Graham: Nine Month Update

Monday, May 8, 2017

I'm playing a little catch up today with G's nine month update, as we were in Florida on the official day, and near three weeks later, we are still trying to get our lives back in order. I mean, I finally just convinced T to unpack his luggage this weekend...womp womp! So...it really should surprise no one that this update is a bit behind schedule. G had his nine month checkup last week (no shots this time! Woot woot!), and he is right on track. He's not off the charts size-wise like his big brother C is and was at this age, but he's holding his own coming in at a SOLID 21 lbs 2 oz (69%) and 29.5 inches (75%). This little guy has seen many developments this month, and has become quite the little personality. He's on the move, and loves to put ALL the things in his mouth, so we have been SUPER busy just trying to keep him alive. Did I mention that his big brother is fascinated with sitting on him and practicing 'tackling'? I mean I know the kid loves his football, but at this rate, G may be lucky to make it to next season!



THE STATS:
Age: 9 months
Height: 29.5 inches
Weight: 22 lbs 2 oz
Diaper size: 4
Clothing: 18 months, 24 months in rompers - LONG TORSO!







DEVELOPMENTAL ACTIVITY:
This month has been a big one for G! He has firmly established his own version of the army crawl,  preferring to pull his entire weight with just his left arm, and officially probably has the strongest left hook around! He continues to get up on his hands and knees to rock, but has only taken a few 'steps' this way. He has not yet figured out how to push into a sit, but he is oh so close!


SCHEDULE:
Our schedule has stayed pretty consistent this month, and G continues to wake around 8 am, nap around 9:30-11:30 am,  nap again around 1:30-2:30 pm, and bedtime around 7 pm. See cuisine below for a more in depth look at his feeding schedule.






FAVORITE TOY:
G has been loving balls this month. He mostly thinks its fun to bat it away and then chase after it with his army crawling. Beach balls and balls that are waaaaay to big for him to reasonably hold seem to be even more exciting. In addition, G has also been loving his activity cube. He's even tried to pull himself up on it a few times, but as it's not a heavy toy meant for this purpose, he ends up pulling it over on himself, and has since backed off a bit on pulling up on furniture. Honestly, we have been on the go so much this month that G has kind of just been stuck with whatever random teethers or handheld toys I've remembered to stick in the diaper bag. Better luck next month!

STORYTIME:
G has really taken an interest in reading this month, and I've decided it's time to start establishing a bedtime/naptime routine of reading a story before laying down. The favorite book this month is probably 'Dream Animals' which G was excited to receive in his Easter basket. It is a beautiful whimsical story of children's dreams. Highly recommend, especially if you're looking for something a bit out of the ordinary. I bought the set with 'Day Dreamers' as well, and while we haven't read it much yet, it looks like it will be equally adorable.




CUISINE:
G got his first tooth this month, and has since decided that he LOVES solid food. He starts his day around 8 am with a 6-8 oz bottle of formula, then typically gets oatmeal and a fruit in the morning before his 9:30 am nap time. After nap time, he'll have another 6-8 oz bottle around 11:30ish, plays for a while, has another nap about 1:30 pm, then enjoys another 6-8 oz bottle around 3:30ish. Sometimes, during the afternoon, he enjoys a light snack of Cheerios or teething wafers. Around 5:30 pm, hunger strikes, and he has 1-2 pouches of solid food depending how hungry he is. He has been known on occasion to throw back three servings of solid food at dinner time if it's been a super busy day! Before bed, around 6:45-7 pm, he is offered another bottle, and will usually take about 6 oz depending how much he filled up at dinner. I think he's been making up for lost time since he wasn't too sure about solid food at the start!




NINE MONTH FAVORITES

Mirrors
Chewing on everything
Being tickled
Army crawling through tight spaces
Giving open-mouthed sloppy wet baby kisses
Big Brother C
Sucking on toes - his own or mom's
Pat-A-Cake
Walker




NINE MONTH LEAST FAVORITES

Having to wait for food
Having to wait for nap/bedtime
Not being picked up
Not a HUGE fan of green veggies

OH THE MEMORIES:



G got his first tooth this month! Woot woot! It seems like we've been patiently waiting for about half of the month for the second one to pop through, but so far, no sign. To celebrate, he got his first taste of Cheerios, and there's been no looking back since! Many people choose the puff route, but after reading some rather disturbing articles this winter about kids choking on them (they are only edible for 7 days after opening the container before the dissolving ability goes away), I decided to forgo puffs and head straight to the tried and true Cheerios. I did forget to bring them along a few times, and G got his first taste of Goldfish which he had no problem devouring.







We've finally been able to get back outside to play on a more regular basis this month, and G has been loving it. He got to go on his first swing ride, and he just laughs and laughs and laughs. We also went for a 'hike' through the woods one weekend, and G got to ride along in the baby carrier. He loved looking at all of the trees and being out in nature. So much to see and learn!



On a trip back to my hometown, the boys got to visit Gpa T at John Deere, and fun was had by all driving every gator, mower, and tractor they could climb onto!



The Easter bunny came to visit just before we left on vacation, and G had so much fun exploring his Easter basket. He snagged some new clothes for vacation, a couple of books, and a new toy, but his favorite might have been the wire basket I had it all displayed in. It is now being used for his special toy basket, and he loves to stick his fingers through, try to take a bite out of it, and tip it over to dump out his toys.







We traveled to Florida this month, and G got his first taste of Disney World! He was mostly along for the ride since he's a bit young to be able to remember the trip, but since Disney is free for kiddos under 3, we figured there was no time like the present since C will turn three in a couple of weeks (how did this happen!?!). G enjoyed tagging along, and particularly loved The Lion King show which was a mix of dancing, live music, and acrobats. He was sitting on our laps kicking his little legs just about as fast as they would go the entire show! They boys also got their first experience with a live symphony orchestra in Disney Springs, and both were absolutely in a trance listening. G is going to do Kindermusik in June, and I think he'll love it! After our trip to Disney, we headed to the beach, and G was fascinated with the ocean, waves, and sand. I'd be lying if I said he didn't sneak a few handfuls in! He also got to see some dolphins up close when they were swimming about 10 feet from our boat in the Gulf. So much fun, and so many more memories! Stay tuned for more on our trip!



More than anything, I've been trying to soak in every little snuggle I can this month. Now that G is on the move, snuggling has become a thing of the past since he doesn't like to sit still for more than the length of time it takes him to have a bottle. Luckily, he is a pretty happy baby, and as long as he has someone's attention and isn't being left out of the fun, he is full of laughter, smiles, and sloppy wet kisses. Oh little G, we love you so!

Third Birthday Wishes

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In a couple of weeks, we will be celebrating C's THIRD birthday. I, for one, am in COMPLETE denial that he could possibly be THREE already, but am so excited to be working out the details for his party! C is a complete sports fanatic, and after tossing a couple of other ideas to him for what kind of party he might like to have, it was firmly established that sports would be the only route acceptable to our soon-to-be three year old sports fan. In case you're wondering what a three year old boy might like, here are a few ideas!

Third Birthday Wishlist


Golf Clubs // C spotted these clubs for ages 3-5 on a trip to our local sporting goods store last week, and was all about them. T recently got new clubs and has been excited to hit the driving range, and C has taken note. Clubs for C would be a great father-son bonding activity that T & C could enjoy together for years to come.

Train Set // C has had the opportunity to play with this train set on some playdates this winter, and has been absolutely enthralled, making a direct bee-line to the trains. The little cars move on their own, and there are also additional tracks you can add to make this an even bigger set. Worth hours of entertainment for sure!

Strider Bike // As a family who loves biking, we'd love to get C started early with learning how to balance and ride a bike. These Strider balance bikes have super reviews, and after speaking with the local bike shop and having C test one out (he loved it and refused to leave the store), are definitely something that would be a great learning tool for future biking adventures (read more about them here). The biking experts maintain that teaching kids to balance on this bike makes for a super easy transition to actual biking, many times not even requiring training wheels. As C tends to be very VERY cautious, T & I are of the opinion that this may be the perfect route to go so that we never have to deal with training wheels! Fingers are crossed!

Tickets // This is a pretty general item on C's wishlist this year, and could mean anything from tickets to a live performance at Treasure Village or Bantam Boji to tickets to the Zoo or a major league baseball game. C loves to get out and DO things, and would no doubt LOVE any kind of adventure we could come up with!

Board Game // One of C's very favorite books is Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. He'd have so much fun with this accompanying board game and the 'find it' theme, and it'd be a great activity we could play together as a family for game night. 

Scooter // Cousin J received a scooter for his third birthday a couple of months back, and for C, it was love at first sight. He'd love to have this scooter so that when they are together this summer they can both scoot around and learn all the tricks!

Floor Puzzle & Subscription Box // C has been super interested in geography lately (probably in part to our recent travels and discussions about where other family members have been traveling). Combine this with his love of floor puzzles, and we have a perfect gift idea. I've heard awesome things about the Little Passports subscription box for toddlers, and think he'd have so much fun learning about different countries and customs. Such a fun way to introduce him to the world outside of our own town! There are also some other great subscription box ideas for young kiddos here.

Books // We do a LOT of reading at our house, and C can often be found curled up in his chair or on the floor with a good book. Now that he's a little older (and has most of his books memorized), it'd be fun to add a few 'big kid'...a.k.a. hardcover books with PAPER pages...to our collection. These (here, here, here) have been a few of our favorites from the library, and I know he'd love reading them over...and over...and over.

Football Helmet // C's love of the Iowa Hawkeyes runs deep, and he would absolutely LOVE to have his very own helmet. I spotted this complete uniform, and know it would become his most beloved outfit for gameday!


Graham: Eight Month Update

Monday, March 20, 2017

Where did the time go? It seems that month eight with G was upon us before we had a chance to catch our breath from our recent Caribbean adventures. Reflecting back, the whole month seems quite a blur! Being fresh home from a big trip, we spent most of this month enjoying being home, fitting in snuggles at every turn, and soaking up the love that our two boys have for each other. 



THE STATS:
Age: 8 months
Diaper size: 3
Clothing: Finished the month in 6-12 month size, and heading into 12-18 month now!










DEVELOPMENTAL ACTIVITY:
This has been a huge month for G! He is sitting unassisted no problem (not pushing into the sitting position on his own yet), and has spent the great majority of the month on his hands and knees rocking back and forth trying to figure out how to propel himself forward. He gets soon excited about this, and it has been so fun to watch as he is discovering how to move. Baby gates are going to be a regular appearance at our house in the very near future!


SCHEDULE:
G has decided this month that he prefers to have his head closest to the door rather than how I lay him down with his head in line with the headboard. I'll get him all snuggled in (pjs on then zipped up in his fleece sleep sack), then as soon as I step out of the room (he is still in our room for now), he gets busy re-situating himself into a position he prefers. He continues to be a tummy sleeper for most of the night, and has taken to taking his legs under him a bit with his behind in the air. It is just about the cutest thing ever, and I usually can't find it in me to resist running my hand down the curve of his back just a little before going to bed myself. So sweet.


FAVORITE TOY:
In addition to teethers (favorites are here, here, and here), G has been loving this activity cube this month. Standing next to it and playing with the top, or tummy time/sitting to play with the sides. He continues to enjoy the jumparoo, but has started loosing interest in the playmat now that he can move around a bit more. He's also been loving his walker as it gives him a chance to be more mobile and practice his walking moves.

STORYTIME:
G loves to be part of story time...usually. He enjoys flipping the pages and having a taste of all of the 'tails' in the Jellycat soft books...Fishy Tails is a favorite. He has also enjoyed listening as I read to C from some of the books we've borrowed from the library. Since these books have lately become a bit more advanced (C has started reading paper books rather than always board books this month), G doesn't always make it for the entire story, but he's usually good for at least half! He has also enjoyed tagging along to story time at the library with C & I this month, and loves watching the librarian read and all of the other little kids listen and dance/sing/or craft.

CUISINE:
G has been able to try quite a few new foods this month! I'll be honest, most of them he didn't like, but we did find a couple that he didn't mind. I finally broke down and let him try some fruit after he sat tight lipped after about the sixth failed attempt at a new vegetable. Of course, he had no problem with the banana, and I decided he must have a sweet tooth. This really shouldn't come as a surprise since sweets were my main craving while I was pregnant with him! So far, the only solid foods he has tolerated (a.k.a. opened his mouth for) were banana and avocado. He didn't mind zucchini when it was blended with banana either. I've been using a mix of home made and store bought food depending on what I have on hand at home. Starting out, G flat out refused store bought, but by the end of month 7, he started coming around, and has been tolerating a bit of both. As far as nursing goes, he is down to nursing just once in the morning, and will likely be completely weaned off at some point this coming month (insert tears here). He continues to take formula bottles like the little Graham champion that he is, and has no problem throwing back a full 8 oz bottle pretty much every feeding. His general schedule heading into month eight is as follows:

7:45-8 a.m. // Wake up! Nurse + 6-8oz bottle
9:30 a.m. // Solid food (2 oz formula mixed with oatmeal & applesauce, or fruit)
10 a.m. // Nap time
12:30 p.m. // 8 oz bottle
1:45 p.m. // Nap time
3 p.m. // 8 oz bottle
5:30 p.m. // Solid food (1-2 pkgs veggies and/or fruit)
6:45-7 p.m. // 8 oz bottle
7:15 p.m. // Bedtime!






EIGHT MONTH FAVORITES

Getting to see C in the morning
No pants
Chewing on EVERYTHING - Dad's weights and the fireplace surround have been of particular interest when no one is watching!
C's bedroom & mobile
Rolling and spinning

EIGHT MONTH LEAST FAVORITES

Vegetables
Seriously...the only way I can get G to eat veggies is to hide them with banana. On the other hand, his brother barely touches them either, so maybe hiding and eating is better than not eating at all!
Being sick
G had a cold/cough on and off for most of month eight. Ironically, neither one of the boys got sick on vacation or immediately after being in the germ infested airport/plane, but both had colds a week or so after our return that took FOREVER to get over! 
Being in the car seat
G has some serious dislike for his car seat of late. I think this will be the month we switch him over to the convertible seat, although I'm REALLY not looking forward to grocery shopping with two boys in the cart...I may be doing most of my grocery shopping online, or on the weekends when T is home!
Having to wait greater than 30 seconds after waking up to eat

OH THE MEMORIES:



We attempted an overnight at the lake house earlier this month, and G lasted about 20 minutes after T & I went to bed around 11:30pm before he was up every 30 minutes for the next couple of hours. Eventually, I ended up breaking our cardinal rule and brought him into bed with us for the rest of the night. Of course, he slept like a hibernating bear the minute he got to be sandwiched between T & I in the king sized bed with a blanket over his lower body. Didn't hear a peep out of him the rest of the night! I'm glad he loves us so much, but seriously. This was a one time deal for the month, and he did end up starting a cold the following day, so at least there was an explanation!





Two boys. It seems that any time I tried to take a photo of just G this month, C was like white on rice and demanding to be in the picture. Getting them both to look at me at the same time with a smile on their face...not so easy, but at least they were having fun!







C was particularly affectionate towards little G this month, and we had plenty of photo ops with the two of them playing together. I'll be honest...I'm not sure that G enjoyed being loved on quite as much as C loved giving kisses and hugs, but overall, the two are proving to be the best of friends. G's level of excitement when he gets to see his big brother in the morning is almost palpable. He immediately starts kicking his feet and hands and babbling to his big brother. He LOOOOOOVES C so much, and C absolutely adores him. I pray that they will always be such good buddies!





We love you little peanut!
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A Whole Big Island Out There! | Part 2

Monday, March 13, 2017

Without further adieu, I give you part two of our Caribbean adventures. 


Thursday, Feb 16
Thursday was our final day on St Thomas, and it was absolutely beautiful! We had breakfast on the beach, then after packing everything up, went and sat in the shade overlooking the ocean from a cozy little nook right off the lobby/beachfront bar. T ordered C a virgin strawberry daiquiri (a.k.a. strawberry smoothie), and T & I enjoyed one last tropical drink while lounging on a couple of oversized cushioned chairs soaking in the spectacular view before packing up our rental car for the 30 minute drive to the airport.







Little G was completely exhausted after having so much fun in St. Thomas and St. John. He fell asleep for a little catnap on the bed while we were getting everything packed up to check out. 


Our check-in and rental car return at the airport went surprisingly smoothly considering how difficult our arrival/rental car pickup had been as far as getting luggage to our car. On our return visit, we were lucky to have porter helping us tote around our 60 bags right away (jk...but we did have quite a few!), and know in advance where to take our vehicle. I should mention that while we did NOT need passports as St. Thomas is a USVI, we DID have to go through customs on our departure. Luckily, I had copies of both boys birth certificates on hand so they could be cleared to leave the island (I think this entire process could have been sped up if we would have been traveling with passports, but at the same time, it did not cause us any trouble to just have our regular IDs and birth certificates for the boys). The whole process of getting through security and customs took a solid hour, and was very busy, so if you go, make sure to allow plenty of time!  Our plane happened to be delayed an hour, so we had plenty of time to grab a snack while we waited, and C found a jet plane at the gift shop that he was entertained with for a good half hour. (I won't mention that G had a blowout we had to clean up as well...ugh). Once on board, our entire flight lasted a whole of 21 minutes, and then we were touching down in Puerto Rico. Really, the most stressful part of the entire day was getting our luggage from baggage claim in San Juan to the taxi stand without the help of a porter. Luckily, we only had to go about 100 yards, so in the end it all worked out! If you are thinking of island hopping, there are multiple daily flights offered between St. Thomas and Puerto Rico. We flew JetBlue, but there are several other carriers that also make this route a few times a day.


Five minutes later, we arrived at our hotel, the El San Juan Hotel in Isla Verde, a Hilton Curio Collection hotel. After checking in and getting to our room, C exclaimed 'Dis is the best room I've EVER seen!'...and then looking out our window 'Whole big island out there!'. Such a character! I would agree, the hotel had just reopened a week before we arrived after a full renovation. Our room was beautiful, as was the pool, restaurants, and lobby areas which have some of the biggest and most ornate chandeliers I've ever seen. If you ask C about them, 'Ho-Ho got dat'. I have no idea why he associates chandeliers with Santa, but apparently it's a thing! T & I had previously stayed at the El San Juan Hotel on a separate visit a few years back, so knew in advance it would be a great place to stay on this trip. The service was 100% on point, and we were taken care of from the moment we stepped inside...I can honestly say that the service here is hands down the best we've ever experienced, and was a wonderful welcome after a whirlwind day of traveling. The various pools and beach areas were great for kids, and there were several restaurants on site to choose from for meals, along with a few shops. Highly recommend! On a side note: If you stay here, this hotel DOES have an enforced dress code in certain areas in the evenings (no shorts or open-toed sandals for men), so plan accordingly.

After dropping off our bags, we tried out Viaggis, an Italian restaurant on the resort. It had a casual vibe, and had great pizza and pasta. A perfect stop after a busy day of traveling! Back in the room, C was excited to once again sleep in a 'big boy bed', and we were glad that everyone was wiped out and we had a comfortable place to call home for the next couple days.




Friday, Feb 17
Friday was a day of great adventures! After grabbing lunch at our hotel (see BLT topped with powdered sugar above), we took a trip to Old San Juan to visit Castillo San Cristobal Fortress and take in some history before stopping for a bite to eat and a coffee at Caficultura, T & I's must-stop every time we are in Old San Juan. C LOVED the 'fort', and had so much fun walking around and exploring. His favorites were the scale replicas of the fort throughout its history...or 'castles' as he called them, the cannon model in the gift shop, peaking out the windows at the city and coast from the sentry towers, and sharing a Gatorade with dad to cool off from the hot day. G enjoyed taking in the sights mainly from his shaded perch in the stroller, but did get out when we were resting in the shade for a nice cool bottle. Walking around San Cristobal means lots of steep ramps (or stairs for those not pushing a stroller), so we were happy to stop for a coffee and snack close by afterwards.



















At the coffee shop afterwards, C was SO EXCITED when the barista brought him out a big cold glass of milk. I'm not kidding, I think the level of excitement was greater than Christmas morning. It wasn't always easy to find milk at every interval of our trip, so when we did, C was particularly happy about it. 






After some coffee and appetizers, C passed out for a nap in the stroller (a.k.a. had a mini-meltdown after all of the exploring at San Cristobal) while G got to enjoy the view from Dad's arms as we meandered through the blue cobblestone streets of Old San Juan peaking into various shops as we went. Before heading back to our hotel, we made a stop at the Himalaya Ice Company for artisan hand rolled ice cream - delicious by the way, and a beautiful setting for a cool down before grabbing a taxi back to our hotel. C, of course, woke up the minute he realized we were having ice cream, and enjoyed sharing a few bites along with a package oh goldfish for a snack. After eating, I stayed behind to give G a bottle in the shade & a/c, and T & C crossed the street to check out a hatmaker. C was so excited to share with me when he came back that he had seen 'shepards', and immediately grabbed my hand and dragged me back to the store so I could see them too. They turned out to be wood carved figurines of the three wise men, so he wasn't too far off the mark! 





Taxis were not an issue by the way for any of you out there traveling with littles. Technically, U.S. laws apply, and the boys should have been in car seats, but in the interest of not renting a car and having to find our way to and from and through the complex streets of Old San Juan, we were glad to hold on tight and hop in a cab for the short trip to and from our hotel (about 15 min away in Isla Verde and $21 for the four of us). Old San Juan is a great walking city as the entire thing is only about two square miles. The streets have well maintained sidewalks, with plenty of room to push a stroller, and as long as you don't mind some hills, are really fun to walk around. SIDE NOTE: If you prefer to drive to Old San Juan, there was an Enterprise directly across the street from our hotel, but I wouldn't personally recommend it since Old San Juan is full of complicated one-way streets, and parking could prove to be difficult. If you are venturing anywhere else, go for it! Puerto Rico is relatively easy to navigate with well maintained roads, and some of the other sites on the island - think El Yunque, etc, are worth the trip.




Saturday, Feb 18
Saturday morning was our last day of vacation, and we made the most of it. We grabbed coffee and a pastry at the Cafecito coffee shop at our hotel, then headed out to the pool area to enjoy our last breakfast overlooking the ocean. After breakfast, to the beach we went for one final chance to build a sandcastle and dip our toes in the ocean before coming back to the pool for a quick swim before getting all of our gear packed up and ready to go. G loved jumping in the waves at the beach, and swimming in the pool, while C was content to build as many sand castles as possible and sit on the top platform step in the pool and splash around. After getting our gear all put together, T & I enjoyed one last glass of cool crisp wine sitting poolside in the warm Caribbean breeze to top off our trip before cabbing it back to the airport for the trip back home.



Sometimes, building sandcastles requires holding hands with your brother.












 The San Juan airport was only about a five minute drive from our resort, and before we knew it, we were checked in, through security, and having a snack at our gate while waiting to board. C, as usual, was all about watching the planes and all of the people, but I think more than anything, he most enjoyed snacking on a big bowl of fruit I got for him at one of the airport snack shops. I'll be honest, it was probably the healthiest food he ate all week after all of the mac & cheese, grilled cheese, and quesadillas that are standard kids menu items! 



On our way home, we were super lucky to fly first class...which happened to be only $40 more than a standard ticket the day I booked our flights...unheard of right?! T was super excited about it, and I was just glad to not have to pay more for our luggage and have the extra space for our 5 1/2 hour flight home. I was not expecting the drinks, movies, snacks (apple/cheese/cracker plate which C LOVED, bananas, brownie brittle, warm chocolate chip cookie), or meal (Caesar salad, bread, roasted chicken in a mushroom sauce with kale and potatoes - giving a whole new meaning to airplane food - it was delicious!), but can see why flying this way typically is quite a bit more expensive. If you ever have the opportunity to do so, do it! The boys did great on the flight, C once again sat in his car seat, while G split time between our laps...flirting with the flight attendants every time they walked by. Both boys slept about 1 1/2 hrs of the flight which was the perfect amount of time for T & I to enjoy a movie. When C did wake up, he looked out his window and exclaimed 'Whole big city of Geoppolis out there!' (A reference to one of our favorite wintertime story books, Katy and The Big Snow). Upon arrival in Minneapolis, we caught the shuttle back to our car, checked in at our hotel (we didn't get back until 7:30-8ish, so it was too much to worry about trying to tackle a three hour drive at night after the long day we had already had), and called it a night. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency, and it was a lovely hotel that we would definitely stay at again someday. All in all, we had an absolutely wonderful vacation on our first big trip as a family of four, and are so glad that we decided to take a risk and visit someplace new with our crew. Can't wait for our next big adventure!
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