Tuesday, April 28, 2015

19 Month Update

Time to get serious, folks. The tot is on the downhill slope and will be hitting those Terrible Two's before we know it, which means my baby will only be a baby a little while longer. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going through some serious baby fever at the moment. Is it just me or is everyone either pregnant or welcoming a new bundle of joy into their lives? Everywhere I look there are growing bellies and the sweetest swaddled newborns (and working down the hall from the postpartum unit definitely isn't helping). I'm beginning to miss the sweet, simple days of infancy but I'm also enjoying this independent yet loving phase that the tot is currently going through. Lately, she is all about mom and dad and wants to spend every second with us. She's a complete doll, always offering giant bear hugs & endless smooches. I want to soak up life as a family of three for as long as possible, because I know those Terrible Two's will roll in one day and bring that sweetness to a screeching halt. So, in an attempt to distract myself from the urge to start thinking about baby number 2, I am fully embracing the tot in all of her overly-energetic glory. And my, is she ever energetic!

First things first, our girl is dying to talk. If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen the videos of her jabbering to her books and stuffed animals. She tries so hard to tell us what she wants (or doesn't). The intent in her eyes is clear, but she can't form the words for the life of her. Her lack of ability does nothing but frustrate her which means we've been dealing with a lot more temper tantrums lately. The smallest thing sets her off, sending her entire body to the floor and her limbs wailing around in the air. It's exhausting for all of us, because Jake and I want nothing more than for her to open her mouth and tell us what she wants. And like most other mommas out there, I simply cannot wait to hear my baby finally say, "I love you." For now, she sticks her arm out, points her finger at me, and says "yoooooou" whenever I say it to her, but I long for the day when that sweet voice verbally reciprocates her love for me. A small aspect, I know, but also something I have been dreaming of since she was in my womb. Aside from vocalizing her love for us, she is adding new words to her vocabulary daily. Most times she'll say a word and then we won't hear it again for days (sometimes even weeks). I fully believe she is more capable than she gives herself credit for, but often times she gets overwhelmed by our eagerness and her own frustrations. She really is so much like me, it's remarkable.

In potty training news, the tot has successfully used the "big girl potty" on multiple occasions. We are taking things nice and slow (no pressure here!), but encourage her to try to use the potty before bath time and during diaper changes at home (which isn't too often these days since we're always out and about). She loves when I sing the potty song (a knockoff of the teeth brushing song from her favorite video collection), and nearly falls off the toilet every time from excitement. I make an exceptionally large deal each time she "makes a deposit" which only makes her that much more excited to try. Things are going well but we definitely aren't shoving the process down her throat. We're taking it easy and letting her go at her own pace. She's nowhere near ready for big girl underwear and I'm not ready to clean urine out of our carpet. We'll save all of that fun stuff for this summer.

As for food, she is still eating like a champ. We have noticed that her appetite has definitely started to decrease, but when she is hungry she can clean her plate in no time. She has cut back on her snacking (mostly because she just doesn't want to stop playing to sit down and eat). One thing that I'm certain will never go away is her love for milk. No matter how happy she wakes up in the morning, she will whine and cry until a cup of milk is put in front of her and then, just like that, she's downed the entire thing and is anxiously waiting for more. Aside from milk, she's also loving the abundance of fresh fruit that we bring home from the grocery store every week. She's still a fan of cantaloupe but decidedly has a distaste for plums. Oh well, you can't win them all!

Favorite activities still include wagon & tricycle rides, swinging in the swing, and reading books, but new this month is her love of singing! Even our babysitter commented recently how funny Taylor is when she randomly bursts into song in the middle of circle time. I'm a huge fan of this development and fully encourage (and sometimes even prompt) her to be as loud as possible. We twirl in circles and sing "la la la" and "do do do" until we're both laughing so hard we can barely breathe. Jake looks at me like I'm insane, but she loves every second of it. Girlfriend is also a huge fan of dancing and is always the first to bust a move when she hears music playing. Signature moves include low squats, head bobs, and shoulder shrugs. She definitely marches to the beat of her own drum, and I couldn't love it any more. Why blend in when you're born to stand out?

I know I say this every month, but this phase is by far my favorite to date. Aside from the tantrums, our tot is a happy camper the majority of the time. She is inquisitive in nature and downright hilarious. I just love being around her, watching her explore and experiencing the world through her point of view. I absolutely love the little lady she is becoming, and I'm forever thankful I get to call her mine.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Weekend Update

We live for the weekends in our house. Weekends mean no work or daycare, big breakfasts followed by lazy mornings playing in the living room, and lots of free time to do whatever we want. Weekends keep us sane.

We started ours off on an extremely happy note this past Friday when we finally found a tree limb in our back yard strong enough to hang the swing Taylor received from her Nana on her birthday. After Jake went all Texas Chainsaw Massacre on our big maple last summer, we were left with a sad excuse for a tree and nowhere safe to hang her swing. Nice going, Jake. Long story short, the tree has grown and we were able to hang up the swing. And this chick was super excited.

The look on her face after that first push was priceless! This girl loves being outside and could spend hours swinging back and forth, so this was basically like Christmas morning for her. And the best part is, we no longer have to walk a mile to the nearest park for her to get her swing on. Momma can sit in her Adirondack, sip a cold one, and push the tot 'til her heart's content. Hot dog, this thing is awesome.

Saturday morning, Jake went golfing so Tay and I took advantage of our girl time with a big breakfast, long wagon wide around the neighborhood, and, of course, more swinging. The weather was way too nice to be indoors so we made the most of  our morning, soaking up every ounce of sunshine we could. After nap time, we headed to the mall to pick up some new sandals and summer jammies for this little lady. She definitely wasn't in the shopping mood after a morning spent running wild, so we cut our shopping short and decided to head to dinner. We stuffed our bellies full of pasta then headed home to put the tot to bed and crack open our Leinenkugel sampler. Nothing tops off a perfect day like a Summer Shandy!

Sunday was rainy and yucky which meant we were forced to spend the day indoors. We tag teamed the day, alternating chores and spending time with the tot. In the morning, I deep cleaned our dog-hair covered house (seriously, yuck) while Jake and Tay snuggled on the couch watching Curious George. Later that afternoon, Jake ran errands while the tot napped and I did laundry. Poor baby woke from her nap with a mouth full of pain and a belly ache, which meant she only wanted to be held. She has been cutting some serious teeth lately so a lazy Sunday is exactly what she needed. A warm bath and some new summer jams turned her frown upside down, and she was bouncing off the walls by the time bed time rolled around. Funny how that happens.

Overall, another great weekend and some quality family time on the books. I hope you all enjoyed your weekend as much as we did!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Favorite Family Moments

Since my memory seems to be at full capacity most days, I thought it necessary to write down my favorite family memories at this stage in the game. I feel so blessed to have as much love and laughter in my life as I do, and I never want to forget the little moments that help to create a happy and loving environment for our family. I try to be present and fully embrace each moment spent with the tot but, unfortunately, that's not always the case. Life gets in the way and I often feel like I spend more time telling her what to do and how to do it rather than just letting her be. Our family of three may be little, but it is absolutely everything to me and I never want to forget even the smallest aspects that make it so special. I know that one day far in the future when Taylor is a teenager and I want to strangle her for being a teenager, I will look back on this post and remember how sweet and loving my baby girl used to be (and deep down always will be).

Shortly after Taylor was born, we realized we would never sleep in again. The tot is up around 7:00 a.m. no matter what day of the week it is, so in order to get a little extra R&R on the weekends we bring her into our room. She lays next to me, her warm little body tucked under the covers and her head on my pillow, while drinking her morning milk, but as soon as that cup is empty she's full of energy and using our bodies as her own personal jungle gym. On the rare occasion that she's tired or sick, we turn on Curious George and snack on Cheerios until we have enough energy to get out of bed, but most mornings we play, sing songs, and tickle the tot into hysteria. She bounces back and forth between the two of us giving smooches and offering us half-eaten Cheerios. It's my absolute favorite part of the weekend and something I look forward to all week!

Since our remodel last spring, the kitchen has become the hub of our home where we spend the majority of our time. Meals in our house are usually pretty quick (nothing too time or labor intensive here), but on the weekends cooking breakfast always turns into a family affair. Saturday mornings mean waffles topped with whipped cream & fresh fruit (and lots of coffee for Mommy & Daddy). Since my husband is a better cook (and I have no problem admitting it), he does the bulk of the work while the tot and I act as sous chefs & clean up crew. Taylor helps stir, throw things away, dump ingredients from measuring cups (followed with "all gone"), and sneak handfuls of blueberries while I cut up fruit. The daunting task of cooking has turned into something that we actually enjoy, and it allows us to spend quality time together as family. Plus, we get to watch this one smear whipped cream all over her face which is always entertaining.

I have tried for years to get my husband to engage in outdoor physical activity with me and he has always refused, but now that Taylor is in the mix and of capable of running and playing he is all about it. I no longer have to beg him to go on a walk with me (as long as the tot is in tow). These days, he's quick to suggest a family walk around the neighborhood where we take turns pulling Tay in her wagon and pushing her on her tricycle, both of which almost always results in one of us chasing her down the sidewalk after she's ditched her ride about halfway around the block. She's a curious little thing, eager to climb every step we pass and eat every flower we see. When the weather is cooperative, we spend our weekends at the park enjoying picnic lunches, pushing Tay on the swings, and watching her squeal with delight as she wiggles down the slides. Who knew that something so simple could be so much fun?

Week day mornings in our house are crazy and hectic just like everyone else's. No matter how early I wake up, I feel like it's a race to get out the door on time for work. Mornings are complete chaos, struggling to get ready while entertaining the tot, but for a brief few minutes it's just me and my girl sharing a bowl of oatmeal with fresh berries (her favorite). She sits on my lap facing forward, kicking her legs and bopping her head back and forth as I alternate giving bites to each of us. We make silly faces at each other while we eat and when we're finished she gives me the biggest smooches, a sweet reward after giving away half of my breakfast. No matter how busy our mornings are, I always make time for breakfast with my girl because I know it won't be long before she'll be too big to even fit on my lap. Breakfast with her is definitely the best way to start any work day!

And last, but certainly not least, I want to remember the bond that Taylor has with her father. There are moments when she's sick or hurt where she prefers me over him (because no one can soothe a bellyache like Momma), but she is definitely a daddy's girl. He can make her laugh with a single look, and when he walks into a room she's the first to notice. Jake is a typical hard ass at work and a definite man's man when he's with the boys, but when it comes to Taylor he's putty in her hands. She is the heart and soul of his world, and I'm certain there are things he would do for her that he wouldn't even do for me. Their bond is something I will never understand, but I appreciate it whole-heartedly nonetheless. They are my everything, and I am oh so thankful.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter 2015

Our Easter celebration started Thursday night with a trip to see the Easter bunny. Our local mall didn't offer a bunny this year, so our only option was to visit the one at Bass Pro. Taylor must have liked those creepy eyes and that mischievous grin, because she happily sat on his lap and flashed a big grin at the camera. Is this seriously the same kid that had a complete meltdown on Santa's lap just 3 months before?!

Friday evening we headed to my parents' house to spend Easter with family and to celebrate my twin nieces' third birthday! I can't believe these sweet little girls are already three years old. It seems like just yesterday my sister was waddling around with them in her belly and now they're as wild and spunky as can be. We love these little ladies oh so very much! Happy Birthday, Riley & Reagan!

We split the day eating birthday cake and hunting Easter eggs. The kids had a great time enjoying the fresh air and running wild all over the yard. We took wagon rides, rode bicycles, and even played a little baseball. Although Taylor is the baby, she's quick to prove that she can keep up with the big kids. The sweetest sight of the day had to be the three little ones riding around in the wagon, carrying on their own little conversations and laughing just because. They really are the best of friends, and I can't wait to continue to watch them as they grow up together.

The next morning, Taylor opened her basket from the Easter bunny (which I totally failed at taking pictures of) and then we put on our Sunday best and headed to church to celebrate the true meaning of the holiday. For those that don't know, I grew up attending the same Baptist church nearly every Sunday until I moved away to college. That church and its members are a huge part of who I am and will always hold a special place in my heart. I love that our family continues to be welcomed with open arms every time we attend. The warmth and love we receive coupled with the sight of my daughter sitting in the very pews that I sat in as a child makes my heart overflow with happiness. Moments like that are what life is all about.

After the service, we continued our tradition of taking family photos on the church lawn. As you can see, Taylor was so excited to see her cousins (and finally be able to run wild after sitting for so long) that she was down right giddy with excitement. As soon as we would turn our backs, she was sprinting toward the road. This girl loves to be outside and loves to explore! And who can blame her? It was absolutely beautiful outside, she was surrounded by her cousins, and she knew that nap time was quickly approaching.

After lunch and too much candy, the tot finally went down for a nap. Shortly after she fell asleep, we received some unfortunate news that my great aunt had passed away. She had been battling Alzheimer's for some time, the same disease that took my grandpa, her brother, entirely too soon. Our happy weekend quickly became bittersweet with that one phone call. She is now with her brother in heaven and I think that's something we can all rejoice about. We love you, Aunt Wanda. May you rest in peace.