Monday, April 27, 2009

Our First Snowman

The man of snow, minus his arms.

I had to promise Rylan an M&M just to get him to pose with the snowman. They are almost the same size.

Shaking the snowman's hand.

Last night, Charlton and I were getting ready for bed and I thought I heard something unusual on the roof. We looked out the window and realized it was rain! We hadn't heard rain for so long, it was a surprise. A short while later, I peeked out the window again and saw the ground covered with white. This morning we woke up to a blanket of snow. While Caroline napped, I decided to take Rylan out to play in the snow. He wasn't thrilled and stayed mostly on the porch, while I demonstrated how to make a snowman. He did pick out some nice rocks for the eyes. I thought our finished creation was pretty cute, and got some pictures before it melted!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Caroline is 5 months old!

My sweet little cherry girl. I thought she looked so cute in this outfit, I couldn't stop kissing on her all day.

We finally have been able to wear our spring outfits I have been saving up for months. They are all size 9 months, my best estimate for what she would need this summer, but I am afraid she is going to grow out of them too soon.

Please, mom, no more pictures. This model wants a nap.

Caroline has entered her sixth month on a roll, literally! Last month, she figured out how to roll from her belly to her back, and just a few days ago, she rolled from her back to her belly. She actually doesn't mind being on her belly as much now and can push her chest up off the ground with her arms. She gets a big smile on her face and seems really proud of herself as she rolls over and over again. I am not sure if it is because she weighs less than Rylan did, or if it is just personality differences, but she is much more physically active than Rylan was at this age. Caroline will wiggle all over her crib and I rarely find her in the same spot that I put her for her naps. She loves to kick up her feet and grab her toes and she has sometimes even turned on the musical toys in her crib by kicking. She can reach and grasp her toys now, and of course, everything goes straight to her mouth for tasting. I think we enjoy watching Caroline in her jumperoo as much as she likes jumping in it. She is quite the sight with her long hair flapping in the air, arms waving wildly, legs bouncing up and down, and her mouth wide open with delight. We have tried the baby swings at the park and she likes swinging gently.
Caroline weighed 18 1/2 pounds on my scale. She is popping out of her six month clothes and doesn't have as much room to grow in her 9 month clothes as I had hoped. I am still nursing her five times a day, every 3 1/2-4 hours. I haven't dropped that last 9:00 pm feeding yet, maybe because I enjoy getting to nurse one time in peace and quiet without race cars being driven all over the boppy! We will probably drop that feeding this month just before starting solids. I am not looking forward to all the mess and extra work, but at least I learned a lot from my experiences with big brother. Sleeping wise, Caroline is a dream. She sleeps from 7pm to 6:30 or 7am, and usually takes two main naps a day. Sometimes she likes to sneak in a 30-minute cat nap in the morning or evening. She loves to listen to her lullabies, suck her thumb and cuddle her bunny as she falls asleep.
I have always heard girls are more emotional than boys and I think that is coming true already. Caroline can be very intense with her emotions, both joy and anger. When she is happy, she laughs, squeals, and smiles to melt your heart. She lights up like the sunshine whenever Rylan comes near. She has even figured out how to do the "raspberry" noise and is quite proud of that accomplishment. But when Caroline is mad, watch out! She will scream at the top of her lungs, turn red in the face, and cry huge tears. Her fury can be quite intimidating, and usually only mom can calm her down. When I put her in the nursery at MOPS for the first time two weeks ago, she gave me the most wounded look, stuck out her lower lip, and made mom feel so guilty! She lasted 45 minutes and then it was time to eat, but at least it was a start. I think she is beginning to have some stranger anxiety, so I don't want to stress her out, but show her that she can survive for short periods of time away from me. I am also hoping these experiences will prepare her for our trip home to see family in June. There will be lots of loving aunts, uncles and grandparents that want to cuddle her and I am hoping she will warm up quickly to them.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easter Presents from Grammy

Thanks Grammy for Rylan and Caroline's Easter presents. Rylan entertains us as he tries to say "pinocchio" and he is glad to help Caroline play with Tad. We enjoyed listening to the music CD in the car today and I can see lots of fun dance sessions in our future. You can dance with us when you visit. Thanks for your thoughtfulness and enjoy these videos.

Rylan plants pansies

Spring time

After a weekend of snow, we are finally having some spring-like weather. The temps are supposed to be in the 60's and 70's this week with lots of sunshine. I love being able to open the windows, smell the fresh air, and hear the birds singing. Charlton turned on the sprinklers and broke the grill out of its long hibernation in the garage. We even had a picnic lunch with grilled hot dogs. My tulips are growing well, but probably won't bloom until May like they did last year. In the meantime, I bought some pansies, some of my favorite flowers, and Rylan and I planted them in the front bed. The first time Rylan just flung the poor plant down sideways into the hole I had dug. The next five plants fared a little better after I realized this was his first time "gardening" and he might need some instruction on being gentle with them. I am still not sure he has the makings of a gardener at this point, but we had fun, and the plants are still alive so far.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Our Sunday drive

Charlton was testing his waterproof gore-tex boots in Bear Creek. Rylan decided to follow after dad, but learned the hard way that his boots are not gore-tex!
On Sunday afternoon, we took a drive into the mountains west of town. Over the weekend, they had gotten about 2 feet of snow, but the roads were perfectly clear. I had never been up to Woodland Park and beyond before and it was especially beautiful with all the snow. After driving surrounded closely by mountains we rounded a corner and saw this breathtaking view of Cripple Creek and even more snow-covered mountains in the distance. After driving into the mountains a good distance, I noticed dozens of these small creatures scampering around burrows in the snow. For a long time, I couldn't figure out what they were, then we finally realized they were prairie dogs They were much smaller and skinnier than I had thought they would be, probably because their winter stores of food are running out at this time of the year. I imagine they are ready for spring, too!

Caroline's first haircut

I gave Caroline her first haircut last night, taking about 1/2 inch off the back. It was starting to look a little ratty in the back, so I just evened it up with the sides. Charlton had been wanting me to trim it for a long time, but I just couldn't bear to cut my baby's hair, her most distinguishing feature, until now. I forgot to take a "before picture", so you will just get to see the results still wet! I will have to get another "after picture" soon of it all dry. It does look really cute and a lot neater. Plus as you can tell, she still has quite a mane to spare!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rylan at 2 1/2 years old

On Saturday, Rylan was halfway through his third year and it is so cliched, but I am amazed at how quickly time has flown and how my chubby baby has grown into such an active talkative, big boy. I warn you, that unless you are a grandparent, this post may bore you, but I wanted to keep a record of my memories of Rylan, his great qualities and our challenges with him at this age.
I was looking through dozens of video clips from our old website last night and got a little misty eyed watching so many of his "firsts" caught on tape; rolling over, crawling, taking his first steps, and hearing his squeals and babbles gradually morph into intelligible words. In one video, we were laughing at Rylan's newest antics when he was about 8 or 9 months old. Charlton was resting on the floor and Rylan was slowly and clumsily climbing up and over his back. Little did we know that was a foreshadowing of things to come. Now about 1 1/2 years later and 10 lbs heavier, one of Rylan's favorite actviities is wrestling with his dad. Rylan will even tell Charlton to lay down on the floor so he can launch himself full-force and tackle his poor father. He also loves to stand on the couch, arms spread wide, shouting "to infinity and beyond" and fall forward into Charlton's waiting arms. He never gets tired of playing rough with dad, and Charlton is such a great sport about it. I, on the other hand, excuse myself from wrestling duties. I am much happier to oblige when Rylan asks, "Mommy, I need hold you," or "Mom, I need cuddle time."
This winter has been a challenge with Rylan, with adjustments to a new baby sister and having to be cooped up inside so much because of the weather. I have been reading, well actually re-reading, Love and Logic and it has been super helpful these past few weeks. The first time I read it, Rylan was a baby, and I couldn't imagine ever needing to discipline my perfectly sweet child. Haha! How the toddler years have changed that. I definitely needed a refresher. For most of Rylan's life we have dealt with his hitting whenever he gets hurt, frustrated, or just doesn't like being told "no." Finally, we seem to be making some progress in this area, but this creative child has just come up with other ways to express his anger, most recently, spitting. There are times when I have told him "no" and he will glare back at me with a look that can kill. The main thing we are trying to do is be consistent with our discipline and I have been praying a lot. Some days are discouraging, but I do believe we will weather this stage just fine. Someday I believe Rylan's strength and determination will be a great asset.
Rylan also can be very loving and kind, especially to his sister. He does get jealous sometimes when we pay attention to her, but mostly he smothers her with hugs and kisses. He likes to tickle her and make her laugh, wipe her chin when she drools, and even hand her some toys, as long as they are not his! She gazes at him with such adoration, it is really neat to watch.
A couple of times this month, Rylan has fallen down or off some equipment at the playground. I thought he might want to take a break, but he looked at me and said, "I try again, mom." He loves to climb and explore, throw rocks in the creek, and swing as high and fast as possible. He also likes the toys that spin and make him dizzy. We have made a few good friends that are Rylan's age and he talks about going places with them and seeing them at church. He rarely cries anymore at the nursery, in fact, he says "goodbye, mom, have a great time," even as we drive into the parking lot. He gets along great with his friends, but gets overwhelmed in big, loud groups of kids. I guess I can't blame him for that. We enjoy going for walks, especially if we are not in a hurry. Walking with a toddler is a total exercise in patience. I have given up on walking with him to get fit, and we just investigate every rock, flower, and creature in our path. He likes to do things "like a big boy" especially washing his hands and climbing in the car. Nothing thrills him more than sneaking into the driver's seat so he can turn all the knobs and push all my buttons. Coming a close second to driving the car is, surprisingly, washing dishes! He absolutely loves to stand on a chair in front of my sink and play in the suds.
I can understand almost everything Rylan says now and his sentences just keep geting longer as his vocabulary expands. Almost every morning, he asks me, "What are we doing today?" His memory amazes me, too as he has started to "read" back parts of books that we read frequently. He also remembers and sings parts of songs like "Amazing Grace." He knows the alphabet song, but sometimes gets parts out of order. Charlton got him some alphabet flash cards and he can identify about four or five letters. He has also learned the shapes of our wooden blocks, triangle, rectangle, square, etc. You can tell his parents love nature because he can name species of animals, robin, owl, duck, etc. instead of just bird, and one of his favorite shows to watch with us is Surviorman. Sometimes Rylan will play make-believe with me and it is fun to join in with him. Other times he is very literal and if you ask him if he is pretending to be Buzz Lightyear, he will reply, "No, I'm Rylan." I have started asking him his favorite and not-so-favorite parts of each day and he enjoys telling me exactly what he likes and dislikes. In fact, lately instead of saying "no", he says "no, ganks (no,thanks)!" I wonder if he thinks that being polite will change my mind, even on things that are non-negotiable!
Almost every day, he makes me laugh with his cute sayings or actions. We were waiting at the drive-through pharmacy the other day and I was talking to the technician on the speaker. From the back of the car, this little voice pipes out, "I would like french fries, please."
Well, right now my mind can't think of anything else to add about Rylan. If you have read to the end of this post, then bless your heart and I hope you weren't bored to death. Come back in six months for the three-year old Rylan update!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Our Easter Snow

Rylan's Easter basket

Rylan's Easter Car

Thanks Nana for Rylan's race car. He was jumping up and down and shouting with delight when he first saw it. I wish I had been quick enough to get video then. This time he was a little more interested in wrestling with Daddy.

Easter 2009

On Good Friday we had planned to go visit Focus on the Family's visitor center with a group of friends from MOPS. Unfortunately we didn't realize they would be closed on Good Friday. That was the second time we had rescheduled for the week and a real bummer. So instead we went to the mall playground and at lunch at Chick-Fil-A with my care group leader and her son who is a great friend for Rylan. I definitely want to try again to go to Focus, so hopefully it will work out soon.

Rylan has either outgrown or worn out most of his winter clothes, so I was being creative with his new summer clothes. I thought he looked really cute in this green polo.

Another cute picture. Rylan is so rarely willing to pose for pictures, so I take advantage of it whenever I can.

Our Easter snow! We woke up to just a light dusting of snow, but about 7:45 it started snowing again. I decided not to wear my sleeveless dress and sandals after all and opted for a sweater set and more "practical" shoes. (I have heard stories of Coloradans wearing snow boots with Easter dresses. Evidently it snows almost every Easter!) I snowed steadily for about six hours, and it was the most beautiful snow I had seen, at least in a really long time. The snowflakes were so large they looked like butterflies. All in all, it was a wondeful, relaxing Easter. We went to a great church service, came home to eat a delicious brunch of home-made cinnamon rolls, eggs, grits and bacon. I made Charlton's favorite dinner later, oven-fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, and biscuits.

Rylan beat us downstairs on Easter morning and as soon as he noticed the baskets he was super excited. I intercepted him as he was climbing on the table. His basket had a new shiny Lightning McQueen car and lots of eggs filled with his favorite candy, M&M's.

Our Easter cake. Nothing super special, I decided to make it at the last minute. Yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing, and of course, sprinkles. It was delicious, if not terribly creative.

My handsome Clarke men. I found a blue oxford cloth shirt for Rylan and the cutest bucks shoes on Ebay for a great deal. He looked like such a big boy in his dressy clothes.

Me and my sweet girl in her Easter dress.

Caroline's Easter bunny. Thanks, Nana! Rylan has a blue bear that he calls, "bear-bear" and he has been completely attached to it since about 7 months. I wonder if Caroline will bond with her "bunny" the same way. Rylan thought it was very neat that Caroline has a special "friend" like his bear-bear.

Rylan with his mouth full of M&M's investigating his Easter eggs.

Here we asked Rylan to smile and this was his response.

The kids with their Easter baskets. We had to move our egg hunt indoors because of the snow, but Rylan still had a great time searching all over the downstairs for his eggs. After he found them, he would shake them to see if they had something inside, open them up, and then add to his ever growing pile of candy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A little art project and fun with Caroline's hair....

When Rylan was born, I had a special frame that opened like a book. On one side I put his baby picture from the hospital and on the other, I put a mold of his footprint. With Caroline, I decided to do a little something different. I didn't have hospital pictures taken of her, so I took some when she was more alert about a week later at home. I took a mold of her foot, too and then designed a "page" with her picture and initials. I wish I could have gotten this picture to turn out better, I should have taken it before I put it under the glass, but at least you can get the idea. The colors match the lavender and sage green in her room.

Here is what my sweet girl looks like fresh from the bath.

Ahh, much better. The wild hair is all combed and tidy.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Picnic fun

Wednesday was absolutely beautiful. We played at the park in the morning and saw a preschool class on a field trip having a picnic lunch. I told Rylan we could go home and have a picnic too, with Daddy. So, we spread our blanket on the back patio, because the sprinkler was running in the yard, and enjoyed our sandwiches in the sunshine. So much fun. When the cold and snow come tomorrow, hopefully it won't be so bad since we thoroughly enjoyed this taste of spring.

Miss Caroline modeling her sun hat.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Trying to decide which egg to start with. Very important decision.

This colored "water" smells funny.

What an interesting egg!

Look at this beautiful blue egg! Also notice the not-so-beautiful blue fingers.

All done with dyeing, now we get to pick out some stickers for decorating.

Rylan making Easter cookies. A few seconds after this picture, he ate part of the ear off the bunny. He loves eating the sprinkles.

The finished iced cookies. Yumm!

Rylan dyes Easter eggs pt. 2

Rylan dyes Easter eggs

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Easter Fun

Easter has really crept up on me this year. I looked at the calendar last week and realized it was sooner than I had thought. Maybe it is because the weather has been very un-spring like the past two weeks. We have had four snow storms, including one blizzard. My poor tulips are frozen on the side of the house and still covered in snow on the front.
I am so eager for warm weather, especially so we can get outside to play more often. Thankfully with Easter coming, I had a few "tricks" for indoor entertainment. We made our standard iced sugar cookies with sprinkles, of course. Rylan is crazy about sprinkles and preferred eating them to actually putting them on the cookies. Usually when we ask him if he would like a certain food, he adds, "With sprinkles on it?" Maybe I need to try that trick to get him to eat his veggies.
We also dyed Easter eggs for the first time. That was one of my favorite parts of Easter as a child, but I was a little nervous to try that activity with a two-year old. Somehow the combination of colorful liquid dyes, fragile eggs, and an excited toddler seems like a recipe for disaster. So, with a thick towel protecting the counter and a sheet on the floor, I mixed all the dyes, rolled up Rylan's sleeves and set out a half-dozen hard-boiled eggs. Rylan had the most wonderful time, even better than I had expected. He loved dunking the eggs into the cups of liquid and then pulling them out again to observe the colorful transformation. We had so much fun, and..we only broke half the eggs! Not bad for our first time.