Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve with Horses!

Christopher and I had a pretty fun day even though he had to go in to work on a course.  I feared that we would sleep in and barely shower and eat before Eliot fell asleep for a nap and then we wouldn't do anything fun before Chris went off to campus.  Instead, we got going and went to visit the horses!

Last year a little after Thanksgiving, we went to see the horses.  I was quite pregnant.
I ran out of carrots.

This year, we had little Eliot is tow.  I don't know why we don't go more often; it is just around the corner.  I think we will now, though, because Eliot loved them.  I thought he might be a little hesitant.  Horses are big and he is small and sometimes I'm scared of them.  However, Eliot started jabbering as soon as the horses were in sight.  He started reaching for them right away.  He thought they were so cool!

After some photos, we put Eliot in his backpack and walked the trails some.  As we walked by the horses, Eliot was literally bouncing in the backpack.  He is nuts about animals.  I love it!  You can tell by our clothes that the weather was amazing.  Sixty degrees or something and quite sunny.  I wasn't even slightly chilly.  After about an hour, we headed back to the house where we made lunch and Chris went to campus.

I don't know what it is about us and New Year's Eve, but I realized that we found some random horses on a drive a few years ago too.  I believe it was about to turn 2009.  Things sure were different back then.
Sometimes I look through our photos and sigh.  A happy sigh.  Life is good these days.  I love my boys.  There is something so incredibly special about a father and son casually being themselves together.  You look at Christopher and you know that little boy is his world.  And as weird as it sounds, it makes me love Chris all the more somehow.

[Lots] more photos here!

A Year in Photos: 2011

A year in photos for 2011!  Basically, this has been Eliot's life up to this point.  Ha.  And I know it doesn't quite look like it, but I used some serious restraint not to add a bajillion more.  I'd link my post from last year, but that blog is about to expire, so you can go to Flickr instead.

The last pregnant photo.  I didn't realize that I was going to be induced the next day at probably about this same time.
January 14.  Our Eliot Thomas.

Valentine's Day picnic at the park
March beach trip to visit family
Backyard hanging out
Easter!  The cousins telling Eliot about the Easter Bunny.
Kimmy's birthday camping trip
The top of Mount Pleasant
Disney with Chris's family in June on our fourth anniversary!
Swimming at the lake in July
Fourth of July watermelon
We got Dexter!
July beach trip to visit family.  Eliot prefers the ocean to the bay.
Christopher's 26th birthday at Johnson's Farm
Colonial Williamsburg in September
Eliot was an ewok for Halloween
Barb's visit and our trip to DC!
Of course, Christmas
I have learned and grown so much in this past year.  Our whole family has.  Because we became one together.  We've been incredibly blessed and I am so thankful for everything we have, but most of all I am thankful for our love and time together.  We have so much of both.  Looking through these photos makes me absolutely giddy inside and I can't wait to take another year's worth (and make another gigantic entry next year) full of more memories.  And, man, I cannot WAIT for this summer.  Lakes!  Beaches!  Popsicles!  It's going to be awesome.

My resolution last year was to "stop faking labor"--I went in on New Year's Eve with contractions and left with worse contractions and no baby.  The pain scared me and I was not interested in going back and hoped to avoid giving birth all together because I knew it was going to get a lot worse.  I didn't go back until the 13th when I was induced.  I'm not sure who they were forcing into it--me or him--but it wasn't as bad as I feared and we had the most amazing little boy as the sun came up on the 14th.  I guess I did fulfill my resolution last year within two weeks.  Not bad.

My New Year's Resolution this year:  keep loving, give more, ask for help when I need it (I'm too independent), and don't worry.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Let's Get Away For A While

Christopher said that after this week-long class, taking his comprehensive exam, writing assignments, creating presentations, and having meetings on most of his lunch breaks, he was ready for a vacation.

He said he was ready to just pick up and go somewhere--anywhere, but preferably someplace warm.

We've been talking about going to Florida (probably St. Pete) in February or March to escape the cold.

The last time we've been on vacation by ourselves without our parents or for a job interview or a conference besides our honeymoon has been... never.  I love our parents and cherish those memories, but we'd like to go somewhere just us and our little family.

But then he found out that he needs to go in for work tomorrow.  And Eliot has been quite grumpy in the car lately.

We have a lot of time together at home.  So maybe between our dissertations and getting ready for the spring semester to start, we'll have time for a "stay-vacation" instead.

New Freedom

Yesterday was one of my most productive days yet.  Maybe ever.  Eliot and I...
-bathed first thing
-watched an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba in bed while I made sure Eliot was plenty dry and warm
-made pizza dough in the bread machine
-installed the hook and hung up the hiking backpack in Eliot's playroom
-cleaned up and organized some toys
-took down the baby gates
-Eliot napped and I did my hair and make-up
-paid all of the bills
-ate lunch
-took down the Christmas tree
-swept and swept and swept

Sometimes it is hard for me to simply shower and do my make-up when it's just the two of us, so I was feeling pretty good yesterday.

Eliot has been loving his new freedom.  I took down the baby gates....  While he used to be limited to the den and dining room, he has free run of the house now.  He is only cut off from the stairs going down to the basement and the downstairs bathroom.  He went nuts about it.  He crawls between all the rooms laughing and shrieking and screaming and then climbs up the stairs.  Part of me doesn't know why I didn't do this sooner.  Oh yeah.  Because the downstairs bedroom needed to be fixed and the kitchen seemed dangerous.  I am thinking of maybe blocking the stairs off.  He climbs great and keeps getting better.  He has never fallen (but I am always right behind him), but he doesn't know how to get down.

Here is the little guy playing in the kitchen.  He was having so much fun.

When Chris got home, he said, "Oh wow!"  And I agree.  He mentioned that everything feels much more open without the baby gates.  I think there is something to the flow of a house.  Plus, the dining room was feeling really crowded with the Christmas tree.  Is it bad to be kind of glad that it is gone?

Here is a video I took this morning of Eliot exploring. Don't you love how I tell him to go after the cat and he just takes off in the other direction?  He loves the cat; he's nuts about her.  For him to ignore her for the sake of exploring...  You know he has to be way into it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Eliot's Playroom: Commencing Step Two

Step One of Operation Playroom is kind of complete.  Kind of.  Step One was to re-organize and purge in order to create a blank canvas.  I've gotten there with most of the room!

Step Two:  Re-purpose.
I moved our black bookcase (Target) into the playroom.  The bottom level is baskets with toys.  The second level is Eliot's books.  The third level is our books.  I'll be finding a new home for those books.

I moved the white toy chest (Babies'R'Us) from Eliot's room into the playroom.  It seriously had hardly nothing in it.  And since we spend most of our time downstairs, it didn't make sense up there.  I did like it in Eliot's nook, though, to serve as a window seat some day, so I plan to move it back up there eventually.  I just didn't see the point in buying another toy chest quite yet if we didn't need it.

I moved this other natural-wood bookshelf (Target) in as well.  I used it as my dresser in undergrad.  It then became an end table and bookshelf.  I picked up those baskets from Target.  They will hold toys and someday art supplies.  I must confess that the top basket holds some of our books, but I plan to change that too.  It's hard to organize books alone without Christopher's input.

Lastly, I hung Eliot's hiking backpack up with a hook from Target!  This will get it out of the dining room where it has been sitting on a trunk.  It is too wide to hang up in a closet and we do use it a bit on warmer days.  Also, it looks cool.

I need to work on condensing the books and put away one of our bookshelves into the basement.  I want to wait for Chris, though, because I want to know which books he wants to keep out and which are fine to put away.  Then I can set up Eliot's "basketball area".

I'm waiting for some prints to come in the mail and to pick up a rug.  That's pretty much it!  So, Step Three is Beautify!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Research Between Baby Schedules

I feel like I have had a rather productive day--probably more productive than it actually was.

Christopher left for his class in the morning and I did research while Eliot slept.  Since I have about two weeks off from teaching, I can just focus on my school work.  I have been looking for instruments to go along with a quantitative shift, which has been difficult, then impossible, then "I'll make it work," to now we're getting there.  I work things out in my head best by writing so I started a Dissertation Writing Blog because I know I can be long-winded and it really is not that interesting to anyone else.  Or me, even.  So if you are into that kind of thing or even want to give me some encouragement throughout this process, check it out!

Chris's parents showed up after I had been working for about an hour so I was at that point where I did need to stop, but wasn't letting myself.  We had biscuits and played with Eliot until they left for Woodbridge a little before noon.  Then it was time for Eliot's nap and I did more research.  After about an hour and a half, he was up and ready for lunch.  He had Morningstar corn dog nuggets, white grape juice, and half of a clementine (I had the other half).  We did some playing until it was second naptime.  The kid seems to run in two-hour intervals.  Eat then play two hours, nap an hour and a half, eat then play two hours, another nap....  Makes going out a little difficult and poor Eliot got dragged out right during both nap times earlier this week for two days in a row to see Chris for lunch.  That's another story.  Ha.

So, yeah, these are my days.  Food, play, nap, repeat.  It's funny how Eliot put himself on a schedule.  I didn't even try.  It's great to know what to expect.  And I love spending my time with him.  It'd be nice if he could nap in his crib instead of our bed so I could clean or something, but I really am getting a lot of research done in that time.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lots of Little and Big Goals

I have so much going on in my head these days.  And that's a good thing.

I got to work on Eliot's play room right away!  I hadn't touched that room before for so many reasons.  We weren't sure if we should turn it into a guest bedroom, office, library, or maybe need a second nursery some day.  In the end, we are keeping it half office (and library) and playroom.  Whenever we have a second baby, I'm sure that he or she will stay in our room for a long while like Eliot has.  Then we'll get some awesome Ikea bunk beds and have them share a room.  If we eventually have a girl, I think their mixed genders will be fine until we move into a larger house in a handful of years.  See?  So many thoughts...  Anyway, I cleared out a bunch of "junk" and got the room going.  I am moving some storage things around (boxes and such), ordered prints, and bought some frames.  I didn't take a before shot (that'd be too embarrassing), but I will post some photos of my progress as I go along shortly.

Chris has finished up day two of his intensive.  Three more remain.  Eliot and I miss him like crazy when he is gone.  We are so spoiled by how much time we have together.  However, Elizabeth has been hanging out with me as my in-laws spend some time with Chris's grandma.

Elizabeth napping with Eliot
While everyone does seem to be going in different directions, we have had dinner together every night and Elizabeth and I have met Chris for lunch every day.  Then Elizabeth went with me to pick up a few playroom supplies.

Eliot went from normal to super passed out in only two minutes.

Eliot had his first pickle, which was cute, but also oh so gross.  We called this the Ernest Hemingway sweater.

While picking out prints, I was thinking about how cute they all were.  And then I started thinking about how I'd like to make illustrations.  And then I realized that the only thing stopping me is, well, me.  I always loved to draw.  I was one of those kids that walked around with a sketch pad in middle school.  I'm pretty all right, but I stopped after high school.  I'm better at little cartoons (or what you could call illustrations) than real-life things.  I guess I have more of imagination in that area.  So I have decided to give it a go.  I'm going to start drawing more.  If I make something I really like, I'm hoping to liven it up some with water colors.  And then maybe, just maybe, I'll open an Etsy shop and sell prints of my illustrations.  I think I could do it.  There's a small (or huge) New Years goal.

Monday, December 26, 2011

First Christmas

This is where I say that our first Christmas together was a "slam dunk" or something cliche like that, but, my goodness, it was!

Eliot slept later than most boys and girls, not knowing what to expect.  As soon as he woke up, we went downstairs for present time!  He opened a sweater first, and then Chris said to give him a toy.  He pulled the paper back slowly and then smirked when he realized what was behind the paper.  Each time, we would open the presents slowly together and then that same smirk would appear.  It was so cute!  Eliot received a baby lap top, a tool work bench, a set of four cars, and clothes.  Later, I felt a little bit bad that we kind of just gave him three things, but I knew a whole new world of toys was to come--followed by his birthday in about two and a half weeks.  Plus, I'd say his bike trailer certainly counts as part of his present.
"Why are you guys looking at me like that?  What is going on?"
The smirk.
I think this table saw might be his favorite toy.

I can't believe how quickly he gets things.  I only show him how to play with each toy once and then he takes off doing exactly what I just did.  It's amazing to watch him grow in understanding!  Christopher made biscuits for breakfast, we all showered, and Eliot snuck in a small nap.  Then we headed "up the mountain" to my aunt's house for lunch.  I hadn't seen my cousins (Zach and his wife, Christa) in a while, so it was great to see them.  Eliot received even more toys.  By then, we knew Chris's parents were getting quite close.  Back down the mountain to our house!

Eliot then opened more presents and even got his firstttt basketball goal!  His Robinson grandparents know how to spoil a baby boy.  The basketball goal might be a little old for him, but he actually will be able to reach the rim once he gets to standing really well.  I got some awesome new shirts (my wardrobe has been seriously lacking lately), new eyeshadow from Bare Minerals, and L.L. Bean slippers.  Chris got a nice sweater and about a year's supply of Starbucks K-cups--we also got a Keurig coffee maker.  We headed to one of the few places open for dinner:  Ruby Tuesdays.

Christmas definitely isn't just about the presents, though.  This year has felt mountains more special and enjoyable than the holidays have in a long time.  I honestly didn't want much of anything, but received a great bread machine from my parents that I plan to use to help keep our family healthy with fresh baked goods and also was given about seven new articles of clothing to help ease some of that "blerg-ness" that I have been feeling lately.  It all comes back to family, though.  I have felt so grateful for my family members (immediate and extended), the ones I got to see and the ones I didn't.  And we have been so beyond blessed with our beautiful, healthy son who steals everyone's heart.  As we celebrate the birth of Christ, I am nothing but humbled and thankful for His grace.

Rocking horse from my parents
Chris told me that he felt like we really need a new house with all of these toys.  I assured him that even people with much larger houses feel crowded with kid's toys.  After living in this house for two and a half years, I'm going to convert that darn downstairs bedroom.  It has been an office/storage room this whole time, so making it into a playroom isn't going to make us lose anything, but an eyesore of a room.  I honestly hadn't done earlier due to cost, but I plan to buy nothing more than a few rugs, frames and prints, and hooks.  I have it all planned out in my head; you'll see.  With two weeks off from teaching and Chris taking a class all this week, today I start the purging!  I'll be sure to keep you guys updated on the process.  Hurray, right?