Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Once again, we had a great night of "warmer" weather for Halloween this year. I was especially thankful because we had two days and nights of snow, way below freezing temps and high winds earlier in the week. I can't even imagine trying to trick-or-treat in that weather. After dinner, we visited a few neighbors we knew and then drove over to trick-or-treat with our good friends, the Fergusons. Rylan was enthusiastic about everything this year also, and didn't get tired until the very end when his bucket was full and heavy! Even Caroline was squealing and bouncing in my arms and seemed to realize this was an extra fun night. Next year, she will be running along with her big brother and will be more excited about the candy than the wrapper.
Are you afraid of me?

Batman with big blue eyes.

My cute little ladybug.

I'm feeling fat today, mom.

My best shot of both kids in their costumes.

Me and my ladybug. Hard to believe Caroline was still in my belly this time last year!

Me and my batman and ladybug.

Getting started trick-or treating.

Getting ready to ring the doorbell.

Our next-door neighbor helps Rylan fill up his pumpkin.

Charlton was excited to meet this storm trooper!

We went around to a few houses in our neighborhood and then met up with our good friends, the Fergusons, to trick-or-treat in their neighborhood. Afterwords, they sampled their "spoils."

Okay, so this is not Caroline's costume, or even very related to Halloween, but we thought she looked so cute wearing these big 3-D glasses from the movie theatre.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Papa's park pictures

My dad is a talented photographer and one of the "gifts" of his visit were these great pictures of the kids, especially Caroline on our afternoon at the park. I finally had some time to organize them and post some of my favorites. I think they really capture Caroline's personality.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sweet brother and sister time

I caught the tail end of Caroline and Rylan being loving to each other on the couch.

Two days later....

So typical of Colorado weather, two days after jumping in the leaves on a lovely warm fall day, Rylan got to play in a couple inches of snow! If our early snows are any indication, Rylan is more interested in the white stuff than in years past. Maybe the Florida in him is gradually fading away...

Making tracks.

What is this white stuff on my hands?

Trying to compress the snow for a snowball.

Finished product! A great snowball.

I think Rylan looks so much older in this picture!

Rylan jumps in the leaves

Playing in the leaves

Friday was a beautiful day so we took a walk and raked some of the leaves in our front yard. You can tell I have lived in Florida for a long time, because I still enjoy raking leaves. Trying to stuff them in the bags, though, is not my favorite part. The yard looked nice and green for...maybe two hours until the wind kicked up and blew more yellow leaves off our trees and covered the lawn again. Definitely more raking in our future.

Yes, Rylan is now 3 years old as he lies on a bed of leaves.

"Oh my goodness, I am sitting in leaves!"

I guess this isn't such a bad place to hang out.

Charlton with his arms full of love

Monday, October 26, 2009

Caroline turns 11 months old!

On Saturday, Caroline entered the last month of her first year! This past month has been especially fun with my little girl and she has made some big changes.
First, she has perfected the art of climbing stairs. If she notices we have left the baby gate down for even a second, she makes a beeline for the stairs. When she realizes we are following/chasing her, then she will glance over her shoulder and giggle as fast as she climbs. She knows she is doing something forbidden, and that makes it even more exciting. I am amazed that she hasn't had any big falls either, she just slips down one or two steps and then keeps right on going. I have been trying to teach her how to go back down backwards and hope she can figure that out soon. When we moved to a house with stairs, Rylan was already 18 months old and he figured them out quickly, so hopefully we will only have a few more months before she will be trustworthy on them. Caroline has also figured out, much to her delight, how to climb on Rylan's bed so she can jump, bounce, and pull his wooden letters off the wall. Her other favorite dangerous past-time is crawling behind the couch to play with the television wires. That one is really frustrating, because I haven't figured out a way to completely baby-proof that area. I have also caught Ms. Mischevious splashing in the toilet, and unloading the dirty dishes from an open dishwasher. When that gets boring, she pulls up on all our neatly stacked plastic containers of toys, reaches in, and starts flinging toys willy-nilly until she finds what she is looking for. She has been quite proud of her new ability to take of her socks, and shoes. When I pick her up from nursery at church, the workers have usually given up on keeping them on. Today when I picked her up from MOPS, she had lost her hairbow, both shoes, and one sock! I joke about having finding some pink duct tape to secure them.
Caroline is one tough little girl. I am amazed at all the roughhousing, bumps, and hard knocks she will tolerate without a whimper. I guess that's what happens when you have a big brother who likes to wrestle with you.
Friday night I was helping Caroline stand all by herself and she took a one or two small steps before falling into my arms. It all happened so fast, that I am not sure I want to give her credit for her "first steps". Plus, she hasn't been able to repeat it in the days since, but we are definitely getting closer to walking each day. She can stand on her own for several seconds and can even lower herself back down to the floor carefully when she gets tired.
Caroline's vocabulary has grown this past month. She still says "dada" and "buh-buh", but now can say "uh-oh" which is pretty cute. She also babbles, squeals, and chatters much more, which makes it more rewarding to play and interact with her. She can be so animated and dramatic in her emotions, both happiness and anger! The most adorable new thing she has learned this month is how to give kisses, which is mostly just a nuzzle on the cheek, sometimes with a litte snot or drool thrown in for good measure. Still, when she pairs it with a loving "ohhh", it melts my heart! One of her signature moves is giving tight hugs around the neck and saying "awww" when she is glad to see us. I wonder if that affection is a girl thing because Rylan wasn't that way, although he was more snuggly at her age. Maybe it is just differences in their personalities.
Mealtimes have been a little quieter and calmer in our house this month, now that I have started giving Caroline more table food. She likes just about everything as long as it is cut up in small enough pieces and will still eat some pureed peas and carrots so I can get a few vegetables in her. I am nursing three times a day and will probably cut down to twice around her birthday when I can start giving her whole milk. She will drink my milk out of a sippy cup, so I think that will be an easy transition. Naptimes are different every day it seems, but most days she will take an hour morning nap and sleep for about 1 1/2 hours in the afternoon. Bathtime is one of her favorite times of the day and she has figured out the comfort of lying down in the water to keep warm.
We are looking forward to celebrating her first birthday in a month, and I am excited about giving her some "girly" toys. I hope it isn't too late to distract her from the fun of race cars and Buzz lightyear action figures.
I finally decided to switch pediatricians after another frustrating hour wait at Rylan's 3-year well visit (with both kids, mind you, and no explanation for the delay), not being impressed with the new nurse practitioner, and having trouble communicating with the office staff. Caroline's 1 year visit will be with Rhonda, the NP who has seen her for every visit since birth except her 9 month check-up. I am really excited about that and think this is a good move for us. Hopefully Rhonda will stay put at this new pediatrician's office for a long time!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Silly kids

Tonight Caroline was dancing to the music of her refrigerator toy, and Rylan couldn't allow her to get all the attention. I thought it was funny how they danced in perfect rhythm to each other and he copied her every move. They are such buddies now and get along really well most of the time. It never gets old watching them interact.

Opening Aunt Anna's present

Thanks Aunt Anna for Rylan's great tool truck. He has had a great time figuring out how to take all the wheels off and put them on again.

Our farm ants

After 10 months, the Clarke family has a pet again, or rather, pets. Not the cuddly, fuzzy kind, but the 6-legged kind with pinchers. Yes, Rylan is the proud owner of an ant farm, or "farm ants" as he calls them. He was really interested in ants this summer and when Aunt Bethany came to visit in August, they spend a lot of time on their walks investigating all the ant hills between our house and the park.
I laughed out loud when I opened her birthday present to Rylan! I could never have guessed she would have gotten him an ant farm. You can send away for ants in the mail or add your own. Since it could take 3-8 weeks to get them in the mail because they can't be shipped in cold weather, Charlton took on the task of collecting the big red ants himself. At first they seemed angry and stressed and did not want to entertain us by digging interesting tunnels in their nice green gel. When we installed the batteries in the built-in light to make their home glow a neon green, they still weren't impressed. After a day of keeping them in the dark and relative quiet, I can see the start of a new tunnel near the edge. So we'll see what happens. One thing is for sure, I am breaking Rylan's habit of sleeping with his birthday presents with this one.... Thanks for the ant farm fun, Aunt Bethany!

I'm sure the ants didn't mind being tilted like this. Thankfully the lid is very secure.

I asked him to hold them up so I could take a picture and he covered his face!

Finally, a good shot of both Rylan and the ants.

Rylan and Ms. Yvonne

Ms. Yvonne is a widow who lives next door to us. We would chat briefly whenever we saw each other the first summer after we moved, but it always seemed like Rylan was in the middle of a catastrophe, (screaming about getting his finger stuck in a tin can, falling on his face, etc..) whenever we encountered each other, so we didn't strike up a closer friendship until this year.
She loves to garden and during the spring and summer spends a lot of time in her backyard caring for her plants. There is a large knot-hole in the fence, large enough to stick several fingers through. Over the summer, Rylan and Ms. Yvonne would meet at the fence, touch fingers, and "chat." They have become such great friends. Ms. Yvonne has one son and no granchildren, and we have grandparents who live far away, so we have kind of "adopted" each other as family. Earlier in the year she asked me when Rylan's birthday was and then surprised him with this great truck and ATV combo on Sunday. I caught a few cute pictures of them visiting on the couch.

Cute trouble maker

I have a picture of Rylan at about the same age, climbing into the dishwasher. That appliance sure does fascinate the kiddos. Now if I can get her to help me unload it when the dishes are clean in a few more years...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Caroline in a nutshell... and a backpack

I love this video because it so perfectly captures Caroline's joyful, mischievous personality. Even when the backpack fell over, she wasn't upset. I think she was hoping to be a stowaway on Charlton's camping trip with the guys.

Birthday party mayhem

In case you haven't been to a 3-year olds' birthday party or haven't been to one in a long time, here is a sampling of the chaos, er.. fun! Notice all the drama in the background, too!

Rylan trying to enjoy his birthday cupcake

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Rylan's 3rd Birthday!

Birthday boy.

Pancakes are one of Rylan's favorite breakfasts, so we had pumpkin shaped pancakes with sprinkles on the morning we celebrated with my parents.

Caroline loved Rylan's balloons.

Dad picked out a Batman and Blue Beetle set which was a great hit.

Batman is in the house! This costume was one of his birthday presents and hopefully will last until Halloween, too.

Rylan's cake. We had kind of a Thomas/train theme for his birthday this year. He was excited about looking at the cake, but again this year, wouldn't eat more than a bite. More for the grown-ups to enjoy!

The glow of birthday candles. Rylan loved blowing them out!

Ticket invitations to Rylan's train party with his four closest friends.

This picture didn't turn out great, but these are Rylan's party cupcakes. I bought stickers on Ebay to use to make toppers, but they were smaller than they looked on the picture. With some glue, construction paper and toothpicks, they worked anyway.
I promised Rylan he could put sprinkles on the cupcakes when we made them later in the day, and he nearly drove me crazy asking a million times when it would be time to sprinkle the cupcakes. When decorating time finally arrived, he was beyond thrilled, and more than generous with the sprinkles.

I was so thankful for a beautiful day so the kids could play outside. I can't even imagine how my house would have looked after five kids and chocolate iced cupcakes!

Rylan and his best guy friend, Jimmy. They are great wrestling buddies. Jimmy is actually about 6 months younger, but just as tall as Rylan and they play really well together. We will be really sad when Jimmy moves to North Dakota in the spring.

Jimmy gives his buddy Rylan a tractor ride.

Charlton gets mobbed by toddlers throwing bean bags. I thought about having a more formal game with the bean bags, but the kids had plenty of fun inventing their own "game."

We had a picnic lunch outside with mini sandwiches, fruit, pretzels and goldfish.

Cupcake time!

Lucille and Jeromy help Rylan blow out his cupcake candles.

Getting ready to chow down on cupcakes.

Jeromy and Lucille concentrate on eating their cupcakes.

Dain gets a little help from his mom, Becky.

This mess calls for the garden hose!

I can't decide which looks sweeter, that precious boy or his yummy cupcake! Rylan wasn't a fan of regular cake, but he loved cupcakes.

Fun opening presents. Our friends were so kind and generous. I debated actually opening the presents at the party because I didn't want to cause a lot of jealousy and fights over not sharing toys. The kids were so excited that I just couldn't resist. It was a little chaotic and we had a few small squabbles, but overall it went well and there were enough new interesting toys for everyone to have something to play with.