Monday, October 29

News and a Name Change

In case you didn't notice the blog's name change, and in case Brock's t-shirt hasn't quite clicked in your brain yet, I'll go ahead and state the obvious... We're having another baby :)

I'm about 11 weeks pregnant, and we've known for a few weeks now, but I wanted to wait until I got Brock's t-shirt in the mail to announce it. Then when I got the shirt, Brock came down with that nasty rash and I didn't want to make the announcement with him looking like he was a leper. So finally I got some pictures this weekend to let everyone know our news. As you can tell, B is super excited (his face in that picture makes me laugh).

Here's the ultrasound picture we got at the 8-week appointment.
Very enlightening, I know. But it does amaze me to see a little heartbeat and to look at that tiny little bean-shaped human and know that it's my baby and that eventually it will be as big as Brock is now and will add so much more joy to our family.

In the meantime, I'm trying to keep my meals down, trying not to be depressed that my pants are already getting tight, and trying not to think about the long, slow, painful process of training another baby to sleep 12 hours a night. We wanted our kids to be fairly close in age, and the timing will be perfect because Blaine will be on summer break for a couple of months, but I have to admit there are days when I think, "Oh crap, what have we done?"

It should all make for some interesting blog posts at least. P.S. If we're taking bets, I'm pretty sure this one is a girl because I have had so much more sickness and discomfort already than I ever did with Brock.

Here are some random pictures I got while trying to get the perfect shot of Brock (which I never accomplished since he would never smile when the shirt was visible). These make me smile though.

"No more pictures please, Mother"
"Ok, just one more since I'm making this sweet face"

Tuesday, October 23

A Rash By Any Other Name

I have one reason for writing this post. I am a WebMD / Google Image self-diagnoser, meaning any time one of us gets sick, I immediately check the internet to figure out what the sickness might be. Granted, I usually end up with concerns that I have some rare form of cancer or genetic disorder, but it saves a trip to the doctor and a bit of money. Anyway, I'm posting this entry to potentially help any self-diagnosers like me out there who might be searching the internet trying to figure out what is wrong with them or their child (Disclaimer: Please do not really base your diagnosis off of my blog; call your doctor. I don't want to be sued by anyone).

Brock started running a fever last Thursday and was acting really tired and clingy and fussy. My maternal instinct must have been in overdrive because I kept feeling like I needed to take him in to the doctor. Actually, it's probably just that I was already off work and had taken a shower that day so I figured I should go ahead and take him in while it was slightly convenient for me. After an hour and a half, a traumatic finger prick, and an equally traumatic (but overly dramatic) reaction to the doctor's exam, the doctor told me, "He is fussy and unhappy because he doesn't feel well (gee, thanks, I had no idea). It's just a virus and should go away in a few days." So I went home swearing to myself I'd never go see the doctor on the first day of a fever again; from now on, I'll wait until someone is clearly dying or in need of medication.

Fast forward to Friday evening. While changing Brock's diaper, I noticed several red bumps that looked like mosquito bites all along the backs of his thighs. After checking with Blaine to make sure he hadn't taken Brock pants-less through an enormous swarm of mosquitos, I figured it was just some kind of diaper rash... until Saturday morning when it had spread all down his legs and up to his arms. I put on my doctor's coat and started googling things like "red spots on legs and arms," "multiple bumps resembling mosquito bites that aren't mosquito bites," "fever then red spotted rash." None of these turned up anything substantial, but by the time I was done, my guess was that he either had hives, Rocky mountain spotted fever, or bed bugs.

My mom suggested it might be chicken pox, which I immediately dismissed because he'd had the vaccine at 12 months. I googled it anyway though, and the images did look similar to Brock's condition. I also found out from the internet and friends on Facebook that, while less likely, you can still potentially get the chicken pox even after having the vaccine, but it is a less severe form of the virus. The rash didn't seem to be bothering him though and he hadn't had a fever since Thursday so I decided to give it until Monday when the doctor's office was open again.

Here is what the spots looked like on Saturday evening:

Those under his eyes were the ones I was most concerned about
because they were so close to the eye and like large patches.

The backs of his legs had it the worst (which may be because he had a patch
of eczema on the back of his legs before the rash ever popped up).

What was weird is that there were practically no spots on his stomach, chest, or back.
It was all on his arms, legs, and face.

Here is what the rash looked like by Sunday evening:

I know his eyes look sickly in this picture, but it really was just the flash that made him look that way.
He had been acting completely fine all weekend, other than maybe a little extra whining.

They had spread more on his arms by Sunday and had moved to his hands and feet too.

They look really terrible, but I promise he wasn't scratching at them or anything.

By Monday, the biggest spots had faded some but he was still getting new spots. They weren't turning into blisters like chicken pox either, so I wondered if it was because he had had the vaccine or because it was something different. I called the doctor that morning and took him in for a visit. After having to be quarantined in the hallway and seeing several parents warily looking at us while shielding their children behind them, we finally got tucked away safely in a private room. Dr. Smith came in and examined him (a no less traumatic or dramatic exam than Thursday's, I should add), then concluded that Brock had Erythema Multiforme. Oh... that old thing (??). Apparently it's a rash that is the body's reaction to a virus. The fever Brock had Thursday was some sort of virus and this was the way his body reacted to it. It can also show up as an allergic reaction to medicines (particularly antibiotics), but I knew that wasn't the issue since he hadn't had anything new recently. It is usually itchy I think, but luckily it didn't seem to affect Brock in that way. So Dr. Smith told us it would go away in 7-10 days, it was no longer contagious since he hadn't had the fever for over 24 hours, and then he sent us on our merry way. Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to pay anything for a doctor visit if there was nothing they could do for you?

Today (Tuesday, 4 days after the rash first appeared, 5 days after the fever) the spots are mostly gone. He still has a few small ones on his legs and arms, and one on his face, but they look much better. And now I think he's getting a cold (it's always something!), but we'll just be toughing this one out because I've had enough of the "There's nothing we can do for it; it will get better on its own" to last for this month. I did want to post about our scary-looking rash and its fancy name though, in case anyone else out there is doing a Google search, trying to figure out the same thing.

Tuesday, October 16

Cell Phone Photo Dump

I had some random pictures on my cell phone that I needed to delete to open up some space, so I thought I'd dump them all here because they make me smile and I may want to remember them. Nothing fancy about this post, just some recent candid photos of my goofy boy.

He put on his hat all by himself

A big, poofy coat and it was only like 65 degrees outside. 

I heard him giggling in the back seat and turned around to find this 

Riding the choo choo at Northgate Mall with cousin Anna.
I love how gender specific we are with their clothing.

He found some cheez-its in the pantry, pulled the bag out of the box and
hoisted himself up on the couch to relax and watch Ellen with me.

In no way is this truck supposed to be a riding truck, but he made it into one

Playing together nicely... at least that's what I'm assuming.
I didn't stand there long enough to find out for sure.

Walking the dog 

Monday, October 15

Eighteen Months

I figured I'd do an 18 month update just to be able to post something on the blog and to record some of Brock's milestones at this stage. We haven't been back to the pediatrician since his 15 month checkup, and he was about 25 pounds then but I don't even remember how long. We don't have another checkup until 24 months, so all I know about his height and weight at this point is that he is getting taller and he is too heavy to carry for more than a minute or two. The biggest physical change since twelve months is just that he has a lot more hair now.

Eighteen months has been a fun age to me. Really from about the 12 month point forward, every month seems to be a little easier and a little more fun. Actually it may not necessarily be easier, but just that certain challenges go away and are replaced by different ones. We don't ever really have sleep issues anymore, but we do have occasional issues with temper tantrums and throwing fits. We don't have much trouble with teething now (they're all almost in), but we do run into problems with eating (eating anything other than chicken and cookies, that is). We're figuring it out as we go though, and it's an interesting process.

Here are some of the things Brock likes and has learned to do between 12 months and 18 months:

  • He started walking at 16.5 months. Kind of a late bloomer, but that's pretty much how every other physical milestone has been for him. He's either lazy like his mom or a slow, methodical learner like his dad.
  • He likes to wear shoes but not clothes as you can see in the picture above. He loves to get in his shoe drawer and bring them to us to put on. He'll do this over and over until he's tried on every shoe that he can. And most of the time he is happy with just one shoe on his foot. He is not a fan of getting dressed though and gets really frustrated if it takes more than a second for me to put his shirt on, which it usually does because his head is so large.
  • He can say almost all of his ABC's now. He needs a little help to get through the whole alphabet, and he still leaves a few of them out, but he can remember about 19 out of 26 of them.
  • He can also do almost all of the numbers 1-10 now. He leaves a couple of those out too, but he's got the majority of them. Whenever he finishes saying the alphabet or his numbers, he always congratulates himself and says, "Jood job Brock!" (He can't make the right G sound yet so it sounds like Jood instead of Good)
  • He can correctly pronounce most of the sounds of the letters now. We're still working on G, L, R, V, and sometimes C & K, but the rest of them he can pretty much say. This has been an interesting developmental process to me because I'll notice that he has trouble with a letter one month and then the next month can say it fine, so it is neat how they slowly develop the abilities to talk. We have an alphabet book we go through where we'll say, "A is for Apple, ahh, ahh, apple" and that has helped a lot with his pronunciations.
  • He knows pretty much all of the basic shapes now (except rectangle and square) and can say them by name. He also can tell you what most of the common animal sounds are, like, "What does a dog say?" These are really useful distraction techniques when we're getting groceries or when we eat out and he needs something to entertain him while we're waiting for our food. He hasn't completely figured out his colors yet. He knows purple and sometimes blue but those are the only two he can consistently identify so far.
  • One thing Blaine is really excited about is that Brock is learning some German. We have a German DVD that he has watched since he was just a few months old and that teaches basic German vocabulary. The other day Blaine started counting in German and Brock just picked right up and started saying the German numbers. We were both pretty shocked because we had no idea he had learned this, but he could almost do all of the German numbers from 1-10. His favorites are Zwei (2) and Funf (5). He also knows the German words for "eyes", "hair", "nose", and "sweet dreams". It is really clear that his brain is like a sponge right now because we tell him something and you can see him just adding it in to his data files and then he'll throw it back out perfectly later on.
  • He says A LOT of English words now too. At about 17 months, he really started repeating everything we say and was adding a new word it seemed like every day. He's starting to put together two word sentences also like, "Daddy work" for "Daddy is at work" and "Piper treat" for "Piper needs a treat because we called her a good dog" and "Go outside" for "I want to go outside now because, much to my mom's dismay, that is the only place I ever want to be and it is all I ever talk about" (or "Outside Mimi" if I won't take him out because he knows his Mimi would let him play outside all day long so he wants her to come get him).
  • He's a picky eater, unfortunately. Up until about 13 months, he ate anything we put on his plate, then something changed and he only wanted certain foods so I stupidly started giving him only those foods so he started only liking those foods and now won't even touch anything new. Not even cotton candy! I have to be tricky and buy applesauce or yogurt that has vegetables in it or make smoothies so he can get a serving of spinach. It's annoying. I'm hoping he'll grow out of it soon.
  • He still uses his blanket and sucks his thumb (pictured above; he's covertly sucking his thumb, hiding it behind the blanket) to sleep, but here in the past couple of weeks he has wanted his blanket more frequently. Normally he only had it at nap time or bedtime, but lately he'll whine for it and wants to carry it around with him. We haven't yet had to take it out in public with us; it's just been an at-home thing for now, but I don't know why he started going through this phase.
  • Just this past month he has started getting over his separation anxiety and now he will play and have fun at church when we drop him off. He still has a little bit of stranger anxiety and needs a minute to warm up to people, but he's getting a lot better about it.
  • He loves treats but hasn't quite gotten the concept that you only get one treat and that it is for good behavior; you don't get more treats by whining and throwing a fit and saying "Treeeeaaaaatttt" over and over. I told him yesterday that he was never ever again getting a treat, and Blaine told me that I probably should not say that unless I meant it. 
  • He has had to have a couple of pops on the leg in the past six months (I believe in spanking). Once it was for kicking me because he didn't want his diaper changed, and once it was for smacking at his daddy because he didn't want to sit in his high chair. There may have been a couple of other scoldings but those were the two most dramatic. Amazingly though, he has not once kicked at me again, and he has caught himself a couple of times when he wanted to hit out of anger and turns it into a flailing hand thing instead (like, "Oh I wasn't going to hit; see I'm just waving my arms around).
  • He loves Yo Gabba Gabba still; as a matter of fact, we're all dressing up as Yo Gabba Gabba characters for Halloween. He has also recently become a big fan of the show Pocoyo. I still try not to let him watch a lot of TV, but he'll watch an episode or two of those shows each day and he learns from them too so they can't be all bad.
  • He loves to read books. He would probably be happy if we did that all day long, especially if he can have his blanket while we're reading. 
  • Since the time change in the spring, he has gone to bed around 9:00 and sleeps until about 8:45 or 9:00 every morning. He also takes a nap from about 1:00-3:00. When the time goes back an hour, bedtime will fall back to 8:00, which I'm a little excited about because that means I'll have more time to myself before I have to go to bed. But our summer hours have been nice because we can stay out longer and don't have to rush to get home for bed. 
Those are most of the highlights and the things I can remember for now. His developments are more mental than physical these days, but it still seems like he learns something new every week. I've enjoyed finding activities on Pinterest to make for him to play with, and it is neat seeing his coordination and his fine motor skills become more advanced. But that's what our 18 month stage looks like for the most part. He's growing up really quickly now it seems.

Thursday, August 2

A-B-C, Easy as 1-2-3

I haven't posted to the blog in too long. Our summer schedule has been hectic and non-stop. Now that Brock is only taking one nap a day and stays awake til about 9:00 at night, I barely have enough time to keep myself and my house cleaned, so blogging has kind of been put on the back-burner for a little while. I do hope to get back into it soon, but in the meantime here is a little of what we are doing these days.

Brock learned how to walk this week (Finally, geez! 16.5 months, what a lazy bum). Crawling is still his preferred mode of transportation because he's still faster and more efficient that way, but I imagine in the next week or so he'll make the full transition. Here is a little video we took tonight of his new skill. (Please disregard all the junk laying around our living room; I have about 5 different projects going on right now.)

So there's the physical development. Now for the mental side of things. Blaine has been watching these YouTube videos with Brock all summer long. They're really simple and use trains to introduce different things like the alphabet, numbers, shapes, fruits, and animals, and Brock loves them. Blaine would watch them with him every day, and then one evening we were saying some letters and Brock started saying the ones that followed. Like I would say B then he would say C, and he could even pick out some of the letters on his letter blocks when I would ask him. The only way he could have learned this was from those videos, so I'm now telling all of my friends about them so they can teach their children without having to actually do anything ;) Here is the link to the channel that all the videos are on: Vidz 4 Kidz.

While I had the video camera out tonight, I went ahead and got a video of Brock saying some of his letters and numbers. I videotaped him in the bathtub because that's his favorite time to do the alphabet. He gets his bath crayons and draws on the tub and pretends he is writing his ABC's, so when you can't see his face in the video, that's what he is doing. (In this video, please disregard our ugly concrete bathtub walls. That's on our future projects list.)

So, no need to worry, life is continuing on, even with my lack of blog posts. Maybe I'll have more in future days (because I'm sure everyone is dying to know about our lives).

Friday, June 8

Learning Time

Blaine has an app on his iPad that he uses to make video lessons for his students, and he was doing some experimenting this week while he was watching Brock for me. He googled pictures of some of Brock's favorite words/objects and put them into a video, with a little audio help from Brock. Blaine, the language fanatic, wants to teach Brock to speak German as well as English, so when you hear the foreign words in the video, those are the German vocabulary.

Brock has learned how to say "Hey" and it's probably my favorite word of his because it sounds so sweet and is so clear. You'll hear it a few times in this video. He particularly likes to say it to cats and dogs so listen for it when the picture of the kitten comes up. He also says "baby" and "choo choo" and "airplane" although that sounds more like "ah-tuh". And listen for his little squeal when the picture of the TV comes up and Blaine says "Yo Gabba Gabba". Brock does that every time we say Yo Gabba Gabba.

Anyway, that's enough with the description. Here's the link to the video. Enjoy! :)

Friday, May 11

Friday Photo in Motion - Learning

Brock can't say a whole lot of words yet. His vocabulary consists mostly of the following: truck, star, dog, shoe, dada, mama (occasionally), drink, ouch, apple, and achoo. And even most of those he only really says the first consonant (like "ch, ch" is truck, and "sh, sh" is shoe), but I count them as words anyway. He may not be able to say a ton of things yet, but he does seem to be understanding more and  more every day. My favorite is when he learns something without us even intentionally teaching it to him. Like one evening after bath time, I asked him where his brush was, and he grabbed it and then attempted to brush his hair with it. I knew he knew what a brush was, but I didn't realize, until he did that, that he knew what you were supposed to do with a brush, and I guess he had just seen me doing it and figured it out. We have a little picture book that Blaine picked out before Brock was born called First 100 Words (shown below), and it seems like every week Brock can show me where a new object is, and it's interesting to see him figuring these things out.

Last Saturday morning, I recorded him playing in his room for a few minutes after breakfast. He doesn't really interact with the picture book here as much as he normally will, but I thought I'd post this video as the Friday Photo because it shows some of the words he's learning and some of the things he understands. Also note that he is no longer doing the army crawl and can now get around on all fours like a normal baby... still waiting on the walking part.

Monday, April 30

Love Thy Neighbor

I thought I'd branch out a little and start writing about some things that maybe aren't directly baby-related but are more just life-in-general stuff. My reasons: One, because (contrary to what this blog seems to imply) my life is about more than just my child; Two, because not everyone cares about my child and that he learned how to honk the horn on his riding car last week (which, incidentally, he did); and Three, I think I'm running out of original material with the child, so I thought I'd develop some other topics of interest to blog about.

First on the list, Our Neighbors. Don't worry. This is not a post where I rant or complain about everything that drives me crazy about the people who live around us, although I can't promise it will be completely free of complaining because sometimes it slips out without me even realizing it. Rather these are just some observations I've made and some entertaining little anecdotes I wanted to share.

We bought our house in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia a little over three years ago in January 2009. It was the very first house we looked at, and I fell immediately in love with it but someone else outbid us on it so we had to continue our search. When we couldn't seem to find anything else that we (mostly me) loved, a miracle happened and I saw that Our House (because it had already become that in my head) had been put back on the market. At the last minute, we put a new bid on it and it was ours! I have loved our neighborhood, our community, and our city ever since we moved in, and while we may eventually have to upsize (if we have the 10 kids that Blaine wants to have), we really look forward to many years in this house.

Of course, when you buy a house, you get the neighbors as well (unless you live in some distant and remote land I guess). Fortunately, most of ours turned out to be pretty good, and even though we only know three of their names, I thought I'd introduce you to our neighbors as we know them:

First there's John - He was the very first neighbor we met because my nana asked him to come help us light the pilot light on our water heater. He's the only neighbor that we know both his and his spouse's name, or their last name for that matter. And he's the one we talk to the most, meaning he always comes over to talk if he sees us outside. He's very nice and even gives us vegetables from his garden sometimes, but he's one of those that never really ends the conversation so you always have to do it yourself. I can handle that, but Blaine sort of has the same problem so he sometimes gets trapped into standing outside forever with John, just suffering through the awkward silences and trying to think of what else to say (as I look out the window laughing at him). One little problem with John is that he thinks Brock's name is Blake. I didn't correct him the first time he said it and so now it's gone on too long that I can't tell him! You know when that happens? You just don't really know how to break the news to them that they've been wrong all this time. I figure I'll just wait until Brock can say his own name then he'll probably correct John himself, and then John will think Brock is dumb and doesn't know his real name. What a predicament.

Then there's Mr. "Cathy" - That's not actually his name. Cathy is his wife's name, but I don't remember what his name is, so I just call him Mr. Cathy (not to his face though). I like Mr. Cathy because he gives us things that he cleans out of his garage. He brought us a huge bag of cookie cutters one day that his daughter used to cook with, and he gave us four big plastic tubs to put Brock's toys in. They have an older son in the military who graduated from high school last year and a daughter still in high school. Nice people.

The neighbor who formerly hated me - I've mentioned her a couple of times in the blog (Here and Here). In hindsight, I don't think she actually hated me. I think she's just more of an introvert like me and doesn't really talk to strangers. The interesting thing about Molly Maid (as Blaine refers to her, since she used to have a sticker on her car because she worked there or something) is that somehow she knew Brock's name and how old he was. We've never actually had a conversation before, just a "Hey, how's it going" here and there, but Blaine said he was outside with Brock one day not too long after his birthday, and she stopped and said, "Brock just turned a year old, didn't he?" I just thought it was strange because we've never talked to her, and I know she didn't find out from John because then she would have thought his name was Blake. Maybe she found the blog and reads it, which would be kind of embarrassing to me considering those first two posts.

Mr. "Talker" - Again, not a real name, but we've never actually introduced ourselves. He lives toward the beginning of our street and likes to sit outside and fiddle with his bicycles and fix stuff in his yard. He's a sweet little man and loves to talk, hence the nickname. I always pass him when I'm taking Brock on a walk, and Mr. Talker will usually start up a conversation as we're approaching his house and try to wrap it up by the time we pass, or maybe I wrap it up for him since I don't stop walking. That sounds kind of rude now that I think of it, but I'm just trying to get my exercise in and he seems to understand. He always starts off by commenting on the weather and ends by telling me to have a good day. I became a big fan of his the day he told me I was getting a lot of exercise walking Brock around but that I didn't even need it! I love you Mr. Talker!

Mr. & Mrs. Artificial Flowers - This house has been slightly amusing to me since the first day we moved in because they have all these bright, pretty, artificial flowers in window flower boxes and around their mailbox and their outdoor water fountain. I don't know why I find it funny, but I think it's because I never thought of it myself. I mean, how much easier and cost-efficient is that?! Quit worrying about digging and planting and putting in new flowers every season and just use artificial ones. Not to mention, you can have spring flowers all year long, even at Christmas or when there are 6 inches of snow outside. Mr. & Mrs. A.F. have a really pretty rock water fountain by their front porch and they keep it all lit up at night. It's always flowing, and Mr. A. F. is always tinkering with it. It seems like every evening I see him out there doing something to the fountain. I've always been curious what the inside of their house looks like for some reason.

The Meth House - This house, right across the street from ours, is on my neighborhood watch list because there are constantly 7 or 8 different cars parked in the driveway, and there are always different people going in and out. Ok, I don't really think it's a meth house (though I admit Blaine and I both had serious suspicions for a couple of months). The elderly lady who lives there has Alzheimer's and apparently her condition has gotten worse in the past year. She apparently also has about 10 children and 20 grandchildren with a million friends who come to check on her and take care of her because that house is busier than a train station. We met one of the granddaughters (and by "met", I mean we recognized her from across the street and observed her at work) working at Chick-fil-a one day, and she was very well-mannered and hard-working, which eased our concerns about whether she was a meth dealer. And after talking to John, who I forgot to mention is kind of the go-to guy for anything going on in the neighborhood, we realized that they are mostly all family helping out with their elderly mother/grandmother.

Brenda & The Screamers - In the house to the left of ours lives Brenda, Brenda's husband/boyfriend/lover?, and Brenda's grandchildren. Brenda's grandchildren like to play outside and scream like they are being murdered, particularly during Brock's nap time. Brock loves watching the little boy play basketball. Piper loves scaring the little boy to death by running after him and barking; poor kid. Mr. Brenda is an inspiration because when we first moved in to the house, he was quite large (yet unashamed, as he loved to walk around shirtless in his yard) and had a massive beard and long hair. At the beginning of last year, he started walking the neighborhood every day with Brenda or the kids and eventually cut his hair all off and shaved his beard. Blaine and I saw him one day a few months later and didn't even recognize him. He had lost at least 50 pounds and was no longer a hairy beast of a man. I was so impressed how he just kind of set his mind to it and drastically changed his appearance for the good. Now I think of Mr. Brenda every day when I start my walk with Brock and hope that my efforts will be rewarded like his were.

Finally, Mr. Landscaper - This man has THE most beautiful yard you've ever seen. He has rose bushes lining one side of the yard, tulips and daffodils blooming in huge patches in the Spring, a fountain in the backyard (you can see it from the road, I didn't trespass), a white trellis and swing, and flowers everywhere. I seriously love this yard and am so jealous of it. What's funny is that the man is probably 70 years old at least, but I see him out there planting and watering and pruning all the time. He's amazing. Anytime Blaine walks with us, I always point it out and say, "See, don't you want a yard that looks like that?!" One day I remarked to Blaine, who hates even mowing, "It's interesting to me as much as you love the outdoors that you don't like to do any landscaping in our yard." To which he replied, "I like the outdoors as they are; I like to leave them untouched and unadulterated by human hands." Which is fine if you're in the wilderness, but not so great if it's your lawn! Anyway, if I ever have a daughter I have plans to build a friendship with Mr. Landscaper and see if he'll let me have her pictures made in his yard (it's kind of too feminine for Brock with all the flowers, but it would be great with a little girl).


So, what can we take away from this post?
A.) I am a weirdo neighbor stalker who knows way too much about the people I live near since I've never actually met most of them. I'd say I'm a pair of binoculars short of being a freak.
B.) I need to be a little more sociable and friendly and introduce myself to these people who I've lived around for 3 years and don't know their names.
C.) There are some really fascinating people in this world, from whom I could probably learn a lot, and many of them can be found right across the street.

Friday, April 27

Friday Photo in Motion - Hi Brock

I often think about the amazing technology we have in our world today and how much it helps us, entertains us, teaches us, and allows us to procrastinate and put off real life yet still feel like we've accomplished something (thank you Pinterest and Facebook). Last week, I was once again fascinated with technology when my sister-in-law used her phone to videotape her daughter Anna (my niece and Brock's cousin) saying hi to Brock and then emailed it to us to watch. Anna and Brock have recently gotten to know each other a little better, and it is fun to watch them interact together. I'm hoping Anna will show him the ropes and inspire him to start walking soon. Anyway, here is the video of Anna saying hi to Brock. 

And here is Brock's reaction to the video. He loves the end where she brings her face in close to the camera and it makes him laugh. As you can tell, he wants to watch it over and over again and has almost figured out how to press the play button to make it work. You can also hear his version of her name. It comes out more like "Atta" than Anna, but he's working on it. Now we just need to teach them how to Skype each other. Our kids are definitely growing up in a privileged world!

Friday, April 20

Friday Photos - Better than White Water

For Brock's birthday, Blaine and I bought him a water table because it combines two of his favorite things: He loves being outside and loves playing in water (whether it's his bath or the dog's water bowl). One afternoon I set it up in our front yard and let him have at it. I don't even think we'll ever need to take him to any water parks because this thing was plenty of entertainment. Who needs White Water when you have your very own water table?! Seriously though, I was happy because I think we'll definitely get our money's worth out of this thing over the summer. Two thumbs up for water tables!

Drinking the water, which I'm sure was perfectly clean and sanitary
(Disclaimer: No plastic figurines were harmed in the making of these photos)
He loves spinning the water wheel and watching the water fly everywhere
I had my own fun with the water table as well

And the best part, his shirt unintentionally went along with the water theme

Sunday, April 1

Brock's First Birthday

We've had a busy and crazy week this past week, and everything has kind of been a whirlwind, so this is a little late getting posted. Brock turned a year old the Monday before last (3/19), and Blaine and I both took off work to celebrate the day with him. Then Saturday we had his actual birthday party with family and a few friends. Both days were so much fun, and I loved watching him experience the excitement of balloons and cake and presents. Now I'm catching up and blogging about it all.

While we may be reserved when it comes to gifts at Christmas (remember my post about our policy?), I am all about birthday presents! I love, love, love birthdays (with a preference for my own until I turned 26, and now I'm kind of over my birthday... I can't even keep track of how old I am anymore). I love the concept of birthdays: that it's your special day that you came into the world and that everyone celebrates you and all the years you've lived. I love the parties and the gifts and the gathering of family and friends. I love surprises and cake (Oh, I love cake a lot) and party themes and cake and games and fun. Did I mention I love birthday cake?

Anyway, it probably goes without saying then that I plan to do really great things for my children's birthdays. I remember my mom always throwing my sister and me the best parties (we almost always had to share parties because our birthdays were a day apart, but I hated that because she was three years younger than me, so that meant all her little friends were there with mine, ugh. I was a mean older sister). One year we had a food-fight party with a wheelbarrow of disgusting mush (wet bread, noodles, jello, etc.) to throw at each other while we all ran around in bathing suits and then played in the sprinklers afterward. The slumber parties were the greatest, with food and nail polish and movies and girl gossip. Oh man, I miss those days.

Now, I don't think that really great parties equal spending tons and tons of money so don't get me wrong there. And I didn't want to go overboard for Brock's first birthday because I've seen some pretty crazy first birthdays out there. I did want to do something fun, and I also wanted it to be something that all his little cousins would enjoy coming to (he has quite a few). I think it was a success because my nephew Jackson told me as he was leaving, "This was the Greatest. Party. Ever!" (Although, he has a precious tendency to be that enthusiastic about lots of things so I'm not sure if it was a completely accurate assessment; I'll take what I can get though.) I thought I'd write a little post about Brock's birthday and his party (or maybe a not so little post since I've already written four paragraphs and I'm only now just getting into the actual topic).

On his birthday day, we unfortunately had to go to the doctor that morning so that wasn't such a great thing since he had to get shots. But he came home and took a nap and then afterward we gave him his presents. I didn't wrap them because I figured he'd rather just be able to play with them immediately. So this is what he woke up to after his nap:

He was slightly more excited about the balloons than anything else, but that was okay. Then after he played with his presents a little while, we ate lunch at Chick-fil-a, went and got some thumbprint cookies from the bakery, and then went to the park near our house. Sadly my camera battery went dead so we only stayed at the park a few minutes because as Blaine said (in what may have been a sarcastic tone), "There's no use being at the park if we can't document it on camera." So we came back home, Brock took his second nap, then we went back to the park and had more fun (with better lighting, I might add). Then we went to the Tropical Sno place down the road and let Brock have his first shave ice. We topped off the evening with dinner at O'Charley's, compliments of my mom.

Now, on to the actual party. I've been planning for two or three months what I was going to do, not because it really required that much time but because I'm a big planner and an admitted Type A personality. With the help of a sweet little website known as Follow Me on Pinterest I was able to find all kinds of ideas and tips for the party. I decided I wanted to do the theme based on the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It's one of the books I have read to Brock since he was just a few weeks old, and he has really grown to like it. He loves the part where the caterpillar eats through all the fruit and he'll flip each little page to get to the next fruit. So I thought it would be a cute and easy theme to work with.

I looked for invitations to buy, and there were some you could order from Etsy, but none of them really looked like what I wanted because they were mostly generic versions of the hungry caterpillar and didn't look authentic. Plus they were a little too expensive. So I decided, as I usually do, that I was just going to make the invitations myself. I have found over the past few years that I really, really like making party invitations. I've done them for friends' bridal showers, lingerie showers, and baby showers that I've thrown. I wish I had taken pictures of all the ones I've made so I could show you here, but no luck. I only have this one that I did for my friend, Kerri's baby shower last year:

It's so much cheaper, I think, to make your own invitations, and you can personalize it and make it exactly the way you want it. I found a website (via Pinterest) with some genuine hungry caterpillar clipart that you could download for free, so I headed to Hobby Lobby and found the scrapbook papers I wanted and set to work. Using the free clipart, my scrapbook supplies, and my computer and printer, I came up with this little guy, and it only cost me about 25 cents an invitation since all I had to buy was the paper:

I wanted to have the party at Gilbert Stephenson Park because it is only like 2 minutes away from where we live, it would be free, and we wouldn't have 30 people in our house. You never know what kind of weather we'll have in March, so that was a frustration, and I was on every day for about a month before the party, with my fingers crossed that it wouldn't be rainy or cold (both of which it did end up being). We had a backup plan at my grandmother's apartment clubhouse, but I really wanted to have it at the park so all the cousins could play on the playground and not be bored.

My friend Kristen had saved the paper poms we made for Kerri's shower, so I borrowed them from her to use as decorations for the pavilion since the green, orange, and yellow colors all went pretty well with the Hungry Caterpillar theme. I won't post a picture of what they looked like hung up because I kind of ran out of time and couldn't hang them the way I really wanted to, so they weren't very fantastic-looking, but the picture I had planned in my head looked amazing. A side note, I saw at Party City that you could buy a pack of three pre-made paper poms for $6. Do not ever spend that much money on those! These are so easy to make, and depending on what size you wanted, you could make two or three for just $1 if you buy your tissue paper at the dollar store. Here's the link to a tutorial on how to make these, and this is what they look like up close.

I got orange, yellow, and green tablecloths, plates, napkins, and cups from the dollar store and found a cute polka-dot table cloth for the food table that matched the theme. I wanted to somehow display Brock's monthly pictures that we took for the first year, and I had seen some different styles of hanging banners on Pinterest. Then when I noticed I had extra invitation paper leftover, the idea came to mind to make a caterpillar banner. My only regret was that I didn't have a way to hang the banner up at the party because it was too windy and it would have fallen apart. So we just laid it out flat on the gift table.

I also had a ton of pictures that I had printed off that didn't have a home in any picture album or frame and were just sitting around so I thought I'd make use of those and put them on a cork board to display. This was fun for the people at the party who don't follow the blog (I know, it's shocking but true that even some of my family members don't!) and haven't seen most of those pictures before.

To add to the theme, I cut up all the fruits that are in the book and printed off little labels that quoted the book. I stuck the labels on little wooden dowels and used whole fruits to hold them in place, which looked pretty to me. These were Pinterest ideas and not my own.

I got some thumbprint cookies from a bakery down the road from the park, Sunshine Bakery Boutique. I wanted to do thumbprint cookies, one, because they went along with the polka-dot theme and, two, because I love thumbprint cookies more than it should be humanly possible to love thumbprint cookies (sometimes I go buy them just as a random treat for myself... which probably explains why I can't lose the 20 pounds I keep complaining about). I was going to put them all around the caterpillar cake as the dots from the book, but the caterpillar cake ended up being so amazing that I didn't even want to add anything to it. So we just set them aside on a plate by the book as extra decoration.

Since the hungry caterpillar turns into a butterfly at the end of the book, I figured the end of the party could be associated with a butterfly. Another Pinterest idea... I made little butterfly party favors with sour gummy worms, ziploc snack baggies, and clothes-pins. I forgot to take a picture of these at the party, but this was one that was left over that came back home with us. He lost his little antennae though. The others had tiny blue pipe cleaner antennae at the top of the clothes-pin. I also printed off hungry caterpillar coloring sheets for all the kids to take home. (Here's a link to the printable in case anyone else wants one.)

Finally, the pièce de résistance (which is just a fancy French phrase, meaning "the best part"). I had seen a cute caterpillar cupcake cake on Pinterest and asked my crafty and super talented mother-in-law if she thought she could possibly make one for the party. From my own personal experience with stuff I make, I try not to get too excited about how something is going to actually turn out looking because it usually ends up nothing like what I had in my head (remember what I said about the pom decorations up there?). And she had even texted me that day saying she was worried that it wasn't what I wanted. I think she was just trying to throw me off though because it was perfect! It looks just like the Hungry Caterpillar. She put black sprinkles on the top cupcakes to look like the caterpillar fuzz. She made edible chocolate antennae and chocolate feet and even died some coconut green to look like the grass. The caterpillar head was the "smash cake" for Brock to dig into (which was kind of anti-climactic because he only wanted to use a spoon). My one regret is that this was the only crappy picture I got of the cake! What's wrong with me?! I loved it though!

So that was Brock's first birthday, A Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday party. Other than the rainy, cold, and windy weather, I felt like it all turned out really well. I loved planning it and putting it together, and I look forward to many more fun birthday parties. Although one lesson I learned is that future parties for him will probably need to be indoors because I'm too much of a control freak to do outdoor parties in Spring weather.