Friday, October 31, 2014

Bits and Pieces: October

This fall has been so beautiful. On Monday, I had the screen door open and a T-shirt on while cooking dinner. I pretended it was summer. Clare wanted to go to an indoor playtime at a local gym and I told her no. We are playing outside as much as possible. We went to the Como Zoo instead.

Baby in leaves. Is anything cuter?
A few weeks ago we took a trip to an orchard near Hastings. It was a perfect fall day. We followed the orchard with a trip down Highway 35 in Wisconsin and had lunch at Nelson's Creamery. I remember when I was a kid my parents would force us to go on drives in the country to look at the fall colors, which we only agreed to because we were promised ice cream. Now I am doing the exact same thing. It is funny how we turn into our parents in ways both large and small.

Kids in pumpkin patch. Just as cute as baby in leaves?


I celebrated birthday number 35 a few weeks ago. This year was so much better than last year, when I was sleep deprived and worried sick about Christopher's surgery. I went out to dinner with my sister at Red Cow in St. Paul. It was delicious. Ben and I had a date night/birthday celebration a few days later at Craftsman in Minneapolis. Also delicious. We really need to find a babysitter so we can have date nights more often. (Katie and Andrew graciously helped us out on this occasion.)


Ben's Dad came over to carve a pumpkin with Clare. She loved it. She carefully drew a face on her pumpkin (admittedly, it was a bit abstract), and helped scoop out the goop. She didn't want to touch the pumpkin's insides with her hands, though. Luckily, she is good with a spoon.

We put Mr. Jack O'Lantern in the garage, hoping to protect it from the squirrels. Instead we had pumpkin soup when we took it out on Halloween. Oops. Luckily, Clare didn't remember that we were supposed to put it out. Her mind was on one track: candy.


Clare has had some delightful fashions lately.

And this one. She is wearing her Christmas dress underneath the blue polka dot dress. Which is on backwards.

The fashion plate at the Como Zoo.


Halloween was really fun this year. Last year, Clare was timid, not wanting to talk to neighbors or trick or treat. This year, she was all for it. She charged from door to door, collecting as much candy as she could. (Yes, I am sure the candy was a huge incentive.) Halloween morning, we went to a party at my friend Sabrina's house. It was really fun, seeing all the kids in their costumes. The best one by far was my friend's son who went as a garbage truck. It was a great costume. Certainly not something I could ever make myself. His younger brother went as a trash can.

We all ate lots of sugar. It was a good day. Oh, and Clare dressed as a butterfly princess, while Christopher went as a strawberry. Did a lot of people think he was a girl? Yes. Do I care? No.

Hope everyone had a great October!

I made Clare's wand. As you can tell, I am not crafty at all.

By the way, her wand spelled words, just like Princess P's on Super Why.

Cute face painting courtesy of Sabrina. Costume courtesy of Barbara and Iain Innes. Your Christmas present from last year went to good use!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kiddo's First Conference

Me: "Clare, it's time to go upstairs for quiet time now."

Clare, not turning around: "I can't understand you."

Me: "What."

Clare: "I can't understand you. That's why I am not listening to you."

Okay, I had to laugh. There is a certain logic to it, isn't there? If she pretends she can't understand, then she doesn't have to do what I say.

We had Clare's first preschool conference last night. The teacher had good things to say, of course. Clare loves art and follows directions well. (Which I was happy to hear, because she frequently does not follow directions well at home.) She knows her colors and shapes (except, inexplicably, the circle. At least, she refused to tell her teacher the name of that particular shape. I am pretty sure she knows what a circle is). She needs some work on holding pencils and scissors. She really can't cut with scissors at all, actually. She switches hands frequently when writing, so maybe she is left-handed and needs left-handed scissors? I don't know. She is only three, right? She'll figure it out.

Her teacher also said that she notices Clare kind of "drifting off" during rug time, which I am sure stems from boredom. She focuses fine on things she is interested in, like "Daniel Tiger" and "Jake and the Neverland Pirates." Or the 100 books she reads each day. Anyway, school is going well. Despite my worries earlier this year, I think we made the right choice.

We've been in a good place behavior-wise since school started, too. I think being in a more specific routine has helped.

I spent a morning at her school a few weeks ago. Beforehand, she informed me she didn't want me to come. "It's my school," she said. "I'll go by myself and then tell you about it later."  I think she was glad I was there, though, despite her initial protestations.

I am glad she loves school. And I am sure she will figure out what a circle is before she graduates from high school.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


We threw a first birthday bash for Christopher at our house, on his actual birthday. He had fun, although he was incredibly confused when we were singing happy birthday. He was definitely wondering what the heck we were doing.

His guests included all four of his grandparents, both of my grandmothers, Great Aunt Karen, Aunt Katie and Uncle Andrew, his second cousin Gavin, his Godparents Missy and Nate (parents of Gavin), and friends James, Simon, Brendan, Rowan, Fern and Reed and their parents. I was so happy both of my grandmothers could be there. My grandma Clara (Clare's name sake), had never been to my house before. That she was able to make the trip from La Crosse was really special. My grandma Jean came with my parents, so we got her for the whole weekend. It was so nice.

Christopher didn't really care about his presents, but Clare was more than happy to "help" him open them. That lucky girl got some gifts herself, too.

We ate sandwiches and cake and washed it down with beer and juice boxes. It was fun to celebrate Christopher with so many of his family and friends, and to celebrate making it through year one.

Oh, and Christopher was pretty happy with the cake. Somehow, I don't have a picture of him eating it. Next year!

With Great Grandma Clara.
Clare and Meema Jo.
Kids and Great Grandma Jean.
Opening presents. (He proceeded to try to eat the wrapping paper.)
Birthday boy.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

12 Months

The first month of Christopher's life was one of the hardest of my life. During the second, third, fourth and fifth months I was just thrilled if I got two hours of sleep in a row. The last seven months, though, have been an absolute joy.

And now he is one. He has started throwing tantrums once in awhile. The first time he did it - laying on his belly, hands slamming the floor, crying because I took away the rolling pin he was using to bash the floor - I started laughing. Now that they have become more frequent, though, I don't find them quite as funny. As my friend Kerry said, this is a disappointing development.

Christopher is just so full of joy about everything in life the rest of the time, though, and it is absolutely contagious. I can't help but feel happy when he flashes one of his 1,000 watt smiles at me. He cuddles. He laughs. He acts silly on purpose so I'll laugh. I must give him 100 kisses a day. I can't get enough of him.

At 12 months, his favorite things are balls and trucks. He plays catch with himself by throwing the ball across the room, crawling over to pick it up, and throwing it again. Sometimes he crawls around with a ball in his mouth like a puppy. He dances when he hears anything even resembling a beat, including my breast pump. His dance moves basically consist of rocking back and forth while sitting on the floor, smiling, of course.

He loves food. He'll eat basically anything, and lots of it. He loves fruit, especially peaches. He also enjoys bananas, cheese, wheat puffs and avocado. He does not particularly enjoy frozen mixed vegetables, but if they are the only thing on offer he will eat them. He has also eaten crayons, rocks, sand, unused toilet paper, and sticks. Oops. (Seriously though. What is with the eating of toilet paper? When he sees the bathroom door open, he beelines for it so he can get his hands on the roll and stuff it into his mouth.)

He enjoys looking at books, especially anything with different textures.

If he is crying in the car, he will always stop when Free To Be You and Me comes on.

I now hate Free To Be You and Me.

He adores Clare, even when she yells at him. He does not like it when she takes toys from him, but as long as he is given a replacement toy he is happy. So so happy, all the time.

He loves baths, and gets super excited when he knows he is going to take one. Usually bath time is Ben's domain, but I was on bath duty last week. Christopher stood next to the tub, and when I turned on the water he started grunting happily. His grunts started getting louder and more high pitched as the tub filled. He was just so excited. I plopped him in the tub and he splashed happily. I took a look at my phone (I know), and suddenly I saw something pink in the corner of my eye. I look over, and Christopher was standing in the tub, holding his pink elephant bath toy right next to my face and grinning like a maniac. As soon as I looked at him, he started laughing hysterically. Then he sat down and started splashing the water as hard as he could. By the end of the bath, I was as wet as he was, but it was worth it.

My little Christopher Lewis. How is it that you are turning one? Happy birthday to my favorite boy in the world. I love you more than I can say.