Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Enjoying our Christmas Spoils

Topher has been loving his Christmas toys. In particular, he seems to enjoy the Magna Doodle more than we expected. TJ drew a puppy on there for him and now every single time he plays with it, he'll draw a scribble and say, "bup!" because he thinks that is what you're supposed to draw. We've since made various other pictures on it for him, but he continues to draw bups exclusively.

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He also seems to enjoy this little battery-operated hamster my mom sent him. Squash is also quite intrigued (bothered) by it, and Topher loves to watch her chase it around.

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We have also been looking for a way to store our movies and Topher's toys more attractively and were happy to find that the storage ottomans we liked at Target went on sale today, so we snatched up the last 2 browns ones and voila!, there are no longer toys in every corner of the living room. Topher thinks the ottomans are toys in themselves, too, as he stands and repeatedly opens and closes them.

In other adventures, Topher continues to practice walking and--more often--falling. Unfortunately he fell face-first on the kitchen floor Sunday night and cut his top lip deeply on his teeth. We actually didn't know what he had done at first because there was too much blood to see into his mouth. It was awful and we almost got in the car to take him to an urgent care center. However, it stopped bleeding fairly quickly so we realized he would be okay, despite the extra-fat lip he sported and the large circle of blood that was left on my shirt. He is one tough little boy, and we were happy to notice that it only took 2 days for his lip to look almost completely normal again. I know these things will happen repeatedly as he continues being the rough-and-tumble little boy that he is, but if I could cushion every tumble I would do it in a heartbeat. We're sorry you got hurt, Topher. You were so brave.

Topher and I are lucky enough to have TJ home this entire week, and it's felt like a dream. We are all happiest when TJ is home. We might be a very small family, but when we are all together, it just feels like all the pieces are in place. We are looking forward to starting a new year and watching Topher change in ways we can't even imagine yet. He is the most entertaining, demanding, energetic, focused, and humorous member of our household and we love him more every single day. Here's wishing everyone a very safe and happy New Year's!

--KC

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Digital Christmas Card

We've decided to go green this year and use our blog to do the Christmas card. You can call it a little bit of procrastination/laziness, but also we are finding out that this is our 'Year of Late'. Raising Topher has taught us many things, but the most recurring of lessons is that we can't be as productive as we were before him. So when the week of December 21st began on Monday and we were getting Christmas cards from our friends and family in the mail, we had yet to begin one. I think both Macie and I were in agreement at that point that we wouldn't be sending out a newsletter/Christmas card this year. Also we kind of feel that since we started our blog in January, people have been able to get their Clark-related news at anytime, making it a little less necessary to send our Clark Bark out through the mail. Hopefully this explanation is satisfactory in explaining why you won't be receiving a Christmas card from our family this year, if you really need something to hang on your fridge, feel free to hit the print screen button after you finish reading this. In keeping with holiday tradition, we'd like to offer you a little summary of a rather eventful year for our little family. I've chosen to write this through a pleasant anagram. Enjoy! C- C is for camping. We took Topher camping for the first time near Strawberry Point, Iowa over July 4th weekend. He was a pretty good sport, but the experience was just another lesson to Macie and I on how difficult things can be with a 9-month old. At this point, Topher was crawling (another C) but even the grass was new to him. So we couldn't trust putting him down for long without him attempting to eat the scenery. H- H is for house, as in getting rid of our house. We finished re-construction of our Cambridge house in May. It was the gratifying end to a seemingly endless effort (with much help from family and friends). Once completed, I think we were in agreement that the house was in better shape than when we purchased it 4 years ago. R- R is for reunions. We traveled (flew) out to Bear Lake, Utah to join in Macie's bi-annual Berbert family reunion. It was a trip with many highlights and a couple poignant low-lights (once again the perils of traveling with a 9-month old). It was our first "big" vacation as a family. We found out that Topher loves lakes, but hates airplanes. We vowed not to go on another plane with him until he is at least 3 years old. R is also for retirement. My dad retired after 30 years with John Deere in October. My parents threw a big party for family and friends at their home and it a very enjoyable time had by all. I- I is for ice. We began the month of December with a big blizzard, certainly the worst snow storm in at least 10 years for the state (15" of snow here in Des Moines). My office (along with every school district, and most other businesses) was closed for the following day. Many schools continued to stay closed for several days afterwards as the clean-up and digging out was a pretty big undertaking. Needless to say, Macie and Topher stayed nice and warm in our Ankeny home and I lifted my snow shovel exactly zero times since our townhome association takes care of snow removal (one of the perks of our new home). S- S is for our son! Topher has grown by leaps and bounds this year, resembling very little the baby of last Christmas. He has a seemingly endless supply of energy that keeps Macie on her toes everyday; anyone that doesn't believe stay-at-home mom to be an actual job should follow Topher around for a day. He believes it to be his job to move around the house, creating messes wherever he goes. Still, we can't help but be completely in love with our growing baby boy, he has a disarming smile and a sense of humor that rivals my own. This year we have been proud to watch him scoot, crawl, laugh, talk, and now begin walking. S is also for "same ole routine". Work remains the same for me, Pioneer Hi-Bred continues to be a steady employer. I especially enjoy that after my office/lab relocated and we moved, my work commute is now under 4 miles one way. T- T is for trip. Before the Utah trek, we ventured up to Minneapolis to celebrate our first Valentine's Day as a family. In one of our braver moments as parents, we took our 4-month old Topher on a 3-hr. car ride, to the Mall of America, then out to dinner at a restaurant, all in the same day! Was braver the word I was looking for there?? What were we thinking??? We followed that feat up with putting Topher in his first swimming pool at the hotel that same night. Unfortunately it was unheated and was quite the disaster. I'm thinking Topher will be celebrating Valentine's Day 2010 with Grandpa and Grandma Clark. :) T is also for Truman. We lost our wonderful little ferret, Truman in early September just days before moving to our new home. He was a compliment to his kind, never biting a soul. We'll forever miss you little guy with your funny little dances and trash-can tipping ways. M- M is for moving. After waiting for what seemed like forever, we finally were able to celebrate the closing of the sale of our house (it was pending for 2 months). We promptly closed on our new townhome in Ankeny, Iowa 2 days later and moved in on Macie's birthday. We still can't believe how fortunate we were to get out of a seemingly impossible selling situation in our old house. Surely there was some divine intervention working on our behalf. We do miss our neighbors (Heather and Justin) and our fenced yard, but overall we never looked back and couldn't be happier. A- A is for anniversary. Macie and I celebrated our 4th anniversary this year, we still don't believe that it's already been 4 years. I still have crystal clear recollections of our time in Oregon when we were still engaged (and our time in college for that matter). Macie still looks every bit to me like the adorable little chick that I brought home to my parents on the back of my motorcycle. A memory that she still guilt-trips me on because it just happened to be about 35 degrees on that ride (for 4.5 hours). We are still madly in love and we're glad we have each other because, as we always joke, Topher is AT LEAST a two-person job. S- S is for Savior. We wouldn't have Christmas to celebrate without that special night 2000 years ago. This is a wonderful time of the year when many of us feel the Holy Ghost touches us most deeply. We have been looking forward to celebrating this Christmas with Topher and will continue to cherish this time of year and make it extra special for him so that he knows the true meaning of Christmas. The Clarks wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! Safe travels to all of our friends and family and we hope to see you all soon in 2010! -TJC

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Smushed Smiles

This happened a couple weeks ago and the pictures are too funny not to share. Because our fireplace is electric, Topher can touch the simulated flames and fake logs without consequence (they never get hot, the heat blows from above the unit.) So occasionally I'll open the fireplace doors to clean the glass and Topher loves to help because he knows he's allowed to help me with that particular chore. Well, for some reason I smushed my face on the glass to make Topher laugh. Instead, he turned the tables and did me one better.
Time and time again, Topher shows us what a little ham is he growing up to be. He gets it from his dad, and his hearty laugh can be heard in our house several times a day. He might be a little goof, but he's our little goof and we love lavishing our attentions on him (all the more so when he's in a good mood).
Topher, thanks for keeping us entertained. You're a silly little guy and we love you for it.
--KC

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Big Strides For Little Feet

Topher has taken his sweet time getting up on his feet and finding his balance. Today, however, we saw some first little steps, little reminders that someday he actually will be up and walking around. At nearly 14 months old, most kids have been walking for a couple months by his age. And although he is still in the completely "normal" range of learning to walk (9-17 months), we feel that this particular milestone has been slow to develop, perhaps due to having a heavier body to balance or perhaps even dating back to his premature birth (problems that are at opposite ends of the spectrum.) We have seen him stand, we have even seen a little shuffle, but this was the first time we caught genuine steps on film, and certainly the first day that he has been able to do it repeatedly, including more little steps taken both before and after this video was recorded. Topher, we continue to be so proud of you. You are almost walking, you big boy! We know these first steps are hard to take, but we will always be here to catch you when you tumble, and to squeal in delight with your every success. --KC video

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An early Christmas in Kansas City

We had a great time celebrating an early Christmas with my family in KC. From my dad, Topher got a race track that he loves (and we love now that the batteries have been removed.) Regina and Justin got us an inspired gift: 2 barstools! We've been needing those since moving into the townhome and we've been putting off buying them for months now. We were SO thrilled (and Topher had a great time climbing all over the boxes.) Back at my mom's house Saturday morning, we had some unexpected visitors--some neighborhood dogs that had gotten loose! TJ brought them in after getting them off the street and we all had a great time playing with them until their owners came. They were the sweetest dogs, a Pitbull and a St. Bernard who reminded us of Sassy in every possible way. Topher was delighted to have some "bups" around.
Then it was on the pet store, where Topher discovered the fun of the bunny/guinea pig enclosures. When he gets older and chooses his first pet, we wonder if it will be one of these, though we'll probably steer him towards a rat, reptile, or budgerigar first. Still, anything that makes him smile this big would be hard to refuse.
My mom loved having Topher around, and they played and played together (and if you know my mom, you know that this is just her heaven.) video
Later that night, we went out to dinner for my mom's birthday and Topher had a great time with all of his cousins.
It was hard to leave, but nice to be home and out of the car. We set up the barstools right away and agreed that they complete our kitchen area perfectly.
We had so much fun visiting with family and hope we can get back to KC soon. The long car rides continue to be a challenge, but one we can tackle from time to time. With a blizzard blowing in now, we're just happy to be in our cozy home as a family, with the knowledge that our extended families are never more than a few hours away.
--KC

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Fisher Price Nativity

Last year my mom got us the most brilliant present, which was a Fisher Price nativity set. I've been looking at ornate nativity scenes for a few years now, but was never able to decide on one (well actually we DID buy one lavish set but had to return it when we opened it to find 2 shepherds and no Joseph, and it was the last one so we couldn't trade it.) But this Fisher Price take on the Christmas story is even better than some look-but-don't-touch figurines. This one Topher can actually PLAY with. And he does. His favorite thing to do is to take the pieces and fling them off the table, one by one. But at least he is able to interact with the story. And at least it's one less thing we have to stash up high from our little lovable monster. He especially loves it when he pushes the angel on the stable and it plays "Away in a Manger." He does that about a thousand times a day. Even though we love that song, TJ and I had to look up the words to the extra verses because we were sick of singing the same first verse over and over. But it's hilarious how much Topher loves music, and how he rocks out to it, even if it's a Christmas song. My memory card cut this next video short, but not before Topher did a little head-banging. video
Topher also had fun helping daddy set up the Christmas tree.
Here's Topher holding his "baby's first Christmas" ornament with a picture of himself from last year. What a long year it has been, and what a different little boy we have now.
Keep checking in because Topher really really wants to walk, but he's having a little trouble finding his balance. He stands up several times a day on his own, but has yet to attempt that big First Step. We can only imagine what kind of trouble he's going to find and messes he's going to create once he can walk. We do know one thing: he's going to be fast and he's going to be tireless. Mom, thanks again for the unbreakable nativity set. We're going to need it.
--KC