Monday, November 24, 2014

School pictures!

Emmett has been in some type of Mother's Day Out/Pre-school program since he was two years old but this is the first year that we have gotten school pictures.  The MDO in El-Do didn't do any, but his school last year did, he was just sick on picture day.  Note: they don't feel the need to schedule re-takes in preschool.  

So this year I was determined to keep him healthy for pictures.  Thankfully, he was healthy as could be!  His folder came back about a week later with 1 inch tall pixelated proofs.  It was really tough to tell which one was the best, but one thing was for sure: he had come down with a case of Fake-Smile-Itis when he got in front of the camera.  

Ultimately, I picked the one that I thought had the most natural smile and least staged pose.  However, I did not notice that he was biting his bottom lip in the photo.  That only became clear when my 20 copies of the photo came in!  

So, yeah.  Not the worst, but not exactly a natural smile either.  I really wonder if these professional children's photographers are going in yelling, "SMILE!" at these kids when that is the last thing that works.

I'll bet you are wondering what the other two photos must have looked like in order for me to only order copies of the one above.  I took the liberty of visiting the Lifetouch site so that I could show you.  There, they intend to sell you more photos of your child looking super awkward.  Poses include: 

Just Hangin' Out Casually with My Ladder and these Books
What?  I stand like this all the time.  Also, it's bright in here.

This Ladder Makes a Great Seat ... It's Not Uncomfortable At All
Is it snack time? Because I brought my whole apple!

Ah, the delightful pastime of school pictures.  It's a fun one.  If anyone would like to order any of these, they are like $20 for a 5x7.  Ridiculous.  I did get some wallet sizes of the Lip-Biter that a select few can have.  Don't all send your requests in at once!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A family visit

Earlier this month we welcomed Mike, Karen and Justin to Dallas for a nice long weekend visit.  It had been several months since Mike and Karen saw the boys and Theo especially had changed so much.  Uncle Justin hadn't seen us in two years!  The last time he saw Emmett was in a diner for breakfast and it's hard to really get to know someone in that short time.  So, we decided to let those two bunk together and really do some bonding.  ;)  I'll let you guess who got to wake up with Emmett "at the seven!"  

Of course, everyone was quite smitten with the "little" man, who looks like he's really had enough of all the picture-taking.

"I like Grandad, but you better stop it with the camera. NOW."

"What did I tell you about the camera? Nana, make them stop."

"OK, well at least I look like a little baller in this one. Thanks for the hat, Uncle J-Bird."

As with the last visit from Mike and Mom K, Emmett really latched on to Grandad.  He was his little shadow, always requesting to sit by him, walk near him, whatever.  I'm not saying it was based entirely on the delicious German chocolate eggs filled with toys, but it certainly didn't hurt!

Emmett learns how to shave.  Better study up now, kiddo.
On Saturday we decided to pay a return visit to The Heard Museum to see the animatronic dinosaurs again.  I think Emmett was pretty happy to be there...

The boys led the way through the exhibits.  There were some new dinos this year and some that we missed (where you at, brachiosaurus?!), but all in all we had a good time.

Someone's got a real rage problem.

New dino alert! Quetzalcoatlus.  Emmett had to tell me what it was called and I then had to google the spelling.

The star of the show.  As Uncle Justin and Eric theorized, they blew the budget on T. Rex and the other dinos suffered a little...

Oh look, a new dino fan!

Emmett explores the Frontier Village with Grandad and Nana.

Time to look at the exotic animals, like...deer!

Both boys fell asleep on the ride home and Uncle Justin took all the credit for it.  Must have been those soothing lullabies he sang all the way back.
Another fun visit in the books!  We are so glad that Nana, Grandad and Uncle Justin came to stay with us for a few days.  We'll see y'all next time!  You can see all of the Heard photos in the November photo album.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Month by Month: Eight

Little Theo, you've earned a reputation for being a super happy, easy-going, smiley baby.  And yes, those are appropriate characteristics for you...most of the time.  But it's time to shine a light on the darker side of your little persona.  The side that sends a shiver down my spine.  The side that most people are unlikely to see.  When you get mad, Theo, you don't mess around.

I've already talked about your affinity for grunting, and it has worked quite well for you in terms of getting what you need when you need it.  But there have been times when, heaven forbid, you've had to wait an extra 15 seconds for another raspberry, or you can't be picked up right away, or when you've bonked your head trying to escape from your crib.  You'd think that the World's Happiest Baby would be able to roll with the punches, but'd be wrong.

Listen, I know babies get upset.  The thing that gets me with you is the speed with which you take it from calm, content, happy little guy to rage-fueled, crazed, zombie-baby with scary sound effects that totally creep me out!  I'd say the most common appearance of your Mr. Hyde Side is during meal time.  As soon as I buckle you up in the chair, the grunting begins and your limbs start to shake in preparation for your upcoming meal.  I've really only got about a minute before things start to get bad.  I'm not joking when I say that you have made noises that have legitimately scared me ("Is The Walking Dead on in the background?!").  Half the time I feel like a zoo keeper throwing meat into the lion's den just hoping I don't lose an arm!

It's only natural to have a little bad to balance out the good and I think that even with the case of the quick-tempered baby we've still been pretty lucky with how amenable you have been.  I used to worry all the time about how you'd handle car rides to drop-off and pick-up your big brother.  Stress about the timing of your naps.  Fret over when your feedings would overlap with scheduled events.  But, it's just been...fine.  You are a quiet backseat passenger, you wake up in a good mood even when we have to cut a nap short and you'll nurse on the go like a champ (although you do like to try and pull the nursing cover off which is not so fun for me).  You've made it all pretty easy.  Not to say that it's no work at all, but it's a lot more fun when I get to see your smiling face...most of the time.


PS. To see all of Theo's 8 month photos, check out the November photo album.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

I hope you're ready for a costume-stravaganza because I've got two cute kiddos in some awesome costumes this year!  We'll start with Emmett... I mean, Raphael of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Take a good look at that costume - it's homemade!  I do not possess the skill to make something so awesome, but Eric's mom, Karen sure does!  I found a tutorial online and sent it to her pleading for help.  She not only agreed, she went above and beyond.  Let's just say there may be adult sized Turtle hoodies, too.  I'll get pics of the big turtles soon.  Updated to add pic!

Emmett and I painted an aluminum roasting pan brown for a shell and used yarn to make straps so he can wear it like a backpack.  We modified the original tutorial a little because I knew he'd want to take the shell off to sit down and not want to take off the "R" sash, too.  This way he can be shell-less and still make it clear that he's Raphael.  As if you'd forget this menacing glare...

And speaking of cows....

Moving on to Theo!  You know how I often joke that he's a huge, giant baby?  Well he has proved it once again by wearing the costume that Emmett wore at his second Halloween.  Emmett was 17 months old then (this is an 18-month sized costume), and here's 8-month-old Theo rockin' it like it ain't no thang.  Sure, it's a little roomy, but not by much!  Mooooove over kids, there's a new cow in town.

There is built-in stomach padding, although I'm not sure he needs it. :/

Got milk?!  No, seriously.  I'm hungry.  Again.

Theo also has some Michelangelo TMNT pajamas that he will wear tomorrow evening during the Halloween festivities.  We are going as a family of TMNTurtles and I'm pretty excited!  This will be our second year of dressing up and we might be getting a rep for it.  The only problem is that I have yet to have to make a single costume.  So, next year could be tricky!  Thanks again to Karen for your awesome costumery skills.  We may keep you in business for years to come...

To see all of the photos of the kids in their costumes, look at the October photo album.

PS. Halloween last year!

Monday, October 13, 2014

You gonna eat that?

We are one month into the food experiment with Theo and I wanted to give a little update about how everything's going.  The short story is that Theo loves to eat!  Shocking, I know.  He has willingly tried everything and for the most part liked what he's eaten.  He has gotten super-duper messy and it seems like he truly enjoys eating.  In fact, don't strap him in his high chair and make him wait for his food because he will let you know about it.  

In the first few weeks a lot ended up on him/the floor and very little was actually swallowed.  But even in just a few weeks' more time he's figured out swallowing and has become quite adept using his pincher grasp.   It has been so fun to watch him explore with food.  Here are some examples of the foods he's tried.  

Dried mango
Tomatoes (not a fan)

Green beans
Bell peppers (raw and grilled)
Boiled potatoes
Sugar snap peas

Cheddar cheese
Frozen yogurt bites (homemade - was NOT a fan of the cold!)

Graham crackers
Toast with cream cheese or mashed fruit
Pita chips with hummus
Pumpkin bagel
Rice cakes (does anyone like these things?)

Scrambled eggs

In the beginning we started very basic.  A piece of fruit, a graham cracker, some cheese.  Once he started to show genuine interest, I'd try to give him a new thing each day.  We worked through a lot of food pretty quickly!  Then I started to do combinations of things, initially to help him eat the messier foods.  For example, I'd give him a graham cracker dipped in yogurt.  Or hummus spread on toast.  After a week or so I bought some suction bowls (which sadly are not 100% effective) and would let him scoop yogurt or oatmeal out with his hand.  Oh, the messy yogurt faces he has had!  This week I dropped raspberries in his yogurt bowl and he gobbled them up!

He definitely has his favorite foods.  He loves plums and will suck the flesh from the skin and spit that back out.  He loves raspberries, grapes, graham crackers, hummus, and yogurt.  You might be wondering how I know these are favorites, since he can't talk yet.  These are the foods that when he sees me getting them out, he starts grunting and flailing until I put them on his tray.  Like I said earlier, don't make the boy wait.

This method of feeding has proven to be very enlightening for me.  Theo has tried food that Emmett has never once eaten.  This is as much my fault as it is his, in fact probably more so.  I never exposed Emmett to all these foods in the early days.  I made my own baby food, sure, but they don't eat that mush for long.  Once it was time for real food, he was hesitant to try it and I ended up wasting quite a bit of food.  Over time, I grew tired of throwing away so much and just stuck to what I knew he'd eat.  Very basic stuff.  He is now pretty picky about what he eats and always makes a big deal about what "new food" he has to try.  I'd hoped that he'd see Theo trying new food and think that maybe it wasn't a big deal, but so far all he can say is, "gross!" and "ew!" at the mess of it all.

My hope is that Theo won't have the same issues with food.  I hope he is always eager to try something new.  I hope he can encourage his older brother to try new things, too.  We've got a long road ahead of us but I'm optimistic about the future!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Month by Month: Seven

Ever since you were born your voice has had a deep, gravelly sound that seemed a bit out of place coming from such a (relatively) small guy.  The juxtaposition of a little baby with a deep groan always made me chuckle.  Well, you've grown up a little now and I'm happy to report that your voice is still in the lower register.  In fact, I'd say your level of contentment can be deciphered using an elaborate system of grunts.  

To the casual observer, it might seem as though you are just grunting all day long.  But to a highly-trained ear an "I'm happy" grunt is subtly different from an "I'm hungry" grunt.  Your laugh even has a grunt-y quality to it.  You've got a grunt for all occasions: seeing a new toy, waking up from a nap, sitting up and playing; it's almost like breathing for you.  My favorite is the "happy grunt" which we see most often.  You get a huge smile and a grunt-y groan just emanates from your little mouth as you curl up and bring your chin to your chest in pleasure.

The happy grunt is usually accompanied by a rocking motion, whether on the ground or crib or being held.  It may be hard to imagine holding someone while they curl into a ball and rock back and forth in your arms, but it's the new normal around here.  I just hold on tight and pray you don't become too strong for me.  That day is coming soon, I can tell.  You are oh-so-close to crawling.  Then you won't let me hold on to you for long because you want to move.

You are adventurous in a way I had not anticipated.  We have acrobatic diaper changes at 4 a.m., you lay on your back and push your body across the bed using your strong little legs, and you bounce your legs and swat your arms constantly.  In other words, when you start to really move I'm just gonna hide all the breakables, cover my eyes and hope for the best.  Of course, I'll have to figure out the pitch of your mischievous grunt first, but I think I have plenty of practice in order to get it right.


PS. Visit the October photo album to see all of Theo's monthly photos.
PPS. Emmett at seven months!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Interview: 4-years-old

Last year I started something I hope to continue for a long time: interviewing Emmett as he turns another year older.  I've had this on my to-do list since the end of May when he turned four.  As with last year, I had to wait for the perfect timing.  A day when Theo was asleep and Emmett was in a cooperative mood; all the stars had to align.  So, yes it took almost three months until that perfect day arrived.  And it still took a few tries to get all the giggles out (stay tuned until the end of the video for the gag reel!), but we did it.  He answers some thought-provoking questions and asks some of his own.  Here's Emmett at four years old...


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