Monday, March 29, 2010

Hi

It seems like such a simple word, yet it has taken him 17 months to master it. Oh, but I don't know that I've ever heard a more adorable execution.

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--KC

Fast Fever

What a weekend. Overnight on Thursday Topher woke up burning like a little wildfire. His temperature kept reading over 103, even with Tylenol, so we called the doctor as soon as they were open on Friday and TJ took the day off work. Topher was NOT in the mood to be looked at and cried the whole time, but his throat and ears got the all clear, and his tummy felt fine to the doctor. With absolutely no other symptoms besides his 103.7 fever, she thought it was probably just a virus and had us alternate Tylenol and Motrin every 3 hours until his fever broke. He was just a miserable little guy, with glassy eyes and blood-red lips.
Just hold me, daddy. I don't feel good.
It was a very long, very clingy day but his fever finally broke Friday evening. He continued to be more clingy than average all weekend, but at least he wasn't so hot that he was burning us through our clothes anymore. Poor baby. It was awful, but made me stop and realize once more how lucky we have been with him. He's been SO healthy that complaining over a one-day fever seems ungrateful. I'm just glad he's feeling better.
On Saturday we went out to the farm to celebrate Grandma's birthday. Lindsey and Jo were there too, and we were very excited to see them. Topher doesn't get to see them enough, and they are always so good with him. Topher had fun exploring "outdud" (outside) and barely even noticed Linds & Jo's Great Dane mix dog running around. I guess when you have a St. Bernard, you're pretty immune to having big bups around.
A framed picture of Topher with his beautiful Grandma
Lindsey and Jo made these fun, teetering cakes!
Olive, the soccer-playing dog
Look at my tractor, Grandma
I can't wait to see all these flowers bloom
Wait for me, Grandma!
We are SO excited for this week. The forecast has a lot of 60's and 70's in it, and it just feels like everything is coming alive again after way too long in dormancy. I'm excited to break free from our jackets and hats and just to soak up the sun with my baby. It's going to be WARM! I totally forget what that feels like! :)
We're so grateful that Topher's fever didn't stay long. We're all for the warmer weather, just not warmer foreheads.
--KC

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chase Topher

I know his name is Topher Chase, but my new favorite joke is that I should have named him "Chase Topher" since that's all I ever do anymore. It might have taken him a little longer to walk, but that doesn't seem to matter anymore. He's everywhere. And he's fast. Yesterday we went to Target and for a solid hour I just followed him. He made his way around the entire store. I was happy to find that he didn't knock anything down and he didn't mess up any displays. If I said, "No no" he would just keep walking on to the next thing. He especially loved the row of assembled bicycles (he had to touch every single one and make a "vroom vroom" sound) and the row of talking toys. And since I didn't have anywhere that I needed to be, it was fun to watch him explore the store and stretch his legs. He absolutely cannot walk in hard-soled shoes, but put him in a pair of Robeez (soft leather shoes) and he's off. I could see that checking out with him was going to be a screaming disaster (how dare I put him in the cart when he has so obviously evolved past that stage of his life?) but luckily the bakery man saved the day with a cookie that happily entertained him out to the car. (Nevermind the unfathomable mess he made with it.) After a nap, Topher kept asking to go back "Out, out!" so we took a long walk to the park and I let him run around some more. A woman commented on how busy a boy he is, and I said it's probably just the age he's at. She told me that neither of her girls were ever like that. This confirms my sneaking suspicion that we gave birth to a wild, wild little monkey (and that boys in general naturally need more physical play). I chased my primate around for another hour before he showed signs of being hungry. Again I was spared from a time-to-go meltdown by my mom's random package in the mail that gave Topher a new toy to hold all the way home. (Thanks mom!) I'm so glad he can walk. Strike that, I mean run because let's face it, he never WALKS anywhere. It's fun and everyone smiles at him and it just makes him so happy. I could tell that he was often frustrated as a baby, and being able to walk has really given him the power over his body he has always wanted. So I've officially moved into the Chase Topher phase of my life. In case you haven't seen me lately, I'm that blur behind the shorter blur going by. --KC

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sawgrass Park

There's a nice park about a half mile from our house that has a lake, a playground, and lots of open spaces. Yesterday was warm and sunny, so I took Topher there so he could run free for awhile. I wish I could do everything the big kids can do. Look at me go! (And it doesn't hurt when I fall down.) Catch me if you can, mommy! video Just strolling through the park.
I can go really far...really fast!
Look at those geese! Can I swim with them?
I love running around on the dock.
So many new things to see and touch.
Later, when TJ got home from work we decided to go back to the Park with Sassy. We forced Topher to put on his new shoes (he hates them, but he tolerated it when we told him he had to wear them if he wanted to go to the park.) The problem is, he falls down a lot more when he wears them.
I can't stay on my feet, daddy!
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My perfect little family.
We knew we had to get out as much as possible yesterday because the cold weather is rolling back in this weekend. Topher had a lot of fun running wild, but time and again he would go straight for the most dangerous parts of the park (the concrete step down into the play area, the concrete steps leading down to the dock, the storm drain, other people's dogs, etc.) And even though it's truly exhausting to chase him around and keep him safe (and get him to leave), it's worth it to see how happy he is when he is able to be so free.
I have to admit that I was secretly amused when I got home from the park and had to peel off Topher's muddy shoes and socks, wash his knee-stained pants, and scrub his dirty fingers clean. This is what having a little boy is all about, and I'm all about it.
--KC

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Two Can Mix-up

My son is a genius. I'm pretty sure about that. He loves to help me cook, and while I was making soup the other night, I let him play with a couple cans of cream of chicken soup. He likes to stack them up and knock them over, that kind of thing. When I was ready for the cans of soup to add to my soup recipe, I asked him to bring me the "two cans." (We LOVE that we can give him simple directions now and that he can follow through with them, it's so exciting.) I saw him looking around the living room, trying to process what I was asking him to do. Then he suddenly understood. He ran over to his jungle gym, tore off a stuffed animal, and brought it over to me just like I asked. It was a toucan. --KC

An Offer Refused

Last month I received a surprise phone call from the vet clinic where I used to work. They wanted to start offering dog grooming services, and they wanted me to head up the operation so to speak. I'll be honest...the thought of making my own money again was tempting. They said they would work around my hours and I started thinking that it might be something I would be interested in, so I went in with Topher to discuss the position with the clinic manager. I thought maybe I could work in the evenings or on the weekends, as those are the hours that TJ would be home with the little guy. It became clear very quickly that they needed someone a few days a week, and that they were expecting me to find part-time daycare for Topher. As I listened to the manager tell me how great daycare has been for her 3-month-old son, I watched Topher walking around smiling his little devil grin while he tried to get into the supply cabinets, and then go squealing off around the corner after the clinic's resident cat. And although I tried to keep an open mind about it and listen as I was told that it would be great to have something that is "just for me" and some time away from home, I knew right then and there that it wasn't going to work out. See, there have actually been many times when I have joked that I was ready to go back to work because staying home is just too mundane or too frustrating or too repetitive. But then what? If I'm not taking care of Topher, that just means someone else is and who in the world could give him the love and attention that I give him? Absolutely no one. Yes, I have my moments where I have to take a deep breath and wonder if anything I’m doing is right. But then I think of all the times during the day when I tickle Topher into a belly laugh, or when he helps me do the laundry, or when he shuffles through my makeup bag as I’m getting ready and ends up applying blush to the top of his head, or when we dance together to the Glee soundtrack. Even on the days when nothing really “happens”, so much happens. And most importantly, when Topher is older and all I‘m left with is a library of baby videos and pictures, I will have no regrets. I know every bump and bruise he’s ever gotten, I’ve heard his every new word, I’ve watched every milestone unfold, and I have never left him to cry alone. I am very aware that I only get one chance at this. And there is nothing I want more than to be able to tell Topher that I gave him my all, even when I thought I couldn’t. See, I realize that I'm one of the lucky ones, one of those women who have a choice whether they want to stay home or not. And when the choice was right there in front of me, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
I have my whole life to work, but I only have a few years to raise my beautiful son. In the end, it was a very easy choice. As Topher slept, I wrote an email rejecting the offer. Then I smiled as I heard my son saying "bup, bup" into the baby monitor, trusting and knowing that I would always be there on the other side of it to hear him.
--KC

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Our Sassy Nanny

St. Bernards are called the "nannies" of the dog world (think Nana in Peter Pan), and Sassy is slowly growing accustomed to this role. She'll let Topher pet her from time to time now, and anytime he is on the stairs, she will run up and down repeatedly until he is safely at the top or bottom (we think she's nervous, and rightly so, when Topher is attempting to improve his stair skills.) Topher's learning his animal sounds and in this video Sassy steps in to help him out when he gets stumped:
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We also recently discovered the fun of feeding treats to Sassy. Unfortunately, Sassy is very weary of taking food from Topher (probably because she usually gets yelled at for doing just that.) What's funny here is that Topher is starting to give me an ear-full when he wants something. He'll spout off a list of sounds that I'm sure is meant to voice some very specific demands, but it all comes out as jibber-jabber. The feet stomping adds a little extra emphasis to said demands. Ah, toddlers.

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The best thing about our nanny is that she has started "looking out" for Topher, preferring to be in the same room as him (at a reasonably safe distance) while he plays.

Thanks, Sassy, for tolerating Topher even when he's a little loud and a little rough. You're such a good dog.

--KC

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Here we go to Bass Pro!

Another Saturday, another adventure. Today we decided to take Topher to the Bass Pro in Altoona. It wasn't like the world-famous one in Springfield, MO, but it was still pretty impressive. There's a massive aquarium with a real waterfall and TONS of animal displays. Topher saw buffaloes (bups), deer (bups), lynx (dat!), bobcats (dats), raccoons (bups), moose (bups), and a grizzly bear (bup!), along with countless other critters.
On our way to have an adventure!
So much to see when you first walk in
The big waterfall at the far end of the building
More animal displays
A herd of buffalo roaming over our heads
Some muddy wild boars
Standing by the Alaskan brown bear
Topher is loving this
Our fearless boy petting the big "bup"
It was a fun Saturday activity for the family. Topher is definitely becoming more independent and mobile in stores, though, wanting down and then pushing the cart or grabbing things off of shelves or just running away. I love it. It's crazy and he throws a fit if you take something away from him, but this is what we always wanted--a little boy. Here's a video of him pushing our cart:
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And another one of him watching all the enormous fish:

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Even though I love looking at animals up close this way, I'm so glad I'm not married to a hunter (well, I never would be but still.) I can really live my whole life very happily without guns and ammo and camouflage and traps and blinds and all that other stuff, not to mention all the carcasses. Blech. We did love the bowling alley at this Bass Pro, though. It was an elaborate under-the-sea theme, and would make a GREAT birthday party for Topher someday. Even the ball returns were shaped like huge water creatures, so it looked like a shark or an alligator was spitting out your bowling ball and the entrance sports a HUGE sunken ship hanging from the ceiling...very very cool.

Topher is sleeping off his morning adventure now, and then we'll just relax and enjoy another lazy Saturday. We live for this day, and it never disappoints.

--KC

Friday, March 5, 2010

From Still Life to Real Life

I've noticed lately that I have a lot less still pictures of my child and an ever increasing amount of video. I think the main reason for that is the fact that Topher never holds still. At least half of the pictures I snap are just a blurred streak of hair or hand. (Of course, that doesn't stop almost every video by ending with Topher charging at me, trying to see what I am recording. Oh well, c'est la vie.) So here are a few recent videos for the grandparents. Yesterday Topher was more interested in the cat than eating his lunch (big surprise). There was a string on the counter and the cat was in a playful mood, so we quickly went from jarred carrots to string wiggling.

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Sometimes I'll watch Topher tripping over his own feet and walking backward when he really wanted to go forward and I wonder if he'll ever be coordinated. But then sometimes he'll surprise me by doing something I didn't think he could do, like taking apart and then snapping together his little Fisher Price balls. I also find it funny that he has to look inside each one and stick his baby spoon in there to make sure it is empty first.

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Last but not least is Topher's latest trick: when I ask him where his eyes are, he never points to them but instead will blink at me to demonstrate that he knows how to use them. He can also find his hair, but then always needs to touch my hair as well. Isn't it fun to discover all his little oddities?

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Tonight my sister and brother-in-law, Aimee and Dale, are coming over for dinner and games. It's nice that while my entire family lives in the greater Kansas City area, my sister and I both ended up in Ankeny. It was a total fluke, but I'm happy for it. Here's to a great weekend for everyone!

--KC

Thursday, March 4, 2010

File Folder Fun

I had never even heard of a "file folder game" until the Relief Society at church started this latest humanitarian project. Social Services in Iowa said that they are in need of baby quilts and file folder games, so everyone is pitching in so we can donate hundreds of each. I would have LOVED to make a quilt, but I haven't gotten around to taking a sewing class yet (my sister-in-law, Aby, would whip up a gorgeous one in no time, but I don't have that talent unfortunately. Oh, and my friend Angie would have just knitted something completely stunning without even thinking about it...I need to learn how to be more crafty!) But I still wanted to participate, so I had to learn what a file folder game was and how to make one. Really, they are just matching games that you laminate inside a manilla folder, and they are very easy to create. There are many websites that have file folder game templates that you can just print and cut out. Then it's just a matter of buying some matching craft paper for the background, getting everything laminated, and adding some Velcro. I ended up making two file folder games. The first one is a game where kids can match the front half of a farm animal to the back half, or they can mix and match parts to make silly animal combinations. The second one is a matching game where kids count the cherries on a cupcake and match it up with the correct number. We weren't allowed to make any games that included words because they need games that children of any ethnicity can play, but it got me thinking about all the different games I could make for Topher. It also reminded me how much I love things that are laminated and now I want my own laminating machine. :) Fun project! --KC

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Marching into Spring

We are SO excited that it's March. It's the first month that doesn't sound like a "winter" month. And the sunshine is giving me hope that warmer weather is on the way. Today we hit 36 degrees, and it was so exciting to see the snow and ice melting outside, we went for a walk. It's funny how warm mid-thirties can feel after such a bitterly cold winter with many days in the negative degrees. We could only take a stroll around the townhome complex, but it felt really good to get some fresh air, and Topher was very happy to be out and about.
We weren't the only ones desperate for warmer weather. One of our neighbors was out shoveling his driveway in shorts. You don't see that every day.
I was most excited about the fact that we're starting to see patches of grass again. Sure, it might be right next to a 5 foot mountain of snow, but it's nice to know the grass is still under there somewhere.
So far March has brought a lot of sunshine, and we welcome it with winter-weary, open arms.
--KC

Monday, March 1, 2010