Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas Eve 2015


We had a lovely Christmas Eve at home this year. Following tradition, Nate helped me make sugar cookies for Santa, though he was a little less enthusiastic this year. We had a pretty awesome turkey dinner (if I do say so myself!), and I harassed my family for pictures. 


My real camera is broken (sad face) and the kids were not interested in making Kodak moments anyway. In the picture above, you'll notice Nate hiding behind his sister. This was moments before her star related meltdown. (I decided that she shouldn't play with it because it was getting glitter everywhere and she strongly disagreed with this decision.) But I think Nate's note to Santa made up for the lack of awesome family portraits.

Also per Field/LoRe tradition, we each opened one present on Christmas "Eve" which was more like 3:00 p.m. Nate passed out the sweet gifts he purchased at his school holiday shop and I received a lovely "#1 Mom" bracelet. Nate choose to open the package from Bubba that he correctly deduced was Legos. Scooby Dooby Doo!!

I'm not normally this crazy, but tonight we'll be ending with a cliffhanger. You'll have to stay tuned to find out if Santa did indeed sign on the provided line...

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Letter to 1 1/2 year old Caroline

Dear Sweet Girl,

I have been writing letters to you in my head each month and I have so much I want to tell you. But then each month flies by and I've put nothing down on paper. So let me try to piece together what has been happening since you turned one.

16 months

When I think of you, the first thing that comes to mind is how well you speak and how fast the progress has been. I believe that by 15 months you could say between 50-100 individual words. And by 16 months you were putting them together two at a time. By 17 months you were saying three words together. And then that pretty quickly just turned into speaking in complete sentences! And paragraphs...and full songs. And not only can you say a lot, but you choose to say a lot quite often. You are quite the chatter box.

You have much of the alphabet and numbers 1-16 memorized. You understand what counting is, but don't fully grasp what the numbers or letters mean. I think you just watch too much Sesame. We're working on our colors and you're quick to spot pink and usually guess that everything else is green.

You are also very physically strong (and tall for your age), agile and super duper fast! You love dancing, getting airplane rides from mom and dad (but especially dad), and running with brother.

15 months - 17 months

You are self sufficient and when you want something, like a cracker or my iced coffee, you just help yourself to it. And when you don't want something...like being manhandled at the doctor's office for instance, then you make your feelings quite known. You will scream and cry and shake with rage when faced with a perceived injustice. You are strong willed and determined and I love that about you.

We have been working on sharing and recently made a breakthrough. For months, the idea of sharing and taking turns has literally made you scrunch up your nose and grimace. You've been hyper aware of potential "grabbers" and are quick to call out said grabbers - whether a member of the family or a stranger at the library. Recently, when we were hanging out while Nate was in karate, you discovered how good it felt to hand a playmate a toy and actually let go. So you've been experimenting with this sort of giving behavior more and more lately. You seem quite proud of yourself when you successfully share.

You're quite friendly with little kids we meet at the park, the library or outside of karate. You like to get very close and wave repeatedly, say hi or show them an item you're holding. This has been received with mixed results.

But of course, Nate is your best friend and playmate. You love to hug him and tell him you love him. He usually pats your back and kisses your head. It's quite possibly the sweetest thing I've ever seen.

As far as activities go, you love dancing and singing, as I mentioned. You're fond of drawing "shapes" and coloring with markers. That usually means scribbling for a minute and then tossing half of them on the ground around the room while you stick the tops on your fingers and walk around. Luckily they are the Color Wonder ones that only work on special paper.

17 months
You love playing with the doll house and putting the various family members in their beds or on the potty. We'll thank your brother for that last one. You also enjoy "cooking" food in the kitchen and stirring empty cups and bowls.

You love taking any small bits from one container and transferring them to another. And back and forth, and back and forth. Uncooked pasta is great for this, but you also do this with the food I give you to eat which always means that snacks are a messy event and food is always on the floor. But the upside is that you are usually able to find an old goldfish or cheerio to nibble on when you want one. Yum!

Baths are also a favorite. More transferring of matter from one cup to another. Playing with the foamy soap is super fun for you, especially when you're washing a "pirate guy" of Nate's.

You are still very affectionate and loving, though you are not always so free with your hugs and kisses now. But you're particularly clingy when an unknown man is around. If I choose the wrong line at the grocery store and the clerk is a man, you've been known to turn into an actual koala.

17-18 months
You're funny and love to tickle your family, particularly your brother and crash into your bean bag while yelling "Watch out!" Basically if it gets a laugh once, you will continue to do it again and again. And that's fine, because it makes you laugh too and very little makes me happier than hearing your raspy little chuckle.

I love you so much and can't believe how fast you're growing. I mistakenly told a woman the other day that you were 18 months, when in fact you had just turned 19.  I'm in denial that those chubby hands and soft round little belly won't stay this way forever....or at least just a bit longer.

I love you more than tongue can tell.

~Mommy

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Letter to my 6 year old

Dear Nate,

You turned 6 years old last month!  We spent the day at home having "a lazy day" at your request and I didn't even force you to take one my evil 10 minute walks around the block in honor of your special day. Instead, you spent the day very much how I imagine I will spend my 45th birthday:



playing with Star Wars figures in my underwear, baking my own birthday cake, decorating it with skulls, opening presents from our family and making a wish as I blow out the candles.

The weekend after your birthday we celebrated with a bounce party (for the second year in a row). You proclaimed it "your best birthday ever!" which was pretty much the best thing I could hope to hear.



Tomorrow you start first grade and I know that you will have a great year. You're incredibly bright, eager to learn and quick to make friends. At the moment you plan to be an inventor/construction worker when you're older. That would be great, especially having access to the time machine you're excited to create, but I wouldn't be surprised if you ended up being a writer. We've been coming up with some great stories and your ideas are limitless. I love your vivid imagination and off beat sense of humor and can't wait to see where your interests take you.

Speaking of interests, you just started karate and are a very enthusiastic Nate-san. We have to work at practicing kicks away from the direction of your sister's head, but other than that, it seems like a great way to channel all of your energy. 



I'd like to end this little note with a great picture of you and sister, but since you don't like pose much anymore and Caroline is usually just a blur, this will have to do. I think it captures the two of you in your natural element pretty well anyway.

I love you more than tongue can tell. 

~Mom



No cook edible play dough for babies


We thought we'd try something new and expose CJ to the wonderful world of playing with dough.  But since she likes to put everything in her mouth, that limits our choices a bit. I don't keep tins of fruit puree around, unfortunately, so I adapted this recipe for edible baby play dough and made ours with:

1 cup cornstarch
1.5 cups baby rice cereal
1 packet of kool aid mix (for color and scent and to dispose of them before Nate drank them and turned into a sugar monster)
3 tbs canola oil
Enough water to turn the mess into a dough ball

I put a bit too much water in the first batch so it ended up too sticky. So I'd recommend adding the water slowly and mixing thoroughly before adding more.  CJ was a bit weirded out by the dough, so of course immediately put it in her mouth.




But that was okay, because it was obviously delicious...



The big kid liked it too, so we decided to save it in the fridge to play with it again.  Luckily it didn't really resemble food and trick Dave into eating it, because I didn't mark it. BUT if you did want an unsuspecting family member to eat it, I'd recommend first forming it into cookie shapes and displaying it on a plate.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Baby sign language (animals): CAT and DOG

Like many babies,  Caroline is very interested in talking about animals, making animal noises (most animals say "mowww" apparently) and reading books with animal pictures. Here is Nate looking at a picture book with CJ and talking about cats and dogs while fittingly sitting in their "nest" of pillows:


Friday, June 19, 2015

End of the year

The year flew by and all of a sudden there are only 3 days of kindergarten left for Nate.  We recently were invited to an "End of the Year" show at the school featuring live entertainment (including a rousing alphabetical version of "Who Let the Dogs Out"), refreshments and a slide show with pictures of all of the big events over the last year.  Here's some proof that we showed up to the show and did not use the time to restock our fake mustache supply even though we're totally out...




The Dads videotaped from their iPhones and the Moms dabbed their eyes with kleenex. I stuffed my bag with brownies when the teacher turned her back and reflected how odd it was that I didn't really feel sad. I don't know if it's because it hasn't really hit me yet or whether it's because my heart is a cold black piece of coal, but I strangely don't feel very emotional about this milestone. Instead of feeling weepy I'm just looking forward to spending more time with him over the summer and watching him continue to grow into the very thoughtful, funny sweet boy that I love so very much.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Happy 1st Birthday sweet girl

Dear Caroline Jane,

Today is your first birthday.  You are one! You are a sweetheart and absolutely perfect.


Over the past couple of months you have learned to communicate so much! You've learned some new words. You can say Mama, Dada, Nate, hi, yay, eye and bubbles (the kind you pop, not the guy from The Wire). You are signing up a storm. So far you regularly use at least 13 signs. They include: more, fan, light, all done, dog, gorilla, water, hear, eat, pancake, bird, flower and hat. You also point, wave hello & goodbye (using both hands) and blow kisses.  You can point to your nose and stick out your tongue when asked where those parts are on your body. You constantly point to your ear, which means either (a) "I hear something" - often a bird, dog or lawnmower or (b) "what sound does that make?" Option (b) is generally used when you're pointing to a picture in a book. You were very frustrated a couple of weeks ago when I couldn't tell you what sound the moon makes. Taking after Gammy, you are quite the elephant trumpeter. You can also sometimes moo, meow and cock a doodle doo too.

pointing to your ear

You are so loving. You give kisses and hugs unprompted (and many prompted too - they are absolutely wonderful and I can't get enough). Sometimes when I tell you that I love you, you respond with a kiss. At first your kisses were sort of dive bombs onto my shoulder with your mouth open. Now you make kissy noises and pucker your lips. And your hugs are often accompanied by a "mmmmm" sound. It took me a while to realize you got that from me. I love it all. You even hug your stuffed animals. You are a snuggle bunny.

And of course you're a stumble bunny as well. You started really walking on my birthday. It was the best present. You're incredibly agile and strong. You can stop, bend, pick something up and then pop back up and keep going. Those walker toys don't ever remain stuck in the corner, because you are very adept at maneuvering them back around in the right direction.

we went to the park today to meet your BFF Claire

You're also a determined little one. If you want something and it is out of your reach, you try with everything you have to get to the object of your desire. I've seen a bit of a temper too. If we take something away from you that you really adore (like a small piece of plastic), you yell at us and really let us have it. It often sounds like a dragon and frankly sometimes I am scared to wake it. There's a duck yell too, but that's for lesser infractions.

Your favorite activities right now include walking, walking into the next room, walking out of my sight and trying to climb up the stairs before I catch you. You don't want to sit still for any hair brushing or nail cutting, but you do like a good stroll around the block.


You still prefer to eat finger food and feed yourself. It's hit or miss whether you will accept me giving you any purees. I only continue to try to save time since it can take you an hour to eat at each meal. You will usually tolerate me feeding you yogurt, but I suspect that is just because you really like it and don't care how you get it in your mouth. Of course, that's not always the case. You're known to grab the spoon away from me and dip it into the container yourself. You're actually pretty good at it. Favorite foods include the aforementioned yogurt, pancakes, peas, broccoli, mashed potatoes, eggs and pasta. When you really like something you moan "mmm" when you eat it. You're really quite adorable.

You are also a bit of a daredevil. You love being upside down and "falling" (throwing yourself) onto your brother's bean bag. Mostly you enjoy exploring and playing with small bits of paper or anything else I'd rather you not have in your hand. Of course, you love jumping on and manhandling Brother more than anything.

playing sweetly together

You're pretty easy going and continue to be a good sleeper, even through this nasty cold you're getting over.

We had your actual birthday celebration last weekend with local family and close friends. You were given the tradition banana cake cupcake (Grandma Beryl's recipe) and after some initial confusion over the sticky frosting, proceeded to go to town on your first piece of cake.


getting some help blowing out the candles

enjoying your birthday cake


As most mothers feel about their children, I find you endlessly fascinating and completely amazing.  I love watching you learn and grow and it's so wonderful that it is *almost* enough to make up for the fact that it's passing SO FAST. Sometimes I feel my heart could burst from loving you.

happy girl


Happy birthday to my littlest love. I love you more than tongue can tell.

Love,
Mama

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Windy day at the beach




And we forgot the kite!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Care Bear on the move

She can't walk more than a few steps at a time yet, but that doesn't stop her from trying to jump and get both feet off the ground...








Or playing chase with her awesome big brother...

 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Chatty CJ

It's official. Caroline has been babbling for awhile, but now she clearly says, "Mama, Dada, and NayNay (NaeNae?)" for the three most important people in her life. Here is a tiny bit of proof:


Monday, March 23, 2015

CanvasPop {Review}

When we moved into our house last summer, we suddenly had about ten times the wall space as our old home and very little artwork to put up. We have a handful of bigger pictures, but it's amazing how many walls are still so bare 8 months later. (It turns out that there are only so many charcoal drawings of your sleeping husband you can put up before it starts to look weird.) We've been trying to make the house our own little by little, but it's been a slow process. Two kids and two jobs does not equal a lot of free time to decorate.  I've been spending a lot of time window shopping online, but haven't pulled the trigger and made any purchases. I want to make sure I really love whatever I buy and don't rush things. 

Then I heard about CanvasPop and jumped at the chance to turn one of my photographs into a canvas print. I read something recently about how you should only surround yourself with things that make you joyful. If there is one thing I know I will never get tired of looking at, it's my beautiful babies. I chose this one of Nate pumpkin picking at two years old. I love the way his little belly sticks out and think it really captures his sweetness and innocence. It makes me smile every time I walk by it.






I absolutely love the way it turned out. Constructed well, looks great. It even came with the hardware, so I was able to put it up immediately with a couple whacks of a hammer. It's a perfect addition to our playroom and now I want more. I'm not sure if I'll keep this where it is when we get more and the playroom is still a work in progress. This one is 16x24, but we have two more walls in the playroom that are bare and I might go bigger for my next canvas print. I want to get CJ and Nate together in a picture outside this spring.  I'm also kind of obsessed with typography and the idea of custom artwork, so I'm dying to try the Word Art Maker

Want to try CanvasPop? Use code NATERTOT35 and get a 35% off discount. There are no restrictions on size for the 35% off discount, however it cannot be combined with any other discounts, and it is not valid towards shipping. Valid for orders shipping within the US or Canada.

{Please note: I was not compensated for this post. I received a canvas print for review but all opinions expressed are my own.}

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Little leprechaun


Friday, February 27, 2015

Family slumber party

We kicked off February break with a family slumber party with our best buds. No one got much sleep, but it was worth it because we all had so much fun. Maybe too much, since Nate said he wanted to live at Jason's house after we left. Hmmm... 


Unfortunately, I didn't take many pictures. So a picture of the tired boys will have to serve to commemorate the good times.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Snow bunnies




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bowlerama

I took Nate bowling for the first time last week. We went with friends and he loved it so much we brought Dave and Caroline back with us a few days later. Bumpers and ramps make it very fun even for younger children...and old moms who have completely forgotten how to bowl.



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cloud dough

Speaking of easy things to make from items you already have in the kitchen...



We made "cloud dough" with 4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of canola oil. We added peppermint essential oil, which I know is not a normal thing to have, but we have it because I bought it to use in my homemade anti-spider spray. I do not like spiders and the spray helps to keep those little bastards out of the corners of our rooms without worrying about chemicals. Back to the dough... it was very fun to play with and Nate said it smelled like a candy cane. It's crumbly, yet solid at the same time. Sort of the way magic mud has both liquid and solid properties. We'll definitely make this again. Good times!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Buds



(Let's ignore the fact that the baby is watching tv.)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Exploding rainbow milk science experiment



As far as science experiments go, I prefer the ones that are easy and use items we already have in the kitchen. Sorry world. I am not ambitious when it comes to science. So when I saw this experiment somewhere online that required only milk, hand soap, q-tips and food coloring, I was all about forcing Nate to do it with me during his February break. After 3 days of bugging him, he finally agreed to do it (in between episodes of Ninjago). To start, you just pour some milk in a container and squeeze out some dots of food coloring. Then you dunk your q-tips (I prefer unused, but I encourage others to follow their hearts here) into the soap and dip them into the dots of color. And then BOOM!! Massive explosion! Just kidding. No loud explosions, but the colors do softly expand and swirl into really cool patterns. We thought ours looked like dragon milk. I should note that although we did not discuss chemicals reacting or anything, but I'm still totally counting it as a science experiment anyway.

Caroline's first Valentine's Day


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Beautiful December day

We had a surprisingly gorgeous day after Christmas so we went to Hoyt Farm. Caroline got her first ride in a swing and Nate got to run around like a maniac. I cannot wait for spring!




Monday, February 9, 2015

Out for lunch


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Letter to Nate at 5 years

Dear Nate,

It's been a while since I've written you a letter. I start them in my head all of the time, but haven't managed to sit down and commit them to paper...er, computer. I have so much to say to you that it seems overwhelming. So I'll just see how much I can write while your sister naps and you hang out with dad. So much has changed for you over this past year. You're five! You're in kindergarten! You're in a new house and you're a big brother. Hey Buddy, you know what? I am incredibly proud of you and am so happy that you have adjusted well to all of the changes. 



You have a lot of energy and we had to get through a lot of weeks where I could not give you the attention you needed. I was tired because I was pregnant. I was tired because I just had your sister and having a itty bitty baby is exhausting. Or I was tired because I was working too much. And so we had some long days where neither of us were at our best. But those days are behind us now and all of a sudden you seem so much older.
I think part of that is because you have a lot of new found independence in this house. When we were in our last home, it was so small that I knew where you were and what you were doing at all times. Now you have space to go off and do your own thing, which I think is great. I love finding you reading in your book nook in your room or playing legos on your own.


One of the many things I think is great about you is that you think for yourself. I'd describe you as a rule follower, but you don't automatically believe everything you're told. You think about whether it really makes sense and you question things. Another thing I love about you is that you wonder about big things. You ask me about god and science and death and your opinions are always insightful. I usually tell you what I think and what "other" people think, so that I don't brain wash you into believing everything I do. And when I ask you what you think, sometimes you say you don't know and other times you give me amazing answers. I try to write these things down, but of course they usually end up on scraps of paper that get buried under other things. I do remember one conversation though about how the earth was formed and you told me you thought that god created the particles that made the earth, which combined a couple of the ideas we had been talking about. Your ideas really impressed me.


We lost our dog Ava this past fall. She had gotten old and very sick and while her passing didn't seem to affect you much at the time, you continue to bring her up every once and awhile. One day you said something like, "Sometimes, for a second, I think that Ava is still here and then I remember that she's not and it's kind of weird." I told you that I understood exactly what you meant because I still do that with Gammy. You told me you didn't do that with Gammy because she had died a long time ago, but understood it was different for me because "she was your mom." 

You're doing well in school and seem to like it for the most part. You've met some good friends and I think it's kind of amazing that they could be life long friends, since we plan to stay here for quite a while. I had such a different childhood, changing schools so often, and I think it's interesting that you'll likely have such a different experience. 

One day in the fall everything suddenly clicked and you were reading. Really well. Like you just pick up books and read them now. You especially love reference books. Like father, like son. It makes my heart happy. You're kind, funny, silly, thoughtful and very bright. You are a wonderful big brother and I have a strong suspicion (and of course hope) that you and Caroline will remain good friends as you grow.


I love you more than tongue can tell.

Love, Mom

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Letter to Caroline at 9 months

Hello sweet girl,

You are almost 9 months old and you've become a very active little bug. Your army crawl is VERY fast and you are always sure to flash your charming smile at me as you make a beeline to the heater/wires/wherever you are not supposed to be. Something tells me that you will be a very active toddler and I will be a very tired mama.

I've been using baby sign language with you, just like I did with Nate. You keep practicing and gesturing and I know you are trying your best to communicate with me. You sign  fan, light, more and milk but I'm not sure if many other people would recognize what you're doing yet. I love how intently you watch my hands when I sign as I speak and I'm curious to see what sign you'll pick up next.

You've been babbling up a storm. You say "mama mama" all of the time, but I don't think you really connect it with me yet. However, you have said "dada" a couple of times while looking right at Daddy, so he is totally counting that as your first word. You've also started saying "baba baba" and I like to think you save that for when you're looking at your brother.



 Speaking of Nate, he is very fond of you. He tells me all of the time how great it is to have a sister and how adorable you are. He loves to make you laugh and goes to extremes to do it. I told him to stop hitting himself the other day, but he wouldn't because it made YOU laugh. You two are such weirdos. Wonderful, beautiful weirdos. Unfortunately, I can't for the life of me get a decent picture of you two playing. One or both of you are always a blur.

Let's see. What else have you been up to? We've been trapped in the house for what seems like months due to all the snow, ice and freezing temps. So you spend most of your time in the house. Good thing we have exciting things like CLAPPING to keep us busy. You can't get enough of clapping. And who can blame you? Very entertaining stuff. You've also started working on your high fives since you're such a pro clapper. Baths are also a big hit. You get really mad at me when I end the bath. That's okay though, because (as most parents know), it's super easy to wrangle a wet, wiggly angry baby out of the bath.



You pretty much eat anything I put in front of you. You love finger food and your pincer grip is most impressive. You can pick up and eat smalls square of slipper avocado or tiny bits of fuzz off the rug with no problem. You can also lift the flaps and turn the pages in your vast collection of peekaboo themed books. I've never met a baby so opinionated about their reading material. In addition to peekaboo books, you like books that have things to touch - holes, furry patches (holding back joke now), things that squeak. And you prefer real pictures of animals over cartoon ones. If I try to read you a "regular" board book you usually pick it up and throw it. The only exception is Goodnight Moon, which has been grandfathered in because I have been reading you that book every night since you were two months old - back when you didn't have opinions on books yet.

You've sat up on your own a couple of times in your sleep, but haven't remembered to do it in your waking hours, which is fine by me. I know the next step after that is pulling yourself up in your crib and I can wait on that as long as possible since that will only make sleep more challenging.

You're a good sleeper. You can fall TO sleep and BACK to sleep by yourself, but you have been waking more than I'd like due to first a sickness, then teething, then tummy troubles plus teething. At least you've been napping really well lately. (knock on wood) Over the past month or so you've started to get really cuddly and often hug me or lay your head on my shoulder, especially when you're sleepy. It is absolutely one of the best sensations on earth to have your sleepy little head rest against me.

I love you more than tongue can tell, my little princess.

Love, Mama

UPDATE: Sure enough, you figured out how to get into a sitting position on your own the very next day. And, as expected, you immediately figured out how to pull yourself to standing. You are quite proud of yourself when you pull up in a new location!


Saturday, January 31, 2015

First night in her room

I finally finished painting Caroline's room. It was the first room I've ever painted and I made a ton of mistakes, but hopefully I'm the only one who will really notice. But now I'll know what I'm doing the next time around.  And now I also know why my mom hated painting so much. Nate wants his room painted green, which will look really attractive with his red and blue Spiderman bedding. I'm not done decorating her room yet, but figured it was good enough to move her out of our room and into hers. Very bittersweet for me! Nate is delighted to have a "neighbor" upstairs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Christmas 2014

And here is a little photo recap of Christmas morning...






Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Christmas Eve 2014

I've been neglecting my updates, which makes me feel like I am neglecting my dad (because he might be the only one that reads my posts) and we can't have that. Here's a little picture recap of Christmas Eve...





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