Friday, September 12, 2014

Elijah: 2 years old

"Do you remember when we first met?
I sure do
It was some time
In early September
You were lazy about it
You made me wait around
I was so crazy about you
I didn't mind"

Every time this song comes on your CD player, I get a little sentimental thinking about your birth.  I was so excited for you to come meet your brother, but then I really fell for you not just in the little brother role, but as a unique and wonderful separate being than your brother.  You two have been similar in ways, yet so different and I just love watching you develop.  Two is almost a sad birthday for me, as it means you're totally done being a baby and ready to move on to potty-training, resisting the high chair, moving out of the crib, talking, and starting to have activities without mama.  But, I know it will be a fascinating year to watch you discover so many things and I appreciate the chance to watch you grow up.

About You:  I always say you're my "little one," but you're about average for height and weight (check-up Monday, we'll see if their scales agree).  You wear 18-24/2T clothes, and size 6 shoes.  Your hair is BLONDE!  I always liked pairing up with a blonde and brunette pair of friends/sisters growing up so we'd have the redhead, brunette, blonde trio, and now I have that all the time between your brother and you.  I do wonder how long it will last though until your hair darkens. 

Words/Communication:  Though your serious, stern, excited, how-could-you?, obedient, naughty, and excited faces communicate your world of emotions, you are still not one to chatter away yet.  It cracks me up when I run through lists of emotions and you will make the faces on demand-I'm afraid you could be an actor.  You do say mama, dada, uh-oh, hiya, and bye-bye (and more, as of yesterday); can moo, baaa, hiss (cat/snake), choo-choo, boo-boo, and vroom-vroom with the best of 'em; and will sign more, all done, please, beep-beep, milk (with an accompanied moo), up, I Love You, and open.  You just started some speech therapy, and surprisingly warmed up to the nice lady, so hopefully she can pry some words out of you.

Music:  Music is such a huge part of your daily life.  You love to turn the CD player on (and up) anytime you're in your room.  It normally has the Jack Johnson CD that never gets old for you.  You recently have started singing lalalalalas with me, and it is so sweet.  You will dance around to your own songs or even others that kids sing.  Ring-a-round-the-rosie is your all time favorite (perhaps because it combines running in circles with music?).  You can be found walking around the house playing a harmonica or in playrooms shaking bells.

Little Shadow:  You and your brother are finally at the age where you're interacting a lot more-which has meant lots of slapping each other (mostly you), tackling (mostly brother), and general bickering between you and he.  You have a tendency to knock over train trestles, bring down elaborate pillow buildings, and mess up the general orderliness of Theo's play and it drives him a bit crazy.  But you love to play tag with each other, bathe and giggle together, eat snacks together, and listen to stories together.

You are still mama's little shadow as well too, in terms of wanting to put on deodorant and make-up, cleaning up after ourselves, going to the bathroom (pretend, unfortunately) walking the dog, and always wanting to help out in the kitchen.  You are typically glued to me anytime we got out around other adults, but will venture away from me and play on your own at the playground.  You're not so scared of other kids (though you seem to be a magnet for getting pinched/bit/smacked) but will shy away anytime an adult talks to you.  You will be separating from mama this week for a MOPS meeting, and I'm very worried about you crying the whole time.

You'll shadow dada as much as you can too: helping him with grinding the coffee, shaving your face, and working out in the garden.

Books:  Your attention span for books is increasing daily. You still love both Little Blue Truck books, and new favorites include Otis and Kitten's First Full Moon.  You are doing a better job of sitting through pages with more than a few words on them, and of course you love turning the pages yourself when it's time.  After story time, you always help turn off the light and turn on your music. 

Other Fun Facts:  Your favorite chore is carrying the poop bag when we walk the dog (you insist upon it).  You are very helpful in bringing things to us when we ask.  You LOVE icing and ice cream (compared to other desserts, which you love all of).  You can climb any feature on the playground.   You say uh-oh anytime I get a notification on my phone/computer.  Babies are your favorite.  You don't like french fries (oddly).  You are extraordinarily persistent.  You are very empathetic.  Brushing your teeth is your favorite pastime. 

21.5 months

22 months
22.5 months

23 months

23.5 months

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Sailor Photos

On Elijah's final day of being one, I decided I had better get these posted finally.  Eli is about 22 months in these, compared to Theo at 16 months.  This was a sailor suit that Brian's grandmother had sewn and all his brothers took photos in.  

And a few from Theo's session years ago!

And for more comparison, here are dada and the uncles in the same suit as well.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tips for Visiting The Children's Museum of Indianapolis with Young Children

As I've said before, we didn't go a lot of places in my childhood.  Having cattle at home to get back to just didn't allow for a lot of travel.  But one place we did go almost yearly was the wonderful Children's Museum of Indianapolis.  Coincidentally, we always visited it when we were in Indy for Hoosier Beef Congress in December.

This setting stared in several short story assignments I wrote in my school days, and will always be on my list of top places to visit in Indy.  And now, as if it could get any better, my sister recently started working at the museum, and is able to give us insider tips!!!  I can't say enough about how great this museum is, for kids of all ages, and frankly it would take a long, long post to explain all of the different exhibits at the museum, so I'll just share some highlights and photos from our most recent visits with the pre-school set.  Back in 2011 we took the first three grandkids on my side, who were 0, 1, and 5 years old.  We've doubled the number of grandkids in the last three years, and took all six of them on the most recent trip, ages:  0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 8. 

Of course they need an Indy Car! 
Favorite exhibits for the toddler/pre-schooler set:
Fireworks of Glass:  The colorful sculpture in the center of the museum, made by Dale Chihuly is neat to look at from the ramps, but the pre-schoolers in our group have always loved to look at it from below.  A rotating bench on the lower level makes for a great viewing spot.  And building their own sculpture with plastic pieces is always a hit.

Dinosphere:  The scene is set perfectly for entering the late Cretaceous time period, as changing weather (lights and sounds) add to the awesomeness of this exhibit.  A "storm" happens periodically, and help little ones imagine what it was like to walk with the dinosaurs.  Kids love the archeology pit here, as well as dressing up and hopping in a dinosaur nest.  

Playscape:  The newly remodeled play area for the youngest visitors is worth a membership on it's own if you live nearby.  There is sand play, water play, building, crawling, music, and even an art studio.  The under five crowd (and their "helper" older siblings) can experience sights, sounds, touches, and smells in this wonderful playscape.  Scienceworks is a similar exhibit, but for a bit older kids to explore.

The Carousel:  On the highest level, the full size carousel is always a favorite (though adds a $1 a ride to your costs, except under two who are still free).  Be sure to check if you want a stationary ride or an animal that goes up and down. The exhibit around the carousel includes a maze of mirrors, and some good dramatic free play space.

Take Me to China:  Finally, the exhibit featuring the destination China was also surprisingly fun for our group.  "Flying" on an airplane, "riding" on a commuter train, practicing eating Chinese cuisine, shopping in a grocery store, and dressing up in traditional costumes were all enjoyed by our kiddos.

Additional Tips:
  • Keep an eye out for temporary exhibits.  Even if you've been there dozens of times before like us, you never know when something new will be there.  We happened to be there during the short time this Wall to China Slide was up, and it was about the best slide ever.  A nice extra touch.   
  • Like many museums, they are closed on some Mondays.  Tues-Sun, hours are 10-5pm.
  • For an extra fee, you can view The Emperor's Painted Army in the China's Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit.  Though it was a little old for our crowd, it's very interesting for adults and all my second-grader niece could talk about when she visited on a school field trip.  She loved it, and they do a neat dramatization of the warrior and an archeologist in the atrium daily.  Check for the time, and hurry because the exhibit will end in November!
  • There is a Mother's Room in the new Playscape exhibit.  Private with everything needed for caring for a newborn (whether you are breastfeeding or want a quiet place to feed a bottle and change diapers).
  • If you have a Transformer lover, they will obviously notice the huge Bumblebee figure as you walk in, but be sure to catch the dramatization of Bumblebee in the atrium too.  Your action lover will delight in watching Bumblebee come to life.  (The main thing my four year old talks about when he remembers his trip.)  Check the time for this when you arrive.

  • Tickets to the Lilly Theater and the Planetarium (One World, One Sky:  Big Bird's Big Adventure is good for the youngest visitors) are free, pick up at the lower level ticket booth.  It looks like they have an awesome Christmas Seuss-themed play coming up in the Lilly.
  • There is a huge, real life train in the basement that kids can walk through.  Beware though, there are new train tables nearby.  You may want to distract them from these if you have a kid like mine who would play all day and may have a melt down if you'd rather not stay at that exhibit all day.
  • You can rent a stroller, pick up a complementary diaper, store stuff in a rented locker, eat at the food court, or even use an ATM in the museum.  Basically, they have everything you need including free wifi spots.  Since it is a bit pricey ($14.50-19.50, under two are free) you really should plan to get the most out of your money by spending the whole day there.  And if you do make it the whole day, plan to end at the top level around 4:55 for the daily "parade".  (They do offer free nights, but I have heard they are packed!)
  • Oh, and our favorite part!  Be sure to check out the clock in the atrium at 12:59.  You'll see why.
I'll have to update this in a few years with many of the other exhibits that are great for school age kids.  Because, if you can't tell, this is THE best children's museum in the country.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Transformation Tuesday: Weight Loss Anniversary

Today marks a new anniversary for me.  This one is one I haven't really talked about on the blog much, but something I've had to talk a lot about when I see people in person.  So many people have been so sweet complementing me and encouraging to me, that I wanted to put this out there in hopes of helping some others.  So, here goes...

In the last year, I have lost 40 pounds!  I wish I could claim it was all baby weight, but very little of it could be claimed as such.  I started my journey less than ten pounds above my pre-pregnancies weight.
Wearing shorts!  (First time in years.)
It took several huge life changes and some big realizations to motivate me to start a healthier lifestyle.  Once we moved to Virginia last summer (huge life change #1), and I became a stay at home mom (huge life change #2), I started baking even more than normal as an outlet for some of my time and energy.  I need to have something productive to do everyday, and like to bake for my hubby and with my kids, so this was filling some of my hours.  But around when Eli was about to turn one and be weaned from breastfeeding, I realized that if I kept up with so much baking we would all end up having way too much of a good thing (realization #1).  And then I stepped on the scale (realization #2), figured how close I was getting to thirty (realization #3), and decided I needed to do more than just cut out the sweets and fresh bread.  Being at home all day with the boys meant constant access to my kitchen, and the potential for very unhealthy snacking, which has always been my weakness (realization #4).  So, I followed the leads of friends and family and joined weight watchers.

I used the online version of weight watchers.  Basically, I would enter everything I ate on their online tracker, and they would tell me the amount of points.  Then, I would make my food choices based on my remaining points for the day/week.  You get a certain allowance per day, and then a weekly allowance too which helps for birthdays/events/splurging.  I was able to pretty much stay at or under my points allowances every week, and the pounds just started dropping off.  Portion control is really the most important thing WW teachers you.

I started eating breakfast (for the first time consistently in my life), a morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and sometimes even a drink/ice cream if I managed my points really well.  I was really spreading my food across the day instead of just having a lunch, afternoon snack, and large dinner like I used to.

Not exactly by choice, but I also started getting a little more active.  I became responsible for walking the dog (a task Brian had always done while I worked) and also needed to take Theodore to school and back (which meant double trips for me, so about 1.2 miles of walking three times a week).  We also started some walks up to the library and other places nearby since we couldn't drive anywhere.

I weighed myself each week.  Originally on a Friday, but then I switched to Monday, which I think was a better day for me.  I tried not to weigh myself between weigh-ins.  And after 10 weeks I was down 20 pounds!  I let up a little around my birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but still managed to lose another 10 pounds by the end of winter.

I took the photo on the left the day before I started Weight Watchers.  It was a motivating factor as well.
I steadily kept on watching points or counting calories (though for some reason, just straight calorie counting was tougher for me-I like the point system WW gives you) months passed, and the days of trudging through the snow to take Theo to school let up.  The warm weather never felt as good as it did this year, and I started taking long walks when Theo was at school and Eli would nap.  We hit March-which I planned to turn into "Movement March," but it wasn't really until April when I started exercising a lot.  I started a couch to 5k app (5k Runner app), started doing some Jillian Michael's videos, and made it a point to just move more in general.  Now I've never been much of a runner, but something about the app and training routine kept me motivated and I've kept it all summer.  Since I started running I lost another 10 pounds, and though I don't feel the pounds come off as quickly now, I am building more muscle and still dropping clothing sizes and inches.
My latest 4.5 mile walk/run.  This includes a huge hill on Darbydale that I used to fear, but I recently ran up!  The math teacher in me loves all the charts and graphs and numbers I get to see throughout the running and tracking (this is the mapmywalk app.

I'm not done yet though!  At a year into this "diet"/healthy changes, my goals are:
  • Be closer to my goal weight/jeans size by my 30th birthday (another 15 pounds away)
  • Maintain healthy eating (even through any future pregnancies I may have)
  • Continue moving (biking, exercise classes, hiking... if only the boys could keep up with me)
  • Start more consistent strength training

Wwwoooh.  That was a lot, but now that's it out there stay tuned for more helpful tips, recipes, and ideas.