On These Pages Are The Stories Of Our Family We Go Together ! Welcome To The World As Viewed Through Our Eyes
Lynette .......... Caedmon .......... Libby .......... Tom

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Miss Libby!!

We had a fun little birthday celebration with Libby yesterday. Tom's parents and my parents came in for the celebration so we had a houseful of our favorite people. The weather was hot so we spent a good bit of the day in the pool.

We also had a crazy present opening/picture taking event. Note to self: a 1 year old, 3 year old, 3 camera wielding adults and a bunch of gifts is not the most fun combination. We're very thankful for digital cameras since about 5 of our 500 photos turned out. Libby was decked out in her birthday t-shirt and tutu, which are sweet gifts from our neighbor/friend. She also had two darling birthday hats - one from her future best friend Ivy, who unfortunately missed the celebration due to illness. Libby's favorite gift: perhaps the tissue paper or maybe the balloon. Caedmon's favorite: Libby's Little Einsteins riding toy. (baby sister's birthdays are a great opportunity to learn to share the spotlight...and share the toys!)

We ended the day with some yummy ice cream (or should I say, custard) cake from our favorite custard shop, Woolley's. Libby got a small piece to partake of and then begged Memama for many more bites! It's amazing how things change with the second baby. Caedmon did not even get a piece of his cake for his 1st birthday. It was a good day of celebrating our precious baby girl!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wonderful One!

Libby is 1 today! I can't believe a whole year has passed. She is such a blessing to our family. Tom just commented the other day that she is the one who makes us laugh. She is just so full of joy and her smile and laughter are contagious. The past few months have brought a lot of change to our little girl. She has come alive and is quickly changing from a baby into a toddler.

Her verbal abilities seem to expand by the day. She doesn't have that many words but she certainly find effective ways to communicate. She is beginning to sign. So far, she uses "more" and "all done" the most but she is also learning "up" and "dog". We're really working hard to encourage her to use words, whether verbal or signed, instead of whining. We've heard this is one thing to teach early for girls. She also has a growing vocabulary of verbal words - mama, daddy, done, hi, bye, and I know there are others that I just haven't figured out. We're pretty sure that she says Caedmon in some form, too.

Just a month ago, Libby stood for the first time. Today she is a cruising machine. She loves to be on the move. We have an area of our living room "fenced" off so she can roam freely and safely. However, she gets tired of being contained and was finding ways to escape until we changed the set up. I think we are still a while away from walking, but with her, you never know!

Libby loves music. She smiles and smiles when music is playing. She doesn't even seem to mind when there are several competing tunes playing at the same time. In fact, she seems to aim for that as she'll turn on her learning table, the Fridge DJ and her little MP3 player all at the same time.

She also loves to play with her kitchen. We bought the kitchen for Caedmon for Christmas last year with full anticipation that someday she would enjoy it too. We never thought that she'd be playing with it already. She loves to stand at the kitchen and open and close doors and put things in the sink. It can entertain her for a good 10 minutes, which is saying a lot for a 12 month old. She gets way more use out of it than Caedmon at this point. Tom recently told me that maybe we should put it away and bring it out again when she is older. No way! She loves it already and I think it will be a favorite for a few more years to come.

Libby has recently begun to give hugs and kisses. In particular she kisses daddy and hugs mommy. It is a rare occasion when it's the other way around. I have received only two or three kisses and I don't think Tom has ever received a hug. We don't know why that discrepancy is there but alas, perhaps someday she'll be an equal opportunity hugger and kisser.

She continues to be a great eater! She's basically off all baby food and eating whatever we eat. Occasionally, I'll supplement dinner with some avocado, sweet potato or some other healthy thing if she doesn't seem to be eating a lot, but for the most part, she's feeding herself and loving everything. She is even warming up to the idea of drinking milk. As of today, I have nursed her for a year (patting myself on the back) which was my goal and she has seemed to enjoy it and is fine with it ending. For the past 3 weeks, she has only nursed first thing in the morning and the time continued to shorten so as of today, she is weaned! I have been concerned because she has never wanted to drink from a bottle and has turned her nose up to formula and milk. However, she is doing much better with the sippy cup and I am managing to increase her milk intake slowly. I'm sure it's not at gold standard but she eats lots of dairy and vitamin rich veggies so we'll take what we can get. She's also finally learned to hold the sippy herself which was met with cheers from Mama!

Two of my favorite times with Libby are first thing in the morning and bedtime. When she awakes, I get her up and take her into Caedmon's room. She is always so excited to see her brother! Caedmon is excited to see her, too. He always makes sure to hug and kiss her and loves for her to sit on his bed and play with his stuffed animals. It is such a blessing to see them loving each other! Libby's bedtime routine has fallen to me almost exclusively probably because of the nursing. Even though I stopped bedtime feedings almost a month ago, I continue to do the bedtime routine. She loves to have her teeth brushed! I also started reading Time for Bed by Mem Fox to her every night. Caedmon's book was Goodnight Moon but I thought it would be special for her to have her own book. As I read, I do the animal sign and also tell her what noise the animal makes. She especially likes the bee because I always tickle her on that one. I love to hear her giggle and giggle. At the end of the book, she always points to the sleeping girl. Then, we pray and finally, she gives me a sweet hug. It is such a precious time. I know that Tom needs to share in her bedtimes so she is flexible with her routine, but it really is a sweet time for me to spend with my baby girl!

It has been so neat to see God weave Libby into the fabric of our family. The first months with a new baby are so stressful and tiring. I can remember wondering how everyone else would come to love her as much as I, the mama, does. There is no question now. Libby has brought so much joy to our little family. We can't imagine life without her and look forward to watching her continue to grow and blossom over the next year!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

C-boy Conversations

Riding in the car provokes deep conversations in our family. At least, Caedmon's mind seems to be in overdrive as soon as he is buckled into his carseat. For example, today we talked about robots for the entire 20 minute drive to swim lessons...and on the way back home again. It was inspiring, people. Or in my case, brain frying! I was glad when we pulled into the garage because I don't think I could have answered one more question about robots, even though I am the robot guru. Ha!

Here are a few of our recent car talks for your reading enjoyment...

A few weeks ago, we installed Libby's convertible car seat. She still fits in the infant bucket but we no longer moved it in and out so we decided to upgrade her. The brand new convertibles (one for each car) had been sitting on our dining room table (aka, storage central) for weeks. And to be completely honest, Tom was forced to install the carseat...either that or let his parents wait at the airport for hours. I accidentally took Libby's infant seat with me. Oops! All that babbling to get to this story. Libby's new seat is the same brand as Caedmon's and thus, looks very similar. When we took our first family car trip (likely to Costco) with Libby in her new seat, Caedmon was thoroughly confused. He couldn't figure out why Libby was sitting in HIS seat. We kept trying to point out to him that we now have two almost identical seats. When he finally came to grips with the new car seat arrangement, he said, "Did you buy it in the store or did it come in the mail?" (Do ya think we shop online a little too much?!) We reminded him of the day it came in the mail and his response was, "Well, that was a long day ago."

On another recent trip, our conversation took a different turn:
C-boy: "When we move to a new house, we can take the playset with us."
Me: "Sure, Caedmon, if we ever move, we'll take the playset with us. We want you & Libby to enjoy playing with it for a long time."
C-boy: "Well, we should move to Machu Picchu and we'll take the playset to our new house."
Me: "Machu Picchu is kind of far away. I don't think we'll move that far and it would be very hard to move the playset there. Besides, Memama and Pappy won't come to visit very often if we move THAT far away."
C-boy: " Memama and Pappy will just have to ride in the airplane for a long ride but they can visit us."
Me: "Memama and Pappy will WANT to visit us but they just won't be able to come because it's too far."
C-boy: "Don't worry. They can come. Jesus will be with them."
At this point, I called my mom to tell her about the conversation. She told me to suggest that Caedmon may want to move to Pennsylvania instead so he would be able to see them all the time. I relayed this info to Caedmon and this is what transpired...
C-boy: "Would we live in their house?"
Me: "No if we ever moved to Pennsylvania, we would have to buy our own house but it would be close to them and we would see them often. But, we will probably always live in Texas because Daddy's job is here and Daddy takes care of us by working at his job to pay for food and clothes and stuff."
C-boy: "Well, Daddy can just get a job at Home Depot with Pappy."

One last deep Caedmon thought...on our way to church on Sunday:
C-boy: "When I get to heaven, I have some questions for Pharoah."
Me: "Caedmon, I'm not sure that Pharoah will be in Heaven. He didn't seem to love God and only people who love Jesus get to go to Heaven. I can't be sure, though. Only God really knows what was in Pharoah's heart."
C-boy: "Well, where is Pharoah if he's not in Heaven."
Of course, then I had to field questions about Hell and a whole rabbit trail of other topics. All I know is that I need to pray up about my conversations with Caedmon because he's already asking some tough questions and he's only 3!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Help! It's raining!!

Days like Thursday make me glad that I don't live in a rainier climate. Yes, I know, I complain entirely too much about the scorching Texas summers, but after the torrential downpour of this morning, I'm not sure I would handle monsoon weather any better. Perhaps, I'm just out of practice in dealing with gray skies. After all, I've heard it said that Pittsburgh has as many if not more cloudy, rainy days as Seattle. However, I have been a Texan for 6 years now...well, maybe I'm not ready to be called a Texan but at least a resident of Texas.

I don't mind a good storm. It's amazing to see the power of the wind and the rain and to be reminded that Jesus calmed a storm with just a few words. Our God is powerful and in control!

On Wednesday night, we got a good Texas storm. We were just turning off Caedmon's light when I looked outside and saw our Little Tykes slide upside down in the swimming pool! I then noticed that the 30 foot trees in our neighbor's yard were bending in half from the wind and finally, heard the tornado sirens...and to think we were swimming in the pool just a few hours earlier. Well, we grabbed both kids from their beds and headed downstairs to clean out the storm shelter (which has become a storage closet) and turn on the TV. As it happened, by the time we accomplished those two things, the sirens were off and we were able to tuck both kids back into bed. I may complain about a lot of different sleep issues, but one thing I can say about my kids is that they always sleep through storms. It's almost like the thunder and lightening induce a sleep coma for them. We didn't hear a peep from either child until morning and we put them back to bed in the midst of a huge thunder storm that lasted all night! Crazy!!!

The slide in the swimming pool became a minor issue especially once I realized that we had water - lots of water- dripping from the ceiling fan in our study. Just as we gathered enough towels and buckets to deal with that, we noticed a puddle forming in the foyer. Lovely...Who ever said that a new house doesn't have issues?

Fortunately, Tom has found a reliable "handyman" with lots of experience and knowledge in most home repairs. Tom scheduled him to come the next afternoon and he thinks he'll be able to fix the various leak issues

The rain was only supposed to last a few hours but it dragged on through the morning and the three of us (Caedmon, Libby and I) were a bit stir-crazy by the time we made it to lunch. It didn't help that Caedmon was looking forward to his swim lesson (now cancelled) and I was hoping to run several errands which I quickly rethought once I realized how wet we would all be if we attempted to leave the house.

Instead, Caedmon and I made "thunder cake." One of Caedmon's favorite books of late is Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco. It is a sweet story of a grandma teaching her granddaughter that she needn't be afraid of thunderstorms by making "thunder cake." Caedmon has been dying to make thunder cake. He asks every time there is even a hint of rain. Once a few months back, we made "thunder cookies," i.e., chocolate chips. He wasn't fooled...nor deterred. As soon as he saw the rain and heard the thunder and ran for his book and opened it to the recipe. I finally caved. We had nothing else to do and amazingly, we had all of the ingredients. As soon as Libby went down for her morning nap, we gathered our ingredients and made "thunder cake." Yum! Just what we need in our house - a giant chocolate cake.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Home" Vacation

Tom had last week off work. We are usually the consummate travelers but we're kind of worn out from dealing with jet lagged babies. After all, vacation is supposed to correlate somehow with rest, right? So after lots of sleepless nights (on the past few travels), we decided to take a hiatus from travel and stay home this year. (well, as with all decisions, this may change but for now anyway...) I know the new catch word is "staycation", but Caedmon coined this the "home vacation." As in, "Daddy, you're on home vacation since you don't have to work this week."

We had a great week together. One of the highlights for me was getting to hand off the 5 am wake up/potty calls from Caedmon and doing some "sleep-in" training for Libby. I'm proud to say that Libby can now make it until 6 am before nearing a hunger tantrum, which means that nursing will be coming to an end in just a few more weeks. Caedmon, however, seems to have reverted to his 5 am wake ups and won't be deterred (any thoughts on helping my kids to sleep until at least 7 am would be very welcome!).

We also enjoyed some backyard entertaining, breaking in the new playset, the swimming pool and our patio furniture.

On Monday, we made a morning trip to the zoo. We have membership to the zoo and the kids and I make somewhat frequent trips there. It's membership appreciation month so we got to take advantage of the early opening as well as a free train ride. We were also excited to see the "Hippo Enrichment Feeding." However, that turned into the downfall of our zoo trip since we waited for 20 minutes and even with our "front row"seats, we couldn't see anything. I hope the hippos were enriched, because we (especially the grown-ups) did not feel at all enriched by the experience. Alas, the kids enjoyed seeing some animals and the train ride is always a highlight!

On Tuesday, we awoke to rainy weather. However, we ventured out on a day trip to Fossil Rim Wildlife Park, which is kind of like a African Safari in the heart of Texas. I cannot count how many times I've been to Fossil Rim and each time I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It was one of my first "Texas dates" with Tom and Caedmon has been at least a handful of times. This was Libby's first experience but she enjoyed more than any of us expected. The weather was perfect. It was not crowded at all and we got to see all of our favorite animals. We almost thought we were going to miss the giraffes but it ended up being one of our best giraffe sitings of all times (except for the time giraffe ate out of Caedmon's and my hand).

The rest of the week was low key - lots of playtime, naps and swimming.

Maybe not as exciting as a trip around the world, but sweet, sweet family time nonetheless...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

All It Takes Is a Few Common Household Tools!

Like all the other dads out there, we want the best for our kids. As Caedmon’s 3rd birthday and Libby’s 1st birthday were nearing, I thought to myself, what should they get as presents this year? All too often we gullible parents think we have finally found another great toy that we read has been so highly recommended and rated (one that the manufacturers would have us oh so willing parents believe would stimulate creativity and development, and turn our little ones into future geniuses just by the sheer act of playing with their latest and greatest inventions, of course!) only to have it played with for a few minutes and then be forgotten about and relegated to the bottom of the toy basket or closet. I came up with the idea of getting a playground set (playfort / play-yard or whatever these things are called). I wanted to get something Caedmon & Libby could grow into and have years of fun with, as well as to ease the daily burden for Lynette when she is busy running the household. We have a great park not too far from us, but it is nice to know that when time/scheduling constraints interfere, she can just take Caedmon & Libby out the back door and have a mini-park right there. I consulted with my wife and somehow managed to convince her that the benefits to our children's childhood years of any monstrosity I envisioned to erect in our tiny space of a backyard would outweigh any potential downsides when and if it ever came time to sell our home. I put in my research time on these so called jungle gyms as any good dad should and finally decided upon one. Of course I diligently took into account all sorts of things like... size of the structure (given our limited backyard space), how it would fit given our slightly downward sloping landscaping – essentially meaning that re-grading a huge portion of our backyard might be a real possibility, wood vs plastic vs steel, cost, splintering vs durability vs corrosion, cost, chemically treated materials vs natural materials, cost, how hot the Texas sun would impact ability of play vs the shading in our yard during the various times of the day given our house’s relationship to orbit of the sun, cost, old style vs newer styles, cost, residential vs commercial appearance, cost, did I mention cost yet? Well, in the long run, cost lost out to the “coolness factor” because the one I chose was really really "cool" ... (in other words, really really COOL = costing a good deal of $$ within reason, because there are custom play structures out there that can cost almost as much as a real house)! Besides the website said that this 800 lb gorilla could be simply put together in just one day with a few common household tools... and BTW, did you also know that "really really cool" = "I will believe whatever the website says"?!? Now, while I would like to be handy at things, I don’t really find that I have time or the interest to be handy at things. But if all it took were just some common household tools, well… a somewhat handy-wannabe like myself could do it, right? Thank goodness for my father-in-law who was all too willing to help tackle this project for his grandchildren as well. When the playfort arrived in the Fed-Ex truck, I was on-call that day. Without Gary’s help (he ended up extending his visit several days by rebooking his airline ticket for his return trip to Pittsburgh), the delivery guy could never have unloaded the parts (did I mention all 800 lbs of them?) and the really really cool playfort would never have been assembled so readily. The main structure took 2 full days - through rain on day 1 and hot Texas sunshine on day 2 (plus a few more days to tweak the final smaller pieces into place), 2 cordless drills with 3 rechargeable batteries in rotation, 1 rubber mallet, hundreds of screws to drill through steel pipes and plastic collars and caps (it was unbelievable to us that the various pieces did not come with pre-drilled screw holes!), lots of studying the very scant instruction papers and diagrams, lots of re-study and re-inventing on how to reconfigure the structure to fit our landscaping and backyard space, lots of digging, lots of ground leveling, a few wheel-barrow trips to carry and dump North Texas dirt/clay (which I discovered was really really heavy) to the still as yet unbuilt upon empty lot next to ours, a few trips to Home Depot to buy miscellaneous materials which we discovered we needed along the way when we had to re-engineer some of the parts/design (hacksaw to cut steep pipes, concrete blocks, silicone caulk, etc), a few bandaged up cuts and scrapes, all the while leaving Lynette the toughest job of all… to entertain two very restless children for the entire weekend while we were building! A mother’s work is never to be under-appreciated, nor is a very handy grandfather’s offer to help build a playfort! It was a team achievement in every aspect. So, here is the final product!

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