Sunday, February 28, 2010

One of the Best Days Ever

This morning I got to sleep in until 7:05ish. Then Nick and I got up. Xander slept in until 8:00 (came in at midnight from the Monster Truck Jam). By 8:40, Nick was in independent playtime in the playpen, Xander was watching Dora the Explorer, I had taken a shower, and Erik was up. Nick's nap time came shortly after, while Xander played dinosaurs and knights in his room. Erik and I had a good hour together to plan our backyard vegetable/fruit garden.

I went to meeting and on the way back bought a soil tester. When I arrived home, there was lunchtime and outdoor time while Erik and I talked some more about our garden plans. At nap time, he and I worked on digging the garden. It was the most beautiful day for gardening: not too hot but kind of warm, not very windy, sunny, and peaceful. We talked and did some manual labor. (Erik's job was more labor than mine; he dug and turned dirt, and I pulled out grass and roots and shook the dirt out before putting the detritus in our compost bin.)

It's only 3:10pm, Nick is starting to wake up happily, Xander's still sleeping, and Erik and I have Home Date Night tonight! I have some small plans...

Erik just told me we have 100 square feet of garden. Yippee!

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Okay, I just asked Nick, "Who is that?" pointing at Xander. He paused, looked at me, and said, "Dan-luh."


Nick definitely does the "milk" sign, but sometimes I think he uses it when he just wants me to pick him up. Milk = me. I = milk.

Sounds like he's saying a mushed form of "Xander," too.

Xander and Daddy go to Monster Truck Jam tonight. We'll see how it goes. It's from 7 to 11pm or so in an outdoor stadium on a chilly, rainy day. But maybe the love of truck will overcome all.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

First Word

Nick said "eye" today! I think. Every time I ask, "Where's my eye?" he points to it and squeals, "Aaaaaaaahhhhhh!" It doesn't sound like a word, it sounds like a squeal, but it is similar to "eye" and he makes the sound the same way every single time. I took a little video of it to prove or disprove his first word, depending on what the observer decides. ;)

Wintertime Activity As North Florida Warms Up

Nick used our laundry basket on its side as a walker yesterday and got across the room. He also signed "milk" back to me.

He has not been stoic about teething, to say the least, but is now sleeping soundly for his nap.

So, just now Xander and I made Marshmallow Snowmen (got the idea from Children's Learning Activities). He was very happy because he's been asking to eat marshmallows for a while now. They are in our bellies now, but here are pictures:

The last photo was Xander's idea.

For the past few days we have been having the most gorgeous spring weather. Yesterday it was about 75 degrees and sunny. We spent time outside at the water table, washing some of Xander's outdoor kitchen toys with sudsy water. Even Nick was able to play happily at the table, but I had to evacuate him when he insisted on scooping up water and suds with his fist and slurping on them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


We are getting to the point that I can leave the boys alone together for sibling playtime for about four minutes. Four minutes can be a long time! Today I got a couple rooms vacuumed in four minutes. :)

The living room was set up for the maximum kiddie entertainment potential: dinosaurs on the couch, rattling plush toys on the coffee table, a tablecloth draped over an end table and a chair to form a crawling tunnel, and Nick's toy shelf with colorful nesting/stacking/interlocking cups.

I mopped the living room and kitchen around them, too. Woohoo! Good day so far.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Case of the Mondays?

Bad news: Nick has a cold on top of the teething pain.
Good news: He was opening his mouth so wide to cry that I could see the tooth coming out of his top gum. Left incisor is what I think it's called. I'm sure the one on the right side will be out any day now.

We're going to pick up Xander from preschool now so we'll see what he's been up to today!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Activity Schedules

We don't follow this exactly every day - when we have good days we usually do half of the schedule and the other half is more spontaneous - but I thought it would be interesting to post the kids' daily activities at this age. Some of these activities are pretty set in stone: wake-up, meal times, naps, read-aloud, learning activities, and bedtime are solid.

Xander - 3 years, 11 months old

7:30  Wake up and eat breakfast. Do chores with Mommy. (brush teeth, comb hair, pick up toys if any are out, wipe off placemat, wipe and dry coffee table, set table with help, make bed, sometimes dust or wash base of toilet) Get dressed.
8:00  Watch SuperWhy with some toys.
8:30  Sibling playtime on a blanket in the living room. Have to get creative on things they can and will share. (blocks, bathtime tugboat, Little People items, stacking/nesting cups, sometimes cars)
9:00  Snack; free playtime.
9:30  Sometimes Quiet Bag practice.
10:00 Play outside.
11:00ish Eat lunch.
11:30 Structured playtime at a table. (puzzles, workbooks, coloring, working on manners...)
12:00 Outside, maybe walk to the playground, maybe weed, maybe errands.
12:45 Read-aloud.
1:00  Rest time with books, audiobooks, sometimes a story video.
2:30 Snack and learning activities.
3:00   Roomtime with building activities. (wooden blocks, Duplo blocks, Trio blocks, Constructables, wooden tool box, pounding pegs block)
4:00   Free playtime, possibly errands or outside time.
5:00   Watch Go, Diego, Go!
5:30   Dinner with family.
6:00   Hang out with Daddy.
7:00   Bathtime.
7:30   Clean up toys and get ready for bed.
7:45   Have books read to him.
8:00   Bedtime.

Nick - 9 months old

7:00  Wake up and nurse; eat breakfast.
7:45  Independent playtime in playpen with Spanish music on.
8:15  Nick's crawl time, but more likely these days it's standing and cruising time, or sibling playtime.
8:30  Sibling playtime, or morning nap.
9:00  Nap.
11:00 Nurse; eat lunch.
11:45 Blanket time or errands.
12:00 Outside time or errands, read-aloud.
1:00 Naptime.
3:00  Nurse; eat snack foods.
3:30ish Cruising time with baby signing DVD on, or errands or outside time.
5:00  Independent playtime in playpen.
5:30  Family dinner.
6:00 or 6:30  Bathtime and get ready for bed.
7:00  Nurse; bedtime.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Something They Can Both Get Into

Nick learned to roll cars back and forth on Thursday!

I think they were both trying to tell someone what to do in that last one!

Forts, Cars, and Rescues

This is part of what Xander and I did today:

Can you see the occupant?

Hint: He's peeking out the "door."

Meanwhile, poor Nick is fussing in bed. He's definitely teething. High temperature (but not fever), drool that makes puddles on the floor, crying in bursts and then being happy, grabbing things out of my hand to jam them in his mouth, refusing his solids, and bright red cheeks. I'll be carrying him around more than usual today when the Tylenol's not helping.

He's really into Xander's cars. Xander recently found the wooden baby cars and trucks and re-integrated them into his toy supply (of course). I just had an idea for Xander's birthday present to Nick: the wooden vehicles. But that's not for three months or so. Xander did share them with Nick this morning, but very watchfully and with a few rescue missions. "Help, help! Save me!" the wooden vehicles would cry, and then Xander would look at me to gauge my reaction before trying to gently extricate the vehicle in question from Nick's grasp. It's a process. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is It Right Side Up?

Another academic in training:

Both Sleeping!

The trick to having Xander sleep for his nap again is to have his friend JT over for the morning.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seven Things I Love Right Now

Things I love about what the kids are doing right now:

1. Nick's happy babbling "bah-bah-bah" or "da-da da-da." When he gets done nursing, he is always happy and invariably does the "da-da" babble. Go figure.

2. Nick yelling in the car and Xander yelling in return, "Owwwwwwww! Nick, I don't like that sound!" Okay, it's not that great being in the car while they're doing this, but it is awfully cute in retrospect.

3. Xander arguing with me and Erik, "No, I love you!" "No, I love you!"

4. Xander's imaginative play.

5. Nick's bliss about simply standing at the coffee table.

6. Nap/rest time!

7. Being home with me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Did I already write this? Xander was calling bamboo "bam-boom" for a day. I loved it, loved it, loved it, but I felt I had to correct him. He corrected it quickly. Darn. It was too cute.

Today Nick ate an English muffin with cream cheese and spinach, blueberries, strawberries, steamed red peppers, two full pancakes, and a banana. That's on top of nursing four times. He was a happy babe.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Making Strides

Nick is playing in his playpen. I have to shut the door most of the way when he does this or else he gets upset watching Mommy walk by. It's been a lee-tle too quiet the last few minutes, so I peeked. He's lying on his side with his head snugly inside his fabric toy bin. Cozy. I can't get a picture of it because every time I get near him with this laptop (the only camera we have now) he tries to get to the computer and stops doing whatever was so cute.

While Erik and Xander drove Johanna to the airport this morning :(, I took Nick to the grocery store. He had a grand time, especially using his new pointing skill to touch my nose. For once, I had the bagger help us out to the car, so he pushed the cart with Nick riding in the front. I asked Nick, "Do you know how to say hi? Do you know how to wave?" After a few seconds, he actually smiled at the boy and raised a hand and moved it up and down. It's so hard at this stage to know what's coincidence and what's not, but here are some other things he did today: When we went to wake up Erik, he said clear as day, "Da-da!" He said the same thing when Erik walked out the door a few minutes ago to go to his second job. This morning I told him he had to say bye-bye to Aunt Johanna and when she picked him up, he took a big breath and said, "Bah!"

I have a feeling he's leaving the fussy phase behind and entering a really fun phase! Today he really got down to business and put a bunch of fishsticks and tortillas in his belly.  Xander is starting to be envious of Nick's meals and asks for the same foods. We're starting to merge into having similar meals. Nick will still pick up vegetables and sort of eat them, but he makes the most awful faces. I don't know if I posted this already, but Nick can now cruise down one side of the coffee table. He does it in stealth mode so we don't actually see him walking. Suddenly he's just down at the other end. I do see the studious look he gets on his face as he contemplates moving off the table toward something that catches his eye. He lets go, and to his dismay, plop! I catch him more than half the time, but I can't say 100% of the time. He doesn't like being put down on the floor to crawl anymore.

Xander wrote a whole page of X's today of his own volition! That makes me happy because I was going to spend the next couple of months helping him write his name and this gives us a head start. So far he insists he wants to write his full name, Alexander, which is going to make the whole process a little more painful I think. Oh well.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Xander's used to be Xanderpants, but we don't use it very often anymore. I think I'm passing it down to the baby doll that looks like Xander as a baby.

Nick's nickname (ha ha) is Nickaroni and Cheese. That's what Xander and I have decided. There are so many good ones, though.  Oh, no! I'm drawing a blank on all of them. Trust me, we had a good list going a few months ago.

Erik's and Kristy's only nicknames are Mommy and Daddy or "mo-om" and Da-Da.

I'm starting to think Aunt Johanna's "Nick" name is Da-Ya, but who knows for certain.

More Milestones for Nick

I asked him to give me five today and he lifted up his hand to me! I slapped it and said, "Good job, Nick!" Then we repeated about a dozen more times. He did it for Xander, too.

On a whim, I asked him where Mommy's nose is. He reached right out and grabbed it.

Now I'm going to be a lot more serious about telling him NOT to grab Mommy's hair!

He also did a really good job standing with something to hold onto. I could tell from the concentration on his face that he was trying an experiment when he pulled one arm slowly away and tried to turn and take a step. It didn't work out this time. He wasn't happy about it. I really think these kinds of developmental experiments are contributing to his crying and screaming at nap times.

Blogging During the Afternoon Hush

Xander is doing so well with "yes, ma'am"! He's been so cooperative the last two days and I think most of the improvement comes from the time I've spent with him. It's not just him looking into my eyes as we communicate, it's me looking into his eyes as well--giving him full attention.

Again, Nick is crying through his naps. I keep wondering about teething...

I got a suggestion to keep a special item or animal on the changing table and in his bed that he only gets to be with during diaper changes or sleep times. He does have a blankie that is only for sleep times and a squeaky stuffed book for diaper changes, but I love her ideas about an animal or item that can be "part of the family" that he can look forward to being with for naps and bedtime. I am in the midst of trying to knit him a stuffed duck but it won't be completed anytime soon. I just can't teach myself how to use double-pointed needles with online tips and a few sentences from the pattern book.

Maybe the baby doll that looks like Xander can do dances and talk to him while he's getting his diaper changes. I'm sure I'm not the first mom to say this, but if only I had five arms...

The title to this post only applies to the last few minutes. Nick finally fell asleep again and Xander is being discreet if not sleeping in his bed.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Learning, Fussing, and Flourishing

Nick is in the middle of a developmental leap, or wonder week. There's a book called Wonder Weeks that talks about "eight great fussy phases" babies go through as they're learning and growing. I just found the blog that I linked to above. It has a lot of information in it but I don't know who writes it. These are some things the blogger pulled from the Wonder Weeks book about week 37--the one Nick is coming up on (my comments are in red):

Signs to be on the look out for…
  • cling to your cloths and hold on tight to you  does clinging tightly to your hair count? ouch!
  • shy  uh, no
  • demand more attention  uh, yes
  • have nightmares  who knows, but this is interesting since he has started crying out in the middle of the night and then falling back asleep
  • act unusually sweet  sometimes
  • refuse to have diaper changed  this is our worst symptom; he screams bloody murder
  • seem more babyish   
  • lose appetite   a little
  • cries more often/ cranky   for sure
  • sleeps poorly     pretty much
  • babbles less    
  • less lively
  • sometimes sits quietly, looks like he is daydreaming     I guess, for about two minutes a day
  • sucks thumb or does so more often than before    he always sucks his thumb when he's getting tired
  • reaches for a cuddly toy
New skills your baby is acquiring… (may do some, but not all)
  • Classify world into groups (Understand the category horses despite what they look like: spotted horses, brown horses, white horses)
  • begin to under stand what makes something…big, small, heavy, light, soft, sticky, happy, mean, etc.
  • understands names of animals or objects. When you ask, “where’s ______?” she will look for it.
  • shows that she thinks something is funny by making a special sound or movement    he tries to chuckle with us and it is kind of an eerie sound
  • may be able to repeat words after you   more like syllables
  • imitate and mimic what you do
  • relates more to other people with sounds and gestures   Today he did this game with me where he laid on his side, looked back over his shoulder, and reached his fist in the air...then he laughed really hard whenever I grabbed it. He repeated this about six times.
  • recognizes people, even in a unrelated situation
  • makes silly faces at his mirror image and might laugh
  • might become jealous if mom or dad are giving attention to another child
  • may start crying when another baby or child cries    did this today, too--I wish Xander hadn't run into the coffee table (sound like him at all?) and screamed out in pain
  • might exaggerate his mood to let everyone else know how he is feeling   yeah, all his modes of expressing seem exaggerated
  • may ask you to play with him- get your attention to do so  if he asked nicely, that would be better :(

Leslie, there's a wonder week at 26 weeks, so if Foster was extra fussy a few weeks ago, that could have been the culprit. But maybe he was just his sweet baby self. :)

Xander's sleeping for his nap today. He's been really tired but just not taking that afternoon nap. Today it's raining steadily and I think that puts everyone in a sleepy mood. I started working pretty hard with him this morning on first-time obedience (a Babywise/Childwise concept) and he responded so well. He is a sweet, responsive, marvelous child when I take the time to be 100% consistent in the way I approach him. Part of first-time obedience is getting him to respond and give me eye contact when I call his name. He does fine with this when I emphasize it. A really important part of this is for me to give him eye contact when he wants to tell me something. At least half the time I can't do this because I'm on the phone with his daddy or making dinner or nursing Nick, but if I can give his communication that kind of attention four times a day or so, he flourishes.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Visits to Parks

Yesterday we met Grandma Bonnie at Mike Roess Goldhead Branch State Park, or some such long name. Xander got a chance to play with new "friends" at the playground whom he had just met. They looked about 6 to 8 years old. He made sure to introduce Grandma Bonnie to his friend when she arrived. Then we looked for a geocache that gave hints at each place for where to find the next hint until we finally got to the cache itself. This one made a little more sense than ones we've looked for in the past, so Johanna and Erik were easily able to find the clues at each stage. The highlight was a big moss-monster someone had made along the side of the road. Xander loved it (but I have to say it was a hit with the adults, too). Nick likes being outdoors and enjoyed being passed around a little bit, but the car trip was not as enjoyable for him. Xander was sad to leave Grandma.

Today Xander's teacher, Ms. Nokosha, said that he was really good. According to Xander, he said, "Yes, ma'am," to her today, so maybe that helped. ;)

He has stopped sleeping for his naps--again. Most days last week he did not sleep for nap, although he did sleep on the way to the park yesterday.

Today after picking Xander up from school, we all went to Walter Jones Historical Park to explore, on Johanna's suggestion. It was a very pretty park and I think we will go back with Erik soon. There is no playground and not much to do, but there are nice places to sit and eat throughout and two museums. It's an old farmstead site on the river and features reconstructed barn, wine press, and home, a museum, a boardwalk along the river, cute gardens of cabbages, assorted greens, snowpeas, and herbs, and a small, young citrus grove. We met a couple of nice older parties with good dogs. The park is about a 20-minute drive if we hit red lights all the way.

This week Erik starts his second job delivering pizzas. I wonder if it will help with his reflux indirectly by making him so tired of looking at pizza that he doesn't want to eat it anymore. Maybe?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Fun

Daddy and Xander are having quality Dora the Explorer time. Daddy has more success than most people getting Xander to interact with the show when they ask questions.

I decided to start teaching Xander "yes, sir," and "yes, ma'am." I think his dad will like it when he starts doing it regularly, and it will probably give him major early-preschool-brownie-points with his teacher. The woman really does work hard with a room full of three-year-olds at various stages of development. Half the time she says Xander did really well, but the other half of the time the reports have been, "had an accident," "moody," "did not want to share," "was upset to stop cleaning up," "holds his crayon wrong," and "I've been trying to keep those shoes of his tied all day long." I'm not making him sound like the little angel I believe he is, am I? Oh well, they are probably all his parents' fault and we do work on them at home. I think of this one morning a week at preschool as a laboratory to see what he needs to work on. Back to the "yes, sir," "yes, ma'am," training: He thought it was fun at first, but the sparkle quickly wore off. So I made up a sign for "sir" and "ma'am" because there are no generally accepted signs for those terms in ASL. I do the "yes" sign and then point to my left eyebrow for "ma'am" and my right eyebrow for "sir." He loves it, and responded correctly when I signed to him to answer "yes, sir," after his dad asked him to do something tonight.

We got Xander's voluntary pre-kindergarten certificate last week (after two trips and about 45 minutes in line) to bring to his preschool on Monday morning. This is our first official school registration for our oldest child and it makes me feel strange and sentimental.

Nick's drool was dropping like water balloon bombs today. You could hear it splat on the floor. I hope he's getting another tooth or two soon because then his different behavior these days can be blamed on teething.

Xander just answered Boots and Dora by calling the red path "rojo." But this morning he told me he was counting in Spanish and then proceeded to count from one to ten in English.

I helped Xander finish some valentines today by gluing pieces of a beautiful watercolor painting he made to the back of pink papers that had his "X" on them. I had laid out the watercolors, his paintbrush, a paper, and a jar of water and went to take my shower. I know, I'm very trusting. I also left out his pencil box that had some markers and colored pencils in it. When I got out, I saw that he had made a couple of magnificent bright paintings by taking the colored pencils and dipping them in the wet watercolors and then "painting" with the pencil tips. I had not told him he could use the pencils, but I had not told him he couldn't, and the pictures were so beautiful I just praised him when I came out and showed him how he could do something similar with a toothpick.

Just one more story from today: I put Nick in his playpen for independent playtime this evening. He is now able to take his toys out of a basket and enjoys doing that very much. So I put one basket of toys in with him as well as his soft ball and car toy. I left to finish up dinner.

Xander came running up to me giggling and talking about one of Nick's books.

"Did you help Nick by giving him some more toys to play with?" I asked on a hunch.

Giggling. "Yes."

"I bet he likes that," I said.

"Yes," said my little giggle-monster.

I went to check out the situation and found Nick lying on his back in the middle of every single toy and book from his room. He was having a wonderful time. It reminded me of Scrooge McDuck diving into his piles of gold, or a dragon lying on its treasure.

Xander is now reading a Bob book to Erik. Almost nothing makes me happier than hearing that.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Silent Meeting

Xander and I have been doing Quiet Bag silent practice time more consistently. He wants to come with me and Aunt Johanna this Sunday when we go to Quaker meeting. I don't like to take him every time because I think he may be a bit of a distraction for the others, but on the other hand I want him to be around those lovely people and to learn a bit about the atmosphere of silent worship.

He does amazing when he's there, actually. He takes the animals, books, and puzzles out of his Quiet Bag and plays silently for the entire hour (with one or two breaks to softly sing some ABCs). Did I post what he did last time we went? I was so proud of him. ;) He came over to me silently from his play corner and mouthed the words "I have to go to the bathroom." Silently we left the room, went upstairs to the only open bathroom, did his business, and came back down where he silently went back to the corner to play. Granted, at the end of the meeting, he brought his animals to the center of the circle and talked to everyone about them, monopolizing much of the conversation. When I said it was time to pack up and go home, he exclaimed sadly, "But I have to play in the middle and they have to watch me!" Very funny, but not ideal.

Christmas Family Photos

First of all, I am very sorry for the sideways pictures. I will try to come back to clean them up later. Believe me when I tell you it would take me hours if I went to work on it right now. I'm challenged, okay? Second, I am hereby making a note that our family should just make goofy faces for family portraits. Nothing else seems to come out quite right.

The traditional picture of Erik reading to the older kids:

The knight is about to kiss his princess--look how wonderful a job Leslie did on the dress-ups for the kids!

Xander and Daddy taking a closer look at cousin Foster.

Awwwwww, it's Grandma and Foster.

Holiday spread...but it looked better with all the food on it! Yum.

Well, Daddy/Uncle Erik is almost hidden, anyway.

Grandma Bonnie and Nick.

It's us. I think the holiday celebrations wore us out!

Nick's checking out Daddy's photo expression.

Here you get a good look at Nick's faux-hawk.

Yikes, the Mom-Bangs.

An extra huge third or fourth or fifth thank-you to Leslie and Jeremy for hosting us for such a special and memorable Christmas.

Family Photos

Erik's co-worker, Elizabeth Carwell, gave us a Christmas gift of a family portrait photo session at the beach. We said, Thank you, now we don't have to look like two single-parent families anymore. :) I'll post a few of our favorites and then the link to her album of many more pictures. By the way, it was a very windy, stormy day at the beach!

Now I just have to figure out where I stored the family portraits Leslie took for us during Christmas. It really is absurd how my technical knowledge flew out the window with our second child. But we have an embarrassment of riches for family photos now, thanks to two lovely ladies!

Photos of the Brothers

This is from a series of pictures I took trying to show Nick's two new teeth (front bottom). Didn't get a good one of the teeth, but I did get a few that look scary. Here's one of the nice ones.

Aunt Johanna is in town!

Sibling playtime this morning. It went over better than it usually does.

A not-so-clear example of Nick's high-leg calisthenics. He likes to lie on his side and lift one leg up like he's following a Cindy Crawford exercise video.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Before Bed You Have To...

Xander was told he had to try to go pee before bedtime, even though he said he didn't have to go.

After going just a tiny bit, he said, "Awwwwww, I didn't make the water yellow."