite impressive. But you'll have to wait another day to hear about them...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Family Vacation - Part I

Last week we went on our first family-of-three summer vacation to my favorite place in the WHOLE WORLD - Pennsylvania. :)
Jon's family has gone camping every summer at Rickett's Glen State Park for quite some time now. A few year's ago in 2002, when my in-laws were in the match-making mode, they invited my family to join them. This is the first time since then that Jon and I have been able to make the trip, and we were very excited about our first camping experience as our own little family.

Aside from the two days that it absolutely poured rain (this will be a separate post), we had perfect weather. Cool enough for jeans and sweatshirts, but warm enough to hike, bike, kayak and play games.
We camped out in a tent for 8 nights, and Jack did surprisingly well. He never got up once in the night, and took great naps despite loud neighbors and squirrels. It must have been all the fresh air! He really ended up being a lot easier than I expected. And it certainly helped that there was always a grandparent, aunt, uncle or cousin ready to entertain him as long as his diaper was clean!
I have to say, early mornings aren't so bad when you have such an adorable face to wake up to. And yes, he's licking the pepper. He didn't seem to mind the taste.
Speaking of new tastes, he also tried a lemon, pickle and wild blueberries that Aunt Rachel picked at the campground. (She was feeding him one at a time until he decided to put his whole face in the bowl). Poppa gave Jack his first sample of ice cream when we went into Eaglesmere one day. Once he figured out that you're not supposed to use your hands, he REALLY liked it.
Camping with a baby who is learning to crawl is quite the experience. I'd set up a nice comfy blanket play area for him with his toys, and within 10 seconds he would roll to the edge and start munching on dirt.
Jon is a little less tolerant than I am, this picture was taken the day I went into town and left Daddy and Jack back at the campsite for some "Boy Time."
1 spoon + 1 cup = 20 minutes of free time for Mom!!
Jack had his very first kayaking experience. He is obviously thrilled to be wearing a life vest.
And Jack's mommy and daddy also had a chance to do a little kayaking of their own, although I spent most of the time watching Jon plow down the lake far ahead of me. We took this picture after he finally slowed down enough for me to catch up with him.
So it appears we have a real campin' boy on our hands!
We're already looking forward to coming back to the beautiful Pennsylvania mountains again next year!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And his first word is ...

... Mamma!! Of course. The other day Jack was talking to himself while playing in his booster seat while I was cleaning dishes or something. All of a sudden I hear him say "Mama." It was pretty exciting, but since no one else was around I was sure Jon would never believe me. It wasn't long before he said it again, and again, and again. He pretty much just goes "mom mom mom momaaaa" all day now. But I would just like to say that it STILL COUNTS as his first word, even if he doesn't realize he's saying my name.

I think the funniest part of this video is Jon worrying about smooshed strawberries. Thankfully Nonnie doesn't mind having her kitchen chairs "painted." Oh and how 'bout when my own flesh and blood pushes me away. Not too happy about that. Apparently he wasn't either.

On a different note, you may have noticed I took a bit of a blogcation last week. Don't be concerned, I haven't quit blogging (don't you hate when people just quit writing on their blogs with no indication whatsoever?!?), we just were of of town for a while making s'mores, kayaking, picking wild blueberries, hiking waterfalls, shopping for bridesmaid dresses, riding rollercoasters and getting new teeth. Curious yet? Lots of exciting things happened so there will be plenty to talk about over the next few days. Unfortunately, I'm not allowing myself to do anything "fun" until I get caught up on my work.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

More Fun in the Yard

Now that our back space is a much more pleasant environment, we've thought up a few more ways to spend more time there. First step, install a swing for Jack. Here's a video of his first time in the swing:

He loves it! I used to love swinging as a kid too, especially that funny little feeling you get in your stomach as you start to drop down again. I think Jack gets that too. You can tell by the way he curls up as he laughs. :) This new addition is also convenient for me. I'll give Jack a few good pushes, then go pull some weeds in the yard, return for a few more pushes, back to pulling weeds, and repeat. I know, sounds like a really good time huh? What can I say, parenthood has changed my life. I now find amusement in the simplest of things.
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