Saturday, May 30, 2009

Caroline turns 6 months

Caroline all ready for church in her "ellow dress" as Rylan calls it.

Like a true woman, Caroline can already multi-task.

6 months old

Getting so big!

I am not so sure about this rice cereal, Mom.

Caroline reached her six month birthday last week, a big milestone in my mind because now we have the new adventure of starting solid foods. With Rylan we were so excited we started solids earlier, but I learned my lesson and am in no hurry to leave the ease of only nursing behind. These six months have flown by and I can scarcely remember life with just one child! I wanted to write some memories of Caroline at this age. We received a clean bill of health at the pediatrician on Monday and she weighed 20 lbs exactly and measured 26 3/4 in. Her 9 month clothes fit great and she even wears a few 12 month outfits.
At six months, I have finally dropped our last night-time feeding and just nurse four times a day. Caroline is a much faster eater than Rylan ever was, maybe because she has more entertainment to look forward to when she is finished. She also spits up more, a lot more than Rylan did at her age and I haven't figured out a cause for that. She spits up so much while rolling around on her quilt, that Rylan is grossed out and won't even play on it! We tried rice cereal and peas in the last few days and neither were a big hit with my girl. She liked bananas only slightly better and then mostly liked sucking them off her thumb!
Caroline is still a great sleeper, sleeping 12 hours at night and taking a 1-hour morning nap and a 2-hour afternoon nap. Now that she can roll both ways, she really likes sleeping on her tummy. She almost always cries for a few minutes before her bedtimes and sometimes rocking helps, but a lot of times she just needs to blow off steam.
I am amazed at how much more active Caroline is than Rylan was at her age. Of course, Rylan has more than made up for it now, so I am not sure what this predicts for Caroline's future! She can easily roll over both ways, scoot backwards on her tummy, and I have even caught her up on all fours rocking lately. I am constantly having to pick her up and put her back on her quilt to play, because she wiggles all over the place. She can sit by herself for a few moments at a time. She has become quite "grabby" lately whenever something new catches her eye, and inevitably everything new must be tasted At church last week, she was fascinated by our bulletin and kept trying to eat it. She also loves to chew on the ribbon on her toy basket and a string of beads. Those seem to be her favorite "toys" lately. She gets so excited and starts waving her hands around so wildly that it reminds me of a kitten playing with string. She is still content playing for long times in her bumbo seat or bouncing in her jumperoo.
We heard Caroline say "da-da" for the first time this month and she is quite fond of her daddy, especially touching his scratchy chin! She laughs and babbles and always has a smile for Rylan. It is fun to watch them interacting with each other. Rylan occasionally tries to take her toys or pull her bow out of her hair, but mostly he calls her "sweet pea" or "princess" and talks sweetly to her. He has a special high-pitched voice he reserves just for babies and animals!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Today was a memorable day and not just for the traditional reason. Rylan pooped in the potty for the first time! Yeah! He was making faces at dinner time, but there were still no results by bath time, so I decided to lock ourselves in the bathroom with the portable potty and pray for a miracle. Then the stink got so bad I had to turn on the fan and finally open the door and a window. Too many black beans for Rylan lately. He was taking his dear sweet time and seemed content perched on his throne, so I popped next door to get Caroline in her pajamas. Several times I heard a little voice pipe out, "mom, I pooped in the potty." Rylan has been known to cry wolf, so I didn't get my hopes up. Finally the moment of truth arrived, Rylan hopped up from the potty and eureka, we had results! Charlton and I both did ridiculous "happy dances" and Rylan was rewarded with M&M's and a sticker of his choice. It was fun to be able to praise him so much for an accomplishment that we have talked about and hoped for for a long time. I know this is only the beginning of a long road to being fully potty-trained, but it was a huge encouragement for me. I am hoping it was a really positive learning experience for Rylan, too, and he will want to keep trying.
We also had a really nice Memorial Day. Before the afternoon deluge, we managed a few hours to walk around Old Colorado City for Territory Days. Then we went back to Xan and Jayne's house for a cookout with the guys from the Training Ground group. I was so totally surprised at what a nice afternoon it turned out to be. We ate lunch, then Rylan crashed on the floor for his nap, and Caroline fell asleep on the guest bed upstairs. It was such a treat to be able to relax and visit with the other wives especially after having just the kids for company all week.
I'll leave you with a video of Rylan's big moment..

Last week and a grocery story..

We had a rainy Memorial Day weekend here in Colorado, but we were glad to have Charlton home after he gone with the Training Ground guys all week in Wyoming. All week long, Rylan would shout, "there's Daddy's red car" every time we saw any car in a shade even close to red. Needless to say, he was thrilled to see his dad again on Friday afternoon.
I had aspirations of being super productive while Charlton was gone, doing things like painting the back fence, but when I felt a cold coming on Sunday night, I decided to be more reasonable. I figured planning to just survive and maybe even have fun with the kids while by myself all week was a much more realistic goal. I took naps with the kids, and really enjoyed not having to cook! We did have fun, going to the park twice and even the zoo once. That was an adventure because our small zoo was super crowded with tons of kids on school field trips and we hit a record of 88 degrees that day. After our cold spring, that felt hot!
Thursday I tackled the grocery by myself with both kids. I plan our trips for when both kids are hopefully not too tired or hungry and then hope for the best. I never know exactly what could happen. About halfway through our trip, Caroline started to fuss, which she never does, so I knew this was a bad sign. Then I notice Rylan has devoured his cookie in record time and is now hanging halfway out of the racecar cart, swiping at interesting boxes on the shelves and planning his escape. We finally reach the only check-out lane that is open and of course, manned by my "favorite" bagger. Please know I mean no disrespect to the elderly, and I imagine this man really needs his job, but he is the slowest bagger I have ever known, and not just time-wise, if you know what I mean. He always asks me if I want plastic bags, even as I am handing him the reusable bags I toted in myself. Then he proceeds to put the cereals and canned goods in the insulated bags while my cold cuts and frozen vegetables go in the regular bags. By the time I reach the check-out lane I feel like my children are two ticking time bombs ready to explode, I am exhausted from wrangling Rylan, and I can't get out to my car fast enough. I buy some time with Rylan by letting him play with the vending machines up front where I can watch during check-out. He loves to ride the mechanical horse and I promise him a ride as soon as we are done, which ends up being about twenty minutes later because I have the tortoise as a bagger. They actually had to open up two additional lanes for check-out because the line backed up so far behind me. While I watched my scanned groceries fill up the holding area and back up on the conveyer belt I calculate I have just enough time to toss Rylan up on his horse for his promised ride. I rush over and at that moment, Rylan decides for the only time in his life that he definitely doesn't want to ride the horse today. Okay, no problem, I scoop him up and get ready to make our exit. Only, in typical two-year old fashion, he changes his mind in lightning speed and decides his heart will break forever if he can't ride the horse. But now it is too late, because the tortoise bagger has decided (totally unnecessarily) to load my groceries in two carts and is trying to push them both, complete with my precious baby girl out the door. Caroline apparently thinks she is being kidnapped, so she adds her wailing to the screaming of my toddler, "I want to ride the horse, I'll try again mom." Heads are turning now to watch our entourage of an old, frail man pushing two carts by himself, a mean mom that won't let her hysterical toddler ride the horse, and a crying infant in her car seat. All the while I am begging him to please let me at least push the cart with my precious cargo in it. I am not sure I trust his ability to maneuver both carts across a bumpy parking lot without some catastrophe. Oh the joys of life with children. Never a dull moment, and we all did survive even though my nerves were badly frayed. I will say that I really, really miss my Publix in Orlando, and I wonder when the tortoise bagger has his day off..? Would it be rude to ask...? :-)

Rylan dances

Here is a sample of some of the fun entertainment here at the Clarke house. P.S. Charlton was in the mood for rap music this morning.

Rocket Caroline

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chocolate donuts

On Sunday, Charlton brought home a special treat for breakfast, chocolate donuts! After Rylan ate his eggs and fruit, we let him have his chocolate iced donut with sprinkles. As you can see from these pictures, he demolished it. At one point I teased him and pretended to try to eat a bite of his donut. He gave me such a fierce look and said very firmly, "No, mommmy, eat your own donut!"
We spent a nice day together before Charlton had to leave for his camping/hiking trip to Wyoming, or "Wyone" as Rylan calls it. We sure miss Daddy, but planned fun things to do to stay busy while he is gone; trips to the park, zoo, and to see friends at the playground.
Rylan has kept me cracked up with some of his sayings. I called him my "Lightning McQueen boy" the other day to compliment him on his speed, and he looked at me and said, "No, I'm your honey bun, and Caroline is your sweet pea." Last night, he was slowing down on eating his supper and I overheard him talking to his vegetables, "Once upon a time, there were three little carrots...."
We have been enjoying several of our library books lately, especially one called "Building with Dad" and "If you give a mouse a cookie...." We have read them so much that Rylan almost has them memorized. He also likes hearing a book of children's stories that Charlton had when he was a little boy, hence the three little carrots! I never realized how many of those children's stories involved three characters, bears, pigs, billy goats gruff, and I am sure there are more...
Caroline will be six months in just a few days, so I will post more pictures and stories about her then.

Caroline's first pigtails

When Caroline was just a few months old and showing no signs of losing any of her full head of hair, I joked that I could french braid it by the time she was six months old. Well... here we are at almost six months and I didn't think she would hold still enought for a braid, so we tried pigtails instead. We need to practice a bit more, but I think our first try turned out pretty cute. The only problem is that my sweet baby girl looks way too grown-up!

Sprinkler fun

Finally we had some spring weather warm enough for playing in the sprinkler. Rylan had a great time and we enjoyed watching him, too.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Playground day

Cottonwood Creek is one of our favorite playgrounds, but I realized I had never taken any pictures there. So last week, I packed up the kids and the camera, and tried to get some candid pictures of the kids playing. Rylan always loves swinging, but lately he has enjoyed spinning on the "dizzy seat", and climbing any ladder he can find. Some of them make me so nervous, but he is a great climber and so far hasn't needed me except just as a "spotter."

The dizzy seat. The faster we spin, the better for Rylan.

Climbing the ladder.

Bridge runner.

Caroline loves swinging, too.

More dizzy smiles.

Swinging kids.

Caroline loves to swing, too.

The "look".

Nosy boy

We were hanging out in the back yard last Tuesday when Rylan heard our neighbor working in his yard. So what's a boy to do but find a big knot-hole in the fence and check it out! I would like to say he is observant like his mother, but I am afraid we are both just plain nosy!

Rylan trying to get a better look.

I think Rylan looks so handsome and grown-up in this summer outfit. He has grown an inch since December, so my eyes aren't deceiving me.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Caroline chats with Dad

We were trying go catch Caroline "going shy" when Charlton talks to her, but she just wouldn't cooperate this time. Normally, she dips her head to the side and smiles sweetly when Charlton talks to her.

Caroline plays in her crib-5 months

MOPS play group

Caroline was tuckered out and preferred sleeping to playing.

Rylan had the most wonderful time playing with his friend Jimmy who just turned two years old, but is just about the same size. They played chase, knocked each other down, and then tackled each other, laughing the whole time. It was so fun to see them playing like "real" boys with all the rough-housing and tumbling. Rylan has another friend, Lucille, whom he adores also, but just as expected, he plays much gentler with her. It is interesting how those boy/girl differences emerge at such a young age, and I am glad he now also has a guy friend to wrestle with.

Rylan loved playing in the sand.

Moms and babies. I so appreciate the friendships I have made in MOPS this year.

Spring days

A view of my beautiful tulips and front yard. I can't take any credit for the tulips, but I surely have enjoyed them. I planted irises last fall and I think I will put in some grape hyacinths this fall. The irises were confused by warm weather early in the fall and then frozen by the cold in early spring, so I am not sure how they will do this year, although a few are growing fairly tall already.

Here is Rylan's experiment to see what would happen if he buried Baby Caroline in laundry. She thought it was a fun new game.

Here's what I get for putting Caroline in her bumbo seat. I still can't believe how often this child spits up, and here is a picture of her latest "gift" to my kitchen counters. With a face like this, how can I not just laugh! P.S. She also pooped out of her diaper twice after sitting in the bumbo seat today, but aren't you glad I didn't take a picture of that? Her brother was the exact same way, something about the positioning in the bumbo seat just frees their bowels to move!

Mother's Day 2009

Some of the beautiful tulips in front of our house. They were blooming when we moved last year and were part of the first view I had of our new house. They are a lovely reminder of that special time in our lives and of Mother's day.

Again, I only was able to get a Mother's day picture in front of the tulips with one of my babies. My big boy ran at first sight of the camera and couldn't be convinced to come back!

Rylan was more cooperative in this shot of my beautiful roses.

My sweet smelling roses and even sweeter children, the best part of Mother's Day. I actually got called off work the night before, so I got to stay home with my family and go to church on Sunday. Charlton granted my wish to get a salad from Chili's and we enjoyed a relaxing lunch at home. Besides my roses, Charlton also steam cleaned my carpets for me.
But he really went over the top by getting my engagement ring re-mounted. After almost 10 years, the band was wearing thin, one prong was badly bent and the rest of them were also looking worn. The finished ring is absolutely beautiful and looks better than new. And if the ring wasn't good enough, Charlton presented it to me by dropping to one knee and proposing again. How could I resist! I never thought Mother's Day could be so romantic. Thanks honey for all your thoughtfulness. I feel so blessed.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Garden of the Gods

A view of Pikes Peak from Garden of the Gods.

Some of the interesting rock formations.

Caroline loved riding in our baby back pack.

Rylan is paying close attention to the trail.

Taking a break for a refreshing drink.

Caroline hiking with Dad.

This is an awful picture of me, but cute of Caroline, and great scenery in the background.

Exhausted from so much fun hiking.

Spring has finally arrived in Colorado. We had the most gorgeous day with lots of sunshine, a light breeze, and temps in the low 70's. We decided to hit Garden of the Gods on a hopefully less crowded weekday. The new green grass and budding trees, deep red rocks, and bright blue sky contrasted so dramatically with each other. It made me so thankful again to be able to live in such a beautiful place and to enjoy God's creation.
The last time I had been here was when I was two days overdue with Caroline, so this was also her first visit, outside the womb. It was a little easier hiking with her on the outside! We went on a new trail, the Upper Loop which climbed gradually until we reached a fairly steep ledge. Charlton climbed down first with Caroline in the back pack and then I had to lower Rylan down the side of the rocks into his arms. Then it was a relatively easy climb back to level ground. We were either really stupid or very brave for attempting this trail with a toddler and an infant! Rylan was such a great hiker and managed to stay with us the whole time, tackling some fairly steep climbs, especially for a guy his size. I was so proud of him and encouraged that he may be able to hike along for short distances in Rocky Mtn. National Park in July when my parents come. When we reached the paved trails again, he was pretty tuckered out, but not too tired to talk to other passing hikers and ask them what their names were! He would even introduce himself, "My name's Rylan." This boy is certainly not shy!

Some Tuesday fun....

I had some great entertainment while cleaning the kitchen after lunch. I gave Caroline a spatula and wooden spoon and she had a blast waving them around. I wish I had caught it on video, but at least I got a few good pictures. I had no idea she would have so much fun with them! (For all those wondering, it is not recommended to put the Bumbo seat on a counter top, naughty me, but I was watching her carefully the whole time.)

Sometimes when I am getting the kids ready for bed, Caroline is not too fussy to lay down with Rylan while I read his story. It is so sweet to see them cuddle together. I just happened to have my camera ready for the special moment tonight. As soon as Rylan saw my camera, he lept off the bed like he was on fire. The little stinker! It has been so hard to get a picture of him lately. I had to bribe him with more bedtime stories to get him back in bed next to his sister. And no, I have to admit it is not the first time I have stooped to bribery to get pictures. M&M's work great for that, also! :-)