Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

As we say goodbye to 2011 I decided to go back through our year in photos.  Just a quick chronological journey through the highlights. 

A few of our best memories were Max's first birthday, announcing my 2nd pregnancy, moving into a house that feels more like home and then walking through the front door of that home with Sullivan in my arms, watching my boys become enamored with one another and witnessing them grow and grow and grow right before my eyes.  I have no doubt in my mind that this year will go down in our history of one of the best ever, ever.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Magical Christmas

Left: Sled from Santa to both boys.  Middle: Max and Sullivan's three gifts each from Santa.  Top Right: "Sensory Cubby" from Momma and Dada to both boys.
We loved planning Christmas for the boys this year.  Experiencing the wonder and anticpation with Max made our hearts glow.  And with Sullivan...there is nothing sweeter than baby's first Christmas.  

First we decided we should set some standards for the "gifts" aspect of the holiday season in order to keep things (ie. spending) under control.  We determind that three gifts each was a good place to start.  Not only did this seem like plenty it also incorporated the spirit of Christmas since Jesus received three gifts on the night he was born.  This will serve as a good explanation when the boys ask why they don't get as many gifts as other kids on Christmas in the future.  I know that day will come :)  The boys also got one big "shared" Santa gift and a few things in their stockings.  Other than that we wanted to focus on family traditions and giving thoughtful gifts rather than "stuff".

SO. These are the three gifts Max received from Santa:
An accordian, Pallino game and a little learner laptop!
And these are the three gifts Sullivan received from Santa:
A "vintage" spinning top, old school tin radio and wooden shape sorter.
On Christmas morning Billy and I woke up around 8.  The house was still silent.  Should we wake the boys up?  We decided to go downstairs and make hot chocolate and wait for them to stir.  Billy wrote Max a letter "from Santa" thanking him for the treats we left out...and reminding him to be a good boy all year ;)

Sullivan was the first one up.

We brought him downstairs and put him in the new sled that Santa brought for both boys...
Then Max woke up.  His reaction to the presents under the tree was priceless.  What he loved most, though, was seeing Sully sitting in the sled.  He went ran over to give him a hug and said "Ooohhhh, Baby, Mewy Kissmass!!!"
I wonder how hard it will be to come up with one mutually pleasing gift in years to come for the "shared" present...especially as our family expands. For now, having two little boys, the possibilties were endless. But we settled on this sweet heirloom sled.
Everyone in KC can thank us now, because we will officially NOT be getting snow this season as a result of buying this thing. Guaranteed.
Snow or no snow it looks like Max is going to get some good use out of it.  (mesmerized by the Yo Gabba Gabba Christmas Special)

We did decide that there was absolutely no cap on gifts made with the hands and the heart. And here is where I went a little nuts...

We put together a "Sensory Cubby" for them full of fun little things we found around the house.  This was for the boys from Momma & Dada.  Billy and I had a blast going on a scavenger hunt to find random stuff to put in the cubbys.  I attached the labels with velcro so I can switch them out every once in awhile.
This has turned out to be his very favorite gift so far.  Loves shining the flashlight in each of the cubbies and looking around with the binoculars.
Memory Game:
I loved the game Memory when I was a kid.  I thought Max would probably be intrested in it IF the pictures where of people he recognized.  So with the help of my Mom and Gram we made these little memory cards out of 2x3" pieces of wood.

ABCs Rock!:
THIS was a Pinterest idea. What little boy doesn't love rocks?!  I painted the uppercase letters on one side and lowercase letters on the other side.

Then there were the boys gifts to each other....
When I asked Max what he wanted to give Sullivan for Christmas he looked around and said "Ummm...Bib!!"  Sullivan wears a bib all day, everyday.  Being the drooliest, spittiest baby one could imagine I have to change his bib multiple times a day (which is better than an entire new outfit).  I'm not surprised Max thought a new bib would be the perfect gift for his little brother.  I also loved the idea because as soon as he said the word "bib" I thought back to this quote I'd seen on Pinterest months ago and thought it was hilarious...
It probably could have turned out better if I had done any sort of test prior to creating this, but I just went for it. Even freehanding the Superman logo from a Google image on my computer screen. Oh well. It was made with love.
The "S" is for Sullivan :)
Then there was Sullivan's gift to Max.  Obviously too young to come up with an idea himself I took it upon myself to make this book via Shutterfly. I called it "Sullivan Slept..." 
It talks about all the things Max wanted to do with Sullivan after he was born, but Sullivan was too busy sleeping all the time.  I gave it a cute surprise ending and Max LOVES it. We've already read it just about 50 times.

And last but not least were the stockings.  Just a few little things....

Sullivan's stocking:
Wind-up duck family, The Velveteen Rabbit book, Shamrock wooden teether and a little STUFT doll.
Max's Stocking:
Window Crayons, Silly String, the ABC's Rock (mentioned above) and the Memory Game (mentioned above) and the light up BALL his asked for from Santa!
Max likes to get creative too.  I let him use celery and apples to stamp onto paper.  I framed a few of them and they turned out to be great gifts...

We also made a "back rub" shirt for Dada for Christmas.  I painted the road on the back and added things that Billy loves...the Bears, golf, McLains Bakery (that's Max and Dada's "spot" they go together every weekend) and the park.  I let Max go crazy with paint on the front side of the shirt.  And Sullivan added a little drool.
Billy had this shelf made for me by one of our dear friends.  We still have to distress the wood and stain it, but I love the way it turned out!
Max and Sullivan, you are my two favorite little gifts in the whole world....I hope all of our Christmas's are as magical as this one turned out to be.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

PeePee on the Pah-tay....PeePee on the Pah-tay....

This is the little cha-cha that we sing to Max when he wants to do his business on the big boy potty.  Max's interest in the potty has been on hiatus since he inexplicably (and miraculously) decided to potty train himself at 11 months.  We let him try it one day after he seemed really interested in what the toilet was for.  From that moment on he wanted to go on it constantly.  The excitement of the potty wore off about a month later and we didn't push it.  We couldn't believe it was even possible for him to be fully pt'd that young in the first place.

It actually stressed me out.  The thought of driving somewhere (running late. obviously.) and Max saying "momma potty" made me panic.  I wasn't ready for potty training.  There were a couple times he said "potty?" and I replied "It's ok, buddy,  you're wearing your diaper".  Bad mom.  But truly diapers are as convenient for me as they are for him even still. 

Here he is on the little potty we bought for him after I almost dropped him in the toilet one day trying to hover him over the bowl.  He'd toddle straight to it every morning on his new found toddler legs.
Max at 11 months
 (Oh Lord.  That hair was so out of control before we cut it on his first bday.)

The chair has been in our new bathroom taking up space, but it wasn't until last week that he asked to use it again.  We're taking baby steps.  I put him on it when he wants to go, ask him throughout the day if he needs to use the potty and make a HUGE GIANT deal out of it when he does. 
Likes to play music on the phone while doing his business.
Gets distracted from the task at hand easily.
 Other than rewarding him with an M&M whenever he goes I'm not forcing the issue for now.  And it's going to be awhile before I trust this man with nothing more than a thin piece of cloth covered in Yo Gabba Gabba print between him and the outside world.
In the meantime, the underpants make a suitable hat.
If you really want to make him mad take them off of his head without permission.  Not cool.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Update: 4 months & 22 months

"I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite"
Dear Sullivan,
You're 4 months!  This post comes about a week late because your check up with Dr. Kate wasn't until today and I wanted to post your impressive stats.
Height: 26 inches (90th percentile)
Weight: 17.5 lbs (90th percentile)
Head: 17 inches (75th percentile <-- this one surprised me since you appear to have quite the noggin on you.  I thought it had to be in a higher percentile than your height and weight! :)
Cuteness100th percentile
You're right on track with all of your milestones and off the charts in cuteness as usual.  I looked back at Max's "4 month" paperwork and he weighed about a pound more than you (93%), but was shorter at 25.5 inches (75%).  You both had a head circumference of exactly 17 inches. 
Happy boy at the doctor's office!  Except the last photo...just got shots :(
You're now sleeping in your nursery and it has helped all of us get more sleep.  The first night I was so sad without you by my side, but the solid sleep made me gain perspective on that :)
You love to squeal and screech and coo.  You think the sound of your own voice is pretty awesome.  Each time you make a noise you look at me and give me a huge smile like, "Did you hear that, mom?"

You learned to roll your chunky body over this week too!  From back to front.  Brother was very impressed as well.  When Max saw your new trick he said "Whoa, Mom, Whoa!!" (not sure where he picked up on saying "whoa", but lately I feel like I'm living with a mini Joey Lawrence)

We also let you try a little rice cereal because you seem to be constantly hungry.  Plus you still spit up quite a bit and the cereal is supposed to help you keep your milk down better.  It was a hit!
Safety Disclaimer:  I know you're not supposed to put the Bumbo on a countertop, but I would NEVER even turn my back for half a second while he's in it!  He's still just too little for our highchair.
Sullivan....those EYES!  Heartbreaker.
Max - 22 Months!
I realize this post doesn't come at any particular anniversary or "milestone", but, Max, I MUST start documenting some things you're doing now because you're learning and developing so much everyday it's unreal.

This is going to come as a huge download of info in no particular order.  I'm trying to type as fast as I can to make sure I get everything from my memory onto this virtual baby book...

You're talking like crazy these days.  You can make two or three word sentences and the things you come up with (as well as your understanding of what we say) never ceases to amaze me.  The other night I turned off your bedroom light and you said "Is dark momma."  and I said "It is dark...are you scared?"  and you just replied "No.  Nigh-night".  I love that I now get a glimpse of what's going on in that little brain of yours.  You also are very big into saying "Bless you" when you hear someone sneeze.  We were in the kitchen a few days ago and you heard Dada sneeze from the living yelled "BLESS YOU, DADA, BLESS YOU!!!"  A-dorable.

You're very aware of peoples feelings.  You like to announce whenever you see someone that you think is feeling sad or happy.  You also are constantly monitoring Sullivan's feelings...all day you let me know "Baby happy!" or "Oh no...Baby sad..."  You often ask us "Momma happy?" and "Dada happy?" when we both answer "yes" you'll say "Hmm...(and then exclaim) Max happy!"  I love that you're sure to think about it first :)  You also like to scold your toys or characters in your books and say "No No" while frowning and shaking your finger with disapproval.  I'm TRYING to teach you that you're not allowed to scold Momma, though :)

You can COUNT.  OK, maybe other toddlers can count too...not sure when you're supposed to learn that skill...but you can count to 5 totally unassisted.  I test your skills and will ask you to bring me 3 blocks and you'll run to the play room and run back with three blocks.  So its clear that you actually know that the words you're saying are associated with something tangible.

The numbers on the floor are left over from the "shot walk" we had at our Christmas party last week, but Max really likes them so I haven't pulled them up.  I've used them to try and teach him to recognize numbers.  He loves it.  And its a much more kid friendly game :)
Counting out four blocks
Doing good so far!  Five and six are tricky.
Recounting three blocks

You're pretty good with your colors too.  You know blue and green for sure.  I ask you to point out the colored bulbs on the tree and you almost always get them right.  Red seems to stump you the most.

You can recognize your name just about anywhere.  You pointed out MAX on the side of a bus while driving the other day.  Granted, its probably the easiest name to recognize, but I was still impressed. 
And you can pick out an M, A and X in your magnetic letters to spell your name.

.........Oh my darlings, your Dad and I could not be more proud of your little (BIG) accomplishments.  You truly have changed the way we rate success.  Success is rolling over when it seems like an impossibility given your "body type" ;)  Success is learning to be perceptive enough to recognize when someone is sad and to care about their feelings.  We watch in awe of your daily triumphs. 

To see you growing and developing into two unique, individual little people is the grea
test joy we've ever known.  Frequently we'll just look at one another and say “Aren’t they incredible?  I can't believe WE made them!” I doubt this fascination with the two of you will ever wear off.

With every ounce of love in our hearts,
Momma & Dada

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Yay, Christmas!"... what Max says - actually, yells, at the top of his lungs - whenever we encounter anything Christmas related. 

I didn't really think Max would "get" Christmas until maybe next year, but he's all over it.  Every time he sees something he wants in a store or in a catalog he points to it and asks "Christmas?!?" excitedly. Even the scare tactics of being on the "naughty" list are working.  He's fully aware that there's a day in the near future that he'll be receiving gifts.  And that he better not pout in the meantime. 

We took him to see Santa last Monday.  On our way there I told him Santa is the one who puts the presents under the tree and that he should think of what he wanted to ask for.  Max put his index finger on his chin and said "Hmmm..." and then announced "Ball, please!!" in a very self-assured way. Ridiculously cute and my heart burst with pride that he thought to say "please" without me prompting him.  It's the little things...

So we arrived at Crown Center after a very exciting ride with Max yelling "Christmas lights!" and "Yay, Christmas!" just about every minute.  We were smarter than last year and went on a Monday at 4pm and only had to wait 2 minutes as opposed to 2 hours.

Max was literally jumping up and down with anticipation until....we placed him on Santa's lap. PURE TERROR.
Kicking so frantically his feet could not be captured by the camera.
 Last year I kinda hoped for one of these classic "What the HELL, Mom!" shots, but he was happy as he could be.  Let's compare pictures.  2010 vs. 2011

As soon as we snapped a photo and got him off Santa's lap he panicked.  "Ball?" he asked.  "Ball please, Christmas?"  He was suddenly regretting his hasty escape.  I said, "It's ok, Santa knows what you want"  Max seemed to trust me when I said this and went on to play in Crayola Land.

As we made our way to the car he suddenly was upset again.  He said, "Ball we ah you?" (translation: Ball, where are you)  and then burst into tears as I buckled him in his carseat.  He thought Santa was going to give him a ball before he left.  Poor guy.  Christmas is so confusing.

Adding to the confusion are the multiple traditions we've created leading up to Christmas Day.  I wonder if we're over doing it a little ;)

Hot Chocolate and Christmas lights:
Max couldn't get enough of his hot chocolate. Literally would not remove the sippy cup from his face for one decent picture.  And Dada loved to have a reason to blare his Christmas music and scope out ideas for next year's display.
The 12 Days of Christmas:
 Max gets to open a new "12 Days" ornament and hang it on the tree each night leading up to Christmas Eve. We started it tonight because, well, he just couldn't stand those tempting little bags hanging in his playroom any longer. He was excited to hang up the partridge in a pear tree.

Max's very own Christmas tree:

We let Max get a little tree to put in his room and decorate with some of my old childhood ornaments.  He is so proud of his little tree.

We also wrapped up a bunch of different Christmas books and put them under his tree.  So he gets to open a "new" book every night at bedtime.  This he absolutely loves even though they're all books he's had on his shelf all year.  So far his favorites are "Llama Llama Holiday Drama", "Merry Christmas Curious George" and "Merry Christmas Stinky Face"
Which one will it be, Momma?!
 A couple other things that prove its beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here:

The boys 2011 Christmas ornaments.  I made Sullivan's "First Christmas" ornament like I did for Max last year.  And Max made his own this year!

First snow of the season! I didn't realize he looked so much like Randy from "A Christmas Story" until I looked back at the photo :)    If only I had wrapped an enormous scarf around his neck. 
Not 100% sure what he's supposed to do with snow yet.

Phew!  Ok, that's all for now.  We've also been trying to teach Max what Christmas is REALLY about by asking him to pick out a toy from his playroom each day that he'd like to "share" with another child.  At first he wasn't so keen on the idea, but we explained that we have to make room for new toys as well and that seemed to get him more in the giving spirit. We're collecting the toys in a bag and will donate them like we did last Christmas.  One of these years he'll become aware of how truly blessed we are and that we need to share what we have with others every chance we get. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Great Escape (& other antics)

I can't stop watching this video.  The speed and frantic music is pretty much what plays in my head when I recall my day with this wee one after he's sound asleep for the night :)

Things I love about it:
1.  He's trying to throw Sullivan's "Noggin Nest" like a ball.  Why?  I don't know.
2.  His breakdance moves.
3.  The fact that mid-video he runs up and hugs my legs out of nowhere.
4.  Watching him wave and blow a kiss in fast motion.

There couldn't be a more accurate depiction of what my days are like.  And I love it...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

So, there are these boys...

...who stole my heart.

They call me mom.

(Sullivan surprised Max by joining him in his crib after naptime.  Big brother was delighted to share his space :)