Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daddy's home!

What a perfect summer evening: warm temps with enough of a breeze to keep most of the bugs away. So, for dinner, we grilled steaks and ate out on the patio table.

Of course, what really made it perfect is having Daddy home from Ft. Ripley. Part way through dinner, AJ set down his fork and sat quietly. I asked him if he was okay. He answered, "I'm just looking at my family."

Sydney, meanwhile, just kept shoveling food in her mouth. She's so happy to eat like a big girl. Our once finicky eater has gotten far less picky, just as long as she can feed herself. For example, Sydney used to refuse any kind of babyfood vegetable. Tonight, we put corn, peas and carrots on her tray and she gobbled them up! Daddy's mashed potatoes were also a huge hit.

I haven't gotten a close look inside her mouth in the last few days, but can tell more teeth are pushing their way through.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I am woman, here me roar!

I'm taking a little departure from writing about my kids, because I'm so darn proud of how we've done these two weeks while Jeff was gone.

(AJ took this picture while we were waiting for the Whipper Snapper races to start last Friday. I was quite surprised to see that it's fairly straight, centered and with no fingers covering the shot.)

On Sunday, I survived a "low tire pressure" light coming on during the drive back from the Twin Cities to Duluth. Monday, I conquered the grill, which usually only Jeff touches. Tuesday, I managed to mow the lawn and weed the garden while Sydney napped. Roar! Wednesday night we hosted a playdate with NINE kids between the ages of 1 and 3-1/2. Thursday, we biked to the playground. It's just over a mile away, but that's 65 pounds of kids I had to tow. And did I mention I've picked up three freelance writing assignments, all for different publications, in just the last week? Roar some more!

Giving credit where credit is due, I have to say that AJ has been a huge help. He has entertained Sydney in the bathtub, in the sandbox and at the dinner table, each time giving me just a few, brief, precious moments to relax. He even stopped her (by grabbing her leg) from crawling toward the stairs one day. He is a good big brother, and great Mommy's helper!

Our busy weekend

Whew! It's Tuesday and I'm finally getting caught up after our whirlwind of a weekend, which included running a race; hosting Eric, Sarah and their dogs; visiting Daddy; and then heading to the cities!
AJ ran in the Whipper Snapper races that are held in conjunction with Grandma's Marathon. He had a blast and was very excited to tell everyone he got a ribbon. (Never mind that ALL the runners get a ribbon.) A photographer from WDIO tried interviewing him after the race, but AJ was far more interested in holding the mic than to say anything that would have worked as a soundbite. Oh well.
On Saturday, we got to visit Jeff at Ft. Ripley during their Family Day activities. Climbing in a helicopter and wearing a helmet was a huge hit. AJ also got to have his face painted Army style. But the biggest hit, of course, was getting to see Daddy.

We drove from Ft. Ripley to Grandpa and Grandma Larson's house, where, on Sunday we belatedly celebrated Father's Day. AJ loved getting to play with his cousin Jessica for most of the day, plus seeing Jonathon at dinner.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The big ONE

Where'd my baby go? She's turned into a toddler! I can't believe how quickly her first year of life has flown by, and how much she has changed. For comparison sake:

6/20/07: We heard Sydney's first cry at 1:28 a.m. Our beautiful little girl weighed 7 lbs, 13 oz. She slept almost the entire day. We had to wake her just to get her to eat.
6/20/08: Sydney's cries sounded out at 12:15 a.m., and again at 5 a.m. Both times she woke me up wanting to eat. By 7 a.m. she was rarin' to go, and I've spent the rest of the morning just trying to keep up with her. She's still not walking, but gets around just fine by crawling, climbing and cruising. Our beautiful little girl now tips the scale at 24 pounds.
What a wonderful and blessed year this has been!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Can't wait for the weekend!

AJ is so excited to visit his Daddy on Saturday. He told me this morning, "Let's go right now!" We've got so many exciting plans for the weekend, he can't keep them all straight.

Several comments on AJ's appearance this morning. He picked the shirt he's wearing, saying he wanted to wear his "blizzard" shirt. (It's a lizard on the front.)

When he saw his messy Grandpa hair in the mirror, he told me to comb his hair so that he "can turn back into AJ."

Lastly, note the large road rash on his right knee. We got a "band-aid report" at daycare yesterday. But clearly it couldn't have been too serious.

I asked AJ, "How did you hurt your knee?"
He answered, "I fell down."
"What were you doing when you fell down?"
"I don't know. I don't remember."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Love that toothy grin!

The big smile is nothing new. Sydney's been giving us that awesome, light-up-her-face smile since she was about two months old.

It's the teeth that are showing when she smiles. That's the big accomplishment! Her teeth seem to be making a big push (literally) to pop through before her first birthday.

Sydney's first two teeth came through a week apart when she was seven-and-a-half months old. Then nothing for three months. Now, in the last month, all four of her front top teeth have made an appearance. Thankfully, she doesn't seem too pained by it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm sure there's an interesting story here

We had chicken quesadillas for dinner Sunday night. I liked them. Sydney liked them. Clearly, AJ did not.

After experimenting with every stall tactic he's figured out to date, AJ was left at the table to clean his plate. I, meanwhile, started giving Sydney a bath. A short time later, this is what I found. A plate of half-eaten quesadillas. Milk spilled all over the table. And AJ - holding a snorkle in one hand, and (you can't see it because the bowl of watermelon is blocking it) a small vacuum nozzle IN his glass of milk.

I asked, "what are you doing?"

To which he answered, "Um... this?"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

So close to walking

What do you mean this isn't supposed to be a push toy?

The playhouse had been set up in the corner. That is, until Sydney decided it also could nicely serve as a walker. It took her just seconds to push it halfway across the dining room. She is getting closer to walking every day. A little more balance and there'll be no stopping her. She can stand for at least 1o seconds at a time, and only needs one hand to hang on to something to walk. She'll grab onto anything if it'll help her get to where she wants to go.

Her latest "melt your heart" talent? She's now able to blow kisses.

The latest adventures of Sir AJ

Don't look now, AJ, but a dragon seems to be chasing you!

At the Old World Renaissance Faire, our brave knight loved the "Feed the Dragon" game. Not at all scared of the giant green creature, AJ excitedly waited his turn to face off against him... until he saw the black fabric "spiders" he was supposed to toss into the dragon's mouth. Once the Queen Mom touched them to prove they were safe, AJ's bravery returned. His prize for thowing one (out of four) into the dragon's mouth? A dum dum.

Another game involved a mini-catapult to toss beanbags against a castle. With the Queen Mom's help, AJ successfully shot one of the beanbags through a castle window - good for another dum dum. He played a second time on his own and scored THREE shots. This time he won a small plastic knight and horse. So much for Mom's help.

The other really cool thing available at the Faire - pony rides! Two laps around a track through a forest. AJ was in awe to be on a "real knight horse!"
I'm particularly proud of AJ's costume. Not bad for someone who doesn't sew. I took an old Army towel of Jeff's, and cut a hole in it for AJ's head. Then I cut up some old sweatpants to form the "X" emblem on the front and used tacky glue to assemble. The waistband of the old sweats served as a belt.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day... now feed me.

Jeff's Guard schedule required that we celebrate Father's Day a few days early. We started the celebration with dinner at Timberlodge, where we learned that Sydney LOVES walleye. She gobbled it up as fast as I could put it in front of her. I think she ate more food than AJ did.

I guess I'm officially on the Mommy Diet again. That means my portion sizes are reduced by about a third because I'm sharing my meal with my toddler who's too big for baby food, but not big enough to justify the cost of a kid's meal. In a few months, the Mommy Diet will start working against any weight loss goals. That's when I'll feel compelled to finish the food on Sydney's plate, rather than let it go to waste. I guess you could say it's going to my waist instead.

Back to our early Father's Day fun. After dinner, we stopped in for a nice visit with Bill and Jo, where AJ tried unsuccessfully to hit up Grandpa Bill for another boat ride. We then returned home, where AJ helped Daddy open his card and present.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rainy days... and knights

We're in the midst of a pretty intense thunderstorm right now. AJ should be asleep, but a few minutes ago he called me into his room. I figured the loud thunder was scaring him, so I tried to relax him by comparing the sounds to a line from one of his favorite Dr. Seuss books.

I needn't have bothered. AJ enthusiastically announced, "It's getting ready to rain. It's going to be icky tomorrow. So we can go to the museum and see the trains!"

This child is way too smart. Here's his reasoning:
Two weeks ago, we visited the new castle exhibit at the Children's Museum in the Depot. AJ had so much fun that the next day he wanted to go again.
I told him no.
Of course he had to ask his favorite question, "Why?"
I answered, "It's much too nice out to play inside at the museum. We're going to play outside today."

Therefore, with his three-year-old logic, he's determined that when the weather's not nice, he ought to get to visit the Children's Museum.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sandy Sydney

Forget the cliché about being too rich or too thin. For Sydney, the question seems to be: Can a girl ever have too many buckets?

Sydney received a bunch of sandbox toys for her birthday, and last night was determined to play with them all... all at the same time. The yellow buckets are her favorites. They stack together nicely.

Her other favorite trick is playing peek-a-boo with the buckets. Never mind that this game leaves sand stuck to her drool-dampened cheeks and chin, not to mention in her hair.

After about 10 minutes of fun with the buckets, Sydney made an amazing discovery. While reaching for a pail, she missed her mark and ended with a fist full of sand. Bonus! Who knew that the SAND would be fun to play with?!?

For anyone who's counting, we've now added a total of 33 bags of sand to our giant sandbox. I'm not going to even try to guess how much of that sand has followed my children into the house.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Party girl

Sydney had so much fun at her first birthday party! Unlike most toddlers, she wasn't too interested in the wrapping paper and boxes. She wanted to play with what was inside! Luckily, we found a few "helpers" who were more than willing to lend a hand, unwrapping cute clothes, a dolly, book, sandbox toys and a fun Dora the Explorer riding toy.
Christmas and her next birthday could be a bit more challenging, once Sydney is old enough (or aware enough) to want to unwrap her gifts herself. AJ will be crushed!

Of course no first birthday would be complete without cake. And pictures of the birthday girl eating that cake.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bubble wrap!

We had to replace one of the blinds in Sydney's room. When the new one was delivered, AJ discovered one of the simpler joys in life. Bubble wrap! Popping it by hand, crawling on it, jumping up and down - AJ (and I) had a ball!
The new blind also came packaged in a long cardboard box, which AJ quickly declared was a boat. He wouldn't let me take a picture of him fishing from his new boat, because he was too excited to get back to the bubble wrap.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Good knight

AJ is fascinated with knights. I'm not sure where he learned about them. But he loves them. As luck would have it, the Children's Museum recently opened a castle exhibit. We spent two hours there last week and will be going back today.

As we were getting ready for bed last night, AJ asked if we could go "to the museum" today. I nodded. AJ must have assumed his friends would be there too, so he excitedly announced, "I'm going to be a knight. And Addie can be my princess. And Mommy, you can be Queen!"

For all of AJ's dreams of royalty, Sydney seems much more content to remain in the peasant class. Her favorite part of the exhibit? Playing in the vegetable garden with the plastic peppers and onions.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The big dig continues

We're now up to 23 bags of sand inside the newest addition to our backyard. Plus, Jeff added small triangular seats to the corners of the frame. In its first 24 hours, the sandbox already has witnessed several major "Bob Builder" projects, a battle of knights, and a tank invasion.

That's right, along with the sand, a small army fortress suddenly appeared. I noticed that when the new sand was poured in, it seems to have been left in large mounds, rather than raked smooth, providing a strategic advantage for the base camp.

I'm sure this is all just a remarkable coincidence, and not the work of my full-size soldier, who I've been told used to spend hours as a child playing with a mini-army set in the garden.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Diggin' our new sandbox

For Jeff, that headline is true both figuratively and literally. Jeff and his Dad built this awesome sandbox in our backyard. But before they could do that, Jeff had to dig down into the heavy clay that lurks just below the surface. He said that was by far the hardest part of the job.

The sandbox is 6' x 6'. So now the challenge is buying enough sand to fill it. Here it is on Sunday night with 11 bags of sand. The thing still looks practically empty! But 11 bags of sand was still enough to build a small castle and bury a dump truck.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Camping in the backyard

We weren't really camping. But we had a fire, sticks and marshmallows. And for AJ, that was all we really needed.
Maggie thought it was pretty fun, too. Spending an evening outside with all of us, with a pile of sticks nearby - it was retriever nirvana.