First birthday

First birthday

Friday, September 12, 2014

Owls and Grace. And Mountain Dew.

Those two things don't have anything to do with each other, they're just two things I meant to record and they seemed obscure enough to sound good together. ;-)

Owls - Nothing special there, just that my child is obsessed with owls all of a sudden. (???!?) I'm not totally sure where it came from.

There's an owl on Daniel Tiger (Named O the Owl. Super creative, right?). He never really cared about him before, but now he's choosing to watch Daniel over Super Why.... "cause OWL!"

There's also an owl in this ABC book my parents got him last week and he keeps opening the book to the "O" page and squealing "Ow-elll! Ow-ell!!" in the most exaggerated way possible.

To top it off, we got to see a real owl at the Science Museum on Monday. He was over. the. moon. He "talked" about it the rest of the day (or, as the case may be, he kept saying "owl owl owl - hoo hoo!!" the whole way home. Vocabulary isn't his strong suit. ;-)

So there's nothing special about that, it's just something I wanted to remember.

And grace - Well, I was just thinking after a very long, fussy, napless, beat-your-momma-up-and-scream-about-every-little-thing kind of afternoon about how beautiful grace is.

Sometimes it's really hard for me to be gracious to my child when he is having a rough day, especially when I'm tired or, like today, super sore to go with it (that's what I get for working out too hard this week). But I know that I have been and can be way harder to deal with than that. Not only do I (internally) throw fits (I usually keep my all-out kicking and screaming tantrums to a minimum these days), I'm stubborn and overly questioning and at times even belligerent, and sometimes I sure do think I can do everything by myself.

Man, I'm so grateful that God has shown me grace! And that He gives me grace to make it through afternoons like these. Because even when making it to bedtime is a struggle, there's no where else I'd rather be.

That was going to be all. But then I remembered this:
Samuel's "job" at dinner time is to bring Eric a soda, usually Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper. 

One evening a few weeks ago Eric had to work late, and I found Samuel in the living room like this, calling "da da!! da da!!" It was sweet and sad and hilarious all at once. Apparently Mountain Dew must have magic properties, though, because Eric walked through the door a few moments later. We'll have to test this one out again on MICU next month! 

Anyway, that is all (for real this time!).

Friday, August 29, 2014

19 Months: He Speaks

At 19 months, baby boy is finally talking, or doing something that resembles it anyway. I'm guessing he has 40-50 words right now. Not all of them are intelligible to the average listener, of course, but he likes to attempt to communicate anyway. Or maybe he just likes to hear himself talk. ;-)

He's also started putting multiple words together in the last week or so. This has worked to his advantage since I tend to give him what he wants since I'm so proud of him for saying two words together. Don't get used to it, kiddo. ;-)

I need to be better about keeping track of what he says since it makes me laugh about 20 times a day, but here are a few not-very-funny words/phrases he's saying a lot this week:

- "More, please (Pssss)!"
- "Me/My _______ (whatever is his - ball, cracker, banana, etc.)"
- "That _________ (this morning he woke up and pointed across the room and said "That ball!!")"
- "Baby!" I've also discovered this can sometimes mean "bagel" if he's feeling too lazy to make the "lll" sound.
- "Hi!" He's said "bye bye" for a long time, but "hi" is new this month.
- "Wa wa" aka waffle
- "No," "Yes," "Uh-uh," "uh-huh" and the like. He is doing much better about meaning yes and no.
- "Dee-dee" aka Teddy. He looooves his teddy.
- "Seh, Go!" - His version of "ready, set, go!"
- "Keys."
- "Door.
- "Flower."
- "Car."
- "Bike."
- "Toes/nose/eye/earring/arm/knee." We spend a lot of time going over our body parts. Oh, and I can't forget "diaper" and "wee wee." Such a boy!
- "Juice!" which he hardly ever is allowed to drink. Pretty much the only juice he gets is from Trader Joe's sample stand and he starts saying it as soon as we walk in.
- "Chair"
- "Jump!"
- "Yayyy!!"
- And, as mentioned a lot the last few weeks. "Why!!!" (Super Why on PBS).

We also spend a lot of time talking about animals and their sounds, letters (he's really into the letter "E" right now), saying "sorry" and "thank you" (he has to be prompted to say these a lot), and talking about different family members/friends. He has a few friends whose names he realllly likes to say a lot.

Samuel also still spends a TON of time babbling to himself. Like right now, he's laying in his crib talking away. And laughing. And clapping. I do wonder what is going on in that little head of his!

He's also started singing to himself the last few weeks, which is beyond adorable. The most common thing I hear sounds something like "ABCs," but who knows what he really means. He doesn't usually want to sing with me when I sing, but anytime we're in the car or he's playing alone, he's usually singing himself a little tune. So sweet. :-)

I know it'll probably drive me crazy, but I am really excited for him to start talking more. Kids say the funniest things, and I'll get to have a front row seat to his little monologues. Hopefully future months will bring many more conversations to share!

Monday, August 25, 2014

19 months: Favorite Things

I'm thinking it might be easier to do these in increments. At three days shy of 19 months, here are some of Samuel's current favorite things:

- Watching videos of himself, especially ones as a "baby" learning to walk where he falls down a lot. He CRACKS UP at any video where he falls down. (We have 3 videos like this and they seriously entertain him for 15-20 mins at a time).

- Super Why (a PBS show). Multiple times throughout the day he starts telling me "Why!!! Why!!!" He only gets to watch once per day though. It's a rough life.

- Bubbles. Duh.

- Pulling everything out of the kitchen drawers, especially all the K-cups and plastic ziploc bags.

- Babies. I don't know what sparked it, but he looooves babies right now! It's one of his favorite words.

- Brushing his teeth.

- Singing - this is something new he's just started doing and I love it! I'll hear him in his room talking to himself and he'll just start adding a tune to it. Adorbs.

- "Jumping." He can't actually jump, but he thinks he can.

- Standing at the top of the steps of our deck, clapping, and yelling "Yay!!"

- "Racing" with me outside.

- Opening and closing our gate and saying "Nooooo!"

- I probably shouldn't admit this, but he loves climbing and standing on our side tables in the living room. He's pretty steady, and there's nothing on them, so we finally just let him do it. Mom of the year right here!

- Playing "Airplane Samuel" with Eric and me.

- Looking at a Curious George DVD case and making monkey sounds. Entire car rides to the Y have been spent like this.

- Throwing food on the floor. Really, throwing anything on the floor. Wood floors make such a cool thump. Le sigh.

- Pulling the cat's tail. Poor kitty.

- Pressing buttons, especially at the store. I let him press the credit card machine buttons until I'm ready to actually use it. He thinks it's pretty fabulous.

- Elevators. Over and over and over.

- Water fountains. Seriously, it doesn't take much to entertain this kid!

- Giving and blowing kisses, saying "hi" and "bye", and generally winning the attention of every woman he comes in contact with.

- Other people's food. Obviously everyone else's Goldfish are way better than his own.

- Mommy and daddy, because we're awesome. ;-) Seriously, though, I think my favorite thing Samuel does right now is go up to "talk" to other kids, say "hi" and then point toward me and say "ma ma!" Like he's just making sure they know that that mama is his. That and his cute little hugs and kisses melt me.

This really has been a fun month despite some serious tantrum throwing. Watching Samuel learn so much and hearing his vocabulary grow so rapidly is amazing! I so love this crazy kid! 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Gnam Gnam.

Does anyone else have a serious baking addiction? I really have tried to back off multiple times. I have yet to be successful.

These two things are at least sort of healthy-ish? And easy. And quick. 

Banana Bake
Um, so easy, you don't even need a recipe! Cut up a banana, put it on a foil-covered cookie sheet. Dab some honey on and then sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Pop that bad boy in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes and you have some amazing banana-y goodness. It was like a sopapilla. With bananas. You're welcome. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Once again, E-A-S-Y.
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. cocoa
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all that stuff up and roll the dough into balls on a cookies sheet. 350 for 10 minutes and you have some gluten-free Reese's-esque deliciousness ready to eat. Oh, and I threw in some chocolate chips for good measure. You know, just to be sure they were chocolatey enough. 

Why can't I be addicted to salad or something? 

Winning their hearts.

I don't know much about parenting. I'm kind of figuring it out as I go, as I'm sure every other parent is.

I do appreciate being able to glean from other people's parenting wisdom. Pinterest and blogs have made that pretty easy. I can read articles or thoughts/ideas from other moms without ever leaving my living room. Some of what I come across doesn't mesh with my style, and some people seem to think that because their 9 month old hasn't thrown a tantrum yet that they're parenting experts. But occasionally I'll find something really encouraging, and I'm always grateful when I do.

One encouraging article I read yesterday was by a mom who went to a woman whose grown children all turned out amazingly well - they clearly had a great relationship with their parents, their own families, and the Lord. She had to know her secret. What kind of wisdom could she share?

The seasoned mother didn't respond with a list of things to make sure her children did or said or read (How often do we young moms look for checklists to help us feel accomplished as parents? I know I do!). In fact, she didn't really respond at all, but instead sent her (grown) children to the young mother to share what kept them so tied in to their faith and family.

The kids' response was simple - their parents won their hearts.
They took an interest in their kids' interests.
They listened intently to what their children had to say.
They sometimes passed up on other opportunities to spend time with their kids.
They made sure that their kids knew they were more than lovable, but likable as well.
They prayed for them and with them.
They helped them find their best traits and develop them
They worried more about their children's hearts than their actions.
And they constantly reminded them that who God created them to be was enough.

And that love in action won them not only to their parents but also to their God.

I hope that's the kind of parents Eric and I will grow to be. I know we (I) have a long way to go, but I hope our child(ren) will see that kind of love in us. That they will feel like they belong, like they are a special part of our family just the way they are.

It also struck me that the same principle applies to our faith. So often the idea that prevails in Christian churches is that we should "share" our faith - aka go through a list of scriptures to convince people of the deity of Christ. Really shouldn't our goal be to win their hearts? And while it's clearly Christ who does the winning, can't He - doesn't He - use us to do so?

It's easy to look for shortcuts. It's easy to just give someone a list of scripture verses. It's easy to follow a list of do's and don'ts in parenting. It's hard to invest in people, to take time to get to know them, to find a way to connect, to love them. It's hard to see their hearts instead of their actions. It's hard to remember that, no matter how different than us they may be, they are significant, they are enough.

I'm terrible at this, I know. I'm an awful listener. I judge way too easily and definitely find it difficult to connect with those different than me. I worry what others think and judge my own actions way too harshly as well. I'm sure I will have the same trouble as a parent. I already struggle and I've only just begun.

But I know I am called to something far greater, far deeper, and thankfully I don't have to do it alone. I hope and pray I'll learn to love deeply, overwhelmingly. And I hope that when my kids are grown and someone asks them about their relationship with their family and their faith, they'll be able to say the same thing: we won their hearts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sweet Summertime

Man, I have loved this summer in a way I don't think I ever have before.

Last winter was hard for me, for us as a family. And springtime was wonderful, but Samuel's exuberance paired with his inability to communicate was pretty stinking frustrating. And Eric worked all. the. time.

But this summer has been perfectly lovely. I haven't even minded the warmer-than-normal weather (for NC anyway), and have gladly spent many sweaty days at the park just because we can. Do you know how much more fun life with a toddler is when you can go outside? So. much. better! Plus, though Eric has had a really hard rotation this month, his schedule is still way better than before. And Samuel is communicating WAY better, making me enjoy this age way more!

Here's a little snapshot of what our summer days have looked like:

7 am - Wake up time!
 Eric was home until 7:15/7:30 in July, and Samuel LOVED seeing him first thing in the morning! He's back on inpatient now, so he's out the door way before little man is up. Sometimes that equates to Samuel staying in bed til 7:30 or so though, which I don't mind one bit! 

Samuel's favorite thing to do when he wakes up now is to yell, "MA MA! MA MA!" It's equal parts endearing and annoying, depending on my mood when I wake up ;-). When I go get him, he usually likes to stay in his crib and have me read him a story or sing a song before he decides to tell me "NA NA! (banana)" aka "breakfast time." 

He always gives me a big hug and (as of this week) a kiss before I put him down to go get his breakfast. Adorbs.

7:15 - Breakfast
Samuel's always been a 'nana fan and still insists on having one every morning, but lately he's only eaten about two bites of it and begged for my cereal instead. He's learning to say "please" when he wants something, so I usually give in and pour him his own little bowl. I'm a sucker like that. ;-)

7:30 - TV time
This is new (we used to only watch at naptime), but Samuel would be SO sad when Eric would leave in the morning that TV seemed to be the best way to distract him. It's kind of become a thing. We were just watching Clifford or Daniel Tiger, shows that come on in 12-15 minute increments. Most recently, though, we've discovered "Super Why," a PBS show on Netflix that's a little longer but apparently VERY addictive. He's obsessed. After breakfast he searches for the remote and yells "Why!!! Why!!" Oh my.

8:00 - Play in the house/Get dressed/Play outside
We always play awhile and end up migrating outdoors for bubbles and a short time of me attempting to catch up on facebook/email/drinking my coffee. We try to do a daily Bible verse in the morning and talk about letters/colors. I'm kind of bad at that. Oh, and we pretty much always end up watching videos of Samuel on my iPhone. He's pretty conceited like that. 

9-12 - Errands/Chores/Playdates/Walks/Park/Music class/Children's museum/Snack
We seem to somehow find something to do every morning.. ;-) Our children's museum membership has been amazing! It's a great filler for those times when we need to get out but don't have anything to do. The park is fabulous for that too. It was closed at the beginning of the summer but has recently reopened. It's sooo nice to live within walking distance!

12 - Lunch time!
We're pretty addicted to PB&J around here. Well, Samuel has PB&J and I have PB & Nutella. We also go out once a week for lunch. Those days usually mean Samuel falls asleep in the car on the way home and stays knocked out while I put him in his crib. That sweet cuddly time taking him inside is my favorite. :-)

12:30 - Wind down time - play quietly/read/maybe watch a "short" show

1 - Nap time!
For Samuel anyway. I've taken like 2 naps all summer. Between answering emails, cleaning house, sometimes showering, doing clothes, yard work, and getting dinner plans together, I usually am wishing for an extra hour of nap. :/

3 - Snack/the rest of the "short" show
One of the not-fun things about Samuel's age right now is that about 30% of the time he wakes up from his nap and FLIPS OUT. Sometimes it's not right away, but 3-5 minutes after he's up. It's weird. One day he threw a tantrum so bad I legitimately was concerned he was going to pass out/injure himself. TV's the only thing I've found so far that can snap him out of it, so, when needed, that's what I do. Whatever works, right? 

3:30 - Errands/Chores/Play time/Baking

4:30/5 - Gym!
We've seriously been at the gym almost every day this summer. Occasionally we will go in the mornings and do our other stuff in the afternoon. 5 pm seems to work really well for us, though. Samuel LOVES the gym - the elevator, the greeters, the child care. I'm so grateful! 

6/6:30 - Home to start dinner/play outside until Eric comes home (now - he was home by 5/5:30 in July!)
Although lately the mosquitoes have been SOOO bad we've had to play inside instead. Also, Samuel is obsessed with these berries outside I'm not sure he should eat so I have to watch him like a hawk and can't always cook easily. 

7 - Eric comes home & dinner
Samuel gets crazy excited when he hears Eric pull up. He screams "da da!!" until he comes in the door. It's pretty stinkin' sweet. 

7:30 - Jeopardy
Because we are nerds like that. 

8 - Brush teeth/Get Samuel to bed.
Cleaning the house.
Hanging out.
I'll post more about Eric and me another day, but suffice it to say we L-O-V-E summertime television! American Ninja Warrior on Mondays (or the Bachelor if Eric is working), America's Got Talent on Tuesday and Wednesday, reruns of Big Bang Theory/Parks and Rec on Thursday and Shark Tank on Fridays. We also like to pig out on Reese's/brownies/cookies/whatever junk is available, negating my hour spent at the gym. I swear we aren't like this any other time of the year! 

We've had some rainy and hot days this summer, but, overall, it's pretty much been amazing. I got really sad yesterday when I realized that it's more than halfway through August and fall was rapidly approaching. I'm adjusting to the idea. I found some really cute fall decorating ideas on Pinterest. And I do love running in cooler weather and things like apple pie and hot chocolate and sweaters and boots. So I'm sure I will learn to love fall too.

Since I'm too lazy to actually insert these into appropriate places in my post, here's a boatload of cute Samuel pictures all at once!

Smoothies at The Juice Shop.

Samuel learned to use the water fountain at the museum last week. We pretty much split our time there between the water fountain and the elevator now.

Samuel can get into his stroller by himself! 

His one chore.

Grocery shopping!

All boy.

Swim lessons at the Y.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I wish I had a lot of good stuff to say about Eric's birthday this year. I don't. It was kind of miserable all around. We had to have a part replaced on the car we are trying to sell in order for it to pass inspection, so I spent the day running (literally) back and forth between the mechanic and the hospital parking garage and the Y and our house. It was no fun.

 Eric had to work late and was crazy busy all day and forgot it was even his birthday. And the people coming to look at our car showed up an hour early - when I was on my way to pick up Eric from work since I took his car - and he ended up walking home from work. I felt horrible. And they didn't even buy the car.

So at almost 8 pm we decided to "celebrate" with Five Guys and cake - the one birthday thing I successfully accomplished.

Okay, the pictures aren't great, and this cake wasn't beautiful. But I was really proud of it and it tasted really good!! I got the inspiration for it from a pin I found on Pinterest for a "vintage cake" - a white cake with a brownie bottom. Eric's more of a chocolate cake fan, and the actual cake recipe on the site didn't sound like something I really wanted to make/eat. But I went with the general idea of a brownie-bottom with white icing, and I think it turned out really well!

Layer #1 - Brownie. I used a packaged mix for this because it was available, but think I'll try homemade next time. It's kind of hard to make brownies keep a perfectly round shape like cakes, so I ended up kind of molding the brownie into the shape I wanted with my (clean) hands. With the other layers on top, you totally couldn't tell, and it still tasted delish.

Layer #2 - Chocolate sauce. There are a few different ways to go about this. I made sauce using maple syrup and cocoa, and thought it was amazing. You can also do sweetened condensed milk and cocoa, or, of course, just buy some chocolate sauce.

Layer #3 - Chocolate cake from scratch. Here's the recipe I (approximately) followed. It's the second time I've made it and it is fab-u-lous.

- 1 3/4 c. flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 3/4 c. cocoa powder
- 2 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. butter
- 1/4 c. oil
- 1 c. hot coffee
- 1 c. buttermilk (I put 1 tsp. vinegar in a cup of milk and let it sit - very similar flavor!)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together all the dry ingredients except the sugar. Combine butter, oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add in dry ingredients. Slowly mix in buttermilk and coffee. Batter will be extremely runny. Bake in a greased round pan at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. 

Layer #4 - Vanilla icing. I may try this from scratch next time too, but I was pretty crunched for time and had a baby involved here, so I just used my favorite Betty Crocker icing. Honestly, it doesn't get much better than that.

Layer #5 - White cake from scratch. I was a little worried about this part and actually bought a box mix as back up, but this is the first white cake recipe I found that I really really enjoyed. It will definitely be making an appearance again!

- 5 egg whites
- 3/4 c. whole milk
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 1/2 c. cake flour
- 1 3/4 c. sugar
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3/4 c. butter, room temperature

Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine egg whites, milk and vanilla. Slow stir in dry ingredients. Add in butter. Pour into a greased pan and bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. 

Layer # 6 - A healthy dose of vanilla icing over it all! I should have bought an extra can of icing. One just wasn't quite enough to cover two thick cakes and a brownie layer (not to mention the icing between the cakes). The lack of icing made it look not-so-pretty. But trust me, it tasted beautiful.

And while I'm on the subject of cakes, I also made my first diaper cake this week. It wasn't amazing or anything, but I thought it turned out okay considering I had NO clue what I was doing!

Domestic goddess?? Perhaps (NOT!). ;-)