Friday, January 12, 2018

charlie is two!

I'm a little late on this, but that's what happens when your kid has a birthday right before the holidays. I warn you that this post is going to be long and heavy on details. I want to capture what life is like right now with Charlie. I'd like to think I'll remember all these little details, but I know I won't. The growth and development is so rapid these days. He is constantly changing, and I'm learning new things about him every day. It's so fun to watch him grow and discover. Hopefully someday I'll be able to look back at this post and remember these fun (but exhausting) toddler days.

We have arrived at two...although he could easily pass for three based on how big he is. At his well check he measured 95% for height and 92% for weight. You can imagine that having such a big, strong boy is not this very pregnant's mama favorite thing right now!

Speaking of his well visit, he was less enthused to be at the doctor this time. It didn't help that the first activity was measuring his head, which he hated. This kid hates having his head/face messed with (we refuse all hats, nose wipes, etc). It snowballed from there, and he resisted the scale and height measurement too because, why not?! He was generally fine when the doctor came in...until she checked his ears. Every time we do battle over ear checks, they always comment on how strong he is - a fact that is never lost on me. We survived, but the last step was a blood draw. It was just a finger prick, which Charlie didn't mind, but man, did he throw a fit over the ensuing bandaid. He did not want anything on his hand (did I mention he refuses to wear gloves too?). He might be the only toddler I know who doesn't like bandaids. It took a juice box to calm him down, but he wasn't fully restored to happiness until he managed to remove both bandaids (which, of course, resulted in him messing with his finger and causing it to bleed all over himself later in the day). Sigh.

We were in Oklahoma for Charlie's official birthday. We had a fun day exploring the zoo, lunch at chick fil a, cake/ice cream/presents, all followed by breakfast for dinner. I think Charlie had a fun day, but he was also battling a virus that put a little damper on his day. You know Charlie isn't feeling well when he turns down bacon. Luckily, if anyone is a champ while being a sick, it's Charlie. And besides being a little low on energy and not having his usual appetite, he seemed to have an enjoyable day. We had an adorable Little Blue Truck cake in honor of his favorite book, but he was more interested in eating the ice cream.

When we aren't in Oklahoma or celebrating birthdays, this is what a typical day looks like for me and Charlie:
7:30-8 Charlie wakes up. He starts his day chatting away until we go in to get him.
8:30-9 He gets to hang out in mama and dada's room and watch an episode of Sesame Street while mama gets ready. He recently learned how to say "Elmo" and he loves the letter and number of the day songs - especially when he can identify the letter or number.
9:00 Breakfast
10:00-12:00 We leave the house most days for an activity - depending on the day it could be speech therapy (which we actually do at home), MOPS, bible study, music class, playgroup, running errands or visiting the tot gym or a local playground.
12:30 Lunch
1:00-4:00 Nap - Bless him for taking a solid 3-hour nap.
4:00-6 We usually play at home in the afternoon. We often Facetime with Shi Shi, and sometimes get to watch another Sesame Street while mama finishes dinner prep.
6:00 Dinner
6:30 Bath
7:00 Bed

He is still a great sleeper and napper. He rarely fusses when he goes down. The only time we run into problems is when he falls asleep in the car before his nap. I'm praying this pattern remains for several more months - especially once baby brother arrives.

Thank goodness he sleeps and naps so hard, because when he isn't sleeping, he's full of energy. I would definitely consider him busy, yet not hyper. He can sit and concentrate on a puzzle or read books or do another activity for several minutes, and he enjoys playing independently for long stretches. He's not constantly bouncing off the walls - thank goodness - but the challenge is that he is curious and gets into everything. And once he has discovered something, it will probably be thrown - sometimes down the stairs or into the bathtub or maybe even the toilet if mama isn't looking. He's also fast, and I often underestimate his reach until it's too late. It just doesn't take long for him to get into mischief. We've done quite a bit more childproofing in this house - including the kitchen cabinets, much to Charlie's dismay. He can still access the tupperware drawer and spice rack - both of which he loves to rearrange.

He continues to be the epitome of a little boy. He loves balls - throwing them, kicking them, making baskets, having them thrown at him (he'd be terrible at dodge ball because he lets them hit him and then just laughs and laughs). He also loves when we throw pillows at him. We'll keep working on learning how to catch.

He loves trucks, trains and all other vehicles - especially pushing them down slides or ramps. He's a big fan of his new train table. His favorite books are all about things with wheels. Helicopters and planes have become a more recent obsession. He stops whatever he is doing when he sees or hears them and then spends the next several minutes pointing to the sky as if to summon more of these magical flying objects. His favorite word in sign language is helicopter, which he often does accompanied by a helicopter sound.

He loves playgrounds, swings, slides and anything he can climb. Bouncy houses are delightful - as is pushing anything heavy around. He doesn't like when dada is out of town, but he loves when dada comes home with a suitcase for him to push through the house. He really just loves anything physical.

He's a bit of a daredevil and also pretty tough. It takes a lot to make him cry. He doesn't always know his own strength and can sometimes run into (or run over) other kids if he's not paying attention. Charlie always bounces right back up, but he's definitely been known to make bigger kids [unintentionally] cry. Luckily, he's usually pretty self-aware and good at avoiding collisions.

When he isn't running, pushing, throwing or sliding, he loves to spend time figuring things out, and can be quite determined until something is solved. He is a master worker of puzzles, and is starting to do multi-piece and interlocking puzzles. He recently became obsessed with buckles, snaps and zippers. He can't unbuckle himself quite yet (thank goodness!), but he always insists on buckling his straps after he gets out of his booster seat at the table.

Luckily, he seems to love mama and dada equally. No favorites right now. We have a distinct division of labor in Charlie's mind. Some things are clearly dada activities and other things are strictly for mama. When we are reading books together at night, he will bring certain books to me and certain books to Jon. It never fails. Sometimes when Jon isn't home, he might bring me a dada book, but I can always tell he's a little disappointed in how I read it compared to dada. Somehow I got chosen for all the wordy books - I think I have every version of Little Blue Truck memorized. Dada largely gets the books with more pictures and definitely more fun animal/vehicle sounds. :)

He likes other kids - especially playing chase. He can sometimes get really tickled by other kids and belly laugh when he thinks they are funny. It's still mostly parallel play at this point, but he does generally "share" pretty well. He just kind of moves on if someone takes something from him, but will often hover nearby until it becomes available again for the snatching.  He's usually pretty good about waiting for his turn to play with something or accepting a suitable alternative. I think it's because he just doesn't care enough about any one thing to throw a fit over it. He likes a lot of different things, and therefore can be satisfied with many options.

He still eats a lot, but he's pretty picky about what he eats. Fruit remains his favorite and largest food group. I can't think of a fruit he won't eat. Carbs are also beloved, of course. He likes starchy vegetables (anything orange and roasted with cinnamon), but only does green vegetables in his puree pouches. He loves yogurt and sometimes hard-boiled eggs and cheese sticks. Of course, french fries, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, pizza and PBJ are always acceptable. Chicken nuggets and bacon are his favorite proteins. Chick-fil-A is his happy place (mama and dada can't argue with that).

He is becoming increasingly shy, and it takes him a while to warm up to people. He usually won't talk a lot around other people. He still stares intently at strangers, but clams up when they try to talk to him. Lately, he's been pretty hesitant to enter the room when we are going to music class or if I'm dropping him off at nursery or playgroup. He doesn't cry, but I usually have to pick him up and carry him over the threshold. Oddly enough, once he's in the room, he's perfectly fine and has a grand time. He's pretty reserved in new places and new situations.

I really see a lot of Jon in him. Everyone still thinks they look alike, although I do think part of that is the shared hair color. People who have known me my entire life swear he looks like me as a toddler. I just think he looks like Charlie, but there is no doubt he already shares a lot of personality traits with his dad.

He never strays too far from the equilibrium on the emotional scale. We have our moments, but the extreme highs and lows are pretty rare. He can get really excited, and he can get really mad, but most of the time he exists in a general state of pleasant observation and contentment. But even though he is mostly laid back that doesn't mean he won't let you know his opinion. He is stubborn and strong-willed. He won't eat what he doesn't want to eat. He literally turns his back and hides in the corner of the bathtub when we try to brush his teeth. Wiping his nose can be a two-person job.

Much like his dada, he can be rather particular. He can dump out a bucket of toys and happily leave them strewn about, but other things must be in their rightful place. He likes to line up his outdoor vehicles and then move them all, one by one, to another location within the yard. The other day, I set up his bowling pins slightly out of order, but he refused to knock them down until they were in their proper place. On his plate, he'll keep his food divided in each section. If I give him more fruit, but accidentally put it where the crackers previously resided, he'll generally move the fruit to it's original section of the plate before eating it.

Also like his dada, he can be a man of few words, but I'm so proud of all the progress he's made in speech therapy. Our first session was in late May/early June when he was about 18 months. At that point, I think he had about three words: mama, dada, uh-oh. Now, he says all kinds of words (and sound! He loves animal and vehicle sounds), and is just starting to string a couple of words together. He loves his speech therapist Miss Molly, who comes to our house once a week. By now, he has learned why she is there, and almost always shows off with new words during his therapy sessions. I'll work on something with him for weeks without success, and then Molly shows up and he says it right away. Typical.

The last few weeks alone have been a bit of a language explosion. Apparently this happens a lot around the holidays when kids are exposed to new things and lots of attention from doting family members. He learned everyone's names in Oklahoma pretty quickly, and liked to take roll call while we were all sitting at the table together. He recently added "baby" to his vocabulary and will give the baby kisses when asked. We are nearing 40-50 words now + several letters and a couple of numbers. The other day he walked into the kitchen and said "hello, mama" with perfect enunciation. We'd never even heard the word "hello" come out of his mouth before. It melted my heart.

Naturally, he demands to be rewarded for his efforts. He claps for himself and says "yay!" when he accomplishes what he wants. He says "yes," but we've only ever heard it in the context of an exclamation - as in "yes, I did it!" I'm happy to give him all the praise he wants if it helps him learn new words.

Every stage seems to be a little more fun than the last. I'm still in awe of watching this tiny human unfold before us. He brings us so much joy with his sweet kisses, belly laughs, boundless energy, and pure excitement over the littlest things.

And photos from his birthday celebration in Oklahoma. 

These animals are great, but I want an energy drink. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

the kitchen

The last two months have been pretty chaotic (will that ever not be the case?). Much of the chaos and busyness is due to two factors - ok, really three. 1) Jon has been traveling a lot. 2) We completely gutted and remodeled the kitchen. 3) We have a toddler.

When we purchased our new home in June, we planned to eventually remodel the kitchen. It wasn't terrible, but it was outdated, starting to show its age, and lacked some functionality. I was actually really glad when we found a house that checked all of our boxes, was move-in ready, but still needed a kitchen renovation. When we were house hunting, it was always disappointing to walk into a newly renovated house that wasn't my taste. It would have been hard to rip out a basically brand-new kitchen just because I didn't like the style. However, I had no problem saying goodbye to one that was nearing 17 years.

We planned to live in the home for a year or so before we tackled the kitchen renovation. We were targeting a spring/summer 2018 project...but then I found out I was pregnant. The thought of having a toddler, a newborn, and no kitchen was less than ideal so we fast-tracked the project and started looking into design/build companies pretty much as soon as the moving boxes were unpacked.

August and September were full of design meetings, builder measurements, and shopping for countertops, lighting, appliances, etc. We had to make quite a few decisions in a relatively short amount of time. Luckily, we had a great team helping us out. Our project manager guided us through layout decisions, cabinet ordering, and decision deadlines, but I operated as the designer. All of the aesthetic decisions were made by me with the occasional assist by Jon. It was really fun to play designer, but also a lot of pressure to get everything right! We spent several Saturdays picking out tile, looking at quartz slabs, choosing lighting and hardware, browsing sink styles and faucets, and comparing appliances.

By far, the hardest part was choosing the cabinet paint colors. I knew I wanted gray cabinets and a navy blue island. Because we were ordering custom cabinets, I basically had the entire universe of paint to choose from. I also only had a few days to make the decision. PANIC! It was pretty overwhelming to be responsible for the color of non-returnable cabinets. I think cabinet delivery day was the most nerve-racking because I was terrified of seeing the final result. [Yes, we had color samples I approved, but who can really trust a tiny wood sample?!]

Thank goodness, I'm happy to report that I absolutely love them! The cabinets are exactly what I envisioned. In fact, everything came together just how I wanted. I love the brass accents against the navy blue. I'm also glad I went with gray cabinets over white (there was some peer pressure to just go with white). I like the softer contrast between the navy and gray. I think white would have been too stark. So far, I don't have any regrets. More than one person has commented that the kitchen looks just like me, and I think that's probably the best compliment possible.

While the design phase was exhausting, the actual renovation process was remarkably easy. We somehow managed to stay on time and (mostly) on budget. There were no major issues or problems during the renovation. I'm not even sure how that's possible, but I'm grateful it was smooth sailing. They did great work, and went out of their way to make sure we were as inconvenienced as little as possible. They roped everything off with thick plastic sheeting so dust stayed in and Charlie stayed out. Charlie was curious, of course, but he was largely happy to observe from a distance. His propensity to be shy around strangers worked in our favor in this case.

Demo day was October 16, and they were finished right after Thanksgiving. The worst part was being without half of our main floor during those weeks. While the kitchen was out of commission, we set up our table and fridge in the sitting room. Luckily, we did also have use of our butler's pantry, which meant we had a couple of cabinets for storage, a small countertop and a tiny sink available during the renovation. We ate a lot of crockpot meals (thanks in large part to my mom who stocked our freezer), used paper plates, and made good use of our toaster and microwave.

Now, for the best part. Before, during and after photos. Enjoy!

Demo Day!
The plastic fortress

Our temporary "kitchen"

And dining room 

Somebody really loved all the boxes that were delivered

After the electrical work was done and the floors were newly refinished

Even better than boxes: having our couch in the entryway.
Luckily the couch only had to live here for a couple of days while the floors were being refinished. 

Cabinet delivery!!!

This looks like a great spot to watch Sesame Street, Mom. 

We gained a ton of storage, more useful pull-outs and interior cabinet features, a much bigger island, and an overall much improved layout. The dishwasher moved to the other side of the sink and now I have two ovens (one is located in the island). And if you are wondering where the microwave is, it's a microwave drawer also hiding in the island. I'm also really thrilled to have a pantry. It's not huge, but considering there wasn't a dedicated food storage space pre-renovation, I'll take it. Next to the pantry is a custom spice rack that I designed - it just really makes my heart happy. Oh, and I can't forget my little "garage" where I can keep my mixer and toaster plugged in and ready to go, but out of sight. :)


After photos: The Newborn Lens (the design/build firm paid for professional photos for their promotional use, and I get to use them too!).
Lighting: Schoolhouse Electric 
Hardware: Schoolhouse Electric 
Faucet: Newport Brass
Stools: West Elm
Cabinet Paint: Benjamin Moore Nimbus & Old Navy 
Quartz: Polarstone