Saturday, December 26, 2020

six months of colin

Happy half birthday, Colin!
This month was all about moving! Colin is really picking up speed with his army crawling. He loves crawling to toys, but he loves crawling to anything that's NOT a toy even more. He wriggles across the floor and sinks his little gums into everything, including the kitchen drawer handles, the legs of our chairs, and my fingers. No teeth yet, though!

Despite the lack of teeth, Colin is loving the introduction to baby foods! He's tried rice cereal, sweet potatoes, carrots, pears, apples, and peanut butter... and he devours it all! He roars at us from the high chair if we don't fill the spoon quickly enough.
He gets a little better at sitting up every day. At first, he had absolutely zero interest in sitting. He would make his body stiff as a board and growl if we tried to get him to bend at the waist. All he wanted to do was tummy time! He's finally letting us set him upright now, and can balance himself for a few minutes at a time.
I love these photos of Colin with his hands tucked behind his head. This is how he sleeps every night. He lays on his back, tucks his hands behind his ears, and wiggles his hips side-to-side until he settles himself to sleep. We call it "the butt dance." If he's really fighting sleep, he will lift his legs straight into the air and SLAM them down onto the mattress repeatedly.
Mae was dressed to the nines for our six month photo shoot today. One of the fun parts of spending so much time at home has been allowing Mae to pick out her outfit every day. I love this ensemble she put together today: Dorothy dress and shoes, llama pants, polka dot long sleeved shirt, and sparkly headband. She is still the sweetest big sister. Sometimes when Colin starts fussing, Mae will already have him calmed down by the time I can get to him. He especially loves when she plays peek-a-boo!
Colin was introduced to Bitty Baby this month. He was OBSESSED. He cooed and screeched and wanted to claw at her eyes. Watch out next month, day care babies. Colin is coming for your face!
Congrats on turning a half year old, Colin!

Friday, December 25, 2020

a merry little christmas

Merry Christmas!
On Thanksgiving, I was busy writing about Colin turning five months old, and I didn't get a chance to reflect on all the things I'm thankful for this year. So, Christmas seems like the perfect time to catch up.

This year, we are especially thankful for Christmas traditions: the ones we were able to keep and the ones we were able to adapt to life in 2020. On Christmas Eve, we were able to attend the annual Christmas Eve Mass (on Zoom this year!) hosted by close family and friends of GranE and Batman. Even a virtual mass felt intimate with a small group of attendees. We also watched Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, one of Dan's childhood traditions that now lives on with our kids. Mae's favorite part (and mine too) is when Cookie Monster eats the typewriter and telephone. And we ordered Chinese food for dinner. (Of all the traditions Dan brings to the holiday, that one might be my favorite.)
We are thankful that we are able to see family over the holidays. I could write a dissertation on how we made the decision to travel, but I'll leave it at this: I'm thankful that our extended family members are pretty much on the same page around health precautions and that we are able to see each other for Christmas in the safest way we know how. With Mae and Colin starting back to day care in January, we are planning to hunker down as a family unit a bit more, so we are especially glad to have this opportunity to spend time together with everyone. (Even though we're trying to visit as safely as possible, I don't think I'll truly breathe easy until two weeks after our travels are finished.)
We are thankful that Mae was able to play with her cousins. She has hardly spent any time around kids since March. We spent an afternoon at Oliver and Archie's house, and Mae had so much fun (even though their floor was made of lava). She also got lots of quality time playing with Aunt Kelsey, which might be even better than kid playtime. (Sooo many hours of dressing up the Polly Pockets.)
Mae is thankful for her new American Girl doll and her new pack of googly eyes... her most highly anticipated gifts from Santa. She's also had lots of fun playing with her new Playmobil Mars Space Station from Grandma and Grandpa, and I think I will forever hear her little voice and raised eyebrows asking me, "Hey mommmm, want to play with my spaaace stationnnn?"
Colin is thankful for wrapping paper. Forget toys. Just millions of tiny scraps of wrapping paper that I have to snatch away at the last second or else he will stuff them into his mouth and mash them into little chokable wads of wrapping paper pulp. He couldn't care less about the noisy, blinky toy in this package. All he wants is the wrapping paper. He was literally chasing me around the floor while I tried to wrap Dan's gifts.
So, even though it's been a tough and unusual year, we have a lot to be thankful for. We hope you were able to spend time with your loved ones in a way that makes you comfortable and keeps you safe. I dare to hope that next year we can revive the traditions that involve big gatherings and being out in public again. Until then, we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 21, 2020

smoke and fire

It's that time of the year again! Christmas? No, I mean that time where I scramble to photograph and document all the projects I finished this year. I usually avoid wearing my handmade items until they've been properly photographed, so these socks and gloves have been languishing on my dresser. It's cold now, and I want to wear them!

In August, I finished these Smooth Operator Socks. This was my first time knitting top-down socks (unless you count the stockings, I guess). This pattern works really well with self-striping yarn, since the stripes continue evenly and don't become distorted at the ankles/heels.
The yarn is jitterbug fingering from Rock and String Creations, which I bought at Kentucky Wool Fest last year. I was feeling sad that the festival was cancelled this year, so knitting these socks made me feel a bit better. The colorway is called Campfire S'mores and I love how the stripes look like embers, flames, and toasted marshmallows! I even had a perfect chance to photograph them in front of a fire pit while making s'mores at my parents house in the fall.
I finished these Basic Gloves in September. The yarn is Knitted Wit sock yarn in the colorway Great Smoky Mountains, a gift from my friend Kathy. Althought it's listed as a sock yarn, the weight feels closer to sport weight, so it was well suited to this pattern. I made the increases for the thumb gusset similar to my Fiesta Mittens. I adjusted the stitch counts and length for each finger, so they are perfectly customized for my hands!
I also modified the pattern slightly to have thumb flaps. This way, I can flip the thumbs back to use my phone. I keep forgetting I don't have to take off my whole glove to send a text message! At some point, I'll have to try out those conductive threads that you can knit into the tips of your gloves, so you can use them with touchscreens. For now, I'll stick with the low-budget thumb-flap option.
More details for the socks and mittens on Ravelry.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

tis the season

Our Christmas cards are ordered, gifts purchased (mostly), house decorated (as good as it's gonna be), and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care! Including a new one for Colin this year!
I ordered yarn (Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in colorways cloud and forest heather), designed the colorwork charts, and started knitting in September. Knitting took about a week and a half. I blocked it by misting it with a spray bottle and then holding the iron over it (without touching) and pressing the "steam" button. For the lining, I traced the stocking onto some off-white cotton fabric, extending the top by about 1". Then I cut out the shape, sewed and serged around the edges, and hemmed the top. I stitched the loop to the lining and then hand sewed the lining to the inside of the knit stocking. More details on my Ravelry page.

I'm glad I wasn't rushing to finish this at the beginning of December, since we usually have lots of other Christmas activities as soon as Thanksgiving is finished. In fact, we’ve been able to maintain several of our regular holiday traditions, including our annual trip to see the Christmas lights at the zoo. I reserved a time at 4:30 on a Thursday early in December, so the zoo was pretty empty when we arrived. Usually we approach the zoo from side streets and park a mile away to avoid the gridlocked parking lot. This year, we drove straight into the lot and parked in the front row. (It was pretty great, actually.) As evening fell, more people arrived, but it was still less crowded than past years.
We waited a few minutes to see (socially distanced, outdoor) Santa. Mae was completely star-struck. This kid will immediately strike up a conversation with any adult in shouting distance, but in front of Santa she was speechless and stuck clinging to the back of my leg. I finally convinced her to tell Santa what she wants for Christmas (an American Girl doll). Then he sent her a candy cane through his candy chute.
Mae also wrote a letter to Santa. She didn’t have too many Christmas gift ideas other than a doll, but does want some helmets for her Playmobil kids since one ended up in plastic head bandages from the doctors office set after falling off his bike. The letter reads:

(We're still working on writing the letter "S")

We dropped our letter in this special Santa mailbox that appeared along with a decorated candy forest trail near our house.
Mae and I built also a cute little gingerbread house. It was a multi-day process of making dough, baking the gingerbread, assembling the pieces, and then finally decorating. And, in a very fitting end to a 2020 gingerbread house, it collapsed into pieces an hour later. I was sad (“We worked so hard on it!”) but Mae was excited (“Can we eat it now??”) I must admit, it’s pretty tasty. Pairs nicely with tea from the tea advent calendar I treated myself to this year.
Only 10 more days until Christmas!

Saturday, November 28, 2020

big sister, little brother

Did you notice the absence of sibling photos in Colin’s five month pics? Don’t worry, it’s just because they were so cute I though they deserved their own post!
My friend Stacey made these adorable big sister and little brother shirts for Mae and Colin. (Check out her cute shirts and awesome insulated tumblers on Instagram, Facebook, and Etsy!)
Taking photos of a 4 year old and an infant is a STRUGGLE! Between the five month photos and these sibling photos, I took over 800 shots! As soon as I bring out the camera, Mae forgets how to smile naturally and instead rocks the awkward kid grimace. It’s equally challenging to coax a smile from Colin, who mostly just stares wide-eyed at the camera. That is, until I put them next to each other! Colin face just lights up looking at Mae next to him on the blanket, and Mae giggles as he tries to reach out and kick her! I’m glad Grandma was here this week to help out with our Christmas card photos. We never would have managed a cute pic using the self-timer!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

five months of colin

Happy Thanksgiving! We celebrated Colin's 5 month birthday with a big turkey feast. It's a little before 10 pm as I write this, and I'm realizing that if I don't finish this up quickly, I might not make it to the end without falling asleep!
Our little five month old is really starting to move! He wants to be on his belly all the time. He's working on his army crawling and can use his arms to pull himself along the floor a few inches at a time. He's really motivated if his ring of plastic keys or musical jellyfish are juuust out of reach. Occasionally he'll get into a good rolling rhythm and I'll turn around to find him in a completely different part of the room. I ordered a big baby gate and some cabinet locks last week, so we'll have to do some serious baby-proofing soon!
Colin had his first few bites of baby cereal last week. I think he needs a bit more time to figure out how to eat solids, since most ended up on his face and bib! We decided to introduce cereal a little early since our biggest issue this month has been dealing with SO MUCH SPIT UP. A spitty kid who only wants to be on his belly is a recipe for mess. Oh, and the raspberries... He is determined to communicate with us through a combination of yells and wet, spitty raspberries. Thank goodness most of our main floor is hardwood and linoleum! He's always in a bib, but he usually manages to spin it backwards to wear it like a little cape.
We have experienced a bit of the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. It has manifested as Colin waking up frequently at night, but at least he usually falls back asleep as soon as I give him his pacifier. Sometimes I wish he'd just go back to sucking his thumb and let me sleep! I can't complain too much since he doesn't need bottles at night and rarely needs soothing other than the pacifier. Unfortunately, he's also stopped taking a long nap in the afternoon and prefers to take sporadic cat naps throughout the day.
Colin still likes to lay on his little pillow, but when he gets tired of it, he just does the worm on his back until he's on the floor. Then he rolls over and tries to wiggle to the nearest toy. Sometimes he lifts his head from the pillow like he's trying to sit up, but he still has some work to do on his core strength before he'll be able to sit up well!
We celebrated a quiet Thanksgiving at home today, just the 4 of us. I made all our traditional foods except we nixed the mashed potatoes for homemade egg noodles (Dan's preference.) I did still buy a pouch of instant mashed potatoes so I can make a turkey manhattan (the sandwich, not the drink) tomorrow with leftovers. We cooked the smallest turkey we could find (13.5 lbs), so we will have leftovers for DAYS! Mae is not a fan of turkey, so we'll find out how long a 4 year old can survive on cranberry sauce alone. We spent the morning watching the parade and the dog show. Mae was completely enthralled with both! We took a walk and FaceTimed Dan's family. We spent the afternoon cooking and then watched "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" after eating our turkey dinner. We bought our tree yesterday, so we're excited to decorate it tomorrow!
My goal over the next few weeks is to get lots of baby gates and locks installed! I'm having fun watching this little guy learn to move around. Can't wait to see what the next month brings.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

inflatable friends

I will always remember the summer that Mae was born as the year of Pokemon Go. There’s not much to do with a newborn other than go for walks, so I would spend hours wandering around the neighborhood collecting Pokemon. This year, with a newborn and a pandemic, the lonnnng walk has again become an essential part of our routine. I try to think of a fun destination each day, which isn’t too hard since we can easily walk to several playgrounds, a creek, some trails, some hidden paths, and even a building with a giant fish tank in the window. We’ve expanded our walking distance to 3 miles round trip, so now we can make it to the library! We just finished returned “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and now have a book called “No, No, Kitten” that Mae can’t get through without having a massive giggle fit.

Mae was excited for our walks all through the month of October. Not only did we have tons of crisp, sunny fall days, we also made friends with all the neighborhood Halloween inflatables. She would have long “conversations” with the decorations while Dan or I provided a silly voice for them.
The tall, spooky pumpkin head is usually the first inflatable we stop to talk to on our walks. His voice is a bit gruff, but he's very chatty. Mae usually gives him an update on all her exciting life events: upcoming visits from grandma, recent outings to the library, and what items in the house Colin has managed to pee/poop/barf on.

Next, we walk to the inflatable we have lovingly named "the YMCA ghost" since he looks like he's making a big "Y" with his arms. This guy only wants to talk about food. Mae tells him about what she ate, and he always asks for us to bring him something (banana muffin, hot dog, etc.)

Further down the street, we meet up with the giant spider (who sounds a bit like Boris from Rocky and Bullwinkle). He's usually our longest conversation of the walk. I wonder what the neighbors think about us?
Happy Pumpkin greets us at the end of the street. She has a squeaky, cheery voice but rarely has much to say other than wishing us a wonderful day.

Sometimes on the way back home, we pass by the ghoul with big claws. He likes to brag about his fancy red manicure.

And lastly, we bumped into this pair of eyeballs on a particularly long walk away from our normal route. They didn't have much to say. They just stared at us.

Not pictured: the top-hat-wearing pumpkin with a very posh British accent and the Dia de los Muertos unicorn with whom we practice our very limited Spanish.

We went out for a short family walk the Sunday morning after Halloween. GranE and Batman had just left after an almost week long visit. All the inflatables were crumpled in a deflated heap on the ground, waiting to be packed away until next October. Mae was coming down off a candy high from the night before. It was all just too much. She cried and cried. The Christmas decorations can't come out soon enough.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

somewhere over the rainbow

While I do let Mae choose her own Halloween costumes, I confess to steering her towards costumes that I think will be fun to make and wear! One of her favorite books this year has been The Wizard of Oz (Great Illustrated Classics version), and she loved the movie. So, when she asked about being Dorothy for Halloween, I jumped on the idea! Plus, Wizard of Oz is a great family theme.
I spent the most time on Mae’s costume. I modified the Caroline Party Dress pattern, (used previously for Mae’s Easter dresses) to add the bias waistband, skirt detail, and straps. I cut a size 4T with a 5T length for the bodice and skirt. She wore a long sleeved shirt and tights underneath for warmth. Doesn’t she look so sweet?
Of course no Dorothy costume is complete without the ruby slippers. When she was tired at the end of trick or treating, she just clicked her heels and magically transported herself back home. Convenient.
Colin was the most adorable Cowardly Lion. This costume is what I would call... semi-homemade. I bought the hooded onesie but added the mane myself. I can’t believe my luck finding this multicolored Bernat Blanket yarn at JoAnn. Isn’t it perfect for a lion mane? This costume was so quick and easy. I just cut a bunch of pieces of the chenille yarn, lined them up on the hood, and used the sewing machine to zig-zag stitch right across the middle of the yarn pieces. Then I fluffed it up and gave it a little “hair cut” to even up the ends!
I can’t get over the mane. It’s so... voluminous. I did have to push it back from his face a few times, but he didn’t complain since it was very soft. Mae and Colin won the street costume contest for “Best Sibling Costumes.” She was so excited!
I used up all my creativity on the kids, so our costumes were a bit less involved. Dan’s Tin Man was assembled from a couple sheets of silver poster board and an old kitchen funnel. Everything was held together with binder clips, which made it easily adjustable and removable! Of course we were working on this at 10pm last night.

For myself, I bought a kit that included a felt hat and straw ties for my limbs. I sewed my shirt, but just as a regular shirt... not specifically as a costume. Mae was a bit critical of my decision to wear a plaid shirt instead of a tunic like the scarecrow from the movie, but I defended my right to creative license. I also made myself a mask with an embroidered scarecrow mouth. I got several questions about how I matched Mae’s mask to her dress. That was the biggest benefit to sewing my own costumes this year: custom coordinated masks!
Speaking of masks, people did a great job with safety precautions. We had a costume parade and pumpkin decorating on our street this afternoon, and I think it was 100% mask coverage on everyone except the littlest kids. For trick or treating, almost everyone was in masks, and almost every house had their candy set outside on a table to avoid any close contact. One house even rigged up a long candy chute, which Mae got a kick out of!
It was a full day of fun! I’m really glad Halloween was on a Saturday this year. We’ve had to skip so many of our favorite fall activities this year, that I’m glad I had a whole day to indulge in Halloween fun. We carved pumpkins (Mae helped by supervising and regularly reporting on how gross the inside of the pumpkin was), roasted pumpkin seeds, baked an apple pie, took costume photos, marched in a parade, decorated pumpkins (big thank you to the organizing parent who provided stickers instead of paint!), trick or treated, and chatted with neighbors. GranE and Batman are visiting this week, so we even had extra helping hands to take photos and watch Colin while we took Mae out for candy. Otherwise we couldn’t have crammed so much into one Saturday! It was a beautiful, happy, exhausting day!