Sunday, May 30, 2021

goin' down the shore

We survived our first road trip as a family of four! Two weeks ago, we packed up and drove to the Jersey shore for a short vacation with Dan's family. The drive lasted about 12 hours of car time each way, but the kids handled it surprisingly well. Mae entertained herself with a book, a scratch art pad, a little crossword book, and an old iPhone loaded with hours of Octonauts. I knew she'd be an easy kid in the car when all her toys fit into the small side pocket of our diaper bag. Colin cycled between napping, playing with rattles, and roaring his displeasure about being trapped in a car seat. I don't think he ever cried. He just made Chewbacca-sounds at the top of his lungs whenever he was tired.

We arrived late on Sunday evening and spent time with the family while the kids got some residual wiggles out from being stuck in the car all day. We got to meet Colleen's fiancé Bobby for the first time in-person! She asked me to be a bridesmaid, and Mae will be their flower girl. We are so excited!!
We went to the beach after Colin's morning nap on Monday. Mae got right down to business building a big sand city complete with moat and Uncle David's signature Sea Witch. She checked off all the important kid-at-the-beach tasks: dig a big hole, build a sand castle, bury your legs in sand, collect shells, and hunt for sand crabs. We made a lot of sand mermaid tails!
Mae's favorite activity was darting in and out of the waves like a little sandpiper. She didn't mind that the water was only 60 degrees! The weather was beautiful all week, sunny and pretty warm for spring. Mae was in her element!
Colin had a very different opinion of the beach. For his first introduction to the ocean, I carried him down to the edge of the water and dipped his toes in the edge of the surf. INSTANT SCREAMING. He dug his nails into my arms and clung to me like a terrified baby monkey. Eventually, I was able to put him down on the beach blanket. He slowly worked up the courage to crawl on the blanket and then pull up on a beach chair. He edged along it until his foot touched sand; he looked down, and then started screaming again.

I tried some beach immersion therapy on our second day. I carried him and sang baby songs as I walked along the edge of the water. He started out screaming every time a wave washed over my feet, but relaxed and even babbled a little as we walked. Then he sat in my lap in the sand for a while. Eventually I was able to set him in the sand by himself, though he sat frozen in place for a good ten minutes, clutching his new favorite toy: a yellow shovel. By the end of the day, he was happily playing in the sand... as long as he was far away from the scary waves.
We took a baby pool to the beach and filled it with a couple inches of ocean water. Colin loved splashing around in it. On our last day, we caught a handful of sand crabs and put them in the pool to observe. Colin tried to eat one.
Between naps and feedings/meals, we usually only had about an hour and a half to spend at the beach each morning. In the afternoons, we hung out at the house. Mae and Colin got lots of quality time with GranE and Batman. Mae had so much fun setting up her new Playmobil zoo, playing with Batman's Bat Cave toy, and having sleepovers in their room every night.
Mae and Colleen got in some yoga practice. Colin tried yoga also. He decided he wasn't a fan after attempting a complicated pose involving sitting on his knees and putting his hands behind his head... and promptly tipping over onto his face.
Of course Mae had to get some quality time with Uncle Tim on the front porch. Instead of their annual reading of the newspaper together, they had an in-depth review of the Playmobil catalogue. Tim also introduced her to Scooby Doo, which she found hilarious. (I asked her which episode they watched, and she told me, "the one with the ghost." That didn't narrow it down much.)
We also made a few visits to Shark Park. Colin loved the swings, and Mae impressed me with her climbing skills.
This was a much needed vacation after a very challenging couple of weeks. I've been working overtime for the past couple months to prepare for a few big reviews that happened the week before we left for our trip... which means Dan was been working parental overtime taking care of kids by himself in the evenings. In addition to that, we were dealing with a family medical issue that had me sick with anxiety for a few days. It was just... a lot to deal with. We are back in a rhythm now and enjoying a (slightly) slower pace for a bit.

Friday, May 28, 2021

meeting lillian

We finally got a chance to meet our newest niece, sweet baby Lillian! With the adults now vaccinated, we made a weekend visit to my parents house where we were able to all be together for the first time since Christmas! Lillian is such a snuggly, cozy little baby.
Mae loved seeing her cousins again; they played together so well. It was fun to see how much the boys have grown just in the last few months!
Christopher and Emily were finally able to host a birthday party for Archie with everyone in town. He's been looking forward to his "big birthday" for months! We ate hot dogs and cupcakes, and the kids had lots of fun playing outside on the big swing set. Colin especially enjoyed the basket swing.
And the adults especially enjoyed watching him on it.
On Sunday, we had a Mother's Day brunch celebration and then went to church in-person for the first time since BC (Before COVID). Mae and Colin were surprisingly well-behaved. Colin was mesmerized by the singing. It was so fun to see family again without worrying about germs and fevers and whether every little tickle in my throat was a symptom. Thank goodness for vaccines!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

eleven months of colin

Eleven months aleady!
You might notice that Colin finally got his first haircut! They used a combination of clippers and scissors, and he sat very still right until the end! I love how it turned out. He and Mae both desperately needed it!
Colin spends all his time exploring. He is just so BUSY all the time! He enjoys throwing a ball, dumping bins of toys, and poking Bitty Baby in the eye. He could chat for hours with the baby on the side of the diaper box. He loves being outside: going for walks, pushing his walker up and down the sidewalk, and crawling around the front yard. He scurries over in grunty excitement as soon as he hears the Velcro sound of me putting on the baby carrier. While we walk, he sticks out his middle fingers like little probes and tries to touch all the trees, bushes, and signs we pass. He's interested in exploring playgrounds now, and had his first encounter with swings. He sits still and expressionless in the swing but cries as soon as we try to take him out. So... I guess that means he likes it?
A fourth tooth (upper left) emerged at the beginning of the month, and we got a bit of a break from drooling and most of the spit up issues for a little while after that. I have a feeling more teeth are coming, since he's back to being a drool monster most of the time. Check out those cute little bottom teefers. (We need to be careful about our baby-talk. I'm pretty sure Mae now thinks the plural of teeth is actually "teefers".)
We've introduced a lot more solid foods this month. We gave day care the green light to offer solid foods after we'd introduced a good variety at home. I figured they'd start out small with Cheerios or something, but he came home the first day with a report stating, "Lunch: Hamburger. Ate: All." He loves lots of foods including strawberries, cucumber, chicken, salmon, and anything crunchy. He eagerly eats soft/slimy foods like pasta, but they often immediately pop back out onto his bib. Dan caught him just as he was about to eat a cicada last week. When we scold him (like when he tries to eat the potting soil from my houseplants) he melts into the saddest of cries. Life is so unfair when you're a baby.
Colin learned to love the beach during his first visit to the ocean this month! On the first day, he screamed bloody murder the second I dipped his toes in the surf. He cried and cried when I tried to set him in the sand. By the end of the week, he was digging his toes into the beach and cramming sand into his mouth like it was cotton candy. (Still not a fan of the waves, though.)
Happy eleven months, bud! We can’t wait to celebrate your first birthday next month!

Monday, May 17, 2021

cinco de mae-o

Happy fifth birthday, Mae!
Mae’s favorite activities are coloring and reading. She has the reading comprehension but not the patience for chapter books, so graphic novels are the perfect compromise. Her favorite series include Unicorn Diaries and Owl Diaries, Bird and Squirrel, and Narwahl and Jelly. She loves getting letters from family, but struggles to read them if they are in “curse” (cursive.)
Her Octonauts obsession is still going strong, and she watches it almost every night before bed. Her other “screen time” favorites are Khan Academy Kids on my phone and PBS Kids games on the computer. Over the last year, she has gotten much better at independent play. She loves Playmobil, puzzles, and playing school with her American Girl doll (and the hand-me-down ones from me.) She has expanded her board game repertoire and can even manage a game of Azul with minimal help! We’ve also been playing Clue Jr.
She always has tons of energy, so we try to go for walks/scooter rides and visit the playground as often as possible. We gave her a bike for her birthday, and she is both excited and anxious about learning to ride it. Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube is still a favorite activity.
I registered mae for Kindergarten starting in the fall. Her day care celebrated pre-K graduation a couple weeks ago. They performed a short song-and-dance program that was recorded and sent to the parents. She practiced it for weeks, and we were so entertained by her renditions of the Macarena and the Gangnam Style dance. They also interviewed each kid about what they want to be when they grow up… Mae wants to be a zookeeper!
We gave Mae her birthday gifts last weekend, since we wanted to give her extra time on her bike. On Saturday, Grandma and Grandpa came for a short visit and birthday celebration and took the kids to the park.
Today, we celebrated with Dan’s whole family (who we haven’t been all together with since Christmas 2019). Dan and I are enjoying the freedom and stress reduction that come with being fully vaccinated! We had hot dogs for lunch and pizza and strawberry cupcakes for dinner. Mae got lots of quality beach time (and lots of attention.) She said several times that it was a great birthday!
We can't wait to see what the future holds for you, Sweet Pea! Happy birthday!