Friday, March 27, 2015

18 Month Update

Stats: Although her official check up isn't until next week, Jake and I jumped the gun and decided to weigh and measure the tot at home. It feels as though she's grown so much in the last 4 weeks and we just couldn't wait for the results. Our girl is nearly 32" tall and weighs in around 25 1/2 pounds. For reference, she is currently the same height and weight as her 3 year old cousin, definitely in the upper percentiles for someone her age. We have no doubt that she will always be tall, but we can already tell she is slimming down as her baby fat continues to melt away. I will be so sad once those rolls completely disappear from her arms and legs, a sure sign that my baby is no longer a baby.

Play: With warmer temps and extra daylight, we have been spending all of our free time outside. Taylor is totally an outdoor girl and would much rather spend her time riding her tricycle or running circles around the yard than play inside. When the weather isn't so cooperative, we spend our time putting together puzzles, reading books, and pushing every stuffed animal she owns in the stroller. The tot still plays alone in her room with her stacking and sorting toys (anything that requires her full concentration and doesn't allow her to notice that no one else is around), but she prefers having others to play with. In fact, her favorite activity at daycare is following the big kids around and attempting to do everything they do. We're certain she's oblivious of her age as she gets frustrated when her little body won't allow her to do things before it's capable. All of her friends and cousins are older than her (which is why people still refer to her as "Baby Taylor"), and deep down she's just dying to be able to do everything they can do. Soon enough, kid. Soon enough.

Feeding Time: As usual, there isn't much in this area that we struggle with. Our girl loves food and continues to favor any type of fruit or pasta. Since she has almost all of her teeth now (only a handful have yet to come in), we have started allowing her to have foods that are more difficult to bite and chew. She  recently tried raw carrots and pork chops for the first time and loved both! I'm not sure if she likes the actual taste or just enjoys the biting and chomping, but either way it she's learning and growing with every meal. Our only frustration at meal time comes from her dislike for being strapped into the high chair. This girl is busy, busy, busy all the time and hates when she has to stop playing to eat, but usually after a bite or two she's too ingrained in her food to remember what she was mad about. The key to surviving with a toddler - exchange one distraction for another. ;c )

Speech: The tot's vocabulary has tripled in the last month. I don't know if it's because we've been spending so much one-on-one time with her or the fact that she has been trying to talk for weeks now, but every day she is crossing more words off her list. So far she has conquered cup, uh-oh, bow, go, toe, girl, bubble, and "all gone". Just a couple of nights ago, we were watching A Turtle's Tale (an intriguing story about the life of a sea turtle) and putting together an alphabet puzzle. I picked up the letter "T" and said "T is for turtle" and out of nowhere she looked at me and very slowly said "tuh-tle". I started clapping and shrieking like a mad woman, repeatedly asking Jake if he heard it. Hearing your child speak actual words for the first time is such a surreal experience. It's amazing how she immediately molds her mouth after mine and then attempts to sound out the word. Her little mind really is absorbing everything we say and do. I'm certain she'll be speaking in full sentences by the end of the month.

Happy 18 months, baby girl! We love you so very much!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Spring Break

This week the local schools are closed for Spring Break which means that our daycare is also closed and Jake and I are alternating time off from work. Since this is our second Spring Break as parents, I feel like we should know the ropes a bit better this year. Unfortunately, we don't. In my mind, Spring Break still means being half naked on a beach somewhere chugging beer bongs and taking long afternoon naps in the sun. But in reality, Spring Break now means chasing after the tot while attempting to work from home because, let's face it, I only use my PTO hours when absolutely necessary.

 Unfortunately for everyone involved, our sitter has been closed for 11 business days (all for personal reasons that we completely understand). With no family close by, this means that Jake and I have each been working crazy hours and tag teaming parenting the best we can. Thankfully, my mom (who is a school counselor) was off a few days last week which meant we were able to ship the tot to their house for the better part of the week. As most kids tend to do, Taylor had an awesome time with her grandparents. She let us know how awesome by screaming the entire way home Sunday evening and being a whiny, no-nap-taking mess since she's been home. Yesterday was Jake's day to stay home from work with her, and I was more than happy to slide out the front door as she screamed bloody murder at 7:00 a.m. Unfortunately, today is my turn, but she's been much better this morning and is actually napping now (which is all that really matters). So here I sit, half-working, half-folding laundry, and half-blogging on my "day off." Funny how that phrase used to mean something so very different.

Since I've had all of this extra time off, I've come to realize that as the parent of a young child, vacations and "time off" don't really exist. Any time taken off work is due to the closure of daycare or someone's illness (usually Taylor first and then myself a few days later). By the time Jake and I take time off work for those things, we aren't left with any time to actually take a trip for ourselves. And it sucks. Just add this to that long list of stuff that no one ever tells you before you have children. 

On the positive side, we were able to make an unexpected trip to my hometown and spend the weekend with my side of the family. And to make it even better, the weather was phenomenal! Mother Nature was definitely feeling the first day of Spring! Taylor had a blast riding her new tricycle (another fabulous hand-me-down from my sister's 4 children) and swinging in her swing out on my parents' deck. We made it a whole family affair by grilling out at my sister's house late Saturday afternoon. The kids rode bikes, scooters, and 4-wheeler's around the yard, playing outside as long as possible. We ended the evening by throwing the three little ones (Taylor and her twin cousins) in the bathtub together which always provides for some good entertainment. A weekend like that is truly good for the soul. 

I guess overall I can't be too upset about all of my time off work lately. Taylor and I have had a chance to do things that we never get to do together during the week, like spending the morning playing at the park, having lunch dates with daddy, going for long afternoon walks, and playing the entire day. 

 She may drive me absolutely crazy at times, but being with her really is my most favorite thing in the world.  Perhaps the past couple of weeks is exactly what we needed.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

One Year Blogiversary

Today is Last Friday was officially my one year blogiversary! Obviously, I started this post prior to the actual day, but I'm just now getting around to actually finishing it. Meh, such is life.

Regardless of the fact that this post is a week late, I'm pretty blown away by the fact that I have managed to keep this blog afloat for an entire year, especially since the last few months have been completely chaotic. It has been an eventful 365 days to say the least! We started the year by totally overhauling our kitchen and then last fall I decided to make a rather large career change (which turned out to be the best thing I've ever done). All the while, we've been chasing a spunky, attention-hungry toddler and attempting to keep up with life as the weeks fly by.  The craziness has definitely provided some good fodder for the blog and helped make this year the best of my life.

I want to extend a giant thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my posts and show an interest in our little family. This blog started as a creative outlet for me but it has turned into so much more. People often ask me why I blog and the truth is there are a lot of reasons. First and foremost, it's a way for me to speak what's on my mind and to vent my frustrations. Writing helps me work through so many things. When I start a draft, I let the words pour out of me and then as I proofread I'm able to not only edit the words on the page but also reevaluate my feelings on the topic. Why do I feel this way? Is it justified? Am I over reacting? (to which the answer is almost always yes). Writing is a true passion of mine, a passion that I'm happy to share with anyone willing to listen.

While there are many personal benefits that I get from the blog, it also provides the best possible scrapbook for our family. Having a forum to document the details of Taylor's development is probably the most valuable reward. I love that I'm able to capture all of the small things along with the bigger milestones in one place. And while I still keep a physical scrapbook for sentimental reasons, I love that I am able to share our daily lives with our family and friends, most of which are hundreds of miles away.

So, thanks to each of you for putting up with my off-beat sense of humor and senseless ramblings. I love reading your comments, so please keep them coming! Thanks to my husband for his honesty and providing an endless list of topics for me to write about. He's always quick to give me his true opinion (no matter if I like it or not). And a special thanks to our tot who not only provides endless entertainment for me to write about but is the true star of this blog. I know the real reason you all keep coming back is to see her sweet little face, but thanks for humoring me and reading my words as well. Together we make a pretty awesome team.

To celebrate, here is some ridiculously cute, wholesome goodness. I hope you smile as much as I do every time I watch it. Her happiness is contagious!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weekend Update

Last week started off with the tot being diagnosed with pink eye and a double ear infection. That coupled with our sitter being closed due to some personal issues has made for a rough week. This poor girl was puffy and swollen Monday and Tuesday but finally started to look like herself again around Wednesday afternoon. She is such a trooper when it comes to being sick and definitely has a higher pain tolerance than I do, but those medicated eye drops are a-whole-nother story. It took Jake and I to hold her down and pry her eyelids open just to get them in. I can't decide who pink eye is worse on - the toddler or the parents. Either way, I'm glad it's gone and so thankful that Jake nor myself caught it.

By Saturday, Tay was back to her normal, energetic self (and no longer contagious), so we spent the day shopping and buying each of us some much-needed pieces for spring. It's crazy how fast the tot keeps growing, still flying through one clothing size after another. It wasn't but a few months ago that we were buying a cartload full of 18 month clothes and now all of the pants are skin tight and the tops are too short. While I love the sight of her cute little belly button, it was definitely time to buy this girl some new duds. A few hours (and a few hundred dollars) later, she has officially moved into the 2T range and has a whole bunch of new pieces that will hopefully last us through the summer.

We showed off our new apparel today at a family outing hosted by Jake's work. They rented out an arcade complete with a basketball court, bowling alley, and cosmic mini golf. Have I mentioned how much I love his company?! We attempted bowling first but quickly realized that bowling with a toddler is basically impossible. While she enjoyed pushing the ball off the kiddie stand, she didn't enjoy when we chased her down the lane and drug her back to her seat. Four frames in, we decided to head to the basketball court so she could run off some of that energy in a safer environment. After she ran a few laps, Jake attempted to teach the tot how to kick a soccer ball, but she was more interested in going behind the mesh curtain and lifting weights with the big boys. Sorry kid, not happening.

Next, we headed out to the arcade to use our free tokens. Jackpot! Taylor was instantly drawn to the driving video games and ran back to them every time we attempted a different game. She would have sat there staring at those loud, flashy promo videos and turning the shiny steering wheels all day long, but we were out of tokens (or so I thought, I later found 7 more in my pocket - whoops!) so we headed off to cosmic mini golf, upset tot in tow.

Mini golf went just about how you'd expect it to go with a toddler. We would attempt to show her how to hit the ball with the putter and she would walk over, pick up the ball, and then go put it in the hole. Every. Single. Time. We let her do her thing for 9 holes mostly because her outfit looked stellar in the black lighting but also because she was having a blast. Between staring at those driving video games and picking up neon glowing balls, I'd say she had a pretty good time. It definitely would've been more appealing to her had she been a little older, but it was still a fun (and free) time and we were able to see a bunch of Jake's co-workers who we are also lucky enough to call friends.

All in all, great weekend! Our sitter is closed this week, so that means I'll be spending tomorrow at home with the tot. This gorgeous weather is supposed to stick around which means we'll be spending our morning at the park and, if I'm lucky, I'll be able to squeeze in some work while the tot takes a long afternoon nap. Wishful thinking, I know, but we'll see. Cross your fingers for me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Letter to Taylor

I have been meaning to sit down and write a letter to Taylor while she is still little, because before I know it time will elude me and she will be flirting with boys, taking her driver's test and graduating from high school. And as certain as it is that she will be as wild and rebellious as both her father and I were during our teenage years, I want to write this while our baby girl is still young and vulnerable, experiencing life with the innocence that only children have. Every day is a new adventure for her, and I hope that she never loses the ability to view the world through those rose colored glasses.

My sweet Taylor Tot,

As cliche as it sounds, the day you were born was the best day of my life. Not only was it the start of your brand new life, but it was also the start of a new life for your daddy and I. You see, while we were so completely in love and mindful of each other, we were just drifters wandering along through life doing as we pleased. The moment you breathed your first breath all of that changed. You brought purpose into our lives and meaning into our actions. Since your arrival, I have laughed harder and worried more than I ever thought possible. Being a mother opens the door to a wide range of emotions, some that I never even knew existed until I met you. And the longer I feel it the more I believe that a mother's love really is the most powerful thing in the world.

As you continue to grow and your personality develops, I realize that you are the perfect combination of your daddy and I. While you physically resemble him more, you have attributes of each of us within every move you make. The fact that you habitually point your toes or stick your thumb through your pointer and middle finger when you are concentrating prove that you are an extension of me. It's eye opening to realize your own quirks by seeing another person do them, and it brings tears to my eyes because I know you have developed those traits solely from being a part of me. A part of me that no one else will never know or understand, because at one point in time you and I were one.

Since you were old enough to sit, you have loved to read and even now it continues to be your favorite activity. You love taking things apart and figuring out how to put them back together (a trait that comes directly from your father). Your mind is constantly working and your curiosity often gets the best of you. Everyone who has the pleasure of knowing you knows just how intelligent you are, and some days I wonder what we did to deserve a child as special as you. I can only imagine the goals you will set for yourself and the achievements you will accomplish, for the world is your oyster and you can do anything you set your mind to.

While you're inquisitive in nature and enjoy your alone time, you are most definitely a wild child. You love to run and explore and are completely fearless when it comes to trying new things. If you fall down or get hurt, it isn't long before you're right back up attempting to conquer whatever it is that knocked you down. Your intensity and passion for everything you do simultaneously gets you into trouble and makes us fall in love with you. You are happy and silly, never shying away from a chance to sing or dance no matter where you may be. You love to be the center of attention but you shine most when it's just the three of us. I hope that you always retain that confidence and playfulness, because both are hard to come by and even harder to maintain the older that you become.

As you get older and venture out into the world on your own your father and I won't always be there to protect you, but we will love and support you no matter what. I hope that the values we instill in you will help you to make smart choices and remind you to always be considerate of others. I pray that you come to know our Lord and Savior and that you turn to him in times of trouble rather than opting for a destructive path. The world that we live in is ever changing so it's hard for me to imagine what the future may hold for you, but I hope that you will be strong and learn to stand on your own two feet. It is important to lean on others for help at times, but it is also important to be independent and take care of yourself. Love hard, fight fair, and never settle for less than you deserve. 

Your daddy and I love you very much and are so thankful to be your parents. You came into this world when we needed you most and made our family whole. You are light and laughter, playfulness and love. You are everything that is good and right in this world, and I know that you will do magnificent things in this life. I'm just thankful I get to be along for the ride.

With all the love in the world,


Friday, March 6, 2015

The Keys to Making Our Marriage Work

Lately, I've found myself so completely consumed with work and tending to the tot that I've begun to lose focus on another very important aspect of my life, my marriage. Monday through Friday Jake and I are both consumed by our separate yet equally chaotic work schedules. Add in the daily tasks of cooking, cleaning, paying bills (and all of the other fun stuff that no one ever wants to do) and our typical conversations usually go something like this:

I have to work late. Can you pick up Taylor?
Sure. Have you seen Penny (Tay's baby doll)
I think I saw her behind the couch. Can you wipe Taylor's nose?
What do you want for dinner? Spaghetti or eggs?
It's whatever. Crap, we're out of milk. Can you run to the store?
I guess. What's that smell? Did you fart? Did Charlie fart? 
No, Taylor pooped.

Seriously, we can't even have a conversation that doesn't involve poop! Aside from our rousing discussions, we don't have much time or energy left for anything else. And it royally sucks. We see each other on a daily basis yet rarely get to spend any quality time together. On occasion, we'll sneak off and have lunch dates but most of that time is spent rushing to a restaurant, rushing to eat our food, and then rushing back to the office. Sometimes we manage to get in a conversation or two, but it usually consists of one of us (Jake) complaining about work. Awesome. And since Taylor is at all daycare all week, we like to spend our weekends doing things as a family because that's really the only time we get to see her. Once she goes to bed on Friday and Saturday nights, we attempt to spend time together but that usually results in me falling asleep on the couch while Jake plays on his phone or watches a dumb movie on Netflix (although I don't really know what he does because I'm sleeping).

We're working on making more time for each other and now that the tot is older it's easier to leave her for a couple of hours without a massive amount of guilt hanging over my head. The time that we do manage to spend alone is always so exciting and full of laughter, almost like a first date. Honestly, it makes me fall in love with him all over again. Sappy, I know - but still true. I'm hilarious and he's completely fearless, so together we make quite the pair. And if you know anything about the two of us, you know that we are completely nontraditional when it comes to all things relationship. We didn't think twice about eloping in Jamaica and we don't bat an eye when people question the quirky ways we run our household. We know what works for us and we aren't willing to sacrifice that for tradition or society.

On that note, I'll let you in on the secrets that make our relationship work. Now, I realize that I am not the easiest person to live with and while my "tendencies" have caused a number of arguments throughout the years, Jake has dealt with my obsessiveness in a way that only a saint could. My Type A personality demands that things be done a certain way and although my super chill husband will never come close to understanding why, we have finally come to terms on the things that we can compromise on and the things that we will never, ever see eye to on (no matter how many reasons I give him).

So here you have it, the three components that keep our marriage afloat:

1. Separate Finances - We use the same bank and have a joint savings account, but we each have our own checking account. My paychecks go into my account and his paychecks go into his. Our bills are divided based on our income (he makes more so he pays more) and we spend freely without worrying what the other person thinks. When we first started living together, we spent so much time arguing over money and expenses but now that our finances are separate we spend as we please and rarely fight over money. Seriously, it's one of the smartest things we have ever done.

2. Separate Bathrooms - Boys are gross. They just are. And I'm pretty sure it's something in their DNA because even after ten years of coaxing Jake to pick up his crap, he still randomly leaves it all over the house. I can stand picking up shoes and hats from the living room, but I cannot stand cleaning a bathroom that has been used by a guy. I'm not sure why it's so hard to pee into the toilet standing up, but it must be because they can't seem to hit the inside for the life of them. And those little black whiskers that cover the entire sink post-shave are absolutely disgusting. No, no, NO. I won't do it. Our house has three bathrooms - one for me, one for Jake, and one for guests. Taylor shares my bathroom, but I'm already starting to question how long she's going to stay.

3. Separate Laundry - It only took Jake shrinking one of my favorite shirts before we decided to do our own laundry. Don't worry, I still do more than my fair share (including Taylor's), but his clothes are his own territory. It all started once I actually saw his operation. He literally opens his hamper, grabs an arm load and throws it all in the washer - whites, darks, colors, and towels all in one load. It eats me to my core. Since my office dress code is business casual, my laundry is a bit more complex and time consuming. I actually sort my clothes, wash them on different settings according to load, and then air dry 75% of my wardrobe. Jake prefers to just shrink his clothes and then buy new. But I'm not a millionaire so I have to actually take care of my clothes. Then again, Target t-shirts are slightly more affordable than Express dress pants.

While our marriage also consist of things like love, trust, and honesty (and while those things are important), these three items are the foundation upon which our relationship currently sits. They might seem silly or senseless to you, but go a month wearing shrunken clothes, washing your face in a dirty sink, or trying to pay bills with an unbalanced checkbook and let me know how well you sleep at night. This chick just can't handle it.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Snow Day Adventures

Taylor encountered her first snow fall last winter when she was just a couple months old. I was still on maternity leave at the time and determined to capture a photo of her in her snowsuit on the fresh white powder. Turns out, we didn't get much more than a dusting, but I was able to snap this precious pic of our babe while Charlie tried to lick her face.

This weekend brought another round of snow and temperatures that allowed us to actually play outside in it. Our winter has been rather strange with temps as high as 60 and others as low as single digits. Oh Missouri, you never cease to amaze me.

The snow began to fall mid-day Saturday and didn't stop until it was 6" deep. My husband, the manly man who grew up in Idaho, owns a 4WD truck, and refuses to be slowed down by snow, was anxious to get out and go sledding Sunday morning. While the tot and I were doing normal people things (like eating breakfast and snuggling), he was outside shoveling the driveway for the third time that week. Eventually, I talked myself into getting out from under my warm blanket on the couch and proceeded to dress the tot and myself in layer after layer until we could hardly move. Next winter, we will definitely be investing in snow gear for the tot since we were completely unprepared this year! Regardless of our attire, we were off to meet our friends at Stephens Park so that our little ones could have their first sledding experience together!

Carbing up on Cherrios on the way to the park.

When we arrived, Taylor's buddy Benson was too busy napping to play in the snow, so we decided to see how the tot would fair on her own. Since Jake is the adventurous one (and I was sure Taylor would scream bloody murder), he took her first - and she loved it! She laughed the entire way down the hill and would climb back on the tube every time we were finished. The only time she cried was when she tripped and face planted in the snow, otherwise she was an all-around champ - and her daddy was super proud.


After hauling the tot, tube, and myself up the hill a few times, this momma was spent! Talk about a killer workout! In order to occupy Tay between trips down the hill, I pulled her around on a tube using a rope we found in Jake's toolbox. As you can tell by the photo, her body was completely comatose, but I could hear fits of laughter every time I whipped her back and forth so I know she was having a good time. Her poor little face was stuffed so snug into her trapper hat (and 2 other hoods) that it was hard to tell when she was smiling and when she wasn't. Our girl was a funny looking site but at least she was warm!

After an hour in the cold, we were ready for warmth and food so we packed up our tubes, stripped off some layers, and headed to Hooters for lunch (classy, I know). Getting out of the house and enjoying some fresh air with our friends was exactly what we needed. And while we are more than ready for spring at this point, this weekend was a perfect way to spend what I hope was our last snow-covered, wintery day.