Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quintessential Fall Weekend

A last minute cancellation of guests last weekend and left us with two unplanned days of family bonding and pure autumnal glory.  I'm happy to report that the trees I were beginning to think were either "evergreen" or "turn brown and die" in our neighborhood have begun showing hints of red and gold.  We really miss those beach sunsets, but how I love getting my foliage back!


Our yard has been transformed by recent rain and cooler temperatures.  The soft green grass has been perfect for some soccer, Jack's newest sport.  It's been interesting trying to teach him that "soccer balls go on the ground, footballs go in the air, and neither go in the house!"

Jack was also an excellent helper to his Daddy, who was raking leaves. 




Jude and I took it all in from the sidelines.


Jude's still not sitting up, so my dreams of a fun fall photo shoot are still on hold.  I decided to go ahead and try it out with Jack supporting Jude.  Well, I snapped one picture, one not so good picture that is, before Jack flung Jude off his lap and into the leaves.  It's a good thing Daddy was there to catch him or this could have been disasterous.


After the event Jude was not too keen on photo shoots ... or leaves.  He doesn't say much, but his face makes his sentiments quite clear.



But Jack loves the leaves.  He loves to jump in them, throw them, bury himself, bury his toys, put them in his hair...  He really seems to like autumn.  I wonder where he gets that from?


The weather was simply perfect.  I decided it would be a good time to finish off my garden.  And by finish off I mean clean 'er out.  So the whole gardening thing wasn't too successful, I'll admit.  But I did have fun.  And I got a bounty of tomatoes and one heck of a pesto out of it.  I was pretty excited about the two little peppers I spotted a few weeks ago, until I caught Jack carrying them around.  My poor produce didn't stand a chance with that kid in town. 


Of course, he blamed it all on Jude.


I guess I just didn't realize how much time it would involve, or at least how little time I'd have as a mom of two this summer.  We'll probably take a break next summer since we may end up moving again, so I should be ready to give it a go again after that.


Of course, Jack had no problem helping Mommy rip the old plants out of the garden, since he's been doing that for the past few months.  He also enjoyed free rides in the wheelbarrow.


Sunday night was jack 'o lantern night!  Daddy lit a bonfire and went to work on the pumpkins we got on our trip to the farm.  Of course, by the time I finished feeding Jude, putting him to bed and doing all the dishes it was pitch black outside.  Jack was over the whole pumpkin carving thing, and Jon was already finished with his pumpkin.  And since I don't get a whole lot of opportunities to really express my artistic abilities, I decided to do something a little different than your typical toothy faced jack 'o.  My mistake.  Two hours later and I was still trying to get my carving "just right."  I eventually gave up, and set it out as is. 


Can you guess which one is mine?  Can you guess what mine is supposed to be?  Hubby couldn't.  I just want to say, it looked totally awesome in my head.



And it wouldn't be fall without some harvesty eating.  I fell in love with these Pumpkin Honey Wheat muffins and we tried out our friend Julie's Pumpkin Lasagna, also a winner!  And of course, we roasted all our pumpkin seeds. 


Oddly enough, Jack likes pumpkin seeds.  But he chews them like gum ... all day.  I made him spit out a mouthful before his nap the other day because I was quite positive he would wake up still chewing them.  He thought it was totally cool that Mommy let him spit something into the toilet.  I really need to think before I suggest these things, I fear I may have started something.

So we're discovering that fall in Maryland isn't too bad.  But it's still got nothing on Pennsylvania.  Thankfully we've got a trip on the books.  And it can't come soon enough.  This mama is ready for a break only grandparents know how to provide!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I'm Bookin' It in the Fall

It's been a little busy around here lately.  I'm not quite sure why but the fact that I've only read 3.5 books in the last two months is indication enough that I haven't had much down time.  Now, some of you may think that's a lot but let's keep in mind here that reading is my hottest hobby, my #1 pasttime.  Some people watch TV, some people sew, some people bake, some people do Sudoku.  I read.  And when I don't have time to read I can get a little cranky.  So that is why I try to make sure I have regular, healthy doses of literature year round.  Thankfully books are always in season.

On the other hand, I do feel a bit guilty complaining that I'm busy, or that I need a break or that I don't get enough free time ... and then turn around and say I just finished my fourth book in 8 weeks.  And just so you don't think that I'm lounging on my couch all day with a book on my lap while my 2 year old grabs the grated parmesan cheese off the counter and proceeds to dump it onto the floor and then sweep it back up again (this did just happen tonight but I was doing dishes, not reading), I thought I'd explain just when I indulge in my favorite hobby. 

First of all, I should mention that I'm a fast reader.  And I don't ruminate on sentences and paragraphs.  I didn't realize people did this until I married my husband.  He claims that he will read, and re-read a paragraph several times in order to fully grasp it's meaning.  If something doesn't make sense to me ... I usually just keep reading.  I do underline.  I do not highlight.  Something about painting flourescent yellow lines on crips black-and-white pages doesn't sit well with me.  So I underline, in pencil.  In case I change my mind someday and want to erase it.  I can also read in the car.  And with all the traveling we seem to do this allows me to catch up on lots of reading. 

I do most of my reading at night.  After the boys are in bed, the toys are all picked up, the dishes washed, the laundry folded, and while the hubby is busy studying.  Some weeks I have lots of [real, paying job] work to do.  In that case I don't get much reading done.  But I do try to get at least a few pages in before going to bed.  And if it's a really good book, like it's been lately, that may mean I stay up later than usual.  Which means I try to sleep in as "late" as my boys will let me, which means I'm a little behind in the mornings, which means I may have skipped a shower once or twice this past week.   Which means I fit right in with my sour-milk-clad baby and my "Look Mom I put the greasy popcorn bowl on my head"-hair-did toddler.

Oh, and sometimes I read while I nurse Jude.  Although this has been increasingly more difficult lately.  I noticed that he eats best when it's just me and him, in the quiet front room, on the left side of the couch, with a pillow on either side, when I hold him in tight, he twists his upper hand in my shirt, and I stare into his eyes the entire time.  I noticed that he does not eat well when I'm on the computer, watching TV, in the same room as Jack, and even now - reading.  Just the sound of the page turning makes his eyes go wide and his head fling in every other direction.  Geesh, sensitive much?

I noticed one other thing when I would read and nurse Jude too, and Jon can back me up on this.  The MOMENT I pull out a book, Jude's free hand flies straight up into the air, slaps the page, and immediately begins scratching.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.  Jude is totally my scratcher.  He scratches my shoulder when I'm holding him upright.  He scratches my chest when I'm holding him sideways.  He scratches the bedspread when he's laying on the bed.  He scratches his head when he's tired.  And he scratches the stinkin' page when I'm trying to read! 

And now that I've completely exhausted you with the topic of "reading", I'll just go ahead and share with you what books are keeping me up at night and helping keep Jude's nails filed.

First off, Jon's mom, and excellent source of good books I might add, let me borrow Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith.  It's book #10 in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series.  I haven't read all the books but I just adore this series.  It's completely different than any other fiction I've read.  If you've never heard of the series, it's about a lady detective in Botswana.  But they're not gory body-parts-found-in-the-bottom-of-a-lake kind of mysteries.  They are sweet and light and funny.  And they'll make you feel like you've lived down the street from Botswana all your life.  As a sidenote, HBO started a TV series based on the books last year.  I just started watching them on Amazon on-demand and am in love.  The music and accents really make the stories come alive!  Moving on ...

Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron.  This is the 1/2 book I read this month.  I didn't exactly read it, since it's a "cookbook" of sorts and I'm not the type of person to sit down and read through hundreds of recipes.  But I did get through most of the book on the drive to Connecticut earlier this month.  If you are considering making your own baby food for your little one then I highly recommend this book.  If you are easily overwhelmed with too much information and just want an easy, straightforward resource, then I do not recommend this book.  I mean, it's really good.  And it's not just recipes or baby-food how to's.  She has a section of crafts, a section of making your own cleaning products, a section on parties, etc.  This is also a healthy, organic kind of book.  I learned stuff about flour I never knew before.  So like I said.  It's very good, an excellent resource, but kinda "messy" and overhwhelming.  You can't go through it all at once (I've been working on this book since Jack was little) and you can't expect to do it all.  That said, if you're still interested in making your own baby food and don't want to get the book, I think http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/ is the best website.  It's simple, easy to navigate, and has color pictures.  Something Super Baby Food does not.

One of our new Maryland friends loaned me The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. This was such a refreshing read. A good reminder of why I'm doing what I'm doing. Because, let's face it, sometimes in the middle of haven't-had-a-shower-in-48-hours-and-there's-parmesan-cheese-all-over-the-floor kinda weeks, it's easy to forget. So much of what she said about being a mom just made plain, good sense. I like that. This wasn't my book so I couldn't underline. But I did take notes. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"I needed to nurture my children with my songs, my words, and my physical labor, treating each day as sacred in their development toward becoming healthy, mature adults. I needed to face the reality that all of the "important stuff" I was longing to do had far less eternal significance than what I was involved in doing. If I didn't commit myself wholeheartedly to the demands of motherhood, I would never be able to do my best, because my heart always be somewhere else" (p. 45).


"One of the first things I have always considered was how to make the physical home a giving place - a source of rest, comfort, beauty, peace, and pleasure for those who live there as well as for those who visit" (p. 164).


"Learning to live with the tension of never getting all our work done and still being content is a worthwhile attitudinal goal as we serve our children" (p. 169).

It's nice to know I'm not the only one who never seems to get all her work done.

"... for children to develop a healthy attachment to home, there must be time built in for nurture, instruction, training, and just plain fun - together" (p. 173).

Oh be still my beating heart! This lady and I are so on the same page!

"Children thrive on routine. Daily and weekly routines provide children with a sense of belonging, a sense of confidence in knowing what to do and when to do it, a pride in their own home life and work, and a feeling of stability and constancy in a world that is rife with change. Routines also help parents because they avoid the need for constant and repetitive planning" (p. 173-174).

This was the chapter I was reading that convinced me I needed to let Jack play in the rain. :)
"... one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is exposure to this magnificent creator through the wonderful things he has made. Their appetites for life need to be built on those things that reflect the image of god through the work of His fingers" (p. 187).

Okay, just one more!!
"Homes that are being established and protected by mothers who have a clear vision of their God-designed role can bring refuge and life and hope to a generation of children who need to grow strong in order to be able to battle the storms they will one day face" (p. 225).

Seriously, I think the author had my number while writing most of this book.  There are a few things we might differ on.  And although she doesn't address it in-depth in this book, I think (from reading other things of her's) we would probably part ways on methods of discipline.  That's where Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp comes into play.  This was recommended to me by fellow Coastie wife, Lizzy and I have a feeling it's going to be my go-to book for the next, oh 30 years or so.  I cannot say enough how much this book has helped me to better understand training and instruction and, ugh, discipline.  I think I was caught a little off-guard by this phase of parenthood.  And since Jude was born things have just been snowballing.  And it's confusing.  There are so many different philosophies and trends when it comes to childrearing, it's impossible to learn them all and even more difficult to determine which one is best.  Or it was, until know.  This is what we'll be doing and that's that.  I won't go into it too much, because discipline is personal ... and controversial and we're not about wreaking havoc on this blog.  But I will mention a few things that impressed me.

First, and this should be so obvious by the title of the book and yet it escaped me, is his emphasis on the child's heart.  Not his behavior.  In other words, a child's actions are the result of what's in his heart. "A child's heart determines how he responds to your parenting" (p. 16).  For example, we've been having some issues with Jack unzipping the couch cushions and pulling out the stuffing.  I thought the problem was he was being destructive.  Nope, the problem was that Mommy had told him not to unzip the cushions and he did anyway.  The problem was that he was being disobedient.  Tripp also makes the point that parents are in authority because God has called them to be so, and has commanded us to act as God's agent when dealing with our children.  And when we don't, we're the ones being disobedient.  To borrow a word from my son, "Ouchies."  I guess I never realized the responsiblity was so great. 

Another area he discusses are unbiblical goals to childrearing, such as developing special skills, psychological adjustment, saved children, family worship, well behaved children, and good education. I think I've been guilty of most, if not all of them.  There is only one goal to focus on, and that is "teaching your children to live for the glory of God" (p. 56).  He also address unbiblical methods, distortions of biblical methods, and objections to biblical methods.  And, as a comm studies major myself, I can't help but appreciate his emphasis on communication.  It sounds cliche, but it really is the cornerstone to any healthy relationship, even one between parents and kids.  The final three chapters are devoted specifically to training infants and toddlers, children, and teenagers.  There are a whole lot of snippets and great quotes in this book too, but since I was holding Jude while reading the majority of it, I couldn't underline or take notes.  I plan on going back through it again soon.

Parenting really is an awesome responsibility.  We have a lot to work on with Jack, and most of that work has to take place within ourselves, but I really feel so much better about the direction we're headed and a lot more confident as a parent as well. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Big boy in a big bed

When we found out we were pregnant with a second child, one of the things we started thinking about was sleeping arrangements.  We knew we'd only be in our current house for the baby's first 6-8 weeks, so we didn't mind keeping him in our room until we moved.  We also made it a priority to have a room solely for guests, since we tend to have a lot and we love hosting friends and family.  So our plan was to have the boys share a room once we moved to the new house and Jude was sleeping through the night.  And we did this, for about three nights, and then I changed my mind. :)

The nights were fine, even if Jude was being noisy, Jack rarely woke up and if he did he went right back to sleep.  The problem was in the morning.  When Jude wakes up the first thing he wants to do is nurse, understandably, the boy is hungry!  And when Jack wakes up the first thing he wants to do is snuggle with mom ... all by himself.  So when the boys were sharing a room whoever was up first ended up waking the other boy up and then both boys wanted mommy and the morning went downhill from there.

Our plan was also for Jack to move to a toddler bed and Jude to move into his crib.  We bought the bed and set it up in Jack's room where he spent several months jumping on it and checking things out.  Eventually we realized that Jack would probably not be ready to move to the "big boy bed" by the time the baby arrived.  And the week that Jude was due we started to think that he wouldn't be ready for it even after Jude needed the crib.  We didn't want to put undue pressure on any of us, so we made a last minute purchase on Craigslist and got Jude his own crib.

And so, for the past few months Jude has been sleeping in his crib in the guest room, or the pack 'n play in our room when we have guests, and Jack has been sleeping in his crib in his room and jumping on the toddler bed in his freetime.  Until recently. 

A few days after we returned from our weekend trip to Connecticut Jack decided he wanted to sleep in his big boy bed.  I put him in his jammies, he grabbed his binkies and monkey, and headed straight for the bed.  Now, this wasn't too surprising.  He's done this before.  One time he laid awake for an hour and a half, not moving a muscle except for the occasional blink.  We figured he was scared, so we put him back in the crib.  Another night weeks later he wanted to try it again.  We kissed him goodnight, and then spent the next 20 minutes listenintg to him saying "uh oh, uh oh" over and over again.   We then moved him back to his crib.  He worked up the courage yet again a few weeks after that.  When we went to check on him later that night he was barely in the bed and to avoid any middle-of-the-night incidents Jon moved him back to the crib.  But this night was different.  I could tell my boy was serious.

All things considered, it went pretty well.  For Jack.  I on the other hand, did not get the best night of sleep.  I was constantly getting up to check on him, make sure he was warm and covered, make sure he was still in the bed.  He only cried once, and I ran into his room to find him lying on the floor.  But he wanted to go right back into his big boy bed.  And he stayed there until morning.  He didn't even get out when he woke up.  The second night was even better.  Slept all the way through without falling out.  And I slept a little better too.  The third night I woke up at 3am, checked on him in the monitor, and realized I couldn't see him on the screen.  I grabbed the flashlight, the trusty little thing I keep next to my bed with the dim bulb that's only good for two things:  (1) reading in bed while the hubby is trying to sleep and (2) checking on little boys in the night without disturbing their slumber.  I frantically ran into his room.  He wasn't in the bed, he wasn't under the bed.  He wasn't in the corner.  I couldn't find him anymore.  I was starting to panic.  That was when I tripped over a large object on the floor.  There he was, sound asleep, peacefully unaware of his mother's anxiety.

Nights have been going well since.  Naps are a different story.  Jack went from taking one 2.5-3 (sometimesw 4!!) hour nap to only napping for 1.5 hours.  This was not good.  Not good for Jack and not good for Mommy.  I decided we'd keep at it for one week, and if naps didn't improve he was going back to the crib.  Within 5 days he was back to his regular nap routine. 

And that was it.  Since then it's been smooth sailing.  Too smooth.  I would say it seems that he hasn't learned he can get out of the bed himself yet, but that's not true since he's perfectly capable of bounding out of bed as soon as I open the door.  But he hasn't done it before then ... yet.  And I keep a close eye on him.  Have I mentioned how much I love our video monitor?  Especially now.

Pre-big boy bed.  Upside down in the crib.
There was one time when he reached over the edge of the bed and grabbed a book.  I heard him up there reciting names of farm animals and wondered what on earth was going on?

Jack has never been still in his sleep.  He's always turning, flipping, twisting ...  and he continued in that manner after moving to the big boy bed.  Two things that seem to have helped are a pillow (which we constantly reinforce is where his head is supposed to go) and sheets, which we tuck in as tightly as we can all the way around.  I actually ended up buying a twin sheet on clearance at Target and just cutting it in half and hemming the edges.  Works perfectly.  Well, it would work perfectly.  Jack still manages to wiggle out most of the time.  And when he does, and is awake, you can usually hear him kicking the wall.

The big boy bed is also great for reading bedtime stories.  Jude things he's hot stuff when mommy lets him lay in there with his big brother.  And Jack gets a kick out of sharing his bed.  We've started this little everyone-together-to-read-a-book-before-naptime routine and now Jack refuses to go to sleep calmly until he's received a kiss from Jude.  In other words, Mommy lifts Jude up and smashes his mouth up against Jack's cheek for "kisses."  What a lover!

So now we've got a free crib in the house.  What to do, what to do?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mama's Tea (A Recipe)


I like a nice cup of tea every morning.  Since it's such a integral part of my day, I thought I'd share my special recipe.  It's a bit more work than typical cups o' tea, but the effort is well worth it in the end! 

Mama's Tea

Ingredients:  water
                   1 tea bag

1.)  While balancing baby in one arm, pick up tea kettle with free hand.  Using kettle-laden arm, nudge faucet to begin running water.  Swing kettle under running water at just enough angle to keep handle from getting wet. 

2.)  Turn on stove, set kettle on to boil.  (You'll know the stove is good and hot when the water that you accidentally dripped down the kettle during swinging/filling action begin to sizzle.)  Sit down to nurse hungry baby.

3.)  Interrupt quieted/eating baby with kettle whistle.  Walk over to stove while still holding and nursing baby to turn off burner.  Settle back into nursing, while warding off acrobatic toddler attempting to terrorize formerly calm baby.

4.)  Finish feeding baby and realize tea water is no longer hot.  Turn stove back on and replace kettle.

5.)  Set baby down and begin preparing toddler's breakfast.

6.)  While toddler is eating set out tea bag and mug that is clean or most suits the day's mood.
6.)  When kettle begins to whistle again, let it go a little longer while you use washcloth to clean yogurt out of toddler's hair.  Continue to let kettle whistle louder until it begins to drown out toddler Tarzan's yells.

7.)  Get Tarzan out of highchair, throw washcloth in sink, use wet hands to pick up kettle (hear sizzling as water drips from hands to stove, indicating that your stove is in good, working order).

8.)  Pour boiling water into mug with tea bag.  Inevitably sucking tea bag tag down into pool of tea water.

9.)  Let tea steep on counter while you change baby's diaper.

10.) Continue to let tea steep on counter while you change toddler's diaper.

11.)  Remove tea bag from mug, using spoon since tag is completely water-logged.  The change in volume should leave a dark ring around inside of mug, indicating tea was left to steep longer than is necssary.  Throw tea bag in trash can. 

12.)  Add milk to tea to offset extreme, overly steeped darkness.

13.)  Pick up fussing baby, add sugar.

13.)  Put fussing baby down for a nap, return to tea.

14.)  Realize tea is now cold, zap in microwave for a few seconds.

15.)  Note smell arising from toy room, take toddler for a second diaper change.

16.)  While upstairs, decide to put away laundry and clean up books.

17.)  Remember tea, now cold again.  Zap in microwave a few more seconds.

18.)  Remove from microwave, add sugar.  Realize mid-pour you've already done that earlier and immediately stop, spilling sugar on counter.

19.)  Mop up sugar.  Stir tea with spoon.

20.)  Pick up tea bag toddler retrieved from trash can and swung around the room.  Replace in trash.

21.)  Let tea sit and cool "just a bit" while reading books to toddler.

22.)  Recall tea, take a few lukewarm sips while toddler hangs off legs asking for a movie.

23.)  Put movie in for toddler.

24.)  Receive phone call from student, provide 15 minutes of counseling.

25.)  Recall tea, take a few cool sips, check email.

26.)  Hear baby wake from nap.  Nurse baby with one hand and attempt to take a few more sips of tea with other.  Dribble tea on baby when the spoon you forgot to remove slides around the rim and bumps you on then nose.  Momentarily panic that you have burned your child.  Then realize the baby didn't even notice because by now tea is thoroughly cooled.

27.)  Change diaper, take sip of tea.  Play with puzzles, take sip of tea.  Chase toddler outside, leave tea on counter.

28.)  Make lunch, feed Tarzan.  Recall tea, add ice and serve with lunch.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

All about Autumn


I love quiet, relaxing Sunday afternoons.  I'm sitting here in my comfiest sweats, half-watching Sense and Sensibility for the upteenth time and writing up a grocery list which includes tasty fall treats like squash and pears and a menu plan indicating stew and pumpkin pancakes in the near future.  Both boys are napping ... well, one is.  I can still here the littlest boy fighting off his nap, giggling in the monitor.  I can easily picture him laying on his back, feet straight up in the air, chubby little hands trying to grasp fuzzy socks, and aimlessley rolling to and fro in the process.  Hmmm, now the monitor has gone quiet.  Perhaps he's finally succombed to sleep.


And it's chilly.  The boys are sleeping with blankets now, or at least they start out that way, and those adorable footed jammies.  Unfortunately, the cold also means I end up with a few snotty noses in my photos, and it means waking up at night to the sound of sniffing and coughing coming from the boys' rooms.  Poor little Jude-bug has been dealing with a nasty cough for over a week now.  It's just starting to get better, but not until after I've spent two different nights in his room.  Let me tell ya, slumber parties with a baby are not nearly as fun as they were 15 years ago with my girlfriends.  And yet I still love the chilly weather.  I've packed up all the shorts.  The hoodies are out, which, if you remember from Jack's first winter, is our wardrobe of choice around here. 


And I actually use the hoods for more than just looks.  Someone asked why Jude's hood was up the other day.  To keep his downy head warm of course!  Okay, I will admit that when Jack was a wee babe I did keep his hood up because he was a little baldy.  I thought it made a good substitute for both looks and warmth.  But I have to confess, there is another reason I keep my son's hoods up when they're little.  I'm always afraid that during naptime, when they're rolling about in their beds, they may accidentally gag themselves on the hood.  So I put it up for naps ... and then end up forgetting to put them back down again.  And now that I've expended entirely too much energy on the hood, I'll move on to other favorite fall aspects.


Mums and pumpkins.  I feel like fall can't officially start until I get my mums and pumpkins on my porch.  And going out to get them always reminds me of the final days leading up to Jack's birth.  I still remember dragging Jon out to the store, waddling around the garden center when I was "great with child" and finally feeling ready for our new baby to come after we had the flowers and pumpkins set up on the porch.

Candles.  Love them.  So does Jon.  We've both make a bad habit of just "picking up a few" when we're out running errands.  Of course, the ones I buy are always on clearance!  But I'm glad my counterpart is a splurger because, as overpriced as it is, Yankee Candle's "Farmer's Market" might be my most favorite scent in the whole world.  Just light that thing and the entire atmosphere of our house changes.  The temperature drops a few degrees, I'm suddenly in the mood to make something from scratch, and even our over-sized den begins to feel cozy and snug.

But of courses, a candle is just a substitute for the real thing.  The real aroma of autumn.  The most delicious rotten smell ... of leaves! 


Our neighbor was out raking the other day, complaining that as soon as he was done more leaves would fall down and need raked up the next day.  I didn't want to appear smug, otherwise I would have explained to him that after 4 years of living at the beach, I had been counting down the days until enough leaves were on the ground to rake into a huge pile. 





Not only was I intent on teaching Jack the skill of leaf-pile-jumping, but I had this long-formed dream of dressing both my boys in matching sweaters and snapping pictures of them smiling in a pile of colorful leaves. 






That dream remains unfulfilled for several reasons... Jude hasn't yet learned to sit up on his own, he also still needs to grow into the sweater I bought him that matches Jack's (back in the early stages of pregnancy when I thought I might end up with another large baby), and the leaves around here are dull brown, not colorful. To top it all off Jude's not really a fan. 



As soon as he woke up from his nap I ran him out the door and plopped him in the leaves with Jack.  Ensue screamfest.  "Ohhh sweet baby Mommy's sorry, I didn't mean to scare you!"  There are no pictures because I scooped him right back up and tried to calm his shaking self.  He was a little tense from the whole ordeal and it was several hours before he finally released the last bit of crispy leaf clenched in his tiny fist.


And I'm reminded once again of how different these two little boys are... and how much I adore them both and all their little differences!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Jack's Birthday Festivities

Jack had a low-key birthday this year.  We'll be going home soon to celebrate with the extended family so we just did a little sumpin' sumpin' for him this week, just us.  And actually, the fun started a little before the big day when we went to visit a farm with some of our neighborhood friends.





Jack was in his element!  There was a tractor with a hay wagon, animals to pet and practice making animal sounds with, a corn kernel pit with toys, a hay bale maze with a slide and a big pumpkin patch to pick out his very own pumpkin!  He really had a great time, and definitely was not ready to leave.  I had fun to, but am learning the hard way just how much I can take on by myself with two little ones.  It's quite difficult to nurse a baby and chase down a toddler who is about to run into the road.  It's impossible to hold a sleeping Jude and a squirming Jack at the same time on the hay wagon.  And try loading a baby and a not-ready-to-leave-yet tearful toddler into the car without leaving one behind.  Thankfully we have some friends that could lend a hand with Jack.



And the day before Jack's birthday Jon and I reminisced throughout the day about that special date two years ago.  "This time 2 years ago Mommy and Daddy were walking around the neighborhood waiting for you to come out!"  "This time 2 years ago is when Mommy started to say, 'Ouch, this hurts!'"  "This time 2 years ago we started to think you didn't want to come out and meet us" ... And Jon and I were reminded again of how blessed we are to be able to fondly recall the labor and birth of our both our boys.  Two awesome yet different experiences that I never, ever want to forget.

Jon went into school late so that we were able to spend the morning together as a family.  After breakfast Jack had some presents to open.  And I can see, once again, how very much he resembles his father.


Jack showed little emotion during present opening.

He most definitely does not get this from me.


I may have home videos hidden away of me yelling, bouncing, dancing, etc. while opening presents.
Jack, on the other hand, keeps his anticipation well hidden.

Oh, there's something resembling excitement!

He did liven up a bit more after the trains came out of the boxes and we played together on the floor.




And of course it wouldn't be a birthday without cake. Marmie is working on a special one for our visit, but just for kicks Jack and I whipped up some banana cupcakes for after-lunch. Baking with Jack remains a challenging endeavor. Everything goes in the bowl, every spoon, measuring cup, ingredient ... at least to begin with. A few stirs later and half the ingredients have been tossed out of the bowl. I'm constantly trying to determine how much of something that is now splattered on the counter I should re-add to the bowl.



Amazingly they still tasted divine!  Happy 2nd Birthday Jack!
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