Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas List for Benjamin

I figured the easiest way to do an Christmas List for Benjamin is to just put it on here, that way people have it if they want it but I am not sending it out and demanding gifts. Plus his birthday is 11 days after Christmas, so this list is good for that too.

Benjamin loves trucks and vehicles and blocks.

That said, we really are trying to diversify his toys. If you already got him a truck/car something, I am sure he will LOVE it. If you didn't, consider some of the ideas below.

Experience Gifts: A membership to the local aquarium or children's museum would be lovely

Imaginative Play gifts: He has a tea set, but besides that he has very few "play adult" type toys. I am sure he would love things like toy tools, a toy doctor kit, toy food, or we even a toy kitchen (I think it will fit in our kitchen so he can cook alongside us).

Building Blocks: He has both mega blocks and duplos. I think Duplos will be more his speed as we move on up from here. His current duplo is (surprise) the car set. He could use just "general" duplos", or more of a "building"/"dollhouse" style set. I tried to buy him the Snow White set for example on  black friday (that comes with table, chairs, a rabbit, etc), but I couldn't get the deal.

"Action Figures" - OK, not actual people, but dinosaurs or animals. We don't want a TON of this type of thing laying around but I am sure he would use a small collection of it quite a bit!

Puzzles:  Puzzles he can grow into. I.E. - not too easy. A giant floor puzzle maybe, or wood cut puzzles where the pieces are not all just the shape of the thing they are. Some ideas of what I mean (not saying people need to pick these puzzles, just trying to show you the difficulty):
Small Jigsaw, Giant Floor Puzzle, Wood Abstract Shape

Books: I keep being told people are afraid to buy books for us because we have so many, but really we don't have as many as people think. Off the top of my head, books/authors we don't have are: Berenstein Bears, Little Creature, How Dinosaur (does something) by Jane Yolan,  Where the Wild Things Are, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series, Curious George... and many many others. If you are not sure just ask. (We love Sandra Boyten, but have a lot of her so definitely ask. We have all doctor seuss, winnie the pooh,and disney).

Stuff for next summer: Balance bike? A fence?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for many many things... in general for my entire life and all the good that is in it.

But most of all for this:

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Scientific Mind

Benjamin's mind is so scientific lately! Theory, test, conclusion. He learns new things all the time.

At day care when I walked in he didn't notice me. This happens a lot now because he is so engaged in his play. Today he had two different toy sets. Set one was some generic shapes with wheels on the bottom that are designed to latch together into a train. Set two was a plastic car with a boat trailer. He was mixing and matching, trying to put together the two different sets of similar types of toys. He would try to get two cars together, focusing very hard, and then, when they wouldn't go together, almost under his breath he would say "nope" and try a different two.

He totally cracked us up last night with this theory testing. We were walking out of parents group at daycare last night, him between us, and he said "firetrucks coming" a couple of times. I said "I don't think there is a fire truck, stop and listen." All three of us froze in place and listened to the night for a minute. Cars, wind, people talking. Just as I was about to say something or ask him what he heard, he just goes "NOPE!" and starts walking again. DH and I just about died laughing. Of course the rest of the walk out to the car was "no fire truck coming. No police car coming". He is so adorable.

Also, tonight we went to the mall. I got a Thanksgiving book at B&N and then we were going to get a cookie... Benjamin was more excited about the book then the cookie. That's just awesome, must be doing SOMETHING right.

Monday, November 11, 2013

22 months (and 1 week)

Benjamin turned 22 weeks old on Nov 5th. I am late posting.

The incredible thing is the speed with which he changes, especially his language. A mere two weeks ago I posted how exciting it was that he was starting to say things more original (less mimicking). I thought it was so cool he heard "we don't fit" and said "its so big". Now, days later, he has entire spontaneous conversations.

This morning I was putting him in the car. He heard a loud engine at the nearby traffic light.
"Truck?" he asks
"No, I think its a bus, lets go see"  It was a school bus.
"This way?" pointing up our street.
"No, I think it will go straight through. Lets get in the car, its windy out here".
"I rode city bus" he says, as I strap him into his car seat.
"You did ride the city bus one time. Was it fun?"
"Yeah." a pause "Dada rode city bus"
"Dad rode a city bus? really?"
"yeah" a pause. "Mama rode city bus"
"Mom rode a city bus?"
"yeah. Two rode city bus".

Yeah. He is constructing word problems now.

Yesterday I was playing a word game (bananagrams) with my sister and he walked in, got up on my lap. I said "eve". He heard "E".
"E ELEPHANT E ELEPHANT E ELEPHANT" he repeated vigorously until I confirmed I heard him and he was right. I asked him to point out an E and he grabbed the tile right up. Later I did it again to show my dad, and he grabbed an E right up. Then my dad said "what is NOT E". He thought for a minute, and then picked up an S and said "not E!" We have not been successful in getting him to identify any other letters yet. The slight difference in the word "e" and "c" and "b" confuses him.

He really likes to count to two. He can't really count to three yet, but we are working on it. He loves it when there are two of something. Last night he spontaneously said things like "Me have two eyes", and "me have two ears". It was pretty adorable.

He was playing with his aunt on the floor with a farmyard set. It has a momma and baby cow. I asked 'how many cows are there?" and he said (very happily) "TWO". His aunt picked one up and set it on the roof and said "one" and then the other and said "two". I asked "how many cows are on the roof?" and he said "TWO" very happily. Then one fell off. I asked "how many cows are there?". "ONE" he said, also very happily.

Sorry, you get to here all my "my kids so smart' bragging stories, because this is the place where no one gets to judge me for bragging.

Anyways, the point is, his speech is just incredible. His critical thinking blows my mind.

He still isn't jumping, he does this hoppy thing that is fun though when you ask him to jump, sorta a skip like run without any coordination. His friends, who are all a couple months older than him, literally run laps around him. He will catch up eventually.

He knows most his main colors. When we were walking into swimming last week he would say "Black truck" "red car" "white truck" etc. He doesn't always get them right, especially if its sorta a wonky color like tan or peach, but he does pretty well.

He really loved all the special stuff for Halloween, and when we eat Halloween candy with him now we always say we are celebrating Halloween. But I also keep telling him that Thanksgiving is next. Today a man ringing the Salvation army bell said Happy Thanksigiving to us and Benjamin immediately started to mimic and try to say it. I tolld him yes! Thanksgiving is next! I told him thanksgiving is about Turkey, being thankful, and Family. We will see what sticks. We also made some turkey hand print art already (you may have seen it on facebook), and he loved it.

His play has been changing too. More imaginary play. His lego cars/trucks tend to be much more "realistic" then they used to be. Rather than just sticking random pieces together he will make it actually kinda look like a truck/car. We had a Mega Bloks party this weekend and we got a really neat new toy called Billy Beats Piano. It plays a lot of music (and can be played like a Piano). He loves to press the "wheel on the bus" song and the "old mcdonald" song buttons. After we did it awhile he started to get creative. He would pick up a toy (like his stuffed owl, or a car") and say "CAR ON THE BUS" then would press the "wheel on the bus" button and I would make up lyrics (the car on the bus goes vroom vroom vroom), and he would dance. Then when the song ended he would say "Me DANCE with CAR" and laugh and laugh, and then pick a new toy to do it with.

Life is good. We are really enjoying seeing him grow and learn, its an incredible time.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween Carnival!! We went to the elementary school Halloween Carnival (now called the Fall Festival). This is the same Carnival that I grew up going to, and it was exactly as I remembered! Basically you buy tickets (5/$1) and use them to go around and play little games that are fun for kids. Benjamin liked Plinko, the Duck Pond (where you choose a duck out of the water and it has a number that determines that prize you get), and the Mailbox (where you put your tickets in a mailbox, wait a minute,  a bell rings, and you open the box and there is a prize). We won some books at the silent auction and generally enjoyed ourselves.

I had my annual Halloween party on Monday for my family. Its just a chance to get together, eat spooky food and wear costumes. Without it, myself and many family members would have no excuse to dress up.

I, as usual, procrastinated and needed help getting ready. My mom and little sis swooped in to decorate the house, and they did a fantastic job! They used moslty the decorations we used in my parents house growing up, along with these new creations by my sister:

For food, we wanted to do something fun and spooky, but I def wanted to avoid having TOO much food like we did last year (and have had at many family events). I think we succeeded! The menu included: a Veggie Tray, Chips&Dip, Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow, Deviled "Goblin" Eggs, and Stuffed Jack-O-Peppers. We had a variety of "normal" drinks with the option to put wormy icecubes (gummy worms) in them. For dessert there was a delicious Pumpkin dump cake with vanilla ice cream.

I have had a request to "save"the recipe of the peppers. It was mostly made up! I got the idea from this blog post. The recipe there however is Polenta based, which I wasn't interested in. So I made my own recipe up for the filling. Here it is.

Stuffed Jack-O-Peppers
Ingredients:                                                                            \
2 pounds ground beef                                                    
Spanish Rice-A-Roni                                                    
1 Can Diced Tomatoes                                                  
1 Can Blacked Beans                                                    
6 oz Salsa (half a bottle)                                                
1 Envelope Taco Seasoning                                            
1 Egg                                                                              
16 Bell Peppers                                                              
Taco Toppings as Desired                                                

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees                                                                 
2. Prepare the Rice-a-Roni per the directions, which will require the tomatoes
3.  With hands, mix together raw ground beef, taco seasoning, salsa, and egg   
4. Fold in, with hands, rice and beans                                                               
5. Cut the entire top off each pepper with a small knife,  remove seeds and     
white ribbing. Carefully carve face into each pepper. Doesn't need to be    
perfect! And they all can be different.  Arrange the peppers in baking       
dishes as available (I used three 9 inch cake pans)                                      
6. Spoon the mixture into each pepper, distributing equally. Its ok if some are 
 overloaded. Press the tops down on to of meat mixture.                            
7.  Bake for 55-65 minutes at 350 degrees.                                           
8. Serve with toppings such as cheese, sour cream, and the extra salsa               

Everyone showed up! (The whole family). Everyone dressed up! 

Benjamin was supposed to be a fireman, but he would hardly let us put his hat on!! I was the Dalmatian and DH was a burning house.

My sister as Rosie the Riveter (Or Lucille Ball, depending on what face you make)

Scarecrow Mom!!!

Benjamin had so  much fun playing with his aunt and uncles! I had so much fun hanging with the 'rents and siblings. I hope a good time was had by all.

The ACTUAL Halloween. Since the Fire Fighter costume didn't go over great, we switched it up and borrowed a Panda Bear costume from my brother. I hear that Benjamin had a BALL doing trick or treating and a Halloween parade at day care. He sure came home with a big bag of goodies! In the evening, after a quick dinner, we went to the campus where DH works to Trick-OR-Treat in the dorms. DS thought it was great fun! He especially loved to take the candy from the person and put it in the bucket himself. Unfortunately, they ran out of candy after the first dorm. Fortunately, it was still early enough we could come home and go around our neighborhood a bit! Some of the neighbors we know loved to see him, and again he loved the whole process. 
It was a really fun Halloween. I didn't get to every little activity and craft I had originally planned, but we did the important thing - had fun with family (and ate good food).