Monday, August 31, 2009

Good morning, Mom...

Charlton and I were a little shocked this morning when we looked out our bedroom door at 6:15 and saw a light on in Rylan's room. I knew this day had to be coming, but for the first time, Rylan got out of bed on his own, turned on the light, and was having a good ol' time playing with his toys at the crack of dawn. A few moments later, we heard the patter of little feet and a blond head peaked over my side of the bed. "Good morning, mom. What are you doing in there? You look like a chipmunk!" What?
For the past year, ever since Rylan started sleeping in his big boy bed, he would always stay in bed, under the covers, and just yell for us to come get him. He learned how to open door knobs several months ago, and just recently was tall enough to reach light switches. I guess all his new-found skills finally clicked together. We had a nice talk at bedtime tonight about staying in his room with the door closed tomorrow when he gets up. We'll see how he remembers. Haha, even now after bedtime I can hear him thumping around in his room. I guess we might have to deal with him not wanting to go to bed in the next few weeks. I just hope the novelty will wear off and he will get some sleep, because he was super cranky this morning after getting up so early.
I take Caroline to her 9-month check-up at the doctor tomorrow, so I will post her stats soon. Uh oh, I just heard the door knob click, better run and put the turkey back to bed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rylan and Caroline in the crib

Caroline loves her big brother and it was cute to see them playing together.

Caroline at 9 months

Caroline is so proud of her new ability to pull up in her crib. I'm going to have to lower that mattress one last time.

At eight months, Caroline mastered forward mobility, this month, she is moving on up. Pulling up, that is! She is not cruising yet, but can stand in one spot and hang on very well to the furniture. She also loves to climb on us when we are sitting on the floor and gives great hugs around the neck. She is crawling faster each day, but thankfully hasn't shown much interest in climbing stairs yet. I have the baby gate all ready for that day which I imagine will be coming soon. Caroline is also sporting three new teeth this month, all on top, for a total of five. Much to my relief, she seems to be over the novelty of biting while nursing.
She eats three meals a day, nurses four times, and has a great appetite. We tried Cheerios today which were a big hit, and I am offering her more table foods. The only food she really hasn't liked was watermelon. She gagged on the smallest piece and actually threw up! She still spits up fairly often, much to my dismay. I don't think it is a medical problem, more like she is just one of those special kids who continue to spit beyond the normal 6 month range. Rylan has an eagle-eye for picking out the "puke spots" and is always helpful to tell us when he finds them on the carpet.
I am thankful Caroline is still a good sleeper, napping twice a day and sleeping 12 hours at night. She sucks her thumb when she is tired, but hasn't gotten overly attached to any "loveys" like Rylan bonded with his bear-bear.
She says "da-da" and this week started babbling "buh-buh" when we tried to get her to say brother. I think brother is her favorite person besides mama. She lights up with the biggest smiles and just coos whenever he comes near. They like to play peek-a-boo together and Caroline thinks it is the most fun to roll around on Rylan's bed with him. I am always reminding him to be gentle, but am amazed at how much rough-housing Caroline will tolerate before she fusses. I think she is going to be one tough girl. She still has quite a temper and had a couple big screaming hyperventilating fits this month. One happened when Charlton tried to dig a leaf out of her mouth. Mean daddy! Her cries woke me up out of a sound sleep after I had been working all night. She will also squeal, clench her fists, arch her back and turn red in the high chair or car seat if she doesn't wish to be in there. She also doesn't like wearing her hair bows anymore, or maybe she would rather chew on them than wear them. Her hair is so long that I just can't leave it un-fixed, but I can usually get her to keep a rubber band in.
We went to story time at the library this morning and Caroline actually got to participate since Rylan was willing to sit also. She was very interested and enthusiastic and I was so happy to be able to share that time with her like I did with Rylan when he was a baby. She loves splashing in the tub, swinging at the park, and playing with any of Rylan's toys, especially his race cars and tools. Most of her toys have been hand-me-downs from Rylan, but we will have to remedy that on her
1st birthday and get some real girl toys.
Well, my girl is waking up from her nap now and that's about all I can think to share about her this month. We go to the doctor on Tuesday, so I will update her official height/weight stats then.

Family Vacation in Breckenridge

We spent four nights in Breckenridge this past weekend, our first family vacation in two years. While I realized that vacations with small children aren't exactly relaxing all the time, we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and uninterrupted time to spend with each other. It was only a 2-hour drive away from Colorado Springs, but we truly felt like we were "getting away." Summer is off-season in Breck, so we could stay more cheaply than during ski season. That said, we won't be looking to buy a second home in the mountains any time soon no matter how much we were charmed by the town. A 585 sq. ft home with 2 bedrooms and 3/4 baths was selling for $319,000!
Rylan was really excited about vacation and asked us every few minutes on the drive, "do we on vacation yet?" I'm not sure what he was expecting vacation to be, but I think he was satisfied with new cartoons on cable, a new toy to play with, his favorite cereal, and an indoor swimming pool. Caroline was fascinated with the un-covered outlets, trying to eat the decorative pine-cones, and digging in the fake moss in the fake plants. Oh the joy of a 9-month old in a non-childproof home! Thankfully, we survived with no choking or electrocution incidents.

Just one of the many cute shops in Breckenridge, all decorated with large containers of colorful flowers.

The flowers, mostly petunias, surrounding this restaurant amazed me. I wonder who has the green thumb?

Sorry, but I just couldn't get enough of the flowers. So lovely and each container had a different arrangement.

The back porch of our condo had great views of the mountains all around.

I didn't get to see a wild columbine, but this beautiful blue one blooming at a cabin near our condo was the next best thing. I was surprised because the columbines near our house finished blooming months ago. Chalk it up to the 3,000 foot difference in altitude, I guess.

Rylan got to sleep in a queen-sized bed, but he was glad to share some snuggle time with his sister just before bed. We let them sleep in the same room for the first two nights, but after they started waking each other up at 6:30 am, we decided to separate them.

Rylan fully enjoying his vacation, complete with relaxing on the couch watching cartoons on cable and eating his favorite cereal.

Rylan satisfying his climbing urge on the big rock near our condo.

Another cute shot of Rylan on the rock. I am a huge fan of L.L. Bean and I may even send them this picture, just for fun!

Rylan holding Caroline on "his" rock just long enough for me to snap a picture and then rescue her. I wouldn't put it past him to give her a playful shove, just to see what would happen.

Caroline claps for joy on vacation.

The area we hiked off Boreas Pass Road used to contain a major railway until the 1930's. It was the shortest distance between Denver and Leadville, a mountain town in the heart of the Rockies just southwest of Denver. All that remains now are a few feet of track and this old boxcar, which Rylan explored.

Little boy on the trail in the Rocky Mountains.

Hiking up to Black Powder Pass. On the way up the trail, the path seemed to disappear. All we could see was a steep, bare dirt hill in front of us. To the left, we could see a faint trail that led on more level ground across the creek. We had to do a little bush-wacking, but otherwise made it through that area to a more defined trail. On the way back, I decided we should take the "real" trail so we wouldn't have to fight our way through the bushes and soggy creek. Unfortunately, I forgot about that imposing looking hill that looked even scarier coming from above. Basically the trail was steep, smooth dirt, no overhanging trees to grab, no rocks for toeholds. I tried my hardest to find an easier way down, but had no success. Finally, with Charlton at the bottom to break the descent, I slid down on my bottom holding Caroline in front in the moby wrap. Charlton was a real trooper and did the same thing earlier, holding Rylan, but I was really scared. I might have been braver if it was just me, but I was really afraid of falling and hurting Caroline. Thankfully we all made it down safely, a little more dirty than we had planned, but just in time to escape the coming thunderstorm. It was a great hike, with some beautiful scenery, but I was reminded how everything can be a little more difficult with young kids, and in the mountains, more dangerous.

Taking a break to check out the stream.

Rylan taking full advantage of any opportunity to play in the water, no matter how cold.

Charlton helping Rylan cross the creek.

Charlton climbed all the way to the summit of Black Powder Pass and was rewarded with this great view. The kids and I were glad to wait in the shade a little lower down on the mountain.

Mountain man Charlton.

We ate dinner at a great Mexican restaurant overlooking the water and the mountains on Saturday night. The food was great, but dining with kids wasn't exactly relaxing. Caroline burned her finger on my hot plate and while we were walking out, Rylan tripped and fell hard in front of a crowded table. We ended up running out of the restaurant, Rylan tucked under my arm, screaming and yelling "don't look at me, go away" to all the nice, concerned restaurant patrons.

The Mexican restaurant was on the lower level of this building.

Me with my crazy, stray strand of hair, and my boy, all recovered from the restaurant drama.

Rylan just had to pet the horses. ;-)

Rylan enjoying his dinosaur sprinkled chocolate iced donut. We told him the night before that we would get donuts for breakfast. The first thing I heard him say the next morning was "Mom, do we get donuts now?" I wonder what he dreamt about all night.

Buffalo Bill's grave.

Rylan says "stick 'em up" with his first "real" cowboy gun.

Rylan demonstrating his new cowboy gun.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Big shoes to fill

Rylan all ready to help me go get the newspaper. If only he could find his shorts...

Moving on up

No sooner had she started crawling, then Caroline moved on to her next milestone, pulling up. I guess being forwardly mobile wasn't quite satisfying enough, she wants to be able to get a better view of life, too. I am still shocked at how much more mobile she is than Rylan was at her age. He wasn't even able to pull up by himself until he was 11 months old and didn't walk until 17 months. So, with Caroline, I am betting we could have a walker around 10-11 months.

Getting ready to stand.

Just needing a little support from the ottoman and so proud of herself.

Checking out Rylan's cardboard car.

This hair day started out bad, but at least the waffles were tasty!

Aunt Bethany and Caroline

I couldn't resist sharing these sweet pictures of Bethany and Caroline sitting in the doorway watching Rylan play outside. They look like they are related even from behind.

Daddy space jammin' with Caroline

Maybe I should start my day by dancing in my pajamas. It sure looks like fun for Caroline. Notice Rylan doing some moves in the background near the end of the video.

Why you should never feed wild animals...

unless you get them to do a trick in return. This chipmunk was one of the highlights of our latest zoo trip, and he isn't even an official zoo resident. After he had to work so hard to get a tidbit from Charlton, he ran over to the lady near us, climbed up next to her on her bench and actually hopped into her "lunchable" tray. Oops!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rocky Mountain National Park with Bethany

Last Thursday, Charlton watched Rylan, so Bethany, Caroline and I could hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. It was an incredible day in the park, and truly the highlight of her visit. We pored over the guidebook, trying to pick out a destination and finally settled on a trail that led to Alberta Falls, to Loch Vale and on to Timberline Falls. On paper, 3.8 miles sounded like a reasonable distance. In actuality, lugging 23 lb. Caroline in the moby wrap on my chest and carrying our lunch and water in a 15 lb. backpack on my back uphill most of the way at about 10,000 feet in altitude, I am impressed that we made it the 3 miles (one-way) just to the lake. Going back was a little easier since it was downhill, but I underestimated my clumsiness with a baby in the front obscuring the view of my feet. I felt like I was 9 months pregnant again! Thank goodness for my hiking pole or we probably would have bit the dust and rocks a couple of times. Seeing the incredible views of the mountains, granite cliffs, waterfalls, and finally Loch Vale lake made the tough journey totally worth it.
One cute story: When we arrived at Loch Vale, Bethany and I noticed four very small baby mallards swimming around a shallow area in the lake. We searched and searched for the mama duck but never found her and finally thought something must have killed her, because the babies were too little to be on their own. About 45 minutes later, after our picnic lunch, we were looking out over the lake and heard a quacking in the distance. It grew louder and louder until we could see a mama duck making her descent. Her quacks were joined by the peeps of the baby ducks, suddenly emerging from the shoreline and frantically swimming to the center of the lake towards their mama. It was so sweet to see their happy reunion. I was really surprised a mama duck would leave her babies alone, but maybe she needed to go elsewhere to find food.
One really bizarre story: After hiking, we drove through the park to the tundra at about 12,000 ft. At one point there is a trail leading to an overlook with incredible views of the valley below. I grabbed Caroline and Bethany and I hopped out of the car for a quick look. We noticed a tour bus and then a large group of Korean students at the look-out, maybe high school or early college age. It was pretty crowded, so we hung back to wait our turn to admire the views. One of the students walked over and smiled at Caroline. We smiled back and tried to exchange pleasantries, but it didn't seem like they spoke much English. Another Korean student joined her and they both admired my baby. Then, someone held up a camera and snapped a picture. I thought that was a little odd, but I knew their culture tends to like to take a lot of memories when they travel places. No big deal. All of the sudden, Bethany, Caroline and I were completely surrounded by about a dozen Korean students smiling and cooing and taking pictures of my baby. Before I knew it, they were even sidling up next to her, holding up their fingers in peace signs and having their pictures taken with Caroline. I had no idea what they were actually saying, but I can only imagine my sweet baby's picture plastered all over Korean students facebook pages with the caption, "fat American baby." Here we were in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, with the most stunning mountain views imaginable, and these students were more fascinated with my roly-poly baby girl! Bethany and I laughed all the way back to the car, once we finally wiggled our way free from the paparrazi.

I didn't attempt to cross this stream on the stepping stones on the hike back down the mountain, I was too rubbery-legged. The bridge was much safer, thank you.

Caroline and her Aunt Bethany.

At Alberta falls we had to stop to take off our jackets and readjust the moby wrap.

When I look at this picture, I can't believe we were really there. It just looks too beautiful to be real.

Loch Vale. If you look really closely, you can see Timberline Falls in the background along the rocky cliff. Maybe next time, we will make it all the way..

Caroline is clapping her hands. She was so happy to be out of the wrap and be able to crawl around while we ate our picnic.

Beautiful Loch Vale.

My "fat American baby" enjoying her day in the mountains.

Aunt Bethany at Loch Vale.

Just had to include this picture for all those moms who have nursed babies. When baby is hungry, all you need is mom, even if it is at 12,000 feet on the alpine tundra!

Baby Caroline on the tundra. We later heard on the park info radio station that some tundra plants are so delicate that one foot print can erase 50 years of growth. I don't think this was the most fragile area of the tundra, but I cringe to think of what our footprints and Caroline's bottomprint did to these plants! Sorry, tundra plants.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Touch-a-truck Day

On Wednesday, we drove to Woodland Park for Touch-a-Truck Day. It must have been planned by a parent of a young boy, for who else could know what would be pure delight for these little men. A parking lot filled with bulldozers, tractors, police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and every other kind of vehicle imaginable. Not only could you look and admire them, but you could climb on the driver's seat, drive the steering wheel, push buttons, and best of all, honk the horns! Rylan hopped from one driver's seat to the next, testing out all the vehicles. I'm not sure he could have named his favorite. Now, I have to let him "drive" my truck every time we go anywhere.

We stopped at the highly-recommended local donut shop, The Donut Mill, before touching trucks. The donuts were huge, and delicious! We were not disappointed.

Caroline waiting for me to share my donut with her.

The SWAT vehicle was Charlton's favorite.

The small street sweeper.

Pushing buttons in the nice, new ambulance. Rylan was disappointed because he wanted to climb up into the cab to "drive the wheel." The patient area just wasn't interesting enough for him.

The snow plow. Very important in the mountains of Colorado.

Probably my favorite picture. I wonder how long this young man has been a firefighter and if this job was his boyhood dream. I think he enjoyed being around the kids.

Rylan chatting with the young fireman.

Driving trucks with Dad.

This vehicle was actually an enormous crane. The operator is keeping a careful eye on Rylan!

Rylan loves a good steering wheel.

Fun in the bulldozer.

Little boy, big wheel.

Bethany and I, RN and RN-to-be, loved talking to the paramedic in the new ambulance. I think that was our favorite vehicle.

Caroline did more looking than touching, but she was a great sport hanging out in her stroller, even when all the honking horns got a little obnoxious.