Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bouncing With Glee

There aren't many ways to make an 18-month-old hold still. Elmo's World will do the trick sometimes, but Glee will do it every time. I'm sure it has a little bit to do with all the pretty girls and a LOT to do with all the spontaneous music. Topher just loves it. I took a video of him dancing along to a Glee episode a couple weeks ago, and it's pretty typical of what he does whenever those Glee kids break out into song. Now that it's nice out, the TV isn't on much. We're too busy playing soccer and taking walks and going to the library. But once a week we don't mind dancing and singing to the Glee songs. And Topher's favorite music to listen to is still the Glee soundtrack. It's a fun mix of old and new songs, show tunes and pop and rap and love ballads. TJ and I like to sing along and pretend that we're as talented as the Glee cast, and Topher loves it when we sing and dance crazy with him. I'll admit it, I'm a gleek. --KC

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vamping Up Our Social Lives

Townhome living is fun. We love the social aspect of it. We meet people on our walks, while we're playing in our driveway, and whenever Sassy rudely pulls us over to another dog. Luckily, a new family moved in right across from us and they have an adorable little girl who is 15 months old. She and Topher have already discovered the joy of each other's toys although Leah, I must admit, has more. Her best toy is a Little Tikes castle slide that Topher fell in love with, and which we have been trying to find on Craigslist ever since.

Leah's parents are young and social and a lot of fun to hang out with, and the best part is that after an evening of letting the kids play, we only have a few steps to walk back to our house. It's perfect, and as the weather warms we're meeting new people all the time. There are a few things that a house can offer that a townhome cannot, but we've lived in both and we've honestly never been happier. There will be a time to move on to a "real" house, but not yet. We're quite enjoying this grown-up version of dorm living. You know, minus the communal bathrooms and plus a couple heart-breakingly cute babies.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Can We Go Out?

It's actually never a question. It's always a demanding, "Out!" while hanging desperately onto the baby gate that bars the way to the front door. Call me crazy, but I can't, for the life of me, ignore this pleading face, so usually I give in, even if it means going "out" several times a day. Even just an open garage door is enough fun for this little guy. He'll run over the garage-door threshold over and over, enjoying the slight incline/decline it gives his step.
But one of his favorite places to go is the park.
Topher has a funny quirk of not liking anything on his hands. He'll reach out and pet the dog and then immediately hold his hand out and make this distressed sound because there are hairs on it. It's the same at the park when he falls down on the shredded bark. He stops everything until he picks off every piece of wood from his hands.
Wee! Topher's such a little dare-devil and loves the fastest slide.
TJ taught Topher how to use the water fountain at church, and it's actually pretty handy when we're at a park like this. Well, handy until you've been holding him there for 10 minutes and he just keeps saying, "Mah, mah" meaning "More, more!" The park really should have installed a teeny tiny water fountain just for us.
Yes, Topher, we can go outside. But first you have to put on your shoes and give me a kiss.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Can You Play Me a Song?

Ah, the joys of dollar-store toys.

A million-dollar laugh for the price of a one-dollar toy? Steal.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Entering Toddler-hood

Next week Topher will be 18 months old, which in my head is the start of true toddler-hood. And having lived through the last 18 months, I can honestly say that every stage so far is better than the last. Now he is at a point where communicating is getting easier on a daily basis. Not only is he attempting new words all the time, but today at the park after wearing himself out, he walked over to his stroller and said, "home." (That's a vast improvement from having to pry him, kicking and screaming, away just a month ago. I think that means that we've gone to the park enough for him to trust that we'll probably be back again the next day.) And even though he can make more demands now ( I promise he wakes up every morning saying, "Out, out, out!" because he wants to go outside), we LOVE the little boy he is becoming. He is sweet and gives kisses and loves animals and loves to laugh. He picks me flowers and he likes to brush my hair right after I wash it and he thinks it's hilarious when we act like different animals. It's so much fun to watch him learn. Here is a clip of him saying a few words he knows and showing off where his body parts are:

And here's another one of him trying to figure out how to jump:

It's still ridiculous how many pictures and videos I take on a daily basis. Sometimes I load them into the computer and I can't even remember taking them all. (Of course, that's also because Topher often finds the camera and takes quite a few himself.) But I have a feeling that I will be taking even more as Topher continues to do things that I want to capture forever. Which is pretty much everything.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Surviving St. Louis

This weekend we braved a trip to St. Louis with our toddler to get together with our friends. TJ is part of a group of guys that have all been friends since around 6th grade, and it is always a blast when everyone can come together for a weekend. We were very N-E-R-V-O-U-S about our 6-hour car ride with an 18 month old, but we did everything we could think to do in preparation. I bought out the dollar store so that I could continuously be delighting him with new toys, we brought a DVD player and checked out several kiddie movies from the library, we brought every snack Topher has ever liked, and we prayed. And you know what? He did great! He slept for an hour, played and read books with me for a couple hours, and watched his movies (thank you, Elmo!) Somewhere near St. Louis I had this epiphany: We can take him places! Sounds simple, I know, but I have never had that thought before. All our previous long trips have been traveling nightmares, so this was a welcome surprise. I did great in the car! Even I'm surprised! I found and turned on the cold air all by myself. The hotel room, with a full kitchen. Topher took the cookie sheet out of the oven and "baked" us some of his crackers.
Washing the long ride out of my hair.
Naked baby on the hotel bed...this must be the deluxe suite.
After settling in and giving Topher a bath to "wash the trip off" we headed over to the Johnston's house where 2 corgis provided endless entertainment and everyone was happy to take Topher and play with him (thank you, Susan!)
I think you're a dog but you're short enough that I kept calling you a "dat."
Then it was on to the Muether's house, where a soft-coated wheaten was like a Sesame Street puppet come to life for Topher. As we ate dinner on the deck, Topher just wanted to go in and out of the door because there was a small step there and he really enjoyed trying to master going up and down. Mrs. Muether did a great job keeping Topher laughing even though he had had a very long day.
Up and down, up and down. Come on, Mickey! After a well-deserved sleep that night, we headed to the zoo early Saturday morning. I don't think anything can top his reaction to the first animals we encountered. They are some of his all-time favorites and his excitement is obvious:
We thought Topher would LOVE the petting zoo, but when we anxiously pointed out a goat to him, he just brushed it aside and started playing in the rocks instead. We decided that when you have a St. Bernard, a lowly goat might be a little boring. It was just another "bup," after all.
Why is this supposed to be fun again? My bup is bigger than this!
Daddy and Topher watching the hippos while Mommy keeps a safe distance and tries not to get sick (yes, I have a phobia).
Look, Daddy, elephants!
Topher watching the sea lions. Our favorite part of the zoo was the aviary. Topher is a bird man, and it was quiet inside with occasional tropical bird calls. Topher LOVED pointing to all the birds. Everywhere else in the zoo, he wanted O-U-T of his stroller, but in the bird house when we tried to take him out, he made it VERY clear that he wanted to stay firmly in his seat and just observe.
Look, another bird! I just love birds!
In fact, he's such a bird man, that when we took him into the children's room in the zoo, he just kept finding all the birds in the room (ignoring the bunnies and guinea pigs, no less):
Topher, the giraffe wants to meet you!
Look, he's right there! Then it was back to the hotel, where Topher got to shed his clothes for awhile before we had to head out again for Phil's birthday party.
Excuse me while I make some calls.
Yeah, I'm going to the party later. Phil is one of the friends in the "6th grade" group and he held his party in a park pavilion that was rented out. There was food, open space, a playground, and so many friends. Plus the weather was 75 and sunny. It was just perfect. Luckily, our friends Jon and Ashley have a little boy just Topher's age and they brought plenty of toys for the kids. Topher quickly found a favorite, a plastic rake that he took everywhere.
Raking the sidewalk.
Raking the playground.
Raking the whole park.
Topher and Troy (Troy is one day older and Topher only looks bigger here because his stroller is bigger...they are very similar in size.)
Talk about a handsome group of guys...
Andy, Mat, Jon, TJ, Phil, Dan (one of Phil's friends), and Ryan
Now add the wives and children...and everything is suddenly perfect. :)
Andy, Anne (expecting a boy!), Mat, Angie, TJ, Topher, Macie, Kate, Phil, Troy, Jon, Ashley (expecting another boy!), Katie and Ryan
If Al and Amanda had been able to come with their baby, Owen, it would have been a complete picture. (Of this group, there are 5 babies and all are boys...I'm pretty sure we are all trying to make a sports team. Either that, or something in the Eureka, MO water killed all the X-chromosomes in this particular group of men.) Finally sleeping in his stroller after a LONG day of no naps.
TJ playing baseball with the guys...he's about to hit a home run here I'm pretty sure. :)
The trip home was a little longer than the trip out, but we made it without any major meltdowns. It was a great weekend. It wasn't a relaxing weekend, but it was great. I'm still glad to be back home, though, and Topher slept 12 hours last night so I know we wore him down pretty well. Glad to go, glad to be back. Topher, couldn't have been more proud of you this weekend. We'll make sure we stock up on "Em, Em!" (Elmo) movies from now on for you, little buddy.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter 2010

What a busy Easter. Topher awoke to a basket by his bed containing new sippie cups, 2 pairs of Robeez (brand of shoes) we found at a consignment shop, and a funny light-up ball.

Happy Easter, Topher! You can have the basket if you can get it away from the demon cat. Then it was downstairs to go on his first Easter egg hunt. I was afraid he would not understand the concept, but he caught on immediately.

Once he found all the eggs, we had to show them that they open. Instead of candy, we filled them with oyster crackers, one of his favorite snacks.

Then it was over to Grandma and Grandpa's for an Easter lunch, followed by another Easter egg hunt outdoors. This one really wore him out, and after finding a LOT of the eggs, he just wanted to go back inside.

I'm a pro at this egg-finding business. So many eggs, such short legs. Put them in the basket, Topher. The stash he collected before throwing in the towel. Uh oh, somebody ate a black jellybean. Finally, it was over to Aimee & Dale's house for one more Easter meal and yes, one more egg hunt. It was a great, long day but obviously the best part of the day was reflecting on the true meaning of Easter. I'm so thankful for my knowledge of, and belief in, my Savior. Topher knows exactly who Jesus is and can always find him in pictures. And every time he points to Him, he says, "Dad." I love it.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Cry it out? No thanks, we're too busy not sleeping...

I spoke too soon in my last post, as I often do. Topher wasn't on some new path of sleeping better, he just stumbled into better sleeping for a few nights. I knew it was too good to be true. The very night I posted that he was doing better, he was WIDE awake from 2:30am to 5:30am. He was asking to go out, asking to read books, asking me to blow him bubbles, I mean wide awake. The next night he did better, waking only from 2:00am to 4:30am. But I think we can all agree the situation is nowhere close to ideal. The most frustrating nights might be the ones when we are ready to crash at 9pm, and Topher is still going strong for several hours after that. Nah, I don't think I wanna sleep tonight. Why not just lay him down and let him cry for a few minutes until he falls asleep? the naysayers may ask. To them I say it's really not an option. Not only do I fundamentally disagree with the cry-it-out method, but the one time we tried it out of pure frustration and exhaustion, Topher started vomiting within a few MINUTES because he was crying so hard (not hours, hear me, but literally in under 5 minutes). Once his bedding and clothes were changed, he was still so upset that he vomited some more. That's when we ran out of bedding for him and had to lay a towel in his crib that night. Call me crazy, but as a mother, I cannot and will not put him through that again. This is not an isolated event. He will do the same thing in the car when he's having a bad day and no longer wants to be strapped into his seat and yet we legally cannot let him out. He'll cry himself into a vomiting fit, and it's terrible. I guess I knew that having a baby meant we would "never get to sleep normally again." But yet I thought that was just what people said, and that it would pass. Eighteen months after the baby bomb hit our home, we still never go an entire night without a waking. In fact, one waking is a great night. He always needs a new diaper and a bottle before he can fall back asleep. Isn't he getting too old for a bottle? you might wonder. I don't know and frankly, I don't care. I'm too busy wondering at what age a boy will sleep through his alarm and through the whole weekend if you let him. It's somewhere in the teens, right? I am quite proud that we have kept our one sleeping resolution which is to never share our bed with the baby. It works great for some people, but I say our bed is for adults only (and one pesky cat, who refuses to sleep anywhere but right in my face.) This is not an easy rule to upkeep. His bedroom being next to ours, it might be a lot easier to just plop him in between us and fall back asleep. Instead, it's a trip downstairs to the couch where one of us (we take turns) waits it out until he's full and snoring again. Since he's been born, I feel like we've racked up more hours on the couch than we have in our own baby-less bed. I don't blame anyone but ourselves for the sleep pit we've sunken into. I'm sure we've done things wrong from his first night home, but we've done it the only way we've known how. And I'm holding on to the hope that eventually every kid learns how to sleep. The trick is just surviving that long. We think we might make it. Maybe I'm approaching this from the wrong angle entirely. Maybe I'm lucky that I have a baby that still loves (i.e. needs) to cuddle a lot. And although this prolonged sleep deprivation is a very effective form of birth control (do this again? are you totally insane???) I can't help but feel my heart swell whenever he nuzzles into my neck and starts snoring against my chin. It might be a heart that's swollen in a body numb and dragging and half-dead from lack of sleep, but it's swollen nonetheless. --KC

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pillow, please!

Topher is almost a year and a half old now, and we decided to try and let him use a pillow now. He always hits his head up against the crib bars, so we've been using his stuffed tiger as a buffer until now. But he loves pillows and always lays on them correctly when we give him one, so we thought we'd just put one in the crib and see what he does with it. He's been sleeping wonderfully ever since. It's probably not just the pillow. It's probably a combination of having his fan on, dressing him cooler (since the weather is warming up), and changing out his bedding to cooler summer sheets, but he's been sleeping like a champion and we are SO appreciative of every good night and every good nap he has. It makes everything else so manageable during the day if we're all well-rested. And we realize this could just be another lucky sleeping phase, so we're soaking it up while we can. The bonus of giving him a big-boy pillow is that he loves it so much, and no one could look more adorable on it than he can. A baby discussion group online confirms that many other kids his age sleep much better with a pillow. If Topher keeps sleeping this well, I'm going to kick myself for not trying this ages ago! But this is how we mommy-dummies figure things out: the hard way. I'm just glad the hard way here was as simple as a soft pillow. --KC