Thursday, January 30, 2014

Eli - 2 years, 2 weeks & Ava 39 weeks (9 months)

We finally had a day of decent weather.  Okay, so normally 40 degrees isn't decent but after highs in the 20s it was a welcome change.  Sunday we went to church, got our groceries, and then Brian and Eli spent a few minutes riding the tractor.  Eli was so excited that he grinned from ear to ear and giggled the whole time.  I've said it before... we're an outside family.  We are so looking forward to spring so that we can escape the confines of our house and strech our legs a little.  
"Did someone say 'tractor'?  Get me outta these church clothes!"

"I wanna drive."

Ava is doing her best to climb all over everything and be on the move constantly.  Diaper changes are difficult and bathtime is nearly impossible.  How to you bathe a 9 month old who refuses to sit down but can't quite stand up yet.  This week I've been trying to sit her down over and over during baths.  She squirms and tries to pull up on the side of the tub.  But when she stands her top half is out of the tub hanging over the floor so you couldn't rinse her hair without pouring water all in the floor.  She gets very angry when I sit her back down.  This week bathtime has resulted in many tears.

Our two big accomplishments this week are that Ava has learned to clap/play patty-cake and wave.  She thinks these are great fun and grins from ear-to-ear when she does either of these and you respond appropriately.  Ava has been getting up earlier this week so she frequently sits in the bumbo seat in the bathroom while I get dressed.  This is our time to play some of these games while I put on my makeup, brush my teeth, etc.  She also reaches for anything she can get her hands on during this time as well.  I usually keep her hand occupied holding a comb or a brush or something, at least until she throws it down.  Then we play the pick-up game.  Ava throws it down, I pick it up, repeat, repeat, repeat, ... Eventually, I finish getting ready and we go get her and Eli dressed.

"Mommy says I have to sit down now. I'm not gonig to be still for long! I'll be standing up in 3... 2... 1... "

"No more sitting for me... I'm going to stand up!"

"This is my bathtime pose.  Just try washing me while I stand like this!"

Friday, January 24, 2014

Eli - 2 years, 1 week & Ava - 38 weeks

We are busy busy busy.  I have trouble even managing to get these kiddos to sit still long enough for a diaper change these days and you can pretty much forget about sitting still to take a picture.  The only time they are still is when they are sleeping and that doesn't happen easily so I dare not risk waking them to take a picture then. 

Ava is everywhere and into everything.  She is doing her best to keep up with Eli but she isn't quite ready to walk much less run.  Never the less she is a super fast crawler when she wants to be and screams bloody murder if she ends up left behind until someone comes to her rescue to help her catch up.  Ava ran a small fever Thursday night this week so she stayed home from daycare.  After being up all night with her, I was exhausted but she seemed to be ready to go.  So we played a good bit and then when she finally crashed for a nap, I managed to sneak in an extra hour or two of sleep myself.  She was fever free Thursday so we settled back into our routine this morning and she went to daycare.

"Yay! I kept Mommy up all night. Now it's time to party!"

"Just making a few calls on my cell phone on a day at home with Mommy."

"I like to play with Eli in his room.  Sometimes he let's me play with his tool bench.  I like that because I can stand up at it."

After Eli's birthday party last weekend, we had tons of food left over and we've been sharing with folks all week.  Brian and I have taken most of it to work, but Eli wanted to take some of his Mickey Mouse cookies to daycare.  So we took about 40 cookies to daycare this week.  The black frosting results in black mouths.  I hope that the other Mommies and Daddies weren't too frighted when their kiddos came home looking like they'd been drinking ink.

"I took cookies to daycare to share with my buddies."

Since the tempertures are still in the teens we still have a lot of outside toys residing in our house.  Eli's coupe car is currently located in the living room and dining room and the basketball goal moves from the office to the hallway to the living room and back.  We are an outside kind of family so this weather is tough.  It's especially tough on Eli so we're trying to make the best of it by keeping as many fun things to do inside as I can stand.  If spring ever does come (and I'm beginning to wonder if it will), some of these larger toys will become outside toys.  In the meantime, our home is a gian't playroom. 
Playing drive-in... "Can I take your order please?"  This occured in the midst of trying to get jammies on.  I somehow managed to get Eli dressed, but Ava was gone before I could even get her socks off.

Eli showing Ava how the drill on his toolbench works.  They are both very interested in tools... someday we'll be able to take on HUGE projects as a family because we'll have lots of handy people.

Happy 2nd Birthday Eli!

Eli's 2nd Birthday party was a Mickey Mouse theme.  We went all out again this year and Eli was really able to appreciate it.  He loved the decorations, the cake, and espeically the gifts.  He had a blast playing with all the family and friends who came to his party and was very sad to see everyone leave. 

Unfortunately, it's too much to try to prepare food, wrangle kiddos, and host so I had to hand my camera over to others for pictures.  I dind't end up with as many pictures of the decorations as I would have liked, but that is okay.  We got pictures of the important things and the people we love so that is what really matters. 
This cardboard stand-up Mickey and Minnie are as tall as Eli.  A friend of the family made them for us to use at Eli and Audrey's birthday parties.  They are so good that I can't imagine buying a better looking licensed product.

I turned the coffee table into a special seating area for the kiddos.  We had a tablecloth and used some of Eli's toys and a bunch of balloons as centerpieces.

Our food table was covered in Mickey and Friends themed foods.  We had so much more food than we could have ever eaten.  So our coworkers have eaten well this week as we attempted to empty our fridge before everything spoiled.

Mrs. Janie Quick did our cake again.  I provided these figurines and she came up with the rest.  It was even more delicious than it was adorable.

Eli spotted the characters on the cake immediately, so we had to sing "Happy Birthday" at the very beginning of the party so that he could hold Goofy. 
Eli spotted Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto immediately.  I thought were were going to have a come-apart right then because he wanted them.

Eli got a little embarrassed when we were all singing to him. He had to hide on Daddy's shoulder. 

After he blew out the candle, Eli made his get-away with all the characters off the cake.

While everyone else ate, I found Eli and his best buddy Ashton hiding in the corner playing with all the Mickey Mouse characters they could find.  These two are best buddies and so cute together.

Eli's cousin's Audrey and Brady came as well.

And Harley came up with her Mommy and Daddy from Birmingham.

Ava enjoyed some of the food as well.

And Grandma and Grandpa Hamilton came as well.  Ava got to spend some time with Pawpaw Frankie.

And Eli found a fun game to play.  Eli would lose some balloons in the ceiling so that Pawpaw Frankie would pick him up high to recreive them.  We did this probably 20 times. 

Then the kiddos found more fun games to play...

When everyone else left, Eli decided he'd take his new ride for a spin.


Thanks again to all who came and played with Eli for his 2nd Birthday. 

We had a blast and hope that you did too.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Eli - 2 years old & Ava - 37 weeks

Last week Eli turned 2 years old.  In all the work surrounding a birthday party, I failed to add pictures of him and Ava.  So I'm sharing a couple of photos now and I'll do a full birthday party post soon. 

At 2 years old Eli's favorite foods are cake, cookies, and potato chips.  Eli can almost out-run us and can repeat almost any word you ask him to (if he is in a cooperative mood).  Eli is generally a sweet and funny little guy but also has a fierce temper.  When he gets angry he says "kick, kick, kick" and kicks his little foot at you.  We're working to learn that this isn't really an appropriate reaction to anger, but at least he is expressing himself.  Eli loves to play and make jokes.  He routinely says "Silly ole..." followed by whoever he is thinking about.  It's usually "silly ole dogs" but sometimes it's "silly ole Daddy" or somebody else. 

Eli's favorite toys are his Mickey Mouse characters.  We have multiple copies of each character in multiple sizes.  However, our favorites are Goofy, Donald, and Mickey, of course.  When Eli isn't playing with Mickey Mouses he loves his trucks, cars, and balls.  Sometimes we branch out into something else, but those are our staples.  Eli's favorite movies are just about any of the Pixar animated movies including all the Toy Story movies (there are 3), the Mosters Inc series (2 movies), and Cars (right now we only have the first Cars movie but we also watch the bonus features.  Eli is also beginning to branch out into some of the other Disney classics like Peter Pan and the Three Musketeers.  His favorite TV show by far is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  We are collecting episodes on DVD as well.  The current favorite episode is "Soupy Dot Dog" (translation: Super Mickey) where all the friends get to be super heros for the day because "Pete shrinkin' eder-ting (everything)". 

Right now Eli's favorite book is Dr. Seuss' "I Wish that I had Duck Feet".  We read it frequently and I still recite the "Cat in the Hat" by memory almost every night after we turn out his lights.  Eli has almost fully transitioned from calling Ava "Baby" to saying "Baby Ava".  This is a big step. I think it means that he is beginning to see Ava as another kid to play with and not just a baby that he has to be careful of. (Or maybe I'm blowing that out of proportion and he is finally just able to say her name.) 

At his 2 year check-up, Eli weighed 32 lbs and measured exactly 3 ft tall.  I'm fairly certain that he's grown another inch in the last 2 weeks though. He suddenly looks so much longer and leaner to me.  It appears that Eli has far surpassed all the developmental milestones required by the pediatricians and he is fairly healthy.  He does hate the doctor's office and is not at all appreciative of having someone invade his space to check his eyes, ears, throat, etc.  I can't say that I blame him.  He's been sick so much and that last round of doctor visits for the pneumonia (and the associated chest x-ray) pretty well traumatized him.  Eli usually sleeps pretty well though sometimes I think he has bad dreams and sometimes he fights sleep.  However, he typically makes it pretty much through the night and if I have to go in to comfort him he'll go right back to sleep.  He enjoys daycare and playing with his friend there, but dislikes saying goodbye to Mama and Daddy.  We usually leave him in tears but are assured that he's fine within seconds of us getting out the door.

So that is about all I can think of for Eli's 2 year stats and info... Here's the picture to go with them.

At 37 weeks, Ava is pulling up on everything in site.  She is fearless and has even let go to attempt to stand on her own a couple times. I have no doubt that she will be "cruising" (walking while holding onto things) in no time at all.  Ava still doesn't say much but is becoming more vocal.  At her recent check-up she weighed in at 16 lbs 8 oz and measured 28 inches long.  She is closer to the 25th percentile in her measurements while Eli has always been on the upper end in the 75th percentile and higher.  That is fine.  We'll take a petite little girl.  Ava is still wearing mostly a 6 month size even though she is pushing 9 months old.  All in all, Ava is a very happy little girl and rarely complains, except at night when she is tired and wants Mommy to herself but has to settle for Daddy while Mommy does Eli's bedtime routine.  But she usually, settles fairly quickly and then gets her special Mommy time after Eli is asleep.  Ava almost never sleeps through the night.  We typically have a feeding around 2-3 am.  She is just now to a point where she can occasionally take a 7 to 8 oz bottle.  I'm hopeful that as she grows and can eat a little more she'll finally be able to make it 8 hours without a feeding.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dear Eli - A letter on your 2nd Birthday

Dear Eli,

Today you are 2 years old. In keeping with the tradition I started last year, I'm writing you a letter each year on your Birthday to tell you just how excited I still am to be your Mom, and to remind you how much Daddy and I love you. 

How is it that 2 years have passed since we first met?  Daddy and I were talking the other day and couldn't seem to remember what it was that we did on weekends and at night before you were born.  We thought we were busy people but somehow I doubt that we did anything important.  Our weekend are now filled with playtimes, naptimes, and feedings with some cleaning and laundry in between.  You brought unimaginable joy into our lives when you made us parents.  That is far better than all the free time and clean houses in the world. 

In the last year you have grown from a baby into a little boy.  Some would still call you a toddler, but to me you look so big and have grown so much that I just can't use the term toddler to describe you.  You are expressing yourself very well and are more and more frequently are participating in or listening to mine and Daddy's conversations.  You ask us questions and then appear to listen to the answers.  It's amazing to me how much you understand. 

You are now not only walking but running quite well, and your hand-eye coordination is astonishing.  You have a small basketball goal that you can throw the ball into from the floor.  You are learning to ride a tricycle, but haven't quite mastered that one yet.  Sometimes when you miss your shot at the basketball goal or can't get your tricycle moving, you get frustraited and angry.  Daddy and I understand the frustraition and find it secretly adorable, but we have to stop you from kicking everything in the house because it isn't something that will be cute forever.  Your temper is fierce and we are all working on helping you control it (or at least not letting it get away from you too much). 

As you have grown over the last year, you have developed quite an independent streak.  You want to go everywhere without assistance.  You want to walk to and from the car by yourself, you want to climb the steps to the front porch by yourself, and you want to feed yourself no matter how messy it might be.  When we leave church and get ready to cross the street to the parked car, Daddy frequently has to carry you because you refuse to hold our hands. You say "myself" over and over again as if holding our hands (for safety purposes) would hamper your independence.  Sometimes we help even when you don't want us to and you hate it! We try to let you do things yourself as much as possible and only intervene when asked or when it is a safety issue.  That independence will serve you well if you learn when and how to ask for help when it is needed as well as how to graciously accept help when offered.  Those things can be hard to do for independent minded people.  Goodness knows that Mommy and Daddy have both had trouble with that from time to time.

Daddy and I are doing our best to set firm rules and stick to them.  In the last year we've had to begin disciplining you and I hate that.  Setting boundaries and disciplining are by far the hardest parts of being a parent.  Please know that we only do it because it is what's best for you in the long run.  And when everything unpleasent is finished, I do my best to sit down in the floor with you and have a talk.  It seems to me that once things calm down it is time to explain to you why we have the rules that we do and why it is important that you follow them.  Please continue to hold me accountable to this as you get older.  I'm sure someday I will grow tired to explaining everything but that doesn't mean that you don't still need to hear it.

For the most part, though, our days are happy.  You aren't fond of being left at daycare right now, but we are told you are fine once we are gone.  Then when we pick you up in the afternoon you yell our name and run to us with a giant hug.  This is one of my favorite parts of the day.  That excitement to see me and Daddy means the world to us.  We are every bit as excited to see you too.

I'm so proud of how good a big brother you are.  When she was first born we worried that you would be jealous or that you would feel neglected.  We did have a little trouble from time to time with you wanting Mommy all to yourself, but soon we had adjusted to being a family of four.  You sometimes don't like it when Ava wants to play with your toys or accidentally pulls your hair, but at the end of every day you insist on kissing her goodnight.  In the mornings you are happy to see Ava and during playtime you look at her and say "come on, Baby".  You still call her "Baby" most of the time and I find that adorable as well.  It's like you have your own little name for her.

You have a love of all things outdoors just like Daddy.  You love to play in the garage (especially if we give you a tool to hold).  You love to ride the tractor with Daddy and even when you can't ride the tractor you love to feed the dogs with Daddy outside.  You follow him around taking every step he does.  When Spankie brings you a ball you love to throw it for him.  You have no idea how much better this is going to make Spankie's life.  We promised him when you came home with us that someday you would be his best ball-throwing buddy.  Now you are on the cusp of fulfilling that promise.  I promise that if this terrible winter ever ends, we'll all spend more time outside. 

At night now, we are working on helping you learn to go to bed on your own.  Soon you will be too big for me to rock.  You are quickly outgrowing my lap and nothing in the world makes me sadder than the thought of giving up our nightly cuddles.  So we do our nightly bedtime routine and are slowly weaning both of us off of rocking you to sleep.  Some nights you still fall asleep before I leave the room.  Other nights we do a dance of me coming in and out of your room every few minutes until you go to sleep on your own.  One thing that doesn't change is that I never close my eyes at night until I see you sleeping peacefully on the monitor. I still never tire of watching you sleep peacefully. 

I hope that you know how much Daddy and I love you and how proud we are of the little boy you are becoming.  You can light up a room with your smile and entertain everyone with your funny little games.  I hope that you can continue to find joy in the simple things in life like swinging on your swing set or reading books with Mommy.  Know that Daddy and I will always be here to laugh and play with you and will do our best to guide you on your path.  Hopefully, we'll also show you some cool stuff along the way.  We love you more and more with each passing day.

Mama and Daddy

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Eli - 1 year, 51 weeks & Ava 36 weeks

This has been one of the coldest weeks on record.  We've had to get up every morning and try to bundle both the kiddos up very well with lots of layers and get out the door.  We've been late more than once because we just couldn't get coats and hats and shoes and everything on everybody.  It's tough.  Thank goodness Brian got me a remote start for my car for Christmas.  Cranking the car from the bathroom window is a true blessing for us all and much better than running out in single digit temps to start it manually. 
You may also notice the space heater in the background of these pictures.  It's there because our HVAC unit just couldn't keep up.  So after everyone is in bed, we've been turning it on to help supplement.  A couple of times this week I've even had to get up with Eli and lay on the couch until he got warmed up.  He kicks off the covers and then gets cold. 
In any event, this cold weather hasn't slowed down the march of time at all.  Ava is 8 months old and Eli will be 2 next week.  Holy cow! 
Ava still hasn't said an official first word or even given us a "Da-da-da-da" like Eli did.  Her sounds are much different but she is cooing and jabbering so I'm trying not to worry.  It could just be that with Eli around she can't get a word in edgewise.  Ava is now getting very close to crawling on her hands and knees instead of Army-crawling.  Regardless of how she goes she is fast and determined.  If I'm in the bathroom getting ready and she is in the living room, she can get all the way to me.  More frequently, she crawls from the living room to the kitchen in search of me when I'm cooking supper.  She wants to be into everything and to keep up with her big brother.  When she can't keep up she gets angry and begins to yell.  She has also found her 4-wheel drive mode.  When I'm in the floor trying to dress Eli in the mornings, she loves to try to come crawl up into my lap.  Between her insistance that she will get to where she wants to go and Eli's general resistance to getting dressed in the morning.  It's usually pretty difficult to dress Eli. 
One sound we are noticing very frequently is "Aaiiint" (think buzzer at a basketball game).  I don't know where she heard it or even if she heard it, but she loves to make that noise.  It doesn't really mean anything to her (or doesn't seem to), but she says it all the time.  Eli is also the funniest person in the world to her.  Him playing peek-a-boo with her makes her giggle very loudly and squeel with delight. 
Stopping to flash a smile!

Eli did something funny.  Now it's time to laugh and chase him!

Eli will be two next week and he is doing everything a two-year-old should and more.  He gives orders very well (especially orders for crackers and juice) and loves to play and make messes.  Eli is again feeling a little bit of cabin fever with this cold weather.  My goodness I think we'll all be thrilled when spring arrives and we can escape the confines of this house in the afternoons.  In spite of all the two-year-old temper tantrums (and he can throw some good ones) he is really a sweet boy.  Eli loves his sister very much and overall is reasonably well behaved. 
Eli found the heater and had to investigate.  At this point we started unplugging the heater in the mornings.

And after we told him he couldn't play with the heater, we had a temper tantrum and hid our face in the china cabinet (the only piece of furniture in the house we ask him to stay away from).  I didn't fuss too much about it this time because he wasn't banging on it or doing anything too rough.  Plus I got this completely adorable picture.

Happy New Year - Ava 35 weeks & Eli 1 year, 50 weeks

Yes, I'm a little late posting these, but January is always a busy time of year for us.  We just finish up with Christmas and New Years and then find ourselves very quickly approaching Eli's birthday.  It's a hectic time of year. 

At 1 year and 50 weeks, there is pretty much nothing that Eli can't say.  He is capable of saying "Ava" now though he still tends to use "Baby" more.  Sometimes if he's really slowing down and thinking about it we can get "Baby Ava".  He never just says "Ava" unless we prompt him.  Eli is having fun playing with his toys that Santa gave him and is becoming better about helping to pick them up at night before bed.  Usually though, we have to make a game out of it by singing about what we are doing. 

One way to get him to be still for a minute is to get him to point to body parts.  Here he is showing Mama where his belly button is.  He will happily find other people's belly buttons as well.

Playing with a police car.  This little car used to live at Granny Mot's house, but Eli wanted to bring it home for his "Dot Dog" to ride in.  Eli has a couple of small Mickey Mouses that just fit in the driver seat of what I'm sure is a toy that some of the cousins my age played with as well.
At 35 weeks, Ava is working on becoming more mobile.  Ava is loving her jumper (as long as someone is nearby to play with her while she jumps) and is doing her best to start pulling up.  The first thing she pulled up on was Eli's giant green dump truck.  She sometimes tries to use it like a walker toy.  This is somewhat terrifying for me.  When Eli started pulling up all he had to pull on was the coffee table and other fairly stationary objects.  Ava, on the other hand, has all kinds of dangerous things with wheels to use.   Ava is also now sitting well enough that she can take a bath in the big bathtub.  We've been bathing her there with Eli for a while now but I had to sit with my feet in the water on each side of her to hold her up.  Now she can sit like a big girl and play.  We have to keep a close eye on her though because sometimes she decides to go for a toy that is out of reach.  The girl is fearless.

Jumper Time!
Bath Time!