Sunday, July 26, 2009

Packing for Utah

Topher just had his 9-month checkup and he's doing great! He's about 50th percentile for height (28"), 50th for head size (18"), and 90th for weight (22 lbs). You would never, ever know that he was a preemie. He's alert and interested in everything around him, and he can scoot and crawl and babble. We're so proud of everything he does.
Tomorrow morning we'll be waking up around 3am so we can shower, pack up the car, get our little one ready, drive to Des Moines, and park our car at the airport in time for our 6:05am flight out to Utah for the big Berbert Family reunion (my mom's side). We are still a little nervous about the almost 3-hr flight to Salt Lake, followed by a 2.5 hr drive up to Bear Lake, but once we get there, it should be a lot of fun. Topher even got a brand new "big boy" seat that we'll check as baggage (no charge for baby items checked, courtesy Delta) and then install in our rental car. It's a lot bigger and roomier than his infant car seat, and he seemed pretty excited when we tried it out in the living room yesterday.
As you can probably tell, he can "baby talk" now. It's like he just woke up one morning and decided that he had a voice. And he's been talking ever since. Sometimes in the car he'll just sit in the backseat and talk to himself the whole time. Here's a short video from last night of Topher telling us a story:
And since I haven't loaded any videos in quite awhile, here's one more from yesterday of Topher performing his most recent "trick." He loves to play with the dishwasher when it's open and he watches me whenever I'm trying to do the dishes, but he totally taught this one to himself:
After church today, we'll have plenty of packing to do, but we're looking forward to it. No matter what, it will be a 4-day family adventure (we land back in Des Moines at 11pm on Thursday) and we'll all be in it together. Look out, Utah! :)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Birthday Bid

TJ had a "Transformers" birthday yesterday. Topher especially had fun when he got to "sign" his name on daddy's card...I guess he got a little carried away by the excitement of me allowing him to hold the pen all by himself.
The theme will be completed tonight when we finally go to see Transformers 2...the last new movie we saw was Marley & Me and the parking lot was covered in ice that night, so it's been awhile. Our neighbors across the street offered to babysit last night and we were able to meet our realtor and see a few more properties, but each one confirmed the fact that we love that Greenview townhome (see last entry) , so we went ahead and put a bid in on it. We have very low expectations of coming to an agreement with the listing agent (he seems a little sketchy) but at least now we can say that we tried.
After grabbing a birthday pizza and coming home, we went across the street and we shared our ice cream cake (with Transformer plates and napkins) with the neighbors. They said that Topher was the best baby they had ever watched and that he didn't even seem to care that we were gone. (I'm going to go ahead and take that as a compliment and a testament to the fact that we are raising a happy, secure, well-adjusted baby rather than thinking that Topher is just completely indifferent to us.)
TJ's birthday celebration continues today as he will go golfing with his dad and then his parents will take Topher while we go to our movie. I didn't get him anything exciting for his birthday (just a Transformer toy because he loves them, despite the fact that he's a "grown up" now) but his real present is that we're saving up to buy him a PS3. He's very excited about it.
In selling news, the buyers for our home had their inspection and everything went off without a hitch...they didn't even ask for another penny, even though the roof needs to be replaced soon, so we were thrilled about that. So now we just wait while the loan is being processed and everything is finalized, which will take several weeks. On the buying side of the equation, our realtor told us not even expect a reply from the listing agent on our townhome offer, but we're hoping that our "birthday bid" carries some good luck with it. We're not holding our breath, but our fingers are crossed. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shopping Around

Shopping for a new home is very exciting. Our perfect wishlist would include the following:
  • 3 bedrooms (or enough extra room to put TJ's weights somewhere), 2 full baths
  • 2-car attached garage
  • Master suite
  • Walk-in closet
  • Fireplace
  • Full-size washer/dryer (I hate those stackable things)
  • More carpeted areas for little Topher

The more we shop, the more we realize we won't get everything on that list. We found a townhome we really, really like that only has 2 bedrooms (but makes up for that by having a huge open loft area), and the master bathroom has a walk-in shower rather than a bathtub, and it doesn't have a fireplace. It sounds like it wouldn't be on our short list at all, but we think it might be the one. It has a huge kitchen, an extra half-bath, the 2-car garage we want so badly, over 1630 total square feet of living space, a HUGE master bedroom, a big kitchen, and is nestled between 2 nice golf courses (in a part of town where there are a lot of nice, fancy houses.) The location is killer...just a few miles away from all the stores in Ankeny, but far enough away to be quiet and clean. There are sidewalks everywhere and a new park being built right across the street. There is no way it could ever flood unless the whole city of Ankeny went under, and there is no basement. We're going to take a look at nearly every other condo in our price range this week, and if nothing compares, I think we'll put an offer on this one (contingent on the completion of the sale of our house). This townhome is a short sale, so we need to move fairly quickly on it, and we're hoping we can get it for about 40k less than what the owner paid a few years ago. I think we could be happy there. It's not perfect, and there are things we'd want to update and change in time, but it has a lot of potential. We know it's the biggest townhome we'll find in our price range, and we keep coming back to that. Here are a few pictures:

View from the outside (it is not an end unit, but we hope that by being sandwiched, our utilities would be lower and when we walked through, it seemed like a very quiet and peaceful complex):

Standing in the living room:

Big kitchen (I absolutely love that island...can you imagine if we upgraded to granite counters?):

Master bathroom (sniff bathtub):

Standing in the loft area with a view of both bedroom doors, the laundry closet, and the bathroom that DOES have a tub (that would primarily be Topher's bathroom):

I have no idea if we'll end up putting an offer on this one or not. We just got pre-approved, though, so we are ready to make an offer once we are sure about which townhome we want. The buyers for OUR house are doing their home inspection today, so hopefully everything goes well with that.

TJ's birthday is also tomorrow, so we'll be celebrating that (happy birthday, baby!!!), we have several more possible condos to check out this week, we leave for Utah on Monday, and our 4-year anniversary is next week, so it kind of feels like we have a lot going on right now. But more than anything, we continue to be grateful that our home is selling. Once everything is final, it will be a HUGE weight lifted from our shoulders and we'll be able to make a new start. Be good, little house of ours, and have a really good inspection today. :)


Monday, July 20, 2009

Sale Pending!

Good news! No, GREAT news: we accepted an offer on our house this past weekend! The couple walked through on Friday and were scheduled to walk through again on Monday, but must have gotten anxious because they called Saturday with an offer. After an initial low-ball offer and a few back-and-forth negotiations, we settled on a price that we're pretty pleased with. If you had told us a year ago (let's see...a year ago we were still living with the in-laws and our house was stagnant and echo-y because we had no walls) that we would sell this house for a profit, I would never have believed it.
It sounds like the inspection is going to happen tomorrow and hopefully all goes well. We don't anticipate any big problems. The buyers are pre-approved, so we hope the loan process can go smoothly and that we can keep our tentative closing date of August 27th.
Are we waxing a little sad and nostalgic about leaving our first home? Not at all, no. And just in case I am ever tempted to, all I have to do is get out this picture and suddenly I remember just how lucky we will be to be able to walk away from this place. This was my last glance downstairs before wading out into our yard the night of the flood. As you can see, the water is nearing the top of the doorways. INSIDE our house. It's so bizarre.
That picture always makes me feel positively nauseous. And that's how I know that we're doing the right thing. This was always a very nice house, but it was never our dream home. Even though there's technically a lot of square footage here, we don't have as much usable space as you might think (especially now that we don't use the downstairs at all except for TJ's weights.) The three of us all share one bathroom and now with Topher crawling, we could use a little more carpeted space (we have zero carpet upstairs). I actually have a list of about a hundred things I will NOT miss, and of the things I WILL miss, I can only think of three: the trees we planted, the fenced yard for Sassy, and being so close to TJ's parents (who have a very special bond with Topher).
Now that we have an accepted offer, we are free to look and even put an offer on a new place. There are a few townhomes in Ankeny that we are very excited to look at. They seem to have a lot to offer--attached 2 car garages, 2.5 bathrooms, master suites, walk-in closets--a lot of amenities that we don't currently have here.
Having that "sale pending" sign out in our yard is a wonderful feeling, and when it changes to "sold" I think we'll just be over the moon. We are SO excited about the changes coming our way (we're going to live in a town with stores and food delivery!), and we are SO grateful that our house had so much traffic and interest, even in this down market. It's going to be a LOT more fun to be the buyer rather than the it's our turn to go low-ball someone else! :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kansas City Re-Cap

KC was a blast. The car ride there and back was a very specific kind of torture, having to watch Topher be so miserable, but it was so much fun once we got there. Poor Topher just hates being strapped down. How would YOU like to look at this face for 3 1/2 hours?? It's so heart-breaking. I hate it. Even with frequent stops, he's fine the second we take him out and miserable the second we strap him back in.
We stayed with my sister Regina, her husband Justin, and their two girls Audree and Juliette. They have a brand new house in Olathe, KS that is just gorgeous and we got to stay in the "pink princess" room (Audree's) and it was beautiful. Topher loved his cousins, even if he did dwarf Juliette, who is almost 2 years old. She might be taller than him, but he is heavier and has a much bigger head. Whenever Topher would grab one of her toys, she would gently pry his fingers off of it, one by one, and by the time one hand would be free of the toy, the other hand would have already reached up to grab it. It was fun to watch them interact. It's funny how, at 2 years, a child is still such a baby. I mean, she could walk and babble, but we still saw her as a baby. Both girls were a lot of fun, and so kind to Topher.
Saturday morning, we took Topher and Audree, 6, to the pet store while Regina and Justin ran some errands.
Ever the gracious hostess, Regina planned a big lunch on Saturday for any of my family that could come and see us while we were in town (which saved us the trouble of driving from house to house, and after finally getting Topher out of the car, that would have been very hard to do.) We saw my mom (Mar-Mar) and Grandpa Larry, my dad (Grandpa) and Grandma Lori, and my cousin Anna, 16, who was in town making a documentary on my mom, the Marble Lady (that's a whole other blog in itself.)
That evening, we all went for a long walk around the new neighborhood. Topher was able to borrow Juliette's push-car, and was having some serious fun. You should have seen the look of concentration on his face as he held the wheel with both hands and seemed to think that he was really driving. Best of all, there didn't seem to be any mosquitoes in Olathe, which is a huge change from Cambridge (where we can't even walk Topher without a mosquito net covering his stroller.)
Sunday morning, my dad made breakfast for all of us and we played some more and then we had to hit the road again (isn't there some other way to transport a baby other than a stupid car seat???) But we made it home in one piece and were sad that the weekend had to go so quickly and that we didn't get to see more of my siblings. Luckily, the family reunion in Utah is less than 2 weeks away so we'll see everyone again very soon (and we'll get to fly in a plane!)
Thanks for hosting a great weekend, Regina and Justin. We can't wait to do it again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

First Toothie!

Topher has his first tooth! (or "Tophie has a toothie," as my dad's wife, Lori, said). Can you believe it? I barely can. It was a nearly impossible task, but I caught a couple pictures of it yesterday. Normally, he doesn't allow anyone near his mouth, and if you bring your finger towards his mouth, he'll clamp his lips together and shake his head "no." So in order to get these pictures I had to stand over him and pretend to sneeze in a very exaggerated way, so that my ponytail flailed up and down each time (he thinks sneezing is so funny) and then take as many pictures as I could while he was smiling. Of those pictures, only two showed the tooth. The others all had his tongue in the way, because he likes to smile with his tongue hanging out. It was worth it, though, because not only can you see the first tooth, but you can see that another tooth beside it is surfacing, too. We have been waiting and waiting for this day. Maybe now he will find some relief from teething, at least for awhile. It's almost like the tooth fairy came, only she brought us a new tooth rather than toting an old one away. Congratulations, Topher! --KC

Friday, July 10, 2009

Having a Ball

I know I've been posting a lot of videos lately, but I just love watching my little baby laugh. In this one I took last night, he's discovering the magic of his bouncy ball for the first time.

As soon as TJ gets done with work today, we're packing up and heading to Kansas City for the weekend to see my family. I can't wait for my sister, Regina, to see Topher because at his same age, her daughter Juliette only weighed 13 lbs (Topher is about 23 lbs now.) Topher can't wait to show everyone how big he has gotten!

It's going to be a ball.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kitty Moment #2

Yesterday I was in the kitchen and I heard Topher laughing (I had left him sitting up in a fort of pillows while I was loading the dishwasher.) When I peeked around the corner, I saw the cat playing with a little rubber-band and Topher finding the whole scene hilarious. That's when I grabbed the camera:

I absolutely cannot get enough of that laugh. I hope it makes you smile, too.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Squirmy Wormy

How difficult is it to change a little boy's diaper when he has just discovered that he can MOVE and doesn't ever want to hold still for a second? (Disclaimer: The following video contains brief infant nudity. Parents are strongly cautioned.) Did any of my baby books have a section on diapering the world's wiggliest baby? I don't think so. And if you think that's bad, you should see me squealing and holding him down when he has a poopy diaper and he's trying to roll around and run away from me. He's such a little rascal. Oh, and he also discovered the cat food yesterday. By the time I got to him, he had two fistfuls (it only takes him about a millisecond to get a fistful of something he's not supposed to have) and was already trying to get some of it into his mouth. He's spending about 75% of the time scooting around on his back, and about 25% of the time crawling. It's funny when he crawls because he slaps the ground with his hands and his legs just kind of slither along. He's not holding himself up off the ground on his knees yet, but he is moving forward while on his belly so it's progress. He also continues to scream in delight at the cat every single time he sees her even though I am continually explaining to him that she lives here and that it's not a novelty every time we happen to spot her. And yet, even though he's starting to become louder and messier and harder to keep track of, I'm so, so, SO glad that he's at this age. Every time I feel the urge to complain that I'm completely exhausted (do you know how HEAVY he gets??) and that he's driving me nuts, I just think about when he was a newborn and I remember that things could be so much harder. At least now, I can play with him and take him to the park. He can swing with me and sit up tall in his stroller and smile at me. He sleeps for hours at a time, if not all night. Yes, some things are harder now, such as feeding him... he wants to hold his own spoon in one hand and stick his other hand in the baby jar and then smear the food all around until I can barely see him under all the layers of pureed food. That wasn't in the baby books either. But overall, things are a zillion times better now that he's getting bigger. Just in a very squirmy wormy sort of way. --KC

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ready for Blast-off

He's a rocket-ship. He's on the launching pad. The engines are rumbling and the smoke is billowing out from underneath him. In this video, he's doing it. He's really crawling. He can go through the motions, but you can tell that it's not quite clicking in his brain that he can really move himself around this way. All he's thinking about is getting to my shoes. But once that neuron fires, ignites, look out. He'll be ready for blast-off.

Am I ready for him to take off? I really don't know. But either way, it's going to be quite a ride.


Saturday, July 4, 2009

Camping With the Kiddo

Topher has officially survived his first camping trip, and he did great! I think of it more as "comfort camping" because there are amenities at this camp can walk down to the shower house and have hot water and flushable toilets, so we're not completely roughing it and digging trenches in the ground. We did stay in a tent, though. (But again, it felt like cheating--in a good way--because it was right next to TJ's parent's 5th wheel, which is like a house on wheels. Essentially we had access to electricity, running water, a couch and recliner, and a refrigerator. It's the only way to camp.)
Our tent
A view inside our tent (with Topher napping)
Our tent next to Terry & Kathy's 5th wheel Topher had fun visiting with family members, rolling around on the ground, taking walks, swinging on the playground, watching the campfire, and taking a bath in the 5th wheel's shower.
Grandma (Kathy), Topher, and Daddy
Topher playing on the ground on a sleeping bag
Swinging on the baby swing...careful, the straps are missing!
Mommy giving Topher a bath in the 5th wheel
Sitting around the campfire with Daddy Traditions are unbreakable in this family, and aunt Julie and uncle Chuck did not disappoint. Like every year, they turned their SUV into an air-conditioned tent. With the seats folded down, there's just enough room for an air mattress in the back.
Chuck & Julie's car, modified And, like every 4th of July we have ever experienced at this Ewalu, IA campground, it rained all night. Topher went to bed late (around 11pm) and slept beside our air mattress in his pack 'n play. He woke up at 4am, cold and hungry. After feeding him and one failed attempt at putting him back in the playpen, we let him come to bed with us. And he slept between us until 7am, when he woke up for the day (and TJ and I both had an arm we couldn't feel anymore). Also, in true camping fashion, our air mattress had lost some air and our tent was leaking rainwater towards the foot of the bed but luckily the damage was minimal. It was a rainy morning full of flies, and after a couple hours of being awake, Topher took a three hour nap in the 5th wheel. When he woke up, it was time for us to hit the road for the 3-hour trip home.
Rainy 4th of July morning
Still a happy boy
All in all, we were extremely proud of Topher. We couldn't believe he could sleep through that noisy rain rat-a-tat-tatting on the tarp of the tent but he did alright. I think we seriously wore our little kiddo out because not only did he take that 3-hour nap, but he took another nap on the way home, and ANOTHER one once we got home after taking his bath and helping mommy unpack the suitcases. It was a fun weekend, but I have to admit that we are very excited to sleep in our own solid bed (and crib) tonight.
Topher, helping Mommy unpack
Happy first 4th of July, Topher!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Kitty Moment #1

Squash, our kitty named for her famously flat Persian face, likes baby food. Go figure. She gets to lick the containers clean after Topher has finished his meals. So yesterday I simply couldn't pass up the photo-op of capturing Squash eating...squash. Talk about being cannibalistic. Wow, she looks kind of evil in close-ups. But she's really such a sweet kitty. So our kitty moment #1 refers to the following video. I was doing laundry when Squash came and jumped into the empty laundry basket and started poking her furry foot out at Topher. He loved it.

Sorry about the little burp at the end. Topher hasn't quite gotten the hang of on-camera manners yet. He sure loves that flat-faced cat, though. Whenever he sees her during the day, he starts making a sound that is somewhere between a scream and a squeal. It's fun to watch his love of animals developing. Even though she's a little strange, we all love that kitty cat.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Scooting Along

It's amazing how far this child can travel. His technique involves flipping over onto his back, arching his back up off the floor and leaning his head back, then shoving off with his feet. Essentially, he ends up scooting along blindly backwards with only his head and heels contacting the ground. It looks like a lot of work to me. Lately, he's also been adding some serious grunts to his movements. here's a short video of him scooting along: He's also often flipping back over to his stomach, I guess to check and see if he has miraculously learned how to crawl. When he realizes he's not going anywhere, he'll flip back over onto his back and continue on. In this next short video, he's trying to get to the cat, even though she's up on the kitchen table. He's always trying to find his way to the cat. He's practically obsessed with her. And when scooting becomes too much work, he can always hop on the Tonka and cruise in style for awhile: One way or another, this kid is going to figure out how to get around. --KC