Tuesday, January 27, 2015

16 Month Update

Although we've been flogged with the cold and sickness this month (I'm seriously beginning to wonder if the tot and I are ever going to be cold-free), this has been a fantastic month for our Taylor Tot! She is learning and growing, saying new words at every turn, and constantly surprising us with her abilities. This kid is one for the books, and we absolutely l-o-v-e spending time with her.

Favorite Songs:  Still completely obsessed with her music videos, the tot now has actions to add to her favorite jams. She will clap her hands, stomp her feet and throw her hands up in the air (since she can't shout hooray) during "If You're Happy & You Know It". She can roll her arms and pat her legs during "Pat-A-Cake". But her favorite is hitting herself on the head and wagging her pointer finger 'no' during "Five Little Monkeys". I know I've said it before, but this kid is funny. Her dance moves and the way she comes up with things out of thin air is simply hilarious. Some of her other favorites are "The Itsy Bitsy Spider", "The ABC Song", and, of course, "The Wheels on the Bus". We've learned that if Tay is upset or doesn't want to do something, singing a song provides an instant distraction for her. It's amazing how all-encompassed she is with music - a passion that I hope she never loses!

Favorite Food:  This kid has been channeling her inner Garfield recently, because she absolutely loves lasagna! Since she loves it so much, I have been making it about once a week and she will gobble down two or three plate fulls in one setting. Talk about a girl after my own heart! While she's still a fan of broccoli and all types of berries, she has recently added grilled cheese, meatloaf, french fries, and bananas to her list of favorites. Our favorite, on the other hand, has to be watching her eat. She loves rubbing food on her face and in her hair and will shovel her meal into her mouth as fast as she can until her plate is clean. She takes the most giant bites out of pickles and bananas and then grins from ear to ear as if she's really accomplished something. Dinnertime is never boring with this little one around!

Favorite Activities: Reading books is still the top priority in the tot's life. She has gotten to the point where she understands not only the content on each page but when it's time to turn the page as well. She loves all of her "first words" books, the ones that show different images of animals, colors, shapes, and people. If you ask her where a certain animal is on the page, she can point to it with ease. She now knows what a cow, duck, sheep, bird, and tiger say (moo, quack, baa, caw, and rawr). She has also learned to say "papa" and "all gone"; however, she still refuses to say "hi" no matter how hard we try. Most recently, if you ask her something she is unsure of, she will bend her elbows, put her hands by her ears and shrug as if to say "I don't know." It's crazy the things they pick up on! Our girl also loves being outside, running and exploring new territory. She loves riding in her wagon and pushing/scooting around in the little toy cars at daycare. Spring is going to be such a fun time with her, and don't even get me started on how excited I am to watch this little water bug in the pool come summer!

Mama's Little Helper: The tot has recently taken on the role as my new assistant. She loves helping with anything and everything from cooking dinner and putting away the laundry to blowing her nose and throwing away the tissue (something we're all too familiar with lately). A few nights ago, Jake took off Taylor's clothes before bath time and told her take them to her hamper. Later that night, I went in her room to check on something and noticed one of her dresser drawers was partially opened with her dirty clothes and socks shoved inside. I literally laughed out loud at her adorableness. Bless her heart for wanting to help, but it seems she needs a little more guidance before we put her on full-time laundry duty!

Girl's Best Friend: Although it only took 16 months, Tay has really come around to Charlie, our half-beagle, mostly basset hound dog. She loves to climb on his back, give him big bear hugs, and kiss his forehead (which I'm not even grossed out by because it's so sweet). Charlie has warmed up to her slightly, but mostly he just lays there while she pulls his ears and "pats" him on the back. For those of you who have never met Charlie, he is the sweetest, most gentle dog I've ever come across. He has never nipped or growled at a single person. He has the true mentality of a true hound dog, seeking love and affection from everyone he meets. And these days, Taylor is happy to oblige. We've even started using him as a ploy to get her to do things. "Taylor, let's go in the other room." Girl doesn't budge an inch. "Charlie's in the other room." She slowly gets up, peeks around the corner to ensure that he is in fact there, then happily trots down the hall. It'll be interesting to see how these two interact when she enters true toddler territory.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Life Lately

New Years Eve brought a visit from Jake's mom and a four day weekend for us to enjoy time off work with her. We were so happy that she decided to make a trip to see us last minute and super thankful when she volunteered to watch the tot so that Jake and I could go out with some friends that evening! The last time Nancy came to visit, Taylor was only a month old so it was fun watching the two of them interact and get acquainted. The tot is definitely more fun now than she was as a teeny tiny baby! And even though we took it pretty easy, we all had a great time going out to eat, playing games, and spending long, leisurely days together. It's always hard living far away from family but the reality is even more prevalent during the holidays. This trip from Nana was exactly what we needed to make our holiday season complete! Come back any time, Nancy. You're always welcome!

After we said goodbye to Nana, it was back to life as usual. Full time work schedules resumed which meant the tot was back to spending her days at daycare with her friends. When we took Taylor in for her 15 month check-up the following Tuesday, the doc noted that she had some fluid in her right ear that could potentially lead to an ear infection. He wanted to keep an eye on it but didn't feel antibiotics were necessary at the time. We rode out the remainder of the week and then out of nowhere Tay spiked a fever Sunday afternoon. She had developed a runny nose and a slight cough but no other symptoms were present. Since she had a fever on Sunday, that meant we couldn't take her to daycare on Monday, so Jake and I each worked a half day in hopes that she would be better the following day. Wrong. Monday night she woke up screaming every half hour which meant that none of us slept. Tuesday morning the poor thing was absolutely miserable, so I took her back to the doctor for some antibiotics. On Wednesday morning, she was still fever free but not her usual self. With no time off left in my ETO bank and a busy day on Jake's calendar, we were forced to take her to daycare. She slept most of the day but refused to eat and screamed unless our babysitter held her and read to her. By Friday, the antibiotics had kicked in and she was getting her energy back. By the end of the weekend, she was laughing and playing just like her normal self. Ahhhh, finally. This was her first real encounter with sickness but, unfortunately, I know it won't be her last. It definitely sucks watching your child suffer and knowing there isn't a single thing you can do to make it better. I'm just glad she's finally kicked whatever she had and is back to her sweet self.

Since we had so much extra time together while Tay was sick, we resorted to any means necessary for entertainment. We built forts, watched cartoons, sang songs, colored, put together puzzles, and read every book in her collection three times each. I'm not sure how you stay at home mommas do it. I was going stir crazy after two days of being couped up in the house! The upside of our time spent indoors is we learned that Taylor's hair is now long enough for a pony tail! I realize she has more of a rat tail/mullet situation happening here, but it's still freaking adorable. Just another sign that our baby is growing up and there's not a darn thing I can do to stop it.

The temps began to rise just as the tot started to feel better. It's like the good Lord knew I was about to reach my breaking point if we didn't get out of our germ-infested house soon. Sunny skies and 50 degree temps meant it was time to break out Taylor's new wagon, so we did just that. A few trips around the neighborhood made us all feel a little better. It's amazing what fresh air will do for a person! And not that I need to mention it, but this little lady loves her wagon. Aside from riding in it big kid style, her favorite part is opening the door and climbing in and out approximately 100 times. I'm so glad to see our girl back to her happy little self!

Since the weather has been so nice lately, we also managed to make a trip to the playground at the local elementary school. Although it doesn't have any baby-specific features, it is within walking distance from our house so we make do with what we have. Tay enjoyed going down the slides, swinging on my lap, and running up and down the muddy hills. I realize she has a sheer look of terror on her face while going down the slide, but I promise she had fun.

This past weekend, after sanitizing our house and ourselves, we had some friends over for a little post-holiday get together. After a long week of chaos, we all needed a little playtime with our friends (and a few adult beverages). My super sneaky husband was able to capture what may be the cutest picture of all time of Taylor and her friend, Benson, playing in her room.  This little fella is the son of two of our very best friends and is only three months older than that tot (which you can't tell since she is well on her way to giant status just like her daddy). I love that even at 15 months she's already bossing him around. This girl is becoming more like her momma every day!

So there you have it. We've survived our first bout of sickness, spent time with friends, and had a lot of quality time as a family of three. Life has been hectic (as usual) but wonderful at the same time. The tease of sunshine and warmer weather has us longing for spring, but for now I'm just hoping we can all stay healthy throughout the remainder of winter.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sleep Style

Since the tot was born, I have been collecting pictures of all of her ridiculous sleeping positions in hopes that I would always remember her quirky little ways. From the day we brought her home until now, Taylor has always had a peculiar sleep style. When she was just a few months old, she would either sleep in starfish position with her arms and legs spread out as far as they would reach or with her arms gently folded behind her head. I should note that she also spent the majority of her time in my womb in this exact position (only then, those little elbows were poking me in the ribs).

Around four months when she was able to roll over on her own, she began tossing and turning, typically ending up on her stomach with her knees tucked in and her butt in the air (a position that continues to be a favorite of hers).

She would also end up in a particularly painful-looking position where she bends at the waist and lays flat on her chest. This is the position she resorts to now when she's exceptionally tired. 

Like any good athlete, Tay knows the importance of stretching before attempting any tricky movements. Here she is doing a little Downward Dog before moving into her next position.

Over the course of her short life, the tot has tried nearly ever possible sleeping position: on her stomach with her face smashed up against the rails of the crib, on her stomach with one arm and one leg out to the side, on her back with one arm up and one straight out to the side, and other various poses that only a toddler could find comfortable. I must say, she is quite the flexible little lady.  I have no idea how she actually rests in these contorted positions, but she seems content so we don't question it. I am a little concerned that once she transitions to a big girl bed she will spend most of her nights falling out of it, but I guess that's to be expected out of every kid at some point. I'm sure she's just high maintenance like her momma and will require a bigger bed to sprawl out on. Because anyone who has ever shared a bed with me knows that my sleeping habits aren't that different from the tot's!

And when all else fails and she just can't get comfortable, sometimes she just needs to snuggle.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Life of a Series Addict

Since cancelling our cable last summer, Jake and I have spent our evenings flying through one TV series after another. First, we became insanely obsessed with "Lost", spending every free minute indulging in the madness of the survivors as they attempted to make their way off the island. In fact, we stayed up entirely too late the night before I started my new job just to watch the series finale. For those of you who haven't seen it, I won't tell you what happens, but let's just say that the ending was a total let down. The reaction of Paul Rudd's oldest daughter in "This is 40" was completely justified.

Once we got over our disappointment, we dove straight into "Mad Men", and it wasn't long before Don Draper began consuming our evenings and weekends. Every night one of us would mutter, "Just one more episode..." which always led to an extremely late bed time followed by baggy eyes in the morning.  We watched the last episode the night before my husband worked his first 16 hour day of rush. Totally worth the sleep deprivation. Mad Men is a phenomenal series. It is extremely well written and fully captures every detail of the 1960's. Truth be told, I was sad when the last episode was over and secretly wished there was another season that Netflix hadn't released yet.

Since rush ended and we are forced to stay indoors due to the frigid temps, we have been binging on "Orange is the New Black" (a couple years late, but that seems to be our trend). We just finished Season 2 and are anxiously awaiting the Season 3 premiere this summer. This go round has been different for us because we are used to being able to watch a series in its entirety, but this time we actually have to wait for new episodes to air. The freedom that comes with being able to watch a series from start to finish without having to wait for a new episode each week has been stifled for now, but this series is worth it. While it's pretty graphic in content, the story line never fails to impress. And the cast of characters is everything you'd expect but in completely unexpected ways (if that makes sense). Regardless, this series is on pause for now, so it's time to move on to the next.

Since the addition of Hulu and Netflix into our lives, every night is the same routine in our house. After we get home, I muddle through a half-ass workout while attempting to entertain the tot until Jake gets home. Next, we cook dinner, eat dinner, and watch Taylor rub dinner in her hair. Jake cleans up the kitchen while I bathe the tot and put her to bed. Then it's a race to the TV to see what shenanigans our then-favorite cast of characters can get into. It's so addicting. And all the while, we're fully aware that we're sacrificing time and sleep and basically all of the other things we could be doing with our free time (like blogging), but TV is such a sweet escape from reality. It's the ability to peer down the lens into someone else's life causing you not to have to think or worry about your own for a while. And for me in particular, as someone who not only loves to write but also majored in Communication, I love every aspect of the process: creating characters, developing their complex histories, and then seeing that story come to life in the form of other people's perceptions of those characters. It absolutely fascinates me. So I'm more than okay spending my free time watching a program if I feel it sends a powerful message, discusses controversial topics, and accurately portrays a variety of different cultures. Gone are the days of flipping through channels and crappy reality TV shows. We are on the series bandwagon, and we aren't getting off any time soon.

My parents have been raving about "Breaking Bad" (and if you know anything about my parents, you know the show's premise and their moral compass don't exactly fit), so we are currently considering it as our next target. It's going to be a long winter, and we have to find something to occupy our time until it's warm enough to venture outside again!

If you have any suggestions on must-watch shows, I'd love to hear them! Stay warm, friends!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Christmas 2014

Our Christmas vacation began after I got off work at noon on Christmas Eve. The morning flew by and before we knew it, the car was packed and we were heading south to my hometown. That evening we attended the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church - which is the absolute best way to get into the Christmas spirit - followed by our traditional chicken pot pie dinner at my mom and dad's. Honestly, sometimes I think I enjoy Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day.


Later that evening while preparing for the next day's festivities, my mom decided to get out the miniature 4 wheelers she purchased for the twins so they could charge overnight. As soon as we brought them into the living room, Taylor jumped on one and grabbed the handle bars. She quickly learned that pushing the red, square button would make the 4-wheeler go, but she never did quite grasp the concept of steering. She ran into the dogs and furniture on multiple occasions, but she absolutely loved it. I silently kicked myself for not allowing my mom to buy Taylor one once I saw how much fun she was having. We may have to scrape together our Christmas money and go out and buy one of our own!


Our Christmas day tradition begins at SEVEN a.m. every year. We get up with the sun, layer our coats over our jammies, load all the gifts into the car, and travel to my sister's house so that we can be together as a family. The kids disburse the gifts into piles while the adults chug coffee and attempt to grab a bite to eat before the madness ensues. The next couple of hours are complete chaos. Did I mention that my sister has four children? And did I mention that my mom feels the need to buy every one at least 25 presents? It's basically just wrapping paper flying through the air as kids run in and out of stacks of boxes. Only this year, there were two 4-wheelers involved. I'll let you use your imaginations on that one. All jokes aside, we had a great morning together, as usual. The kids were all elated with their gifts and the adults were happy to see the kids so excited and appreciative.


 Shortly after, we cleaned up the wrapping paper, loaded our presents back in the car, and returned to my parents' house for showers and preparation of Christmas number two. That afternoon, we headed to my grandmother's house for Christmas dinner (which is actually "lunch" to most people) followed by insane amounts of cookies, pie, and other sugary treats. Post-feast, we laid the tot down for a nap and relished in an afternoon of adult conversation. It's always nice to catch up with family that you haven't seen in a while!

We spent the next few days lounging at my parents' house and watching the kids run amok at my sister's. I must say that Taylor definitely held her own with her cousins this holiday season, refusing to share, stealing their toys, and even pulling poor little Reagan's hair out once. When she wasn't being completely rotten, the three of them played so well together. They would give each other hugs and kisses and pet each other's faces. Those moments when Taylor wasn't being her sour self, it was actually quite adorable. Although the twins are only 2 1/2, they are so gentle and patient with Taylor. I love that the three of them are close enough in age to play and grow up together. I'm certain they'll be life-long friends if Taylor can learn to be nice to Reagan for longer than five minutes.

Overall, Christmas was exactly what we needed. Our four day break was filled with relaxation, time with family, and, most importantly, lots of love. I was sad to say goodbye last Sunday, but the real world was awaiting our return. Thankfully, this week has brought another extended break as well as a visit from Jake's mom. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Now it's time to embrace 2015!