Saturday, January 24, 2015

Easy Errand

I think a certain someone won't mind going to Home Depot in the future...

BY FAR the easiest errand of the day and week.

He had his hands on each steering wheel for a while and even pointed to the seat next to him and looked back at me confused. I could have taken as long as I wanted in there.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Happy Birthday, Pheebs!

Happy birthday, Aunt Phoebe!!!

I cannot fathom what life would have been like without my little sister. We have our moments and can show each other raw emotions that few others will ever see, but she'll always be the only person (that is, other than Uncle John) who can make me laugh until I cry. I've always loved her so. And I sure am glad that Mom & Dad heeded my advice and didn't name her "Soapie!!" (Okay, maybe Sophie wasn't so bad... but no child should be named Soapie, which is what I heard and thought they were suggesting.)

Here she is holding Ian for the first time ever. 
She teared up and he was completely enamored by her. 
It's a tight bond people have who share the middle name Forrester.

Dear Aunt Phoebe,

I hope you are having a good time in France! I like seeing you on the computer when you talk with Mama. It confuses me sometimes and I just wish I could touch you. If I could, I would show you that I know where to find your nose, your ear, your mouth, and your eyes. Mama says that we'll see you in Switzerland in April! I'll be able to show you all I know when we meet.

I've gotten pretty good at throwing a ball overhand. I think it's time for you and James to teach me how to play frisbee. That is, if you wouldn't mind...?

 Anyway, sometimes I look for you outside my window. I look forward to the day when you can come to my house again and play with my toys with me. I really like the tractor you gave me. I drive it around outside.

I hope you have a very happy birthday today! 
Eat some chocolate for me, since I'm still not allowed!! 
Know that I miss you; we all do. 

See you in Switzerland!

Ian Forrester
(& Käthe and Jim)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bath Fun: 15-16 months!!

No one ever said that I was good at paring down the number of pictures I take or post of Ian. I think it might be impossible for me. I have a problem. He's down for a nap right now and what am I doing? Looking at pictures of him and writing his 15-16 month post!

Yes, somehow our child is now SIXTEEN months old! Wowzers. I never got a 15 month post up, so this one will have to do!

I have to say, that this is a really, really fun age. That's the best thing about raising a child. Every stage has such fun and unique new beginnings. He's communicating his wants and wishes, becoming more and more independent, purposefully affectionate, and understanding how things work and what we're saying. The kid is astonishing.
Since Jim's been completing block nights this month, I've had bath duty. It's been hard having Jim away or busy or sleeping this month, but we are trying to make the most of it. Bath time has been one of my favorite times of the day. He loves to interact, but he also loves to banter to himself and play. It's a joy to sit on that uncomfortable toilet lid and just observe for 20 minutes.

When the water first goes into the tub, Ian stays right there. This orange cup has holes in the bottom that create somewhat of a shower effect. He used to get frustrated when I'd stop the water, but now he's learned that it's just what happens. It's part of the bath time experience.

It used to be that for him to get wet, we'd have to pour water over him. Not so anymore! He's got it figured out.
 His personality has really come through. He's a dedicated, determined, spunky, active, sensitive, and bright little boy! There are many pictures here that show his spunk & energy... those faces. And so, I present to you our 16 month-old goofball!!

Here he's mid babble, excitedly telling me something
as if I know exactly what he's talking about. One day!

Care to fence?
Creating waves.

Excuse me?

Fish face.

This is my tongue.
This is my nose.
This is my ear.
You got that?!
At some point he normally starts pointing to the bath mat,
expecting me to tell him what he's pointing to. "Blue fish!"
In the end he signs "all done" and points to his toothbrush on the sink, signifying the end of bath time. Believe it or not, this bright-eyed boy is ready to hit the hay. 
One could get lost in those eyes.
Happy 15-16 months, dear bather!!

You love: going biking(!), putting things away and in stacks, saying "bubye" to people & things, pointing to body parts (noses, ears, eyes, mouths, toes, shoulders, heads), throwing overhand with great aim and arch, pestering Leif not-so-gently (sigh), "chatting" in the car, sitting to eat at your own Ian-sized table, playing in your tunnels, sitting in the swings, shaking your head "no," saying "dah" for yes, watching trucks go by, seeing Papa come in the door, putting the toilet lid down, watching "birs" at the birdfeeders, reading and being comfy while you're reading, "helping" to empty the dishwasher (he actually does put the measuring cups in the correct place), standing up in the fridge, climbing into cabinets, attempting to walk to the playground, letting us know when you're ready to rest, and giving hugs and kisses of your own will.

We love you to the moon and back.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Biking Buddy

The highlight of my day today was biking with this sweet dude. 

How better to spend this beautiful, sunny, 55 degree F day?

There's a lot of biking in our future! What a happy chap and therefore a happy mama.
Thanks, Äma & Grumps for the wonderful gift of the bike chair for Ian!


Biking must have worn him out because tonight I tried to put him to sleep at the normal time and he kept begging for more milk, even though I was already nursing him. We came back into the kitchen and he ate have of an avocado, a banana, and more of the beef stew we had for dinner. Growth spurt? I think so.

House Tour

One of my favorite things about blogging is that it can make people who are far away feel near. 

I took these pictures more than a month ago because my cousin, Marianne, wanted to "see" where we live. She's living in Germany and probably won't be able to visit and see our place. When we do see her, it's normally surrounded by family in Pennsylvania. We'll be seeing her in Europe this spring, though! Yay!

Anyway, the best time to take pictures is right after the house has been cleaned and you have people coming over! I snapped these before we had a little potluck with friends. We still don't have much up on the walls, but here's our place. I love it and am thankful for it each day.

Throughout our marriage we've moved four times. First to a one bedroom apartment in a nice, gated apartment complex in Louisiana, then to a one bedroom, small cottage in Blacksburg, then into a two bedroom first floor apartment on a beautiful horse farm, and now to our new home. This is by far the most space we've ever had. 

We have two bedrooms, a bonus room which we made into a guest room, a basement, front covered porch, a mud room/enclosed back porch, and a beautiful backyard. Oh, and there's a playground down the street! So perfect.

That's not even all of it! The basement is tiled and therefore pretty finished, with paneling on the walls. It has an extra room, which is Jim's study/sleeping room on night shifts/closet. It also has space for Jim's weight set from high school, our TV area, a craft area for me, laundry, storage, and a built-in space for a workshop. I mean, c'mon... the place was pretty much made for us. (No pictures included of the basement here)

So, here's the place...
Our bedroom
Ian's bedroom. It looks dark in this picture but he has four windows like the one shown.
The only bathroom.
Guest room. Come visit!
Living room & dining room

I don't have many complaints about this kitchen. It's very functional.
Oh, how I love having a MUD ROOM!!

In the background you can see a little shelter for the lawnmower, and a ring of benches Jim made for our fire pit.
I feel a bit funny posting a picture of the front of the house. It's brick with a small front yard and an asphalt driveway is adjacent to it. The backyard, you've seen in lots of pictures has a beautiful maple tree, space for a garden, and a place for our compost.

 We plan to stay for all of Jim's residency, which is 2.5 more years.
We're pretty happy here!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Winter Wonder

With the holidays, living away from home, visiting with family & friends, and keeping up with Ian to occupy us, another stretch has passed without a comprehensive post with too many pictures. Once again this will take a while to write, but it will get done. I have a list of things I've been wanting to document, so here it goes!

Ian has proven to us MANY, many times over that he can be adaptable! The poor kid lived in three states during the first three months of his life; he hasn't had much choice. We just keep packing him up for trips, living other places, you name it, and he rolls with the punches. Thanks for being such a trooper, dear boy!!

I think we blinked and Ian lost his baby-ness and became a lean toddler!! The picture to the right shows a completely new boy!

His physical characteristics aren't the only things that cue us in to his growth. Ian has completely transitioned to just one nap a day. It's so nice to have the flexibility of knowing there will be a chunk of the morning and then a chunk of the afternoon that's usable. He's started going down for a nap around three hours after he wakes up, sleeping for 1.5-2 hours, and then going to bed about six hours later. This is all relative. As always, Ian does not go by a rigid schedule.

He has started to "tell" me with he's ready to sleep. He normally motions that he would like to nurse. Lately, now that we're home, he'll even point toward the rocking chair or hand me the blanket we wrap around ourselves in the rocker (Thanks, Amanda!). How awesome to be able to communicate about it! At this point he's not attempting to evade his naps. If I ask him if he's ready to sleep he'll often shake his head no OR he'll lean in for a hug and motion for a nurse. LOVE.

A new sleeping development in the last two days has also occurred! I almost don't want to write it here, for fear that it might jinx our progress, but I'll do it anyway. Ian still wakes up about two times a night. This is something I would never, ever have thought when we first had him. I was SURE I'd be sleeping through the night again by now. Easily. Well, no dice. And it's really been fine with me.

Two nights ago, without planning to do so ahead of time, I developed a strategy for night-time wakings. Ian woke up in the middle of the night and whimpered to nurse. Normally, I would have rolled over and set him up without a question. That night, I started saying "Night night, Ian. It's time to lie down. Time to sleep." To my amazement, he whimpered a few more times, then lay down and eventually fell back asleep!!! The next time he woke up we did the same thing. He then woke up for the day around 7:30 and we did our typical morning nurse.

Last night, I tried it again. He fell asleep around 7 PM. At his first waking there was a great deal more fuss, but after being pulled in close to me to cuddle he fell asleep again. The second time he whimpered a bit and then lay down with his eyes open for a while and quietly relaxed. In the woozy state of sleepy conscious flowing into unconscious, it felt like he remained awake for a while, but he did fall asleep on his own. Then he woke up around 6:30, nursed, and fell asleep again until 8:30!!! Can I get a hallelujah!?!

With each new phase, age, and development I always think, "Okay, now this age is really fun!" A woman at the car shop's waiting room today said, "Every time I get to a new phase I think, now this is my favorite age!!" She's right. Joys can be found in every age! With more interaction and give and take, it gets so fun!

Enough about sleep! Onward...

Thanks for the tunnel, Uncle Willem! He loves it!
Ian is pretty content to play independently. A skill he has that we love about him. Of course, he loves to have our attention and for us to play with him. Don't get me wrong!! But he can be found pushing a car around the floor, throwing a ball into his tunnel, putting tops back onto containers, or even putting things away(!), to name a few. While in Richmond, Ian could entertain himself at the Tot Lot for long, long periods of time without us interacting. I just loved to observe him and see what his own motivation and interests would be. He was avid about shutting the windows of the play houses, enjoyed getting into the plastic cars, and climbing up the stairs to the slide. The one time he always turned to look for us was when he wanted to get into the swings, which were far too high off of the ground for him to reach.

He is CRAZY about watching and observing other people. I have no idea where he gets that (Jim & Phoebe are pointing fingers at me as they read this). If another child was at the playground, then Ian wanted to be near them, watching, or participating in what they were doing. The other place where we really saw this was at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA). When my parents visited Richmond we went to lunch in the museum cafeteria prior to seeing the Forbidden Exhibit. Ian ate with us for a while and then was ready to get down. My dad kept calling Ian the Maitre D' because he would walk up to other tables and smile, getting huge smiles, compliments, and coos in return.

Although he's very social, he checks in and always knows where we are. He'll smile at new faces and explore new places, but he normally turns back to see if we're watching and nearby.

Ian is still a really great eater! Whatever we eat for dinner is what goes on his plate. He's gotten pretty skilled with using a spoon and a fork to pick up almost everything, but he still uses his fingers, as well. His favorite foods continue to be blueberries, broccoli, apples, avocado, yogurt (plain FAGE), sweet potatoes, bananas, & grapes/raisins. He's starting to like cheese more, but still won't go for much cow milk either warmed up or cold. Spinach & feta omelets are always a hit. Soups or woks full of veggies and meats are always popular. Tonight he loved a butternut squash and lentil soup.

He's getting better and better with utensils, but still enjoys eating with his fingers. Who can blame him!?

For the most part he is an incredibly content little boy. There are times that he gets frustrated and there's normally always a reason. If he bumps his head, is hungry or thirsty, wants an object we cannot give him, or he has to say goodbye to Papa, etc. We are trying to be very calm in the moment and to not distract him from his feelings. If he needs to be angry or frustrated for a spell, that's okay. We want him to know we aren't judging him or trying to distract him from his feelings and that we will be there, listening and caring for him through it. This might sound strange, but I've been doing a lot of reading about it (RIE).

What does this look like? We try to get down on his level and listen. Ian has a lot to say, even though we can't make it all out yet. Sometimes we say things like "I see that you are frustrated," or "I hear you, Ian." But mostly we nod, empathize, and listen. It's amazing because after he is able to express himself, he is often the most content, giggling and babbling away joyfully. Times we don't do this and try to get him quickly over his feelings often doesn't elicit the same response. Sometimes he even gets more frustrated. So far, we are grateful for this approach.

He's becoming more and more affectionate as days go on. Ian's always loved being close to us while sleeping, being carried in a carrier, or being held in general. He's always wanted to be on our laps or next to us while we read together. But he's giving many more spontaneous hugs and kisses throughout the day. They are like little gems that get handed out randomly throughout the day. Sometimes it's right after he's been upset, or super excited. or sometimes he just stops his play to walk over and give a hug or a kiss. So very sweet.

Ian's started hugging us by either resting his head on our shoulder and wrapping his arms around our body or wrapping his arms around our head and hugging our head close to his body. Both are absolutely wonderful, but I especially love it when my head is embraced.

He's been fascinated by noses, ears, mouths, and eyes for a while now. He points to each one and waits for you to say what it is. Once you've told him what it is he says, "Duh," which seems like a "Yes, good you got it!", more than a "DUH, you idiot." It's very sweet and fun. When you ask him where each one is he will point to the one on your head. Ian also points to them on stuffed animals or pets.

As far as bath times are concerned, Ian has started dumping water on himself. It used to be that he would be so engrossed in his own play that he wouldn't want to have water poured on him. Now, he does it on his own! Woot! He loves bath time. When Jim's around, it's normally their time to bond and play. Who wouldn't love bath time when you get to play with your favorite playmate?! This month Papa's working nights, so it's just us. He still really enjoys it and squealed with joy the entire time he bathed tonight.

Ian likes to brush his hair with the brush now! He's been doing it for a couple of months now, I just forgot to say so! He also does a great job brushing his teeth! He is finally letting me do it first, for him, while I sing a song. Then it's his turn and he brushes for a while before deciding it's time to rinse the toothbrush and say "Bubye" to it.

He really connects baths with the end of the night. He will walk himself to the bathroom and prepare to get into the tub when we mention that it's time to bathe. Afterward he knows it's time to brush his teeth, read books, sing songs & nurse, and go to sleep.

Diaper changes are hardly a struggle anymore. It seemed like they were challenging for months and months now. We've always talk to Ian about what we're doing, knowing that one day he'd be able to fully understand. Well, it's finally clicking. He never lies down to be changed, but stands (mostly still) and waits for each step to be done.

Ian's moving from 18 month clothes and into 24 month clothes! It's amazing how long the 18 month clothes have fit!! He's slimmed down, but grown longer and leaner... and the clothes still fit for a while. But now he's too tall! His torso is steadily a 24 month size, but his legs still fit in 18 month clothes. That's how it always seems to go.

BOOKS! Ian is still book crazy. Just this week he's decided that books are much more enjoyable if you're completely comfy. This means wearing a blanket while sitting on the couch or lying in the bed. This morning he asked Jim to read him a book while they were in the bathroom. Jim started reading and Ian left. Jim thought that the activity was over and put the book down. In walks Ian with a pillow from the couch, he plops it down, and expectantly waited for Jim to keep reading! Haha!! I mean you can't make this stuff up!!

We're still working on "gentle" with Leif. The poor guy is the object of much of Ian's excitement. What an amazing, kid-friendly dog he's turned out to be!! He puts up with a lot.
Ian loves to say "Bubye" and to wave. He waves goodbye to the cashiers and other people we meet all through the day. If he is having trouble leaving something behind, I normally ask him to tell it "Bubye." Throughout the day you can hear him say it to his toothbrush, the dog bowl, Papa's car as it pulls out of the driveway, etc. It seems to help him separate and understand that it's time to move on. It doesn't always work... he's a toddler, let's be clear. But it certainly helps sometimes!

Ian working with his IKEA tool kit from Äma & Grumps
while Papa works on his table and chairs.
Ian continues to just adore his Papa. The glee he shows when he comes into the room at the end of his shift is so fun to behold. They've had their first building project together. It came when they put together Ian's table and chairs. How sweet it was to watch them "work" together and banter back and forth. I'm so grateful to have front row seats to watch their relationship grow through the years.

Snack break. Building things is tough business.

Love this interaction. See the adoration in this boy's eyes?
And we have a table & chair!

While we were in Richmond we didn't have any snow, but in our first week home we got a nice little dusting. Ian was ready to get out and enjoy it as soon as he saw the beautiful stuff out of the bedroom window. Again, a huge smile spread across his face. He ran out into the living room to see more through the two windows he uses to observe the world. 

 The following pictures were supposed to be his 15-16 month post, but I just couldn't resist a photo shoot tonight during bath time. So, here are a few of him in the dry yard, after the snow melted away.

"Let the wild rumpus start!"
Okay, maybe all of the snow didn't melt...
That red hair. 

Throwing the ball for Leif. He has a stellar overhand throw!! 

Hey Mom, I found these rotten clementines in the compost. Can we eat them?
You are my SUNSHINE.