28 February 2011

A New 'Do

A few nights ago, I was playing with Audrey and Luke, as usual.

Adam was at his evening class. It was about a half hour before bath time. I noticed that Luke's hair was lookin' a little shaggy.

I figured "about a half hour" was just enough time to fit in a bit of a trim for my little man. In preparation for the cut, I ran my fingers through his hair to get it wet and pulled away from his scalp.

We were definitely surfin' the same wavelength because while I went to grab my camera to get the "Before" shot, he'd begun to rummage through the cupboard where all of the hair styling products are kept- apparently looking for some sort of styling solution:

("Maybe I can do something with this mousse to tame my mane...")

Then, as I was taking a second picture, he made his true feelings perfectly clear.

"Hurry! Grab the clippers and the scissors! This shaggy hair makes me want to puke!"

After about a half hour of toddler-wrangling and kamikaze-style hair-cutting techniques, we had finished. With a more-or-less even hair cut. We made it through. Luke was only slightly traumatized - nothing his testosterone-infused (read: football-shaped) binky wouldn't soothe.

After a warm bath filled with bubbles and fun with his sister, Luke was feeling like a new man. It was the opposite of Samson - like a trim of his hair gave him strength, and he was ready to show off a little. He walked over to his crib, stood with one foot on the lower beam and waited...

"Are you ready to see what I can do?"

Then he hoisted himself up onto the bars of the crib, using the strength of his arms and legs and held himself in that position for a few seconds...

"Look at me! Impressive, no?"

Then he slowly, exercising much control in his movements, lowered himself back down to standing. And the look on his face was full of pride. It was too cute not to capture!

"Did you see that, mom? Pretty good, right?! You wanna see it again?!"

He was having so much fun that Audrey requested to have her own hair cut. My motherly intuition told me that nothing too drastic would be best. We decided that just a simple change would suffice and we cut bangs.

She loves them. I think they look darling.

I just can't decide if they make her look older or younger.

What do you think?

27 February 2011

A Bit of a (Blog) Slacker

I was on a roll for about a quarter of the month. (Which, lets just be real, here, is a week... not so impressive, I know.) But for that week, I was doing pretty well... for me.

Then I lost the momentum, and I have failed to tell you what we've been doing lately.

For example:

I did not tell you about how Audrey and I went to Smithfield last Saturday.

Or how Audrey and Lucas have been taking turns not feeling so well.

Or how Adam has aced all of the midterms he's had this past week.

Or how I've been crocheting like...






a lot.

(Don't you hate it when you can't think of an analogy that fits?!)

Or how it's been freezing cold outside and how that has made us each do our best impression of an agoraphobe.

All of that is pretty self-explanatory... the only thing that I would be able to expand significantly upon is the girls' trip to Smithfield. So, here we go....

My sister, Dawnette's birthday was on Monday. I knew that I wanted to go and spend the afternoon with her to celebrate. I also knew that Monday wasn't really going to work very well with our schedules, so we decided to go visit her on the Saturday before her birthday. Then, Friday night came and with it, Luke's runny nose and the extra-clingy emotional state that accompanies him when he's not feeling well. We knew it wasn't going to work for all of us to go, but I didn't want to scrap the trip altogether, so we decided that I should still go - and take Audrey with me, since half the fun is letting Audrey and Talea have time to play. That left Adam to stay home and take care of Luke.

I am so glad we went! Audrey was super excited to see Talea! We hung out at Dawnette's, then the four of us (Dawnette, Talea, Audrey and I) got some lunch and ran a quick errand, then we went back to Dawnette's for the remainder of the afternoon. Dawnette and I were able to catch up and talk about what's been going on while Audrey and Talea played together. It was a nice, quiet afternoon with my sister. I am so glad we were able to spend some pre-birthday time together. It was fun.

And it was even more watching Audrey and Talea. They do really well with each other - they have a lot of fun, and it doesn't seem like either one tries to dominate the other. In general, they take turns, and share, and they are really nice to each other. It's so much fun to watch them interact.

They played with Barbies. They had a tea party. They tried to oblige when we wanted to take a few pictures (which can sometimes be confusing if there's more than one camera at a time):

(If we could just combine the two, we'd have a pretty cute picture where both girls are looking at the camera - and smiling - at the same time!)

They played their own special versions of piano duets:

They jumped on Talea's bed:

They just had fun. All afternoon... even though we made them stop the fun to smile for the camera. This one is so darling of Talea:

I love how this one shows her affection for Audrey. So cute!

It wasn't long, though, before more fun began to beckon them...

and they left hand in hand.

20 February 2011

California, Final Chapter: Two Videos

One of the biggest surprises about our trip was how much fun Audrey and Ben had together. They just seemed to feed off of each other's energy, or something. Whatever it was, it was fun to watch Audrey trying to bait Ben into chasing her, and then when he did she would scream and then that would make Ben laugh... and then it would repeat. It was hilarious. Here are just a couple of the times that I caught it on camera:

(If you read my sister's blog, you already saw her version - we were each recording at the same time, slightly different views.)

And this one's a bit of a bird's eye - Audrey using me as the "shield" from Ben.

I am so excited to see how all of their relationships continue to develop as they get older. Thanks, Megan and Marc and Ben and Hugh, and Gamma and Gampa for a FABULOUS WEEK!

California, Chapter Five: The Lake

For our last day in California, my sister had the idea of taking the kids to a lake that is on the outskirts of town. There is a quiet little alcove-type area where ducks tend to congregate, so we went armed with some leftover pancakes for the kids to throw to the ducks. And "Gampa" came along too!

It was a beautiful day: perfect weather - blue skies, warm (but not hot) sun, a light breeze. (Typing that sentence is extra torturous because our weather outside right now is: cold, overcast, gray skies, new snow on the ground from last night's storm!)

Audrey really enjoyed throwing the little pieces of pancake to the waiting ducks. Some of her throws weren't too far - there were a few brave ducks that risked going that close to shore for their treat, the more cautious ones simply waited until we were leaving to venture on shore to grab up the rest.

Ben and Hugh watched from the double stroller - Ben looked like he was more interested in swimming with the ducks than giving them food!

After feeding the ducks, since the weather was so nice, we decided to go for a little walk - true to form, Audrey shot out ahead of the rest...

only to race back toward the group - making Ben giggle and laugh. And then she'd do it all again... to the sheer delight of the boys... and us all.

Our whole trip was a lot of fun. We can't wait until next time!

17 February 2011

California, Chapter Four: A Milestone for Lucas

While we were in California Lucas reached a milestone. He started walking! Hooray!

(Luke's so excited, he can't help but bite on his fist!)

He has been really close for a while now. He started to sit up at 6 months, commando crawl at 8 and a half months, regular crawl and pull to stand at 9 months, and he started to cruise at about 10 and a half months. Audrey had a very similar time table for sitting and crawling but pulling to standing and cruising was a little over a month earlier, respectively. She took her first steps just a couple of weeks after her first birthday - but they were only isolated incidents of just a few steps here and there; it wasn't until she was 14 months old that she really started walking independently. I have to admit that I was guilty of having some of the same expectations for Luke to start to walk in the few months following him starting to cruise.

Despite these expectations, his progress was steady (if a bit slower) so I wasn't worried about him. When I would watch him and how he moves, he was so deliberate and controlled, his balance so... well, balanced. I figured that he would let go (of the couch, the walls, other furniture, our hands) when he was ready.

I had made it a habit of setting him down on his feet instead of setting him down on his bum. Usually, he would immediately drop to his knees from standing, and crawl wherever he needed to go. Occasionally, he would take a step or two before dropping to his knees. That progressed to him looking for a way to cruise where he wanted to go - if there was something to hold on to, he'd cruise there. So, I started to set him down in the middle of rooms (with nothing readily available to hold onto) to help him gain some independent confidence on his feet.

Just a few days into our trip to California, at a little over 18 and a half months, Luke decided that he was ready. I set him down on his feet in the middle of the room, and he simply walked across the floor to the couch - about 7! steps away! I was so excited! And then he did it again! And again! And again!

We started to wonder a bit if maybe Luke was motivated by his (5 months younger) cousin, Ben who is a nonstop walker.

Their styles are definitely different - Ben moves quickly, a little haphazardly, sometimes bumping into things; it's like he's moving based on momentum alone.

Luke's style has remained consistent - he's still very deliberate, slow, controlled, and steady; it's like he's moving based on will alone.

If we could just put the two together we'd have two really fast, coordinated kids!

Luke gained a lot of confidence walking, but he still loved to climb up and down the stairs!

He's maintained his momentum and has continued to take lots of steps completely on his own, getting steadier and longer each day. It makes him seem so much older, all of a sudden, to see him on his feet and upright!

Chapter 5 coming soon....

California, Chapter Three: Three Musketeers... and a Princess

Our time in California was really special, mostly because our boys got to know each other a little better. Now that they're a little older they can interact and play more. I'm sure it will only get better as they get older!

What's kind of neat about our three little musketeers is that they are each almost exactly 5 months apart. Luke was born July 21, 2009. Benjamin was born December 27, 2009. And Hugh was born May 17, 2010. 5 months apart. It's really cool. Don't you think?

The first musketeer, you know. It's my Luke:

("Yeah, mom, what's up?")

Luke is almost 19 months old. He's quiet. He's really sweet and a lot of fun. Cautious by nature - he still prefers cruising (walking while holding onto someone/something) or good, old fashioned crawling to independent walking. He loves watered down apple juice and hates milk.

Then there is Benjamin:

He is about 13 (and a half!) months old. He is adventurous and loves to explore. He started walking a few months ago, and is always on the go. He's a lot of fun and his pretty blue eyes will suck you right in.

And, last but certainly not least: Hugh!

Hugh is almost 9 months old. He's a good crawler and he likes to pull himself to standing. It seems like he's a good balance of Luke's cautiousness and Ben's adventurousness - he always wants to be in on the action, without being aggressive. His favorite food is avocado. The way he hums when he eats is too stinkin' cute to try to describe. He has a cute raspy/husky tone to his voice that's awesome when he laughs, but heart-breaking when he cries.

And my favorite thing about Hugh: there's something elvish about the way he smiles, the tips of his ears stick out just a bit that is so charming and endearing.

The boys had a lot of fun playing together. Most days Grandma and Grandpa got in on the action - allowing for Megan and I to sneak away to run some overdue errands, and spend some quality, quiet sister time. I love these next to pictures because they're so indicative of our visit - Hugh and Luke playing with toys, staying in one spot for at least a few minutes at a time, while Ben is on. the. go. nonstop.

I had a desire to capture a picture with all three boys, standing or sitting side by side. Now, you wouldn't think it would be that difficult.

Oh, but it is.

In this one, Hugh and Luke were ready. But Ben didn't think the idea of standing still in one spot sounded like that much fun - Grandpa was there trying to wrangle him into place... but then Ben looked away at the last second.

Then Ben decided to be a good sport, but by that time Luke started to get bugged.

And THEN, Ben decided that his first instinct was correct - that standing still for a picture really wasn't that much fun and he bailed. Meanwhile, Luke was still bugged.

Hugh can't figure out what's irking his cousin.

("Dude, chill, it's just a few pictures!")

When the other two folded, my little nephew, Hugh, was still there, camera-ready:

Such a cute kid!

Speaking of camera-ready....

Besides the three musketeers, we had a fourth character in our troop: a Princess.

AKA Audrey. She loved hanging out with the boys. She even challenged them to a few races up the stairs.

(Hugh, Luke, Audrey: bottom to top)

As usual, one of Audrey's absolute favorite things about a visit to Megan's is getting to see (and occasionally pet) their cats, Einstein and Watson.

(Einstein tolerating my toddler's attention.)

(Audrey loving every minute of it!)

It was really fun to watch how Ben and Hugh interact. They are good kids.

Even better, for me, was to see all three boys get together on their own and play.

There is something that is just right about seeing all three together - so close in age, on the same level, enjoying being together.

These moments were my favorite.

But, they also left an aching in my chest - wishing that we lived closer so that these didn't have to be special moments. More than anything, I wish that these three being together, in the same room, could be mundane and common and boring - just an everyday occurrence. (I'd even settle for a weekly or biweekly occurrence, I'm not picky!)

I love this next picture because it shows the moment when Hugh decided to break away from the little pack...

and come say hi to his Aunt Mandi.

I loved getting to hold, talk to, play with, and get to know my cute little nephews better. It was so much fun.

Chapter Four, up next....

16 February 2011

California, Chapter Two: Walks with "Gampa"

We had a pretty set schedule while we were in California. Megan and I were both trying to maintain each child's regular routine. Trying to balance having respect for The Routine but also trying to maximize our time together made for quite a bit of back and forth, but it worked out and we made it fun.

Audrey, Lucas, and I stayed at my parent's house, so once we woke up and got dressed, we'd head over to Meg's for breakfast. Most mornings that meant homemade pancakes. We were not complaining. I started to feel guilty that Meg was going to too much trouble for us, but when she assured me that most mornings that's what they do anyway, I decided to shut my mouth and enjoy the deliciousness! (My kids have been in for a rude awakening, returning home to our usual breakfast: cold cereal and toast!) Once breakfast was over there was usually time for a little conversation and a little playtime for the babes, then I'd leave with my two so that her two could have their morning nap.

During this break, we'd head back to "Gamma and Gampa's House" for some hang out/play time before we'd reunite with Megan, Ben, and Hugh for some more fun and lunch and more fun before all four of the kids would need their afternoon naps.

Most days, since the weather was so lovely, my dad and I would take Audrey and Luke for a walk down the street or around the block.

This is how it usually went:

Audrey charges ahead, as fast as her little legs can carry her. She runs until one (or both) of us calls out to her to stop and wait.

Then she stops, turns around and says, "Come on, Gampa."

Then she gets a little impatient, tired of waiting for Luke's slower steps, so she charges back to where we are. Smiling and laughing the whole time. Which makes Luke laugh really hard, seeing his sister running full speed right at him, stopping when she is just inches away.

And then she's off again, not capable of maintaining the much slower pace of Luke's still-learning strides. That cycle repeats for the duration of the walk.

And I have to say, I love watching my kids having fun together, making each other laugh!

Sometimes my dad would carry Luke on his shoulders or in his arms.

Other times he would walk behind, holding hands with Luke for the extra balance-support he needs.

Sometimes we'd go around the whole block, sometimes we'd just go down the street and back, and sometimes we'd get to the sidewalk in front of my parent's house and get distracted by the dried up star-like balls that fall from the tree in their front yard.

One thing that was constant was Audrey's insistence that we "Come on, Gampa!"

California, Chapter Three coming soon....