Tuesday, September 06, 2011


We've had a lot of milestones in the last week or so.

Sleeping. We decided to pull his mattress out of the crib and try to get him to sleep on the floor at night. He doesn't like going to bed, and I half expected him to spend a couple hours playing with his toys and finally conking out around 11 pm or so. Surprisingly, he did pretty well. He cried for a bit, cried for a little longer, and was actually asleep about an hour after we put him down. He has kept waking up in the middle of the night, some nights several times. One night I just slept next to him, and every so often, he'd reach over and pat my face. To make sure I was still there, I suppose. The next night, Daniel took his turn. He's waking less often, so it's encouraging. I think in the next week or so, we'll get a twin mattress for him and dismantle the crib. Guess we can rearrange his rooms, too.

Potty. Maybe not the most interesting of topics, but we actually had a success with the potty this weekend! Yay! But only once.

Speaking. He's really taking off. He wants me to read a book to him, and he'll repeat my words a couple of seconds after I say them. He did the same thing to a couple of Thomas movies this weekend. He'd repeat about every 5th word. It's amazing how much he's talking now.

Property. He's recently gained an understanding of the concept of "mine." He wants his trucks or his blankets.

I do it. Just the other day, when I was putting on his shoes, he said that he wanted to put his shoes on himself. He couldn't manage it, but I helped him and and had him do as many things as he could. We've also recently started letting him watch us cook and help as much as possible. Like stirring or putting the ingredients in a recipe.

Chores. It's now his job (although he doesn't realize it yet) to fill the cats' food dish. He just thinks it's fun to scoop food out of the bin and put it in their dish.

Social. He's a little social butterfly. He charms everyone, everywhere he goes. The farmers' market, the grocery, the garden store. He's never shy or scared of strangers. If he wants company, he has no problem going up to a stranger, grabbing their hand and pulling them along to show them something he finds fascinating. One of the things we've worked hard with him is saying please and thank you, and it's worked wonders. It's part of his charm. There's something about a tiny tot saying "please" while asking for a balloon or sucker, and then saying "thank you" that makes everyone smile. He'll hug folks too, if you give him some encouragement. He'll even deign to give mommy and daddy a hug and kiss now.

Dressing. He will pick out his own shirt a lot of days. Of course, just as many days, he'd prefer to wear no shirt, and he'll announce it loudly and frequently. "No shirt! No shirt!!!" Sometimes, we have battles over wearing a shirt, and mommy always wins, but it's not easy.

Of course, he's also testing the waters of independence. When he's put into time out on the couch, he'll see if he can put a foot on the floor, or hang an arm over the edge. Testing to see how far he can get away with not staying on the couch before we make him go back to the couch. Sometimes, it's annoying, and sometimes it's so funny and obvious that it's really hard not to laugh when you're disciplining him.

Lots of fun.

Cute pictures

I had my canning pot outdoors to cool off, and we had a brief, rare shower, which filled it up. Declan saw it and insisted on taking his bath in it. I figured..."why not?". Take a look and laugh. At the farmer's market.

Vacation Pictures

Finally got my pictures uploaded. (Of course, now my kitchen is in disarray due to a remodeling project and I've misplaced my camera. Thankfully, I got most of my pictures off of it before now.) Grandmommy's (Meme's) shoes are a little big, still. This is cute. Declan was crawling around and under his cousin, Devon. Chillin' on the front porch. Awww. So sweet of Devon. We encouraged Declan to run up and down the sidewalk, yelling at the top of his lung, as much as possible all week long. Boating. He did not really enjoy his time on the boat. Maybe that will change over time. Declan and Meme Do you think he looks like me? Last day. He still wanted to run around, not go get in the car.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Vacation - Back to my Roots

I took Declan with me and we visited my parents in Illinois last week. I had to visit to do some legal/business stuff anyway, and my parents wanted to see their grandson. So I left hubby at home, where he could stay up late, sleep in, play video games and eat bachelor food.

Declan did really well on the plane flights. I really think that once he's strapped into his car seat, he knows he's traveling and he calms down. It makes carrying that car seat through the air port totally worth it!

It's been miserably hot and dry here in Houston. We're in an exceptional drought, the highest category, and it's routinely in the upper 90s. So what happens when I travel 1,000 miles north? They have their hottest day in 21 years! And they're in the middle of a 3 week drought. Maybe not as serious as the 7 month drought we have in Texas, but it's hurting the corn and keeping it hot.

We all went in to the band concert Friday night and partook of the ice cream social. Devon, my 10 year old nephew wanted to come with us. He, his brother Garrett, and their parents all adore babies and children. So I was asking my parents if he could come, too. It was great! He spent the whole evening watching Declan, helping he go run around the bandstand and play with the other little kids. All I had to do was buy him some cake and ice cream, then I could sit back and relax for the evening. Wonderful!

The Aflak duck:
My mom has a stuffed Aflak duck, and when you push a button in its belly, it squawks "Aflak, Aflak...AFLAK!" My brother's family came over one night and started playing with it with Declan, and Declan would just giggle hysterically on the last AFLAK. And of course people would laugh at his reaction. So he'd laugh harder, to get a bigger reaction. Before long, the entire room was in stitches. After about 10 minutes, I asked Declan what a duck said. His reply: "Ack-ack, ack-ack...ACK-ACK!" Which of course made everyone just collapse in laughter.

I took my nephews to see Captain America, which was a really good movies. Then the next day, Garrett volunteered to watch Declan while everyone else went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2. I thought it was a great ending to the series.

The last day I was there, we took the boat out to the lake. It took a couple tries to get it running. We had a couple problems with the lifting mechanism on the lower unit. But eventually we got it running. There was almost no one on the lake on a Tuesday afternoon. It was hot and sunny; a good day to be on the water. Declan was none too pleased with it at the beginning. Maybe it had to do with the baby life jacket I shoved him into. It probably made him hotter, and the boat was all new and scary. He really cried when I was driving the boat and we wouldn't let him sit on my lap. He refused to sit on Granddad's lap, and settled for standing next to me and holding onto my leg. Finally, he gave up and laid down on the bottom of the boat and just waited. I think he was sort of enjoying it by the end.

It was a nice trip, even if it was super-hot most of the week. There was one night where it cooled off enough to open the windows and listen to the night insects. I miss that so much. I hope my parents appreciate the beauty of where they live.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Engineer by Day, Domestic Goddess by Night

I've been busy lately.

On Saturday, we made a family outing to a local pick-your-own orchard. I got 45 pounds of wonderful tomatoes, 8 pounds of blackberries, a bunch of onions and some other vegetables. Plus some guinea fowl eggs.

So Saturday, I spent the day making seasoned tomato sauce and canning it. I made 9 quarts of sauce, and had enough left over for parmesean chicken the next night.

I also made two kinds of blackberry jam: blackberry, black pepper, and rum; and blackberry, white chocolate and Kahlua. Then we made a blackberry crumble for dessert. Too bad for Declan, we made it after he went to bed and we ate it all.

Next night, I made yogurt, which I used to sneak in some veggies to Declan's morning smoothie. Who knew strawberries, pineapple and spinach worked so well together? Plus I made bread. One was a regular loaf, and for the second, I experimented. I made a cheddar cheese, pepperoni and black pepper loaf, and it tasted awesome! Also managed to make some chocolate sauce from scratch, because I don't want us to eat high fructose corn syrup. It only takes about 10 minutes to do.

Finally, tonight I'm making coconut chocolate ice cream and some no-bake granola bars for Declan's and Daniel's snacks.

Can you tell I've been interested in wholesome cooking and such? I'm trying to avoid processed food, including things like wheat and high fructose corn syrup. My next goal is to learn to make fermented foods, like a sprouted wheat berry bread, and kefir and pickles. I feel like a frustrated pioneer homesteader sometimes.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Movie Night

Yes, it's movie night! We we trying to get the baby sitter to come by, but she never returned my calls. I tried for a week. Did I do something wrong? I have no idea. But I ended up talking to my neighbor, who happens to be Christian's grandma. She offered to watch Declan for us one night so we could go see X-Men.

So we saw X-Men tonight! I really liked it. I thought they put a lot of work and love into the story line. It's compatible with the original trilogy, with only minor modifications. The plot was solid, the characters were real and the dialog with believable. I really liked the relationship between Erik and Charles; you could really feel they wanted the same thing, but ended up on totally different sides in how they wanted it to happen.

We even had time to go to dinner before the movie, so double score! One thing I do like about Texas is the number of excellent Tex-Mex restaurants around. We went to Chuy's and the food was great, although it was so loud it was hard to talk.

We got home around 10:00 and went to our neighbor's house to pick up Declan. I was a bit nervous about him going to sleep, because he's only ever gone to sleep in his crib at night, and we've only recently gotten him to sleep on his crib mattress on the floor for his naps. I thought he'd definitely be asleep by 10, though.

I was wrong. He was still awake. Turns out he was upstairs sitting in Naomi's lap and watching Thomas the Tank Engine. Apparently, he just couldn't fall asleep and stay asleep. He'd nod off, then wake up and whimper. I'm not sure who I felt most sorry for.

We took him home and tucked him into his crib and he went out like a light. Maybe tomorrow I'll try and sneak out of the house quietly and let him sleep himself out. Or maybe he'll be up at 6 am just like usual. Who knows.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

New Words

This morning, we went to the park to play with Christian, the 2 year old who lives down the street from us. When we got there and he spotted Christian, he called him by name, first time he's said Christian's name. And when we left, he said "bye bye Christian."

Today at lunch time, he sat on my lap and wanted some of the cheese souffle I had. I cut a bite off and put it on the fork, and he shook his head and said, "no. Too big." Color me surprised. So I cut it in half and offered it again, and he ate it.

This morning when he got up, he said "Big bug" and when Daniel went to check, yep, there was a huge palmetto bug on its back in the hallway. Daniel said, "Yes, that is a big bug," then he proceeded to threw it outside. Ugh. I glad he found it this morning instead of me.

Anyway, that's a lot of words for one day.

Success in Napping!

This afternoon, I pulled his crib mattress out of his crib so he could romp and play on it. So at naptime, I decided to try and get him to sleep on his mattress on the floor. I put a child-proof lock on the inside door knob in one room, and a baby gate up on the door in the playroom. (He has 2 connecting rooms: a bedroom and playroom, and a door in each)

Then I went shopping! :)

Daniel said it took him about an hour and 15 minutes before he finally settled down and went to sleep, but he did sleep on his mattress for 2 hours! I guess when you've got two whole rooms with toys to play in, it takes longer than normal to settle down. But I'm very happy. He's getting big enough that I'm not sure how much longer his crib will hold him.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Sleeping in the big bed

I've often said I'm going to keep him in his crib as long as I possibly can. He's way too energetic to go to sleep voluntarily, and I've never seen him lay his head down and fall asleep on his own. Not since he was about 5 months old. He has to be confined in his crib before he'll settle down and go to sleep for either his nap or bedtime.

Well, the other night, he keep wanting to lay down in our bed after he had his jammies on. He'd keep saying "sleep" and pull the blanket over him. So I told him okay, he could go to sleep in our bed, if he would actually stay there. I even brought in his blankies, his sea horse, and his bottle of water. I went back to the kitchen and about 10 seconds later, I heard the pitter patter of little feet.

I told him to go back to bed, and he ran back into the bedroom and climbed into our bed. I walked out again, and another 10 seconds later, he's in the hallway. So I sent him back to bed, and this time, I waited just outside our bedroom door, looking through a crack in it. As soon as he put his feet on the ground, I opened the door and said "back to bed." We did this about 10 more times, until I finally gave up and told him he had to go to sleep in his crib.

Honestly, that's exactly how I expected it would go, and I didn't mind at all. I thought it was cute. I wondered if he was amazed that I could always figure out exactly when he had gotten out of bed, but he may not be that sophisticated yet.

We haven't attempted a repeat experiment, but I'm thinking about his big boy bed and how to rearrange his bedroom now.

More Random Pictures

I just think he looks cute and funny here.

From our recent trip to the beach.

High winds the day before had thrown tons of seaweed onto the beach.

Chillin' on the diaper boxes. They make a great temporary bed.

This is the night he decided he'd rather play with stickers than get his jammies on after his bath. Then he had to run and show Daddy all his "buttons."

Pool Fun

This is when we went to Christian's house to play in the pool and with his choo-choos. I think this is where most of Declan's choo-choo fascination came from. It's also the site of the great strawberry theft mentioned in an earlier post.

We convinced Declan to go down the slide a couple of times, then he didn't want to anymore. I'm not sure if he got scared, or just stubborn.

They both had a blast sending the cars and trains down the slide, though.

I found some humongous strawberries for them to snack on. Christian didn't like strawberries, but he'd only had sliced ones before. When he had a great big strawberry in his hands and saw Declan nom-nomming on his, Christian decided strawberries might not be so bad after all.

Here's the site of the choo-choo wars.

Finally, here's the great strawberry theft, once again.

Zoo Visit

A couple of weeks ago (before it got hot), we took Declan to the Houston Zoo, thinking he might be old enough to enjoy looking at the animals. I'll skip to the end...he wasn't. He was as interested in the leaf on the ground as the lemur in the tree. So Daniel and I went to where we wanted to go. But I got some good pictures, and he had fun too.

Brushing the goats.

Trying to get the fish.

Okay, not the best quality picture, but this was in the piranha tank. They had a tube that the kids could climb through, and this was right before they fed the piranhas.

He did love watching the little ground squirrels dig and dig.

Toddler Games and Choo Choo Madness

Who knew that you could spend 30 minutes running in circles around a dining chair in the middle of the kitchen, and it'd be the best game of the week? It got even better when I put a discarded tension rod on the floor and we had to step over it on each lap.

I don't know how Declan did it. I got dizzy after 5 laps, but fortunately, we were going nice and slow.

Another game we discovered was Flying. I'd lay on my back, and Declan would flop on top of me. Then I'd lift him up toward the ceiling and tell him to put his arms out wide. That makes him giggle non-stop. I get in a little workout by doing baby presses, too.

Then there's the pig game. We only play that when he's in his crib for bedtime. I do the Five Little Piggies on his toes, and he screams with laughter on the 5th little piggy going Whee, whee, whee all the way home. Then he sticks his other foot up in the air and says in a demanding, toddler way, "Pigs!" So we play pigs about 6-8 times every night.

His all-time favorite thing right now, however, is trains. Or choo-choos. He got a Thomas the Tank Engine book for his birthday in March. The first day, he made us read it to him 12 times. Then he wanted to read it multiple times every day, and it's all he wants to read at night.

Then we went to Christian's house a few weeks ago to play in the pool. Christian had a bunch of Thomas the Tank Engine toy trains with magnets in them, so they'd snap together. He and Christian were fighting over them most of the day. One would pick them up and run off with them, then he'd drop some, and the other would run in and scoop them up. Neither of them has the concept of sharing down yet, but that's okay. They're both just two.

Oh, you have to take a look at the video of them eating strawberries. Actually, Declan loves his strawberries, and devoured his right away. Christian wasn't used to eating whole strawberries and was taking his time. Well, he took too much time, and Declan decided to take the strawberry right out of his hand and run off with it. Christian, in a bit of a delayed response, decided he wanted his strawberry after all, and took off after Declan. So cute!

Anyway, now Declan has his own Thomas the Tank Engine playset, with three little trains to play with. His new favorite word is "snap", because the trains snap together. And we frequently have to take them away during dinner time in order to get him to eat his lunch or dinner. Sometimes, he demands that we sit and play with him, and while I love spending time with him, as an adult, I admit that I get quite bored running trains around a circle track after about 10 minutes. But it's still loads of fun. I like it when Christian can come over and they can play together. Or at least side-by-side and steal the trains and cars from each other.

We're supposed to meet them at the park this Sunday morning so they can play together outside before it gets beastly hot. Of course, it depends on whether or not we get any of that tropical system that formed overnight around Florida. I'll take the rain over anything else right now. They're more than welcome to come play in our house!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Egg Hunts

Declan had his first Easter egg hunt(s) this year.

Friday, we went to the HEB grocery store near our house. They had an Easter egg hunt for the kiddos. They had donuts, muffins and orange juice for the parents, and for the kids, they had roped off three aisles and littered them with tons of plastic easter eggs. The 1-, 2-, and 3-year olds had one aisle to themselves and they got to go first. They were also allowed to bring their parents with them, since most of them were so little they didn't know what to do, and some couldn't even hold their own Easter basket.

We took Declan in, and it took him a couple minutes, but then he figured out that we wanted him to pick the eggs up off the floor. Then it took a little while longer to convince him to put them in his bag (we forgot to bring a basket).

Then he was determined to put all his eggs in the basket of a 1-year old who looked very confused about the whole event.

But a good time was had by all. Declan quickly figured out that he could open the plastic eggs and there was candy inside! He had some jelly beans and started running all around the store. That's was the point I left him with his daddy and went to work! Mwa ha ha.

Sunday morning we had a neighbor egg hunt for 3 houses and 3 little kids. We littered one neighbor's yard with ..sheesh, there must have been almost a hundred plastic eggs there, plus bubble wands, sidewalk chalk, coloring posters. These kids are gonna be so spoiled. :) It was Declan, Christian (who's the exact same age), and Celeste, who's 3.

Christian was sort of tired, so he spent a lot of time picking up eggs and throwing them at the cat. Declan ran around opening up each egg looking to see if it had chocolate or jelly beans in them. Celeste was on a mission. She was picking up every egg she could find and putting it in her basket. Maybe it's a good thing we had a hundred eggs.

I took a lot of pictures, but they were all moving so fast, most of them were blurry. I could really see what a jelly bean rush does to a 2 and 3 year old this morning!

We started off good, getting Declan to pick up a couple eggs and put them in his basket (sand bucket).

But then he remembered that these things opened and there might be candy inside.

And a second one.

And the third and fourth and ...

And the tenth...

Mmmm, jelly beans.

Occasionally he found other things he liked. Like sidewalk chalk, and some weird thing that makes strange noises when you shake it.

Here's Declan and Christian, chasing each other down the sidewalk.

Hope you had a hoppy Easter!

Hair cut before and after

Hurray! I didn't butcher his hair or give him another bowl cut.



Friday, April 08, 2011

Declan Turns Two

My parents came to visit, and I was really looking forward to their visit. We managed to get to the beach at Galveston on Tuesday, before everyone got sick. Unfortunately, my dad, Declan and myself got horrible colds. Mom had a sinus infection, and Daniel had a bad reaction to a new drug. I said we should just put a quarantine sign around our house. It was terrible.

But in spite of all the sickness, we still had a fun time, and I'm glad my parents came to visit. They helped me build a sand box for Declan, rearrange my patio so it looks nicer to sit on, helped me build a new mini patio to hold some of my container plants, and my dad rebuilt some shelves in my garage, so now I have space to buy an upright freezer and install it! We may not have gotten to the zoo, but we had a good time.

We actually postponed Declan's birthday party by a day. He didn't know any better, and it gave everyone else a chance to get better. By then, everyone except myself was doing much better. I'm also glad I didn't put a lot of effort into making fancy decorated cupcakes. He got cupcakes from a mix, and I made frosting for them. And we got ice cream. It was a good enough birthday for a 2-year old. thank goodness we didn't have a big party with lots of people planned!

Declan raked in the loot, at least for a 2-year old. His Virginia grandparents sent him a Mr. Potato Head and a recycling truck that counted tags as you put them in. He's all about counting to 10 now, so he loved that. I got up the next morning, and Mr. Potato Head had had a horrible accident, with pieces scattered all along the hallway. It was a terrible crime scene. I think we've only located a hand, a set of lips and the main potato. Who knows where the rest of the pieces are.

He got more Duplos and a couple puzzles from Daddy and me. His Uncle Poppy and Nana Shannon and cousins got him an awesome, 2-foot tall Little Person car ramp, and he spent many happy (and quiet) moments experimenting with what would go do the ramps. Mom's friend Anita got him a Thomas the Tank Engine beginning reader book, and he loved it! He demanded that we read him that book about 10 times in a row the first day. Since then, we've bought a second book like that one, and we read both of them several times each day. He frequently asks for his choo-choo book.

His Illinois grandparents got him toys for his new sandbox, some t-shirts and an Easter present still waiting to be opened.

Here he is with his favorite bubble mower, mowing the hallway and modeling a new hat.

Opening presents.

Blowing out the candle.

(Daddy had to help a bit)

Declan, Meme and Papaw.