Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tale of the lost pumpkin and the amazing dad

On Saturday afternoon, the weather was so beautiful I decided to load up the kids in the stroller and walk to our grocery store to get some mums. While we were there, we were side-tracked by the adorable little pumpkins and at $.50 a piece, who could resist? Rylan picked one out for himself and one for Caroline, then we selected a beautiful gold and rust colored mum and set off for home. Rylan's pumpkin bounced out of the stroller a couple of times, but he finally figured out how to hold his treasure extra tightly so it wouldn't fall out any more. At home, he was excited to show his pumpkin to daddy and play with it in the yard.
We were both standing at the top of our sloping driveway when the terrible accident happened. Rylan's pumpkin slipped out of his hands and started rolling, fast. It bounced down the driveway, narrowly avoiding a moving car in the street, and continued its course across the road and headed straight for the....storm drain. One more bump and that precious pumpkin disappeared into the black hole under the road! I am ashamed to say I didn't even try to run after that rolling little gourd. Maybe I could see the car coming out of the corner of my eye, or maybe I realized the pumpkin was just moving too fast too be caught. Either way, I was resigned to the fact that Rylan's prize was gone for good and just tried to comfort his hysterical sobbing.
Charlton heard Rylan's crying and his father's heart would not accept defeat. He quickly sized up the situation and disappeared into the garage. A few moments later, while Rylan and I were sadly peering into the drain to catch a glimpse of gold, Charlton appeared with his contraption, a paint cup cleverly duct-taped to his hockey stick. He stretched out on the road on his belly and reached as far as he could down into the drain, but was having trouble getting the pumpkin scooped up into the cup.
I can't imagine why, but we started drawing some attention from our neighbors at this point. Miss Yvonne, our elderly next door neighbor offered some moral support, then recruited another poor neighbor who was just trying to leave to go out to dinner with his family. This guy had kids of his own, so he must have understood, and he soon offered a long wooden 2x4 to help our efforts. It proved to be exactly what we needed. In a few seconds, Charlton used this long pole to tap the pumpkin into the cup. He carefully lifted it up and through the dark opening of the drain and we joyfully extracted Rylan's pumpkin. It was a little wet and dirty, but overall none the worse for its crazy adventure. What a celebration we had! That pumpkin immediately found itself in a safe place inside, and later even spent the night on Rylan's pillow!
Good thing, because it is not safe to be a pumpkin in the Clarke household. The next day, two of our four pumpkins disappeared off our front porch. They were the two smallest, so I thought some kids walking home from school must have swiped them on a whim. Charlton warned me to put the two large remaining pumpkins in the back yard, but I didn't listen. They looked so pretty with our mums and fall decorations on the front porch and they were so heavy, I didn't think any school kids would bother to try to haul them away. I should have listened to my smart husband. This morning I woke up to see our last two beautiful pumpkins had disappeared! I am furious and can't believe someone would steal them off our front porch with the lights on! I know they are just pumpkins, but they were special to me, we had hand-picked them on our wonderful day at the pumpkin patch, and were planning to make jack-o-lanterns with Rylan soon. So, we are brainstorming on some creative ways to catch the pumpkin thief. Stay tuned to hear any new updates on our pumpkin drama...

Potty training update #2....

Rylan has made some big steps forward in his potty-training. Last week at MOPS, he stayed dry the entire morning and even told his teacher he had to go to the potty. That was the first time he had actually told someone he had to go. Since then, he has rarely had an accident and is much more comfortable going in new places, stores, etc... A few days ago, I put away his little potty and decided to focus just on going in the real bathroom which he adjusted to right away. Only Caroline is bummed because she has lost her "toy".
Then last night, I was bathing Caroline and heard the toilet lid slamming downstairs. Rylan had gotten up from watching his movie and gone to the bathroom all by himself. I just heard him yelling for help getting his pants back on. I was so proud of him!
We are still working on going #2 in the potty. Twice he has told us and and actually pooped when we took him. Even though he isn't very consistent about it, he isn't as resistant as he used to be, so I feel like we are making progress.
I have decided potty-training is almost just as big of an adjustment for the parents as the child! Now I have to remember to schedule enough time before we leave to go anywhere to take him to bathroom. Wherever we go, I have to scope out the nearest restroom and brainstorm the best/cleanest/safest way to handle two kids and all of our stuff during the whole potty routine. I have to ration Rylan's liquids based on our distance from bathrooms. In many ways diapers are really so much more convenient. It does make it easier to be patient with his accidents when I realize what a huge change this is for our whole family. A huge change, and one more step for Rylan moving away from babyhood and really becoming a big boy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Caroline's mealtime drama

Mealtimes have been really frustrating lately as it took me awhile to realize Caroline is totally done with pureed baby foods. Except for her spitting, this video gives you a little taste of our dinner drama.

Tonight I fed both kids some pasta and our supper was so much happier and more peaceful. Still messy, yes, but much more relaxing for everyone.

Babes in the bathtub

I just couldn't resist getting some pictures of the kids in the tub. They have such a great time splashing together. (I won't be sending these pictures to Wal-Mart to be developed, that's for sure!)

Rylan loves to put bubbles on his face and look at his reflection in the bath fixtures.

One of our favorite parts of the day.

We had some really cold nights this past week, so I broke out the matching winter fleecy pajamas. Caroline was not in the mood for pictures, although Rylan was trying admirably to cheer her up.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Caroline is 10 months old

Looking out the window with a sweet profile.

Caroline is looking for trouble with that mischievous face, or is she just looking for crumbs? We don't have a dog anymore, so there isn't any competition for those tasty leftovers!

She does not want to sit still for pictures this month either, and is getting ready to launch herself off the rocking chair.

Caroline turned 10 months old on Thursday and each day with her is new and interesting as her personality keeps developing. As soon as I think I have gotten her figured out, she enters a new phase and reminds me that she is a totally different baby than her brother. She is generally a happy baby, but we have had some really fussy days with teething when the only thing that makes her happy is being held by mama.
Caroline has also been boycotting her pureed baby food except for sweet potatoes. Dinner time lately has been a loud, messy affair with lots of hand waving, spitting, and dramatic crying. I think I may need to try more table foods and see if that eases both of our frustrations. We are still nursing four times a day, but I think I am going to cut one feeding out this month and try to give her milk in a sippy cup. She is a fast nurser, but very wiggly and restless most of the time (and often bites), which isn't very comfortable for me. Thankfully she sems to be spitting up a little less. With finger foods she is a great eater, and loves crackers, cheerios, animal crackers, cheese, and even ate some very small cut-up pieces of grapes today. I am definitely braver about trying table foods with her than I was with Rylan.
Our little princess has also been trying to boycott naps lately, and I am less willing to compromise on that issue, at least at her age. Sometimes she simply refuses to take her morning nap and a couple of times if she naps well in the morning, she won't go down in the afternoon. I am amazed that most days, Rylan sleeps more than she does with just his one nap! She has finally been napping in the nursery at church, albeit in the stroller from what I hear, but that is a great relief to me on our MOPS days or Sundays. I think she must be gradually getting more comfortable and less fussy in the nursery.
I thought maybe Caroline might be walking by 10 months, but we aren't quite there yet. She crawls very fast, pulls up and stands fairly steady on her feet, but hasn't shown the coordination to put one foot in front of the other. Although Caroline moves quickly at home, when she is in a new place, she just sits quietly and observes her surroundings. We pulled out Rylan's old mailbox walking toy, and sometimes she will stand and try to push it, when Rylan will share it with her. Today, she managed to climb up two of the stairs, so I am going to have to bring the baby gate downstairs to keep her safe.
Verbally, Caroline will squeal and babble and laugh, especially when Rylan tickles her! She says "da-da" and "buh-buh" for brother, but no other words that we can recognize. She likes looking at books, but would prefer to tear the pages. Splashing in the bath is one of her favorite parts of the day. She also really likes music and will "dance" to the rhythm. Rylan's toys are much more interesting than her baby toys, especially his soft baseball bat, race cars, tractors, and even the bowl in his plastic potty, which grosses me out! I hope she will like getting some real girl toys for her birthday!
Caroline has some definite dislikes now: sitting still to have her hair fixed, or lying still for getting dressed and having her diaper changed. She also gets a scared look on her face if we hold her up in the air and lift her up and down. Rylan loved that game, but she doesn't think it is quite so fun! Amazingly she does tolerate a lot of roughness from her big brother. Many times I think something should have made her cry and she just laughs. As much as she likes to be near me and be able to climb in my lap at her leisure, Caroline will rarely let me hold her close for cuddling, even before going to sleep. Whenever she is in a relaxed, snuggly mood, I treasure it.
Caroline does have a wonderful laugh and smile and it always melts my heart when I come home from work to see her crawling as fast as she can to greet me. Hearing her giggle as she wraps her arms around my neck makes me think I could just hold her forever.
Thanks for bearing with me on this long entry. I know I won't be able to remember all these things, so I have to write them down for safe-keeping in the kid's baby books. Someday it will be fun to look back on them and reminisce..

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rylan's play group

Two weeks ago, a couple of other moms from my MOPS group with two-year old boys started a play group. This week was our turn to host. I was disappointed because the weather was cold, windy, and damp and I had really been hoping to take all the kids outside to our park. So we had to play mostly inside instead, but still had a great time with lots of wrestling, running and chasing, motor noises, "gun fights" and other testosterone charged activities. Oh, and one crafty thing, making pumpkin maggots (magnets), as Rylan called them! After about an hour, when the living room looked like a tornado had blown through, we bundled up and headed outside to test drive all the trucks and lawnmowers. Even Caroline seemed to be energized by all the rough-and-tumble excitement and activity of the boys.

Caroline joins right in the fun with the boys.

Rylan and Dain waiting for Thomas to come through the tunnel.

Buzz Lightyear was a popular toy.

Caroline gets the tent all to herself for a few moments.

Three busy boys.

Rylan and Jimmy "driving."

Rylan and his buddy Jimmy.

Jimmy and Dain ready to go to "work."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Music to my ears...

Today I heard the most wonderful words, words I have been longing to hear for weeks..."Mommy, I'm going to pee in my pants!" Finally, after three weeks of potty-training, Rylan has figured out how to tell us when he has to go pee, albeit in his own unique way! He wore his pull-ups to MOPS this morning, told his teachers when he had to go to the bathroom, and stayed dry all morning. I had been debating whether to stop the pull-ups at church, but was still too afraid I would have to pack three outfit changes for the three hours we would be there. He hadn't even been telling us consistently when he had to go, so I had no expectations he would tell his teachers, but he did! What a great encouragement for my mom's heart and I am rejoicing in this small victory.

Rylan's bear shirt

I hate that these pictures turned out so blurry, but at least you get the idea. I couldn't think of a way to make a masculine Halloween shirt for Rylan (that wasn't also weird or creepy), so he got a grizzly bear shirt instead. And he can wear this one until summer.

A view from the front.

Cute from the rear, too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rylan slides at the pumpkin patch

I could listen to that laugh all day!

Pumpkin Patch

One of my absolute favorite parts of fall is going to a pumpkin patch and this year, thinking about my love of farm life, we decided to go to a real farm with animals and pumpkins. We had the most wonderful time with beautiful weather and were able to enjoy all the fun activities with no crowds. The kids also had a blast, not a single tantrum to be had and it was just an all-around great time to spend together.

Sitting on an old wagon with pumpkins and hay.

Rylan gives Caroline a hug.

Caroline and Rylan.

I was glad to find some clean straw for Caroline.

Caroline loved feeling the textures of the straw.

This time last year, Caroline was in my belly that was about as big as a pumpkin! It was fun to see her at her first pumpkin patch.

Picking out a pumpkin is serious business for Rylan.

Rylan trying to find a pumpkin he could lift.

Charlton gives Rylan a helping hand with his pumpkin.

Rylan loved riding this barrel train.

Dad burying Rylan in the corn.

Afterwords, Rylan said the corn bin was his favorite part. It was funny to undress him at home and have to shake all the corn out of his overalls.

Can you believe the size of this pig? She was also a very mischeivous pig and let both the llama and ram out of their stalls in the barn while we were there.

Rylan found a bone in the field and realized it was a great tool for poking at the manure!

Charlton practiced roping and finally hooked the horn of this "calf."

"Sugar" gives Rylan a ride.

The whole family loved this hay slide. It was really fast!

Charlton spend a lot of time with this sweet camel who was raised by humans with a bottle. He has also appeared in church plays at Christmas!

I love this picture with my best boy.

Rylan's karate moves

Be very afraid! Don't mess with this almost 3-year old!

Dancing to Sinatra in the high chair

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Rylan sings ABC's

Rylan really knows his ABC's better than this, but maybe he is not a multi-tasker. It is tough to dance up and down, wave your arms, and sing at the same time, right?

Caroline and the vacuum

Lately as soon as I start running the vacuum, Caroline makes a bee-line for it. I never see her crawl so fast! I don't know whether it is the noise or movement, but she chases me and tries to pounce on the vacuum. I usually have to pick her up so I can finish the job. Hopefully this is a sign of being a great mom's helper in the future!

Rylan tickles Caroline

While doing the dishes, I heard both kids laughing hysterically. When I looked to see what was so funny I saw what I thought was Rylan doing chest compressions on Caroline (that's the nurse in me, ha-ha). He was actually "buzzing" her, or doing his form of tickles.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thomas pictures

Thomas comes around the bend.

Rylan, dad, and the star of the show, Thomas the tank engine. Rylan was too fascinated with the Thomas tattoo on his hand to look at the camera.

The conductor was nice enough to take a family picture for us.

Looking out the windows at some of the old trains on display at the museum.

Rylan meets the conductor of our train ride.

The conductor punches our ticket, just like in the movie, The Polar Express.

The guys meet Sir Topham Hatt.

Rylan at the old manual train switchboard. This is also the best shot I got of his cute train sweater, another great garage sale find.

Waiting in line to go inside the engine and ring the bell.

No, Charlton is not trying to throw Rylan out the window, and no, Rylan does not have rabies, although both seemed a possiblity in the midst of our toddler meltdown.

Day out with Thomas

On Saturday we drove up to the railroad museum in Golden, CO for a "Day out with Thomas". We bought our tickets months ago and had been looking forward to this special day ever since. Every time we would see commercials for it on PBS, Rylan would shout, "That's what we are going to see!" Unfortunately we all got colds this week and Charlton and I were feeling the worst by the end of the week. Also, the weather was not great with temps in the 50's and drizzling off and on. Not a great combination, but we had been waiting too long to miss this big day. Rylan had a few temper tantrums about having to sit while we were taking our train ride; and by the time the ride was over, he was in full blown tears. We tried distracting him with looking at the model train display outside, but he cried more because he couldn't actually play with the display trains. We even bought him a plastic Thomas whistle, which also created more tears because "the wheels don't work," and he couldn't figure out how to make the whistle blow. (Never fear, he finally learned how to blow the whistle and demonstrated this new skill constantly for the last 20 minutes of the ride home. I think we won the medal for "dumb parents" today!) I was definitely feeling that parental frustration of planning a fun outing for your child, spending a good chunk of change, getting up early to spend an hour on the road, just to be rewarded with tears and bad attitudes! I was really afraid the whole day was going to be one big disappointment for everyone.
Finally, we were able to push the reset button on Rylan's mood with a snack, some juice, and a rest on the bench. We met Sir Topham Hatt, toured the museum, and managed to get a quick picture with Thomas, before calling it a day. The best part for me was that the kids stayed awake the whole ride home (thanks to Rylan's ear-splitting whistle blowing) so we could all take naps. Oh, and on the way back to our car, Rylan said, "That was fun, getting to see Thomas."
I am actually at work right now, so I will have to wait until later to post pictures...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Caroline's fall pumpkin shirt

I have been wanting to get a cute fall/Halloween shirt for Caroline and after doing a little shopping around, figured out a design I could make on my own with felt appliques. For a few hours of work and only about $6.00, I think it turned out really cute. I would have let my sweet girl model, but she is fighting off a cold and was not in the mood for photos. Also, the mixture of tears, snot, and drool on her face and drying in her hair did not make for the most attractive look. Plus I think I am going to make a matching hair bow, too, so I promise to get a picture when the outfit is complete. What fun to have a little girl! I had such fun making this t-shirt that I am already planning a more boyish design for brother and another for Caroline's 1st birthday.

The front view.

Close-up of the pumpkin. This was the first time I had tried to make "corker" ribbon. You have to wrap the ribbon around a dowel and bake it in the oven so it reforms in the curled shape. I may use some orange corker ribbon for her hair bow.

I decided to try a little detail on the back with an acorn and oak leaf. The leaf didn't turn out exactly the way I wanted, but overall I was happy.

Close-up of the back.