Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Elliott Update

Yesterday was Elliott's four-month appointment (even though he is nearly five months old) so I thought I'd update everyone with his current stats. I was really good about doing that with Colter's appointments and I'm not this time around. Curse of being the second child, I guess.

Weight: 15 lbs. 13.5 oz
Length: 25 3/4 inches
Head circumference: 16 1/2 inches
Other notes: Elliott's head is rounding out nicely now, he's started eating rice cereal, and I'm sure there are two teeth coming any day now. Sleeping has been so-so; most nights he still gets up once or twice though last night he slept all night. The numbers confirm that he is just a tad longer than his brother was at this stage and definitely leaner. We put the swing away because it just wasn't doing the trick for soothing him anymore. That feels like the end of the real "baby" stage! Soon he'll be on to the jumper.

And, folks, the weekly picture is up so check it out!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Baking My Way Through Winter

I can't be the only one who, when the winter seems long and cold and we are in the house for days on end, retreats to the kitchen in search of something sweet. This winter, most of my baking is coming from this book, a Christmas gift from my mom:

I have not been taking pictures and posting the recipes because I'm pretty sure posting each one as I bake my way through the book would constitute copyright infringement. But here's a glimpse of what we've been satisfying our sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) with.

The first was a chocolate fudge pie with praline crumble.

The most recent is a sweet buttermilk pie.

In between, there has been a pair of apple pies (one for the kind neighbor who uses his snowblower to help us clear out after every single storm), a roasted sweet potato cobbler, a mocha fudge cobbler, and chocolate chess pie bites. And some chocolate chip cookies. There have been no disappointments; just varying levels of decadence. 

Someone check on me come spring; I may need to be rolled out the door.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Snow Business

This winter has been unusual for us, bringing frequent and sizable snowfalls, with no time for melting in between. And nowhere to put it all. So just in case you don't have enough of your own snow to look at, here's ours. (I'm talking to you, Grandpop and Grandmom, enjoying sunny Florida!)

Wait, what happened to the garden?

Elliott seemed to like the fresh air, as long as it wasn't breezy.

Can you tell by those bags under his eyes that someone did not nap well?

Does this remind you of the "snow cows" picture, Mom?

Colter can nearly walk right into his clubhouse now, no climbing required.

A neighbor said he heard we might be in for another 3-8" early this week so Keith worked on moving the snow back some to make room for more.

Elliott and I are digging the ring sling for carrying him on my hip.

Ah, boys and big chunks of snow.

On the upside, some time spent traipsing around in the snow makes for one tired, long-napping, don't-hear-a-peep-from-him toddler. 

On the downside, this is a boatload of snow.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Love at First Bite

With Colter, we waited with bated breath for the big milestones: rolling over, sitting up, first solid foods. With Elliott, they sneak up on us or happen spontaneously. Like deciding to start giving him rice cereal just because he seemed really interested in watching us eat. And he took to it like a pig to...slop.

Ok, maybe there was a little bit of confusion on the first night, but by the second night, he was putting it away like a champ and looking for more.

Not to be outdone, Colter made sure to let us know he, too, can eat with a spoon.

How did my boys get so big already?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Chalk It Up

Chalkboards and chalkboard paint seem to be all the rage recently. So while I certainly didn't start the trend, I did have a chalkboard before they became a big thing. I just didn't do anything with it for more than a year. (That seems to be a recurring theme around here...)

Over a year ago, I bought a small chalkboard at a flea market. I thought we would make a frame for around it and hang it in the dining room near all the toys, but we went a much simpler route and used mirror clips to attach it to the wall and ultimately decided to put it in the kitchen.

This is the response I got when I said, "Go show me how you use your chalkboard!"

Too early in the morning, perhaps? I know it was before my cup of coffee. And he never got out of his pajamas that day either.

The last thing I want to do is attach one of those Scrabble tile holders below the board to be a little chalk ledge.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Less Is More

I was thinking the other day about how the phrase "we want more for our kids" is often thrown around, and the idea that as parents, we want our kids to have more than we had. But more of what exactly? From where I sit now, it seems that just by virtue of growing up in middle-class America today, my boys will have more than I had: more toys, more books, more stuff, more choices of activities, more opportunities to travel. That seems like a good thing, until I stop and think that I had plenty of toys, books, and stuff, no shortage of things to do, and a healthy amount of travel opportunities. So maybe I don't want more for my boys. Maybe I want to make sure in a time of more, their lives don't get too cluttered up. Maybe rather than giving them more than I had, I want to make sure they aren't so busy and distracted that they miss out on the things I did, and still do, have.

I want them to have toys that they love deeply and play with to exhaustion, not just lots of toys. I can remember elaborate Lego constructions, detailed farming operations with tiny toy tractors, and hours and hours of caring for a favorite doll.

I want my boys to not be over-scheduled with lessons and practices, and to fully engage in the activities they do choose. I remember my brother taking karate lessons, and giving them up when he decided to play basketball in middle school. In elementary school, we had an after-school art club and phys-ed club, but when I got my horse in fifth grade, taking care of her after school became my priority. I want Colter and Elliott to find the things they enjoy and excel at, not be signed up for every activity available. I hope as a parent I can look at my kids and recognize when they are ready for sports or lessons, and if they are tiring of them, when is the right time to let them step away. And as a family, I don't want us to be frazzled by running in so many different directions that we lose touch with each other and don't even sit down to meals together.

I don't know what technology and social media will look like when these two are old enough for it, but I want them to have plenty of meaningful face-to-face contact with the people in their lives. I was so lucky to grow up in close proximity to much of my family, in and out of my grandparents' house nearly as often as my own and seeing my cousins daily. We didn't have to think about cultivating those relationships because we saw each other so frequently, and I want my boys to be close to all of their family, even if it takes a little more work to arrange seeing each other.

Vacations in my family were never elaborate affairs when I was young: Maine, the shore, a trip to the Southwest when my brother was stationed in Arizona, a trip to the Outer Banks with a stop in Williamsburg and Jamestown, a few bus trips to New York and Washington, DC. During college, I was lucky enough to take trips to London and a cruise to Bermuda. When Keith and I talk about what vacations we want to take with our boys, we want to share with them the places we love and the beautiful sights and history this country has to offer, and we aren't particularly interested in resorts and theme parks. I am so excited to share Maine with Colter and Elliott, who are the fifth generation of my family to vacation at that very spot. I hope they get to see every inch of the world that interests them, but I don't feel that it has to happen in the timeline of their childhood. (Keith and I dream of a trip to England and Ireland, sans children. So twenty years from now, perhaps?) I hope, too, that they find places they love and want to return to again and again, that feel as much like home to them as the home they live in.

I don't think my boys need any more than I had, but I want them to have plenty: plenty of time to explore, play and learn; plenty of family and love; plenty of enthusiasm for the world around them, near and far; and plenty of opportunities to grow. I want them to have just what I had.
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