Monday, December 31, 2012

Another Year Has Passed (3) - 2012

Exercise #3

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before? Had a baby! Was a parent!

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I will write a whole other post about this!!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
A friend! Welcome Henry!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
RIP Grandma Flowers

5. What countries did you spend time in this year?
Just America.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012? A second pregnancy? More money? Job Satisfaction?00

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Benjamin's Birth0000

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Not sucking as a parent.

9. What was your biggest failure? Lack of organization, lack of health living.

10. Did you suffer any serious injury or illness? Childbirth, a nasty 5hr GI bug



11. What was the best thing you bought? A house!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? DH is an awesome father! And my family has done so much to help us since moving here.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and/or depressed? Politicians, psychopaths.

14. Where did most of your money go? daycare, moving and house stuff

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The birth of our first child! Our big trip down to KS/MO for Thanksgiving. A lot of Benjamin's "firsts"

16. What song will always remind you of 2011? Sexy and I Know It.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier
b) thinner or fatter? thinner
c) richer or poorer? poorer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? unpacking! Kiss the baby - can never do that too much.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Worrying

20. How did you spend Christmas? With my parents. Poor DH was sick!

21. Did you fall in love in 2012? Yep, with a little man named Benjamin

22. What are the main websites you used? Gmail, Columbus Nesties message board, facebook, blogspot

23. Did you write anything worth reading this year? no

24. What was your favorite TV program? I hardly watched any....football?

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? No one specific. Just the group of politicians who are refusing to negotiate. Driving me nuts!

26. What was the best book you read?Dandelion WIne

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? nothing new

28. What did you want and get? A baby! A house and job in Duluth

29. What did you want and not get? lottery win

30. What was your favorite film of this year? Les Miserables? Hunger Games?

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? 28.... I am sure I spent it with family. Details are iffy...

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Winning the lottery.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012? Whatever fits.

34. What kept you sane? DH, "this too shall pass"

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Hey Girl.....

36. What political issue stirred you the most? I was pissed at everyone in congress for their general lack of progress and cooperation.

37. Who did you miss? My Graduate School Friends, my ILs

38. Who was the best new person you met? a couple of work people

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012? Life is short and transient, enjoy every second!

40. What word or phrase sums up this year? Benjamin

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Another Year Has Passed (2) - 2012

Exercise #2
 The instructions are simple:
Post the first lines of the first entry of each month of the past year.

January
My New Years Resolutions in 2011 were quite ambitious, and many of them went out of the window as soon as I got into the process of being pregnant.

February
Baby Benjamin is 4 weeks, 1 day old today!

March
I know, I have been somewhat neglecting non-baby posts. I haven't been HORRIBLE, but have not been making as many of them as I would hope. Perhaps sometime I will correct that, but not today, because today Benjamin is 8 weeks old!!

April
Benjamin turned three months old today! See? He says so!!

May
I joined an internet group for Duluth mothers on Meet Up. I am hoping to make some new friends, ideally a couple who have kids around the same age as Benjamin. After backing out twice, I finally made it to an event yesterday - May Day coffee.

June
There is much I could post about, but I really feel like the blog needs a quick break from "baby baby baby". So, instead I want to write a quick note about nature.

July
Boy do I owe you an update! To say things have been a bit crazy around here would be an understatement. Let me run you through the past week.

August
Today Benjamin turned 7 months old! How time flies! I feel like I just posted his six-month pictures (maybe that is because they were two weeks late). He is growing again!

September
Summer is over. Not officially per the weatherman, but unofficially per the date on the calendar, the long labor day weekend, the kids going back to school, and the leaves changing. Yes, the leaves are changing here.

 October
Today when I went to pick up Benjamin, I slipped into the door without announcing myself so I could watch him play for a minute or two. .

November
Sometime time I get around to posting something on this blog I feel like its old news. It often has already appeared on Facebook, Google, and my message board. But, this is the only place I am sure it will "stick", that I am sure I will be able to find it if I want to go back a year from now and see what we did.

December
With my vacation dwindling (we will likely start for home tomorrow night and arrive sometime Monday afternoon/evening), my brain is starting to look forward to what I need to accomplish in December and even into January. The list is daunting and there are some upcoming parenting challenges.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Another Year Has Passed (#1) - 2012

Before I forget to tell you, this is my 600th post since coming to this site! How time flies....

Anyways, its that time of year where I stop and reflect on what has happened in the past year.  I have three memes I have been doing every year for ages, so I will do those over the next couple of days, and do a recap of how I am doing at my resolutions and goals.

Here is the first!!

1 minute ago... I was scratching Grim's nose and reading name blogs
1 hour ago... I was celebrating my SILs birthday with my siblings and a bunch of her friends
1 day ago... I was playing Borderlands 2 with DH and wishing Benjamin would stay asleep
1 month ago... I was visiting Aaron's family in Kansas and Missouri
1 year ago... I was sitting in Columbus, wishing Baby would make their appearance (I did not know at that point that the baby was Benjamin!)
1 decade ago... I was a Freshman in college. Home on Christmas break. Probably writing a love letter to Aaron that waved poetic.
1 lifetime ago... I think I was in revolutionary in Russia

5 minutes ago... I was Putting a sleeping Benjamin in his crib
5 hours ago... I was dropping Benjamin off at my parents to be babysat for the evening
5 days ago... I was celebrating Christmas eve with my family and I read Benjamin "The Night Before Christmas" for the first time.
5 monthes ago... I was really struggling with balancing my new job, home ownership, and Benjamin's lousy sleep.
5 years ago... I was celebrating Christmas here in Duluth. I had built the holiday up in my head SO MUCH, I was worried the reality could not live up to it, but it did. I know this because I just went and looked it up on my old blog, which is still in existence. Here is what I was doing about a year ago: Lost in Europe - Christmas 2007

Friday, December 28, 2012

First Christmas!

I hope everyone had a good Christmas! It was, of course, Benjamin's first, so I thought I would try to record what went on a bit.

A week before Christmas we went to Bentleyville, a large display of lights here in Duluth. Benjamin loved it! Despite the cold, he was pointing and fascinated by everything! (as expected really).

Christmas eve my family came to our house. We carried on the tradition that started when my siblings and I were children, that everyone gets to eat what they want. When we were little it was very special because we did not get to choose "whats for dinner" very often, and we rarely agreed. I believe it started as a tradition because my parents wanted "adult" food, like Shrimp or something, and decided to give us Pizza Rolls. Then one of us probably said "But I would rather have XYZ" and so it began. Of course, now we are all adults, and we eat what we want all the time. Despite this, it still feels special. It feels special to pile into a kitchen and all cook different things together. My mom always has shrimp. My dad always has Reuben. The rest of us have varied our choices over the years, but recently I usually have Reuben's with my dad. This year, my brother has mac&cheese, and cocktail weenies. My SIL had Thai Taquitas. My little sister made a stromboli in advance, and DH picked up some Chinese food. We all crowded into my kitchen and the merrymaking began. It was a really fun night! Benjamin of course ate everything. He liked my brothers mac&cheese a lot. After dinner we sat around and talked awhile and people started taking their leave. Then I read Benjamin The Night Before Christmas. I was unsure he would sit for the whole thing! I mean, sometimes he will sit through a whole book, but its one of his choosing. The edition we read was Jan Brett (a really cool illustrator). My older sister got it for Benjamin as a gift. It was perfect! While he squirmed once or twice, he actually sat through the whole thing and looked at the detailed illustrations! (Pointing at cats and teddy bears and other things he now likes to point at in books).

Christmas morning, DS actually did let us sleep in a bit, he got up around 7:30. Unfortunately DH woke up sick with the same stomach bug that kept me in bed on Friday. We all went downstairs to find out what Santa brought. The Christmas tree is in the kitchen, so I dragged a bunch of snugly blankets down to all sit on/in. DS was adorable! As soon as we came in the room he saw his stocking on the floor and went over to it and pointed "daaaa?". So cute! We sat and helped Benjamin unwrap some books, puzzles, and a sleepy time sea horse. In his stocking he got Crayon's and paper. He is fascinated by things that make marks, like Crayons and pens etc, but you have to watch him carefully because he tries to eat them eventually. We also wrapped some great presents from my ILs, who got us all things we very much need and want! Including snow pants for Benjamin, we want to take him ice skating soon! Unfortunately it was clear that DH was getting more ill every minute, so he watched Benjamin while I loaded up the car (quite full), and then we parted ways. Poor DH had to stay home along sick on Christmas while Benjamin and I went to my parents :(

I arrived at my parents around 9am. I thought I would be the first one there, with Benjamin getting us up early. It was quite the opposite! I arrived there last, very shortly after my little sister. My little sister had brought a miniature Dachshund she was petsitting. It was zipping around the house when we got there and set Ben down. He was totally enthralled by it. He has never been around such a small dog before and he thought it was very interesting. Shortly after we arrived breakfast was ready - the traditional sausages my Dad made (w my Grandfather's recipe). After that, to the presents!! Benjamin was not entirely into opening gifts, but he was willing to participate. With some persuasion we could get him to grab and rip the paper. If one or two rips revealed part of the present he would be interested, but if there was a box or the first couple rips were not big, then he would lose interest. He also enjoyed climbing ON to the bigger boxes. We unwrapped for awhile, but then he was getting tired, and my Mom wanted to make lunch, so we stopped and I put him down for a nap. While he slept, we pulled out a Jig Saw Puzzle and worked on it.

Lunch was homemade Au Gratin soup. It was hilarious feeding it to Ben! He wanted to eat it with his hands, but it was too thin to grab. That did not stop him from trying! I am not sure what percentage of the soup got into his mouth and what ended up elsewhere, but it was fun and he did get enough to eat between the soup, cheese, and bread. After lunch was divided and conquered - naps, prepping for Christmas dinner, and a few people off to a Christmas open house of a friend. I mostly hung out and watched/played with Benjamin. I also squeezed in a little reading. When everyone was back/awake again, we finished opening presents. The highlight of the gifts for Benjamin was a handmade rocking horse from my BIL. It is really cool! Benjamin cannot ride it yet, but it will be in the family a long time! After that, more downtime, a second (but too short) nap for DS, more reading and playing.

Christmas dinner! Oh yum! We had all sorts of goodies. My favorite though, and what I really just want a big heap of, is the Sauerbraten, Mashed Potatoes, and Sour Cream Gravy!! Benjamin loved the mint carrots and the cranberries (and of course, the olives! That boy lives for olives).

After dinner the party began to wind down. I packed up as Benjamin got some last minute playtime in, and headed home about an hour after his normal bedtime (so we left at 8pm). I brought the sleeping Benjamin home to a husband who was feeling a lot better, though not 100 percent.

On the day after Christmas, DH and I took the day off. We still got up when Benjamin did (6:45am) and took him to daycare. Then, we just spent the day together. In the morning we hung out. In the afternoon we went to see a movie - Les Miserables - that DH was very excited to see. It was really good, and despite my general dislike of Anne Hathaway, I have to say she did an amazing job with her part (as did all the actors). After the movie we ran some errands, finally got a Christmas ornament (a tradition we had failed up to that point), and got Benjamin a dump truck ornament. Rumor has it that he is getting a Dump Truck from Santa for his Birthday.... Santa just wanted it to be perfect so it ended up a little late....

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Its All About Perspective

The message board I frequent does a "high and low of your weekend" post every Monday. For quite sometime, the high of my weekends have all been spending time with family, whether it be my ILs when we got to travel, DH and Benjamin on our own, or my siblings and parents here.

 This weekend I did get to spend a lot of time with DH and Benjamin, as always, but it was not as quality of time as I would like because I felt so rotten. Even after my stomach stopped twirling, I was (actually still am) weak and easily fatigued, achy, headachey. Not fun. And my milk supply is suffering greatly. I hope it returns soon as I re-hydrate the 10 pounds of (presumably mostly) hydration I lost in my illness. DH was awesome and picked up so much slack, playing nurse and single dad on Friday night, then doing more than his fair share the rest of the weekend as I bounced around being pathetic. I think we will manage to pull of Christmas despite ourselves.
 
I wanted to take a moment to record a bit about what Benjamin is up to. Its amazing how fast Benjamin is changing and I would not want to miss it. Benjamin is a confident walker now and has been for a few days. I believe that he thinks his walking is more normal than we do, as we still are caught by surprise when he just gets up and walks away from us (or to us, or just around). It blows our mind! He is walking! How is this so!? He even occasionally tries to run, though he can't quite keep his balance for it yet.

For quite sometime he has hated diaper changes, but lately, I think because he is so much more confident at standing, he has taken to trying to stand up, and wanting to hug us the entire time. Its really hard to get through a diaper change when you are getting little hugs. I just want to hug him forever.

DH wants to get Benjamin a job at the movie store because Benjamin is fascinated with taking DVDs off the shelf, trying to get them open, and trying to get the DVDs out. Luckily he is not very good at getting them open. Yet.

Benjamin likes to have you start reading books, and then stop you or walk away when you are 1-2 pages in, so that he can go find another book for you to read. There are a couple books he lets you get farther into. Mainly "Panda Bear Panda Bear What Do You See" and "Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See". He also seems to like his Christmas book "Bear Stays up for Christmas". Continuing with the bear theme, Benjamin has recently figured out the word Teddy Bear. No, he does not say it, not even close (pretty much all words are "DA" to him.  But he understands that the picture of the teddy bear in the book is the same as the teddy bear we show him outside the book, and knows the word when we say it. I have been teaching him to hug his teddy bears and rub their soft fur on his face. Its pretty much adorable.




Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mayan's Revenge

We made it through the alleged end of the world! (In case you live under a rock. people were flipping out because they thought the Mayan calendar ended yesterday and thought it might mean the end of the world).

The world did not end. But if you had asked me around 7pm, I would have told you I thought it was ending. In between moans and gasps. I had a very severe stomach bug. It was definitely the most severe stomach bug I have ever had. My husband thought I was in labor again I was making so much noise. From about 4pm - 10pm I was in total misery. I was trying to figure out if I should be going to the ER. I was so fatigued, I could hardly stand up, and even when I was laying down my inside was doing back flips. Then, it eased up. Then it was over. Bad but brief.

My mom seems to think it was a Norovirus. After reading up on it, she could be right. I think Benjamin had it earlier this week (poor kid).


Sunday, December 16, 2012

10pm

I want to post about Sandy Hook, how I feel about it, and some thoughts on it. But, its so complicated, and I am not sure what I want to say, and But I do not have time. Its already 10pm.

I also want to post about Christmas cookies and the baking adventures with my mom. But I do not have time, its already 10pm.

We had so much we were supposed to get done this weekend. Virtually none of it happened. But, we spent a lot of time with family and a lot of time together. We baked cookies with my family. DH went out and played laser tag with three of my siblings (we count ILs as siblings in this family). I went out with my sisters to see Twilight again. DH and I played a lot of a video game Borderlands (the first one, not the newer one)

I want to say more. But its already 10pm.  I need to get to bed and get ready for another week. There is only 16 days until Christmas, so much to do!!

Good night!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

11 Months

Last Wednesday, Benjamin turned 11 months old. One month until the big #1!

I have kept you pretty up to date on his development. He seems to grow and change so fast recently. I think I put on facebook, but forgot to put here, that last week he said his first word. It was Moo. HAHAH! yeah. My kid moo-ed as the first time that he associated a sound with something external without prompting.

He is definitely walking now! I picked him up from daycare on Thursday and they said "he is walking!!" and I said "we have seen him take a lot of steps but I don't know at what point that becomes walking" and she said "he is definitely walking! And now its obvious. Now, he will walk to get from point A to point B, not just because he is trying to walk or show off. He can walk pretty much as far as he wants/needs to if he is concentrating - which he does not do often, and once he falls down once he goes to crawling. I have yet to see him go from on the ground to sitting without the assistance of something (at least a few inches off the ground), though I hear reports he can do it from others.

Today at lunch for the first time he successfully managed to get a spoon to his mouth with food on it. This is really two feats - getting the food on the spoon, and keeping it there until it gets to his mouth. He did it once with sour cream (which was quite easy), and then once with taco meat (a bit more challenging!).

He is outgrowing some 12m stuff, but his 12m pants are still too long. I think he might be long-torsoed like his grandpa K. I need to take inventory of the 18m wardrobe we received from a friend to see what items he needs stocked up, and also we need to get him shoes! He has little winter boots Grandma Y got him, which are great for keeping his toes warm!

 I might add here later if I think of anything else, but for now that is it!! 





He is refusing bottles at daycare left and right, some days he only takes 3-5 ounces now there. He has yet to eat off of me today. He is

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wedding!!

Today was the wedding of one of our best college buds! It was a lot of fun and I am so happy for them! But I know that is not what the readers of this particular blog want - you want pictures of my adorable son in his little suit, right?






And, because I could not resist  - SOMEONE enjoyed themselves a bit too much... LOL


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Looking Ahead

With my vacation dwindling (we will likely start for home tomorrow night and arrive sometime Monday afternoon/evening), my brain is starting to look forward to what I need to accomplish in December and even into January. The list is daunting and there are some upcoming parenting challenges.

I will arrive home Dec 3rd. Between then and Christmas I plan to get a Christmas tree, decorate the house for Christmas, make a Christmas felt tree for Benjamin, make a "baby's first xmas" ornament with Ben w/a paint hand print on it, finish Christmas shopping, get a decent picture taken and Christmas cards printed, send Christmas cards, make Christmas cookies with my mom, go to Singing in the Rain with my mom, get more Christmas picture books and read them to Ben, and of course, just enjoy the Christmas season and Baby's First Christmas!!

Also, we really need to finish winterizing the house ASAP when we get back. Its been cold and snowy while we have been gone and we were not ready for that. Poor DHs motorcycle got snowed on! We need to get rid of the futon frame that is taking up the garage space and get that moved inside, put up storm windows, and possible also put the plastic seals on the windows. My MIL made me drapes for one of our big old windows, but I need to hem them to the proper length and get them hung. We also should buy drapes for the windows in the kitchen. 

Then, January 5th, Benjamin turns one year old. I need to plan his party, send invites, buy presents... I am not planning to go over the top and I believe it will be relatively small (just family, so maybe 20 people), and really only 1-2 other kids. I think the theme is going to be ABCs. I want to do an Alphabet Block Cake for him. Also, because ALL FOUR of his Grandparents will be there, which I am thrilled about, we also need to get the guest room ready for my ILs! I am so glad they are making the trip!!

Oh, and because he is turning one, its time to finally move him out of our room and into his own nursery! So, we need to get his nursery put together (yeah, still not done). The nursery in Columbus just needed some art hung. The one here in Duluth was painted by my Mom (Thank you!!), but still needs unpacked, organized, and bookshelves need assembled etc. Not to mention he does not have a dresser in his nursery because the one we bought for him in Columbus is too big for his Duluth room. I have been looking for a smaller dresser on Craigslist, but no luck as of yet (and of course I did not even look while I was out of town, it would have been too annoying to find something I could not go get!)


Once he does get moved into his own room, then the real challenge begins: Sleep Training. Its time. He is old enough he can manipulate us. He is old enough now that I can tell if he is crying because he needs something or just because he does not want to go to sleep. Tied into sleep training is his pacifier, and night weaning, and since he is hitting a year old, we will start day weaning as well. It is all tied together and I am not sure exactly what order to conquer it in.

So, its going to be a busy two months! But when isn't it?

Friday, November 30, 2012

I Admit It...

I have to come clean. I admit it. I have been cheating on you with another blog.

It started out innocently enough. Some friends referred me to a blog about baby names - http://swistlebabynames.blogspot.com/. I started reading it, and I couldn't stop. I even read a lot of the archive. And then I googled and found there are a lot of baby name blogs out there. I love baby names. I love coming up with them, creating them, finding new meanings and new combinations... so I was going pretty wild reading a bunch of different blogs.

And then I though... Hey! I have enough opinions and ideas about baby names... I totally could do this.

So I started a baby name blog, and I have been trying to post over there 2-3 times a week. It may have taken away some of my time from this blog, though I have tried to keep it balanced.

If you want to join me in my infidelity, check out http://nameaholic.blogspot.com


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We're Going to the Zoo Zoo Zoo...

Today we (DH, Grandma and Grandpa IL, and myself) took Benjamin to the St. Louis Zoo. It is a fabulous zoo, and is free! The free part is especially nice because you can swing by for an hour if that is all you feel like doing and not feel guilty! Even if you have all day, its so big its hard to cover!

We decided to try and hit up River's Edge (many of the African Animals) and the Big Cat section, because when we went to the Duluth Zoo, Benjamin most liked the cats (Lions and Tigers). It was a really great trip! We were there for about two hours and Benjamin was much more engaged than Halloween. He seemed to prefer smaller animals, and seemed to have a hard time grasping that the big ones (like the Rhino and Elephants) were alive. DH's favorite thing to show him was the Bush Dogs, which he just kept pointing at and making sounds. I liked showing him the fishes in the (otherwise empty) Hippo Exhibit. Benjamin liked the rock (pebble) by the Hippo exhibit. Grandma liked the baby Elephant. Grandpa liked the baby lions playing. We also enjoyed the Kangaroos hopping around, the seals swimming laps by the underwater viewing window, and the Camel taking a BIG YAWN. It was such a good trip. There was practically no one there, it was sunny with no wind, about 45 degrees. A lot of the animals were really active. No crowds, it was great.

How about some pictures?









Sunday, November 25, 2012

Growing and Changing

Benjamin is growing and changing so fast its hard to keep track of what is new, what I have documented, what things I am already taking for granted even though they have only been around for a day or two!

As my last post stated, Benjamin has met a LOT of new people in the last three days, and he did pretty well with it! He was a bit shy and clingy at the beginning, but he warmed up pretty quickly after meeting new people. After three days, he now seeks out attention from his Grandma & Grandpa ILs! Once he has met everyone and settled in, he sure does love being the center of attention. He randomly started doing this thing where he waves one arm back and forth and goes "ahahahaha." We all started imitating him and he LOVES it. Then we taught him to throw both hands up when we go "TOUCHDOWN!". He loves being imitated! And he is really starting to imitate more. This morning when I changed his diaper I started working on the B sound with him and he picked it up quickly! Its so fun to make a noise or action and see his little mouth or body try to do what I just did.

His reasoning skills are so great to see! His G&G got a big thing of mega blocks (giant legos) for him to play with while he is here, and it only took him a few minutes and a couple of examples to be able to put two blocks together. I am not saying he is building towers or anything, but he likes to put two blocks together or take them apart. I will build a tower with a compartment inside with a ball or book in it, and he loves to take it apart and find the treasure. G+G also got him a shape sorter elephant toy for early Christmas, and he was able to put in the circle piece within a few minutes of us getting it set up (and has since figured out that its easier to put the pieces in the trunk "out" hole instead of sorting them, LOL... already TOO smart!).

And walking... he is well on his way! He can take several steps without falling if he is in the mood for it. Sometimes he sort of walks in a circle though instead of a line, I think he tries to keep his balance by keeping one leg under him! LOL. Today he was able to stop walking and stand in one place (instead of walking fwd until he fell fwd!), so that is a big improvement! He is really just improving any day and will be walking wherever he wants in no time!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

This year we decided to spend Thanksgiving with DH's extended family in Kansas. In order to do so, we had to make the 12 hr drive. Taking advice from my awesome message board full of mom's more experienced than I, we decided to drive over night (Also could read - I decided to drive overnight and DH agreed to what he thought of as a harebrained risky scheme that would result in us being late for Thanksgiving).

So Wednesday night after work I picked up the baby from daycare, went home like normal, ate dinner with him like normal, changed him into his pajamas like normal, and then finished up packing and loaded the car while he had his normal evening playtime. Around 6:15pm (earlier than his normal bed time but not unheard of), we strapped him into the car seat and set off! The drive went as planned and very smoothly. DH admits my genius now and is already trying to scheme what other long drives on this trip can take place at night. We stopped every 2-3 hrs to change drivers. Benjamin woke up when we stopped, but we just fed him, changed him, and put him back into the car seat and he was straight back to sleep. We arrived at the ILs hotel at 6am, almost exactly the 12 hours!

Our first meal of the day was breakfast with my ILs, SIL, FBIL, and DH's Aunt&Uncle. They all enjoyed meeting Benjamin (or meeting him again). They were amazing by his eating, amused by his smiles, and it was just relaxing and fun. Then, after a short nap for Benjamin and I we headed over to the Assisted Living facility where my Grandfather In Law lives. We ate dinner there with him and a bunch of other uncles/aunts/cousins, including little G, who is 2 months older than Benjamin, it was cool seeing them together! It was also cool getting to introduce Benjamin to his great Grandfather, who very much enjoyed holding him! After spending some time in his apartment, it was back to the hotel for another nap. Then we headed over to DH's aunts house for more family time and another Thanksgiving dinner. It was nice seeing everyone, and everyone liked meeting Benjamin!

Friday we had another nice breakfast with some relatives at the hotel, and then headed to the Christmas Tree farm that DHs family has strong ties to. Benjamin enjoyed pointing at everything there. Eventually we had to leave to drive to Independence, KS where we spent a nice evening with Dh's mom's family.

Saturday...today. After breakfast we hopped into the car for the 6 hr drive from Independence to St Louis. Benjamin melted down once, but after lunch with a friend in Springfield, he took a nice long nap, and I got to nap too.

Eventually I hope to post a couple pictures, but right now we are just enjoying being settled in at my ILs house after three days on the road!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Parenting Group

Our daycare, as I mentioned before, is a non profit that is designed for "family's with additional stressors".  We are a pretty straightforward family, so I don't consider us to have additional stressors, but that doesn't mean we cannot benefit from their programs, one of which is a once a month infant parenting group where the head caregiver for the infant room leads discussions about a variety of relevant topics while we all chow down on a free dinner and the babies stay in the infant room for their dinner as well.

There is something cathartic about talking to other parents with kids around the same age, even when we don't do much of the talking. I usually come away from the discussions with at least a few ideas of things other people have tried that we have not, or developmental tips I had not heard of before, or other little things to think over. Its also nice to get to know the parents of the babies' that my son spends his time with. He may only be 10 months old, but he definitely has friends!

That all said, there are also moments at parenting group that make you cringe. Or, perhaps, specific people. And, of course, this post ties back into the concept of "Mommy Wars". Most parents I have met are great! They have their way of doing things, and we discuss them, but there is no judgement. There are two exceptions to this.

The "Expert" Grandma - One of the most consistent attendees at parents group is a relatively young single mom who is still in College. She is great and I really enjoy talking to her. One month, however, she brought her mother, who proceeded to dominate the conversation with her experience. She did not "get" that the conversation was really about people who are experiencing this RIGHT NOW vetting their experiences, ideas, problems. But the worst part was that she acted like if she had not heard of something that it was just crazy or wrong. I believe the topic that night was routines. One routine we discussed was baths. I mentioned in passing that Benjamin loves baths, but that we had to cut way back on them/take them out of our daily routine due to his eczema. I said we did a bath 1-2 times a week. This grandma looked at us like we had said the most disgusting thing ever, and then, when the group leader spoke up in support of our infrequent baths, the grandma proceeded to try and give us advice on eczema, which she clearly had never heard of before we brought it up. It can be great to get advice from the older generation if they have been through something, make please advice givers, make sure that advice is non-judgemental and something you actually know something about.

The Awkward Mom - There is one mom who has made an appearance twice. Both times it was kind of seemed like she did not belong. The first time she was about 30 weeks pregnant. Her older daughter is in the preschool room. The topic we were discussing was creative play. Everyone else in the room had a child 4m-12m. This woman clearly had NOTHING to do with the conversation at hand, and seemed mostly to want to talk about her pregnancy. But its not a pregnancy group. Its an infant parent group. Tonight she was there again, this time with a 7w old while we discussed biting. Her contributions included such things as "I can't remember when my daughter was that little". "I think she may have bit me when I fed her once or twice," and "I made fries from scratch tonight." She also has a tendency to state her opinions in the worst form possible. "I believe that the mom should stay home. You have to be with your baby. You can't leave it after 6 weeks, its not a dog." etc. Yes. That is roughly what she said tonight. Talk about picking a Mommy war battle!! No one took the bait, but I wanted to tell her to lighten up and stop being so judgmental!

Other than that, parenting group has been great!! And even the annoying parts make for fun conversation after the fact :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Brrrr

Its getting cold out! Today we had our first "real" snow (like it actually was making the ground white), and the high was about 27 degrees. It was sort of a fluke, as it is supposed to be in the 40s again tomorrow and for the rest of the week. Kind of a test run, and apparently we need it.

Cold weather and snow mean different things to a homeowner and mother than to a child, or college student. It means heating bills, bundling up kids, figuring out how to bundle for a carseat, etc. So, while I got the same flutter of excitement and anticipation with today's snowfall as I always get with the first snow, I am also getting some headaches.

Our house was built in 1909. We have a brand spanking new boiler, but neither of us have ever lived with a boiler/radiator system, so its a bit of a mystery to us how it works. Also, a lot of the windows are older. Also, I suspect we have poor insulation. I have spent the evening tonight periodically running around the house and seeing what rooms are warm, what rooms are cold, whether hot water is getting from the boiler to our bedroom, what windows are drafty, what windows are OK. It have to say its kinda chilly in here. Which means, we need to do something, because 25 is just the beginning of cold weather. Some thoughts on that.

(1) I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get hot water to consistently go where I want it in the radiator system. When we turned on the radiators, our bedroom was getting virtually no heat. I spent two weeks fiddling around with the various valves, and walla, all the sudden one day our bedroom was getting PLENTY of heat and our downstairs/living room radiator not so much. It worked out decently though. Then all the sudden tonight, once again, I can't seem to get the bedroom radiator to get heat. I just don't get it. I am thinking I need to enlist my genius brother in law to explain the system to me.

(2) Windows. As I said, about half the window's in our house are old. Really old. Like wavy looking glass old. A quick count tells me there are 2 large old windows, 2 medium old windows, and 5 small old windows in our house. Of these, three of them have storm windows on (a second pain of glass installed from the outside for winter/stormy months), while the rest currently do not. I am thinking that there are more storm windows to install in the garage, and considering the drafts in here tonight, they need to be put up ASAP. Also, hate to admit it, but my momma was right, I need drapes!!

(3) Nursery. Benjamin still sleeps in our room. Since the heat in our room seems to be finicky, whereas the heat in his soon-to-be nursery seems fine, we better get set up to move him. Its not a big deal if we need to snuggle up for warmth at night, but I don't want him to be cold. In all likelyhood, if I cant figure out how to get the heat flowing to that room better in the next 20 minutes, he will end up sleeping in bed with us.

(4) Long term, we probably need to think about some better insulation. I have no idea what we have now, and it does not shock me its bad, but its just one more thing to add to our list of to do/to buy for this house!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Election 2012

Yep. Gotta say something about the election!

I managed to vote. I am very thankful for same day registration here in Minnesota. Life got so crazy I did not have an opportunity to register prior to Tuesday. The day I had scheduled to go and try and register, DH got sick and I had to change my plans.

I make no secret of my liberal political leanings. Waiting for election results is always nerve wracking, though this year was less nerve wracking than some others. This was for a few reasons. First, I was pretty confident that the races that were most important to me were going to "go my way" (thank you Nate Silver!). Second, I was not as worried about the ramifications of a loss as in past years. I was not afraid of Romney. While I am sure he would have enacted some policies I did not agree with, I was not terrified of him. (In 2008, I was not terrified of McCain either.... Until he put Sarah Palin on the ticket, which seemed an abomination - an insult to the office if she was elected.)

But, still, I was glad to see most of the elections I voted in turn out the way I had hoped. Obama of course, but more significantly honestly the two Minnesota constitutional amendments both were voted down. One would have banned gay marriage or the recognition thereof in the state. There is absolutely no justification for such measures, and any argument people make for them is sure to violate the separation of church and state.  The second would have enacted a strict photo ID voter law in Minnesota. Any law that makes it more difficult to vote in these United States is bad for democracy. If there is going to be Election Fraud, its not going to come through individual voters, it will be electronic. The Bonus result for me was the defeat of Chip Cravaak, my Republican congressional representative. Not only was I glad to see the seat go to a democrat for #s purposes, more significantly I was glad to get rid of this specific man, who tried to allow logging and mining in the BWCA, and does not actually live in Minnesota anymore!! (His wife got a job out east and he spends almost no time in the residents here, its a joke). Good riddance!

So yes. I am pleased with the election results. But here is the thing, that does not mean that I think that things are suddenly going to get so much better. Congress has spent the past 4 yrs blocking anything that the president attempts to accomplish. I do not expect this to stop. Even if it does stop, I am not convinced good solutions to our problems exist on either side of the aisle. Some things just take time to resolve. We will see what happens!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

10 Months Old!

Despite my "spoiler" post a few days ago, I do feel like I have a couple things to tell you for Benjamin's 10 month update!!

Over the weekend I declared him a "stander" because I saw him stand for 17 seconds while pointing all over the room and trying to look up at me. I think he can stand however long he wants now.

Then, on Sunday, he took a step. He was standing next to me, having just used me to pull up, and he took a step towards DH. It was a little step, it was followed by him falling, but it was a step. After saying "WAS THAT A STEP???" two or three times to DH, I then almost started crying. LOL. So not ready for this!! He is growing up!

He likes us to read him books. He loves his number book with "three kittens", because he wants to stop and point at the cats. He does not usually let you finish books, but hands you a new one as soon as you get started on one (usually). But he occasionally just sits and listens (or looks at the pictures) for multiple books. He was loving the touch+feel farm animal book tonight, especially the pigs bristly head. (sandpaper).

Here are some pics from Yesterday!! Unfortunately he was a bit sick - snotty nose and runny eyes, which shows up big time in some of these pics, but he was still laughing and having fun! Its a lot harder to get pictures of him now then it was a few months ago!





Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

Sometime time I get around to posting something on this blog I feel like its old news. It often has already appeared on Facebook, Google, and my message board. But, this is the only place I am sure it will "stick", that I am sure I will be able to find it if I want to go back a year from now and see what we did.

Our Halloween Celebration began 10 days ago at Boo at the Zoo, which I already wrote about.

Then, we had a Halloween Birthday party for Benjamin's friend K (son of a good family friend). Benjamin was super shy when we got there. There were not very many kids at the beginning either. But, eventually, after we sat on the floor with him a bit he got curious about the toys and the handful of other kids. Some pics - one of his shark costume in general, one of him and K, and one of him "playing" with a 8 yr old who was there. He kept touching the older boys face, and the older boy was so good! 




The weird thing was, that after they had been playing awhile, K went and started to climb something. His father said "K, please don't do that" and K stopped, but started whining. Just a little bit of whining. And Benjamin started full out screaming mandrake face. It was really weird. I asked daycare about it and they said he has never done that (cried when another kid cried).

Our next Halloween activity was a Monday night party at our house. We all dressed up and had quite the spread of food.



I highly recommend the "candy corn quesadillas",  not just for halloween, they are tasty! And now I have discovered how EASY quesadillas are on the counte rtop grill, likely to become a regular meal for us.

Tuesday night I had book club, but we did manage to squeeze in some pumpkin carving. We carved the pumpkin so it has the same teeth as Benjamin! (vampire fangs and the two bottom middle).





Honestly, by the time Halloween came about we were all done with our celebrations! Benjamin is decidedly too young to Trick or Treat and we were exhausted! So, we put a bowl of Candy out the porch and tried to relax. It is a fun season!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Growing and Changing

On one hand, I feel like I have a ton to say about how Benjamin is doing, on the other, his 10 month birthday is only days away and I am going to use all my good material here. But, its more important than it get recorded than me having a cool 10m post, so here it goes.

It is just incredible how fast he changes! A lot of it is in ways that are hard to describe. More perceptive. More interactive. More interested. More engaged.

He has learned to point. I think really just within the last 24 hours or so. He does it all the time now. Things he wants. Things he wants to know about. Things that are interesting.

He tries to say words. I think he tries to say Kitty. It comes out "gi". He has the Mama and dada sounds down, but we have yet to confirm if he is applying them to us. His auntie K thinks that he was trying to repeat after her when she was saying "thank you" repetitively the other night.

Actually the Thank You game is something else I wanted to note! A week ago (Sunday) we had dinner at my parents and Auntie K was playing with him. She gave him her pink rubber bracelet (like a Livestrong bracelet), and then asked for it back. When he put it back in her open hands, she said "Thank YoU!!" very animatedly and then handed it back to him and said "Thank You" when he took it. They did this for a good 15 minutes, him babbling the whole time. It was pretty cute. Well, since then he wants to hand you EVERYTHING. Toys, bits he finds on the floor, his dinner. You name it, he wants to play the Thank You game with it!

He can stand for a whole 10 "holy craps" (about 10 seconds) now. That is the record at least. He climbs stairs like a pro... but tends to totally throw himself off the top. Tonight he did it once and DH was not paying attention and he really fell and bumped his head. No permanent damage, and maybe that will give him a clue to not do that anymore. He wants to walk pretty badly. We had his little friend over here today who is turning 1 tomorrow, and he was walking all over. Benjamin was trying to imitate big time. Benjamin has also taken to climbing the dog (using her fur to pull up, she is such a good dog!), and trying to tackle the cats. About two nights ago was his first full out tackle attempt on our big gray cat Gandalf. Benjamin totally "wrapped him up" so to speak, hahaha! It was crazy how he just through himself! Benjamin has tried a couple more times without any more success, now that Gandalf knows what is going to happen. Gandalf is also a very good cog (dog-like cat), who puts up with the baby quite well.

We went out to dinner tonight. I realized we have not been in a restaurant since AT LEAST early September... and it might actually have been August. It was a while. Last time we went to a restaurant Benjamin's solids were still somewhat tentative, where as now they are well entrenched. We had a ball at the restaurant tonight!! Benjamin was cheerful and playful. When the food came, he ate well and did not make a mess (ok. Not to much of a mess). He had bits from everyone - burger, bun, bacon, fry, sweet potato fry, celery, peas, carrot, and a pickle. He took awhile to eat, but he did not throw anything really. He dropped the celery om accident, and started to drop some burger pieces at the end (playing) but DH stopped him. And then he signed "all done" which we have been working on, I took him to the bathroom and washed his hands, and he was cheerful while we got ready to leave. It was really great!

Sleep. His sleep has been better. Of the past 10 nights, 7 of them have been good. One of those 7 was great. We have not intentionally changed anything really, except implementing the dual wielding method. We are probably in a lull between teething and growthspurts etc, but I can hope it will stick, can't I? "Dual Wielding" is a video game term when your character is capable of holding two weapons, one in each hand .Well, we have taken to giving Benjamin two pacifiers when we put him to sleep - one in his mouth, one in his hand. He occasionally, sleepily, trades them. It works really well for putting him down. In the past, sometimes when you laid him down already asleep he would fuss, roll over and sit up. If you hand him the second pacifier just when you put him down, he does not fuss, or roll over, or sit up. He stays asleep, or goes back to sleep. It works great for putting him back to sleep when he wakes up. Sometimes he finds the second pacifier on his own, other times he does sit up or fuss, but if you go and give him the second pacifier and lay him back down he goes back to sleep. We have even used it to put him to sleep a couple of times, laying in bed with him and letting him dual wield until he drifts off. I was hoping to wean him off the pacifier at a year, but I am pretty sure it is more important to us to get his sleep habits good first, so I have a feeling that deadline will get pushed out a bit. haha.

Benjamin's day care sent home two paintings he did in the past couple of weeks. We have a plate rail all the way around our dining room, so I bought some cheap frames and stuck them up there. I figure we can trade out art pieces in the frame as he makes more, and save the old ones somewhere else not on display. Anyways, whenever you are holding Benjamin walking through the Dining Room now he sees the paintings and he reaches for them. If you take one down he wants to touch it all over. I think he remembers that he made them/they are his, or maybe things he will be able to paint more. I want to try painting with him at home since he seems to like it so much. I intend to carve pumpkin with him sometime in the next couple of days.... but there are so many things I intend to do and I am running out of time!! Oh dear.

I think that is all. He is just amazing to us, and we love him very much!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

High and .. (Low?)

My message board does a thing every Sunday night/Monday morning, where we report what the high and low of our weekend was. It is often at this time that I realize how good (or how bad) my weekend was. This weekend was a big time winner!! I could not choose a high, because we did so many fun things, and I struggled to come up with a low. Here is my weekend: 

Friday Night: We went out to my parents house for Pizza with them and my little sis. Pizza was good. Company was good. Benjamin ate well, played well, and went to sleep on the car ride home. He slept decently for him! (meaning up every 2-3 hrs to eat, and not hard to put down). (I know I should night wean... but for now if nursing at night means not fighting to put him down, I am gonna do it!)

Saturday: 
Swimming Lesson - We went to Benjamin's 5th swim lesson. He did not get grumpy during it as he sometimes does. We floated on a kick board. We floated on a noodle. We splashed a little. We back floated. We went underwater twice. Benjamin loves the pool version of "wheels on the bus", it always makes him smile. 
Boo at the Zoo - We stuck his shark costume on Benjamin and headed for the zoo. He got to "trick or treat" a little. He was pretty ambivalent about a lot of it, but the whole trip was worth it based on his reaction to the Lion and then the Tiger. The tiger was pacing and came really close to the glass for him. It was cool and he was fascinated. He also enjoyed the chocolate I gave him on the walk back to our car!!
OSU Football  - We got back from the zoo just in time to see OSU make a great comeback to beat Purdue! Go Buckeyes!
Nap: DH said he wanted to take a family nap. I said it was up to Benjamin. Benjamin agreed with the idea and we all slept away the afternoon.
Dinner and a Movie: We went to the grocery store as a family and got dinner and rented a movie. Benjamin was a lot of fun to play with in the evening and went to bed at his normal time so DH and I could watch Dark Shadows, which was weird but entertaining. Benjamin, once again, slept decently. 

Sunday:
A Stroll: Benjamin slept in until almost 8, so we all got up together as a family instead of me sleeping in after them. We went for a really long morning walk with the dog. (We were going to try and get donuts, but as DH predicted, the local bakery was closed), but it was such a nice walk, and Benjamin was super talkative during it. 
Breakfast: When we got back to the house, after a quick grocery run, I made scrambled omelet for us and we ate breakfast as a family, then had a fun play time. Benjamin was really into reading a book, gave it a lot of attention. It is a $1 Crayola book about colors. It just is a board book with pictures on each page of things of a certain color. He kept flipping between the "green" page and the cover, and I eventually realized he was recognizing that the same picture was in both places (a frog). It was so cool!
Sister Sister: My little sister came over and we enjoyed some time planning next weeks Halloween party. Mainly menu, because we are food obsessed!
Football: We watched the Vikings game. Benjamin enjoyed our Touchdown dance. Then Benjamin decided to climb the stairs and it was adorable. He is getting big! 
Trail Ride: I headed out to my parents house before the game ended to ride with my mom. It was a lot of fun!
Family Time: When the ride was over my family started showing up - DH brought Bry guy, my brother and his wife, and my BIL all arrived. We enjoyed watching Benjamin walk around pushing a train my mom dragged out, crawl around, climb on stuff. We ate yummy brats and tasty apple cake, and just generally enjoyed each others company! Benjamin fell asleep on the way home and transitioned easily into his crib, where he is sleeping now. 


See? Pretty good weekend. I struggled to come up with a low. The first possible low I thought up was "no productivity"... we did nothing productive in terms of house work or unpacking etc. However, I think the weekend was still well spent. Then I remembered the real low. We (probably me...) left the freezer door open overnight Saturday to Sunday. We had to throw out a lot of food and about a 1/3 of my breast milk stash. Sad :( 
   

Thursday, October 18, 2012

To Do, To Do

Sometimes we get in a good groove of getting needed daily and weekly activities done. Other times we fail at them miserably. We are not naturally clean or organized people! Lately we have been out of the daily groove. We have fallen out of the habit of spending a bit of time cleaning up each night, vacuuming frequently, keeping up with laundry, packing lunches, getting groceries every Sunday, etc. Oh dearie me, it can feel like so much!How to get back on track?

Additionally, I must admit that not only are we not done unpacking, but that all progress that direction has stopped entirely, and in fact my husband even admitted defeat, telling a friend we don't see often that we were "as settled as we will get". I don't like that mind set at all! We have boxes that need unpacked still, and loads of projects, large and small, before I will consider us settled. I have flirted with having a house warming, but I don't feel like we have the house ready! Maybe we will wait and have a "one year anniversary" party next summer instead... we will see. How to get back on track and making progress?

Good question.

I have tried to "get organized" so many times. It was a massively failed New Years resolution a couple of years ago, plus an ongoing attempt without strict goals. The failed attempts have taught me one thing. Getting organized is an ongoing, drawn out, and very slow process. It cannot happen overnight. If you do manage to get organized quickly, you will likely fail at staying organized, which is the real challenge. You have to change habits, try and fail, take three steps forward and two steps back. I am not organized, but I am more organized than I was 6 months ago, so there is progress. So, two keys I guess. Baby steps and perseverance.

This week, we got a white board to keep on the fridge and list "to buy" type things on. Next time I am making a shopping trip I can actually know what we need instead of saying "I know there were a few items..." and then forgetting at least half of them. Its a small step, but its a step forward. Another small step - while my house is still quite cluttered, I have managed to make space and keep clear enough of the "banquet" in our Dining Room to display a beautiful quilted fall decoration my MIL gave me in September, and accent it with mini gourds that were also a gift. Small steps.

As for perseverance, that is the part where, despite the fact the past two weeks have been a wash, and we are out of all of our good habits, that we are going to regroup and go again starting tomorrow. Try to get back in those good habits. Maybe they will stick this time. Maybe at least one will stick. If not, we can always try again.

The bigger projects - unpacking and getting the house settled, require more thought. Any ideas?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Gone Red

So... it has been on my 30x30 list, and it was under the section "because I have been meaning to".... so I finally dyed my hair red. We had some sister bonding time last weekend and did it. It turned out OK, but because of the type of dye I used, it did not turn out like I wanted. It was extremely uneven - dark read at the top, orange red at the tips, and hardly red at all on the back/underneath part. See below. Also, see a boy and his spoon (that wooden spoon is his favorite toy these days!!)


So I knew I wanted to re-dye it with a better dye to even it out and hopefully get a shade I liked throughout. Today my little sis came over again and we dyed it again and I am much happier with the results! Here they are:



I will probably only wear it like this for 4-6 weeks, depending on what happens, then I will probably dye it back to brown. I am too lazy to keep up with dyeing it when the roots show! Guess I can check it off my list finally!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Work from Home

There is a program at my work where you can work from home one day a week.  I was finally approved to start it this week. (They had to document that I could meet all of my productivity and quality standards). Today was my first day working from home (I was lucky to be assigned Friday!) The conclusion, as I suspected, is it pretty much rocks!

Great things about working from home:
- I can greatly shorten my morning routine, because I am not leaving the house all day. (No packing lunch, no packing pumping stuff, etc etc etc)
- Therefore I can sleep in a bit
- No commute. I do still take Benjamin to daycare, but its only a couple blocks (if it was not getting cold I could/would walk him there!)
- Even with the sleeping in a bit and such, I have time to make myself a nice breakfast and clean the kitchen up a bit before I need to log in at 8am.
- No Workplace Drama! - When frustrating things happen they don't seem as bad from across the internet.
- I can play my music etc outloud instead of wearing headphones.
- I have a window "office" with a wonderful view of colorful leaves and natural light.
- I can pump while I work, so I don't have to use an altered break schedule like I do in the office. Meaning...
- I get a real lunch!!
- I can walk the dog at lunch!
- I can eat whatever suits me at lunch without spending extra money.
- I can keep the laundry running on my breaks.
- The pets are happy to have me around, even though I don't pay them attention.
- I am JUST as productive as in the office, so my employer is getting what they deserve still!!

Despite all of these pluses, I don't think I would want to do this full time! I like the social aspect of the office and it is easier to communicate with coworkers in person. In an ideal world, I could get some sort of half and half schedule, like three days from home, two in the office. This is not going to happen, but I will continue to cherish my one day working from home. It will get even better as I get my home work environment more settled. I will have Fridays working from home through December, then in January it will switch to Mondays, then in March to Tuesdays, etc.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

9 Months Old!!

I pulled up the 8 month post to see what was different from a month ago... Looking at the pictures, I cannot believe how long ago that photo shoot seems!! It is definitely too cool now for an outdoor photo shoot (at least without jackets!!)

We celebrated Benjamin's 9 month birthday with a family get together at my parents house. Pizza party! For dessert, a delicious Pumpkin Bread Pudding. Benjamin was kinda moody, he was cutting a tooth, so it was hard to get a good picture. But this is what we did get!!


Food: It is probably obvious from above, solids are going well! His favorite food is already Pizza... that might make us bad parents!! We hardly think about how we give him his food any more (like what size the pieces are or anything), because he manages it. He has the chewing thing down, even without grinding teeth! He also likes chicken. He loved Autumn Shepards Pie and my Mom's beef stew. And, of course, he likes pumpkin bread pudding and pretty much anything sweet!! Sometimes he does reduce breast milk because he has eaten solids well. He is eating less breast milk at daycare as well. It is nerve wracking thinking about letting my supply diminish, but that is just how it works!!

Mobility He crawls very fast. He pulls up. He stands (as shown in my last post). I am sure it will be standing a lot and walking soon enough. but not quite yet. He has not shown any interest in the stairs, despite successfully climbing them (2 steps) shortly after starting crawling.

Play: He has way more concentration. He plays with toys more like toys, and he listens more when you read books. I consider "Moo, Baa, La La La" to be his favorite. He loves the way I make the animal noises. Yesterday he was playing peekaboo, where he was going behind the bathroom door, and then coming back out to surprise us. Adorable! He would crawl behind it, then we would say "where is Benjamin? Where did he go?" then he would come back out laughing his head out and we would exclaim "There's Benjamin!!!" It was so fun! He rolls his trucks all over the place. He loves the wooden spoon we keep in his play box. He hits the floor with it, or chews on it, or hits an overturned bowl with it. He goes after the dog water bowl and laughs with delight when we chase him down and pick him up. He likes to chase the cats, the black one, Nox, does not run (she plays possum, not so affective). My older sis gave him a tennis ball, and we roll that around with him. We also have an acorn squash in his toy box.... he likes to lift it up! Build those little muscles!

Speech: He continues to pick up sounds. He babbles a lot more now when he is playing. We noticed though that he "talks" the most when he is eating!!!

Sleep: No real consistent change. Some nights are better, some are worse. I have been using DHs help more often. I need to start night weaning, but it is easier said then done.

Health: He has actually been pretty healthy! KNOCK ON WOOD big time! (Especially since DH is sick today...). He does have eczema, as suggested a month ago. He now can only get 2 baths a week (and one of them is always Saturday after his swim lessons). We got a new lotion (Renew from Melaleuca) which seems to be really great, but he still acts like he has an itchy chest whenever you take his shirt off. Poor baby!! He had his 9m appointment today. He weights 20lbs 11 oz (60th percentile) and is 28.5 inches tall (50th percentile). Although... I am not so confident in their measurement for the height! He looked all turtle necked to me!! I would give him another half inch. LOL. His head is still big... 75th percentile!! He has three confirmed teeth  and I would not be surprised if its four after today, or by tomorrow morning. Over the weekend he cut the top left canine, and the right is coming soon after the left.

Other: As mentioned, he is in swim lessons! We have had four now, and have another three left. He likes them for the most part, though the timing is off because he always is ready for a nap and meal right when they end (which means he is sometimes grumpy). I swear, the first phrase he really understood and responded to months and months ago was "kick kick kick!!" in the bathtub, so that comes in handy in the pool! His eyes are really grey now! We will see if they keep going, three months until they are "set" (not that that is a hard and fast rule).  I think thats it.. though I reserve the right to post again when I have forgotten something.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

OutSTANDING

I owe you all a 9month update, but I am waiting until we get Benjamin's stats from the doctor on Tuesday.

In the meantime, he is starting to really stand on his own! Today he stood up for a whole six "holy crap!"s from DH. LOL. I tried to get a good picture of him standing - he was doing it in the middle of the room using DH to push up off of, but none of the pics are great. You can get the general idea though!! (the last one is not a standing pic, he is just cute!)




Thursday, October 4, 2012

Yeah, More of me Waxing Poetically about the Seasons...

There are fall days that remind you summer is ending - tinged leaves, a crispness in the air, apple cider and bright sunshine. Then there are fall days that remind you that winter is coming. Today was the latter. Not just crisp, but actually cold, so that you wish you had remembered your gloves.  Very windy, leaves and dust blowing around. Flat, gray, and cloudy.

Driving home from work, my scenic overlook showed a lake covered in white caps, with water that was surprisingly blue given the cloud cover - the kind of blue that reminds you of why we use that color to denote cold.  Quite different from the mirror calm pastel lake from my previous posts!

I love the early days of fall, but I also love these days. They make me feel alive.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Little Boy

Today when I went to pick up Benjamin, I slipped into the door without announcing myself so I could watch him play for a minute or two. I have been doing this since it was mentioned at my parenting group last month. Usually it only takes him a minute or two to see me, because he is crawling around or pulling up - climbing, playing peekaboo with the caregiver, etc. Today, though, was different. Today when I walked in he was with two other babies, sitting around a box full of nesting blocks. He was concentrating so much on the blocks! I could see his little brain working, deciding what to do with them, putting them into the box, taking them out of the box, seeing what blocks the other two had. He was not looking up at all! I have noticed him concentrating more at home lately too, but with so much distraction (cats... us, lol), I had not seen this level of intensity. It was pretty cool! I did not want to interrupt him. But after several minutes I had to. I said "Hi Benjamin!" relatively quietly. He looked up. I thought he was going to get upset and want to keep playing. But no, despite his grown up concentrating, he is still Momma's little boy! After a second of realization, he totally dropped the blocks and made a bee-line for me, straight over the block bin!! It was adorable and heart-warming.

Somehow, when I was putting him in the car seat a few minutes later, he seemed so much more a little boy and less a baby - having seen him concentrate like that, the little gears turning, and seeing his conscious decision of what to do when I arrived. I am sure there have been many moments that I could have felt this, but today was when it struck me. My baby is still a baby, but he is rapidly headed towards little boy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Beautiful City

I have never thought of Duluth as a "fall colors" destination. I actually kind of thought the fall colors in Missouri or Ohio would be better then Duluth because there were less pines and more trees that would change to orange and red instead of just yellow. This is the first fall I have spent in Duluth in who knows how long. 6 years? 10 years? And I have to say, I was horribly wrong. Duluth's fall colors far surpass anything I saw in Ohio or Missouri, and I think the real reason they do is the sheer volume of trees here. This is a city of trees. You can hardly tell that my neighborhood is there at all. Over the past week my morning commute has been take-my-breath away beautiful. I mean, my day always includes beauty, but with the fall colors it has just been awe inspiring. Especially since fall colors are my favorite. I am leaning towards decorating our bedroom in fall colors and wish there was a way to just photograph the city and have it turned into fabrics etc. But I digress.

I have been contemplating doing a "day in the life" photo post, with pictures of how my normal day looks and goes. Walking into daycare, the daycare lady holding Benjamin, my morning commute, my desk, the mother's room at work, etc. I still may do this sometime, but for now you just get a couple ideas of how my day has natural beauty in it. I borrowed my father's nice camera so I could stop and take nice pictures on my way to and from work. Here are the results.

My daycare rents its space from a Nursing home (hence the building being so big). I park in the lot and walk down this path, towards Lake Superior, to the Day Care entrance.
I love seeing the lake every morning! It has so many personalities. The day I took these pictures it was glassy, smooth, calm pastels.
I leave daycare right around sunrise. The sun lights up the clouds over the nursing home and pine trees.
This is actually one of my favorite moments of the day lately and this picture does NOT do it justice. After dropping Benjamin off I head up the hill, and this road is approaching the hill. The colors on the hill are just so gorgeously blended, and lit up by the rising sun.



Then I head up the hill! I admit this photo, and the ones like it, are not actually taken from where I drive. Its not the safest place to stop, but this is a close approximation to the view I have as I crest the hill.


If I could look back over my shoulder while I was driving up the hill, I would see the sunrise over the lake. Again, this was not taken from the road I was on, but I cannot resist including it. This is my beautiful city. I could stop at this overlook every morning to take a gander for a couple of minutes and not be late to work. I should to it more often.
After that, my drive is up on top of the hill, more inland. The fall colors are quite beautiful even on the busiest road I take (this is Arrowhead).

So that is how my morning is beautiful. Its pretty great I have to say. I love it. And Autumn is the best season for so many reasons... this being one of them. I also stopped at the overlook on my way home, and here are some of the best pictures:

Orange is approximate location of our house, pink is daycare. This entire area pictured is a residential neighborhood with about typical suburban lot sizes or smaller, yet you hardly see any buildings because of all the trees.

The plant in the foreground is Sumac. You can make wine out of those berries, or eat them straight though they are fuzzy and not very good. They grow along the roads in many places in the city (on the rocky hill) and add a flare of red to the fall colors.


Once again, down at the bottom of the hill is a residential neighborhood... but all you see is trees!
And that is a brief look at the beauty of my city, that I get to breathe in every single day. I probably will have posts like this periodically - about the cities geography and natural beauty, hope you all don't mind!