Monday, October 31, 2011

Ewoks on Halloween

I hope everyone had a safe, happy Halloween!  Christopher and I have never done much.  We usually just go to a friend's house for a quiet evening or hand out candy.  Eliot is too young for candy, so we decided to dress him up and hand out candy like usual.  I couldn't resist the urge to dress Eliot as an ewok.  And I must say that he made a pretty cute one.

Don't worry.  Eliot was only sockless and shoeless for a few quick photos out front in the sunshine.
After some work, we took Eliot over to see his great grandmother Glenna.  Alzheimer's aside, we knew she wouldn't know what the heck he was if we told her that he was an ewok, so I put Eliot's new owl hat on him.  The fuzzy chest and belly worked great as a fluffy owl.  Pretty cute, huh?  I almost can't decide which outfit I like better!

Back home to prepare for trick-or-treaters.  Our neighborhood is kind of small, so we only had about five groups come by.  By then, Eliot was getting chilly, ripping his hat off, and more interested in crawling around, so we went inside to watch Return of the Jedi.

I've been thinking lately that our days must seem kind of ho-hum.  I suppose a lot of people might find our Halloween to be disappointing without any parties or late nights.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  I get to spend lots of time with my husband and baby.  Chris and I never really took part in activities that aren't baby-friendly anyway, so everything is just so much more fun with Eliot around.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Parents' Weekend

We got back to Lynchburg just in time for Christopher's parents to come for Elizabeth's parents' weekend at school!  There were a lot of possessives in that sentence concerning parents.  Anyway, Elizabeth's parents' weekend at college actually meant that I got to hang out with my in-laws, which is pretty exciting.

The weather turned quite cold very fast.  Eliot wore his peacoat for the second time and probably the first time that he actually needed it.  We had dinner at Harbor Inn, which is always an experience.

This morning, we all went to church.  I was honestly kind of worried because Eliot is continually growing more and more separation anxiety-y.  When Chris or I leave the room, he cries.  When he catches a glimpse of us, he screams.  Sometimes he won't even stand to let us sit next to him.  That isn't enough; he must be held.  Other times he will just take off crawling to the next room without a second thought and pull all of his books down, happily talking to himself.  It's all a phase, I'm sure, but he did quite all right in the nursery today anyway.

After lunch, we picked up Elizabeth's boyfriend and Christopher's grandmother for lunch.
I look just a little bit crazy here, but that is OK.
We headed back to our house where Chris looked after Eliot and I did some serious work writing out notes for a course.  Then his parents were off back to Woodbridge!  Chris and I headed to Target to pick out a car seat for Eliot.  His current one was driving me a little bit crazy.  I guess he could stay in it longer, but he seemed ready to move out and up into a stage two seat.  Hopefully, it will mean less awkward twisting for me and more of a "big boy" feel for Eliot.  If I could do it over, I would have just gotten him a smaller infant one.  His infant carrier goes up to 32 pounds, but here he is at 18 and half pounds moving on out.

I know that I wrote previously that Eliot was standing more on his own, but here is a little bit of proof for you.  All by himself, no support and no help up!

Tomorrow is Halloween!  I totally forgot.  We need to carve that pumpkin!  Perhaps tomorrow.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baby Clothes (and Panda) Shopping

Back in Lynchburg just in time for a little bit of mixed rain.  I know I saw some ice in there.  Stepping outside, the weather certainly feels like fall.  Cool, crisp, the smell of fires, and a little more damp than I'd like it to be.  But that's OK.

It is time to take care of some baby feet! Like most babies, Eliot goes through some socks. Perhaps foolishly, I had bought him a pack of white socks that are now gray. I guess you learn. Eliot also needed some shoes because he keeps getting closer and closer to walking. I don't like the idea of him going out in the cold with just socks on too. Last on our list came pants. Eliot's 6-12 month pants are already too tight and short. I can't believe he is now in 12-18 month pants, but the doctor did say that he is super tall.

While in Kohl's, Eliot caught sight of some panda stuffed animals by the cash register. He kept staring and laughing so we got him one. Hey, it was $5 and went to charity. That baby has me wrapped around his finger. I'd do anything to make him just smirk. Here he is with panda we named Bamboo and his first pair of Chucks. Pretty hip, huh?

To Sum Up the Robinsons

I've been blogging since I was thirteen (twelve years ago!) for the sake of not forgetting, but I thought maybe I'd try to branch out follower-wise a little with this follower's fest (and I'm totally copying Lesley :)).

So.  About the Robinsons....  Christopher and I have been married for four and a half years.  We started dating when I was 17 and journeyed through undergrad, graduate school, and now our doctorate programs together.  While we learned some hard lessons about life since we graduated from undergrad right as the recession was kicking off, more than anything we have learned of God's grace.

This blog is mostly about Eliot Thomas Robinson, our nine-month-old baby boy.  He has been the most amazing blessing and every moment with him is endlessly more enjoyable.  He is sweet, smart, and has the heart of an adventurer.  And I must say that I think he is the cutest kid ever with the most precious eyes.

A little about me:  I am 25.  I work from home as an English professor and am in the dissertation phase of my doctorate.  I also do some course development.  I take a lot of photographs and (very) occasionally work as a professional photographer.  I attempt to garden, cook, and exercise.

A little about us:  Living at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, we love to hike and camp--though we haven't gone as much since having Eliot, he did go on his first camping trip at three months.  We have spent the past two and half years renovating our 1938 cape cod, so you might see a bit of our before and after shots.

So, that is us!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I'm watching Eliot dig his three little teeth into an apple.  It is just too adorable.

We're almost back from our Williamsburg trip.  Just stopping over in Chesapeake to get "the dogs".  We stayed in a nice hotel across the street from William and Mary.  We were pretty much as close to Colonial Williamsburg as we could get without staying at a bed and breakfast.  The three of us were able to share a king-sized and we loved it.  I had never slept in one!  After we came back, my parents asked how in the world we managed to sleep with two dachshunds and a baby (those dachshunds are wigglers all night long), and the truth is that we have considered kicking the dachshunds out lately.  Like cruel owners, we have thought of buying them comfy dog beds to use at night, banishing them from our bed.  They would have to sleep on the floor.  But that is just talk.  Anyway.  If you were to ask Eliot what his favorite part of Williamsburg was, he'd undoubtedly say the headboard.  I fought so hard to keep him from standing at the headboard and re-arranging the picture frames.  He seemed to think they were constantly crooked.

After we grabbed some lunch and checked in, we took a walk to Colonial Williamsburg.  While in Woodbridge a couple of weeks ago, I left his umbrella stroller (oops!) and also forgot his sling at home (ah!), so he spent a lot of time of Christopher's shoulders, which was simply too cute.

To be honest, part of our original plan for visiting Williamsburg wasn't just for fun.  We've been trying to think of the best place to live in order to be closer to family.  We thought maybe Williamsburg could be a good middle ground since it is right in between both my parents and Christopher's parents.  Close enough for a day trip.  However, after looking at a few houses of interest, I think Williamsburg is a beautiful area, but more of a place to visit.  I can't see us living there.  And Christopher agrees, so I think that might off of our list.

The next morning, Chris attended an e-conference.  Then we checked out, had some breakfast, and walked back to Colonial Williamsburg.

From there, we headed to Chesapeake for the dogs.  We played with Eliot's cousins some and got sushi for dinner.  We'll be off to Lynchburg in the morning.  I'm glad we went to Williamsburg.  It was nice to celebrate the end of B-term and the beginning of my dissertation.  It was nice to get out of town.  Williamsburg was always a place to vacation for both Christopher and me growing up.  My parents actually own a timeshare there.  I don't know if it is the right "compromise" for us as for a place to live, though.  I love our home in Lynchburg.  It was the right place for us for a while.  It might still be.  Or it might be time to "come home" in some ways.  We'll have to see.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Family on All Sides

Taking a quick grading break.

This weekend was quite busy!  Our days are filled with working and then getting ready for the next batch of visitors or packing our bags for our next trip.  No complaints here!  I'm so glad to see family whenever we can.  This weekend it was my parents.  They came in on Friday and we had fun going to get apples from Johnson's Farm.  Then we did "work" around the house the next day.  My dad installed the new battery in the Golf (yes!).  He and Chris sanded down the back of our front door and then I painted it while my mom played with Eliot in the swing.  The back of our front door has been scratched up and flaking paint since we moved in.  The previous owner had a dog with separation anxiety, so it was in bad shape.  It looks so much better now!  We did a few other things around the house and then had dinner at my aunt's.

Over the weekend, our boiler broke.  Over the weekend, our boiler was fixed.  Phew!  When we turned it on, it sounded like someone was slamming a hammer into the pipes and radiators.  I hate that sound.  It did the same thing last year when we started it at first, so we called to get it tuned up right away.  The service man said it was normal, just the pipes expanding.  I didn't believe it, but the sound did go away.  This year, there was that sound again.  Horrible slamming!  It just didn't seem right.  As it turns out, it wasn't right.  Our boiler shut itself off due to all of the excessive pressure.  Made sense to me that the pipes and radiators were making that sound due to too much pressure....  We called a different service company.  Apparently, a valve wasn't working quite right and there was too much water.  He tinkered with it and got it operational.  If it acts up again, we will replace the valve, but it seems to be doing fine.

My parents are back at home now with our dogs.  Life with dachshunds is loud, but you never realize just how loud until they're gone.  I miss the little guys!  My parents are "dog sitting" so Chris, Eliot, and I can go to Williamsburg for a few days.  Then we'll go to Chesapeake for a quick, overnight trip, grab the pups, and head back to Lynchburg just in time for Christopher's parents to come in town next weekend for parents' weekend at Elizabeth's college--which means they all get to hang out with us at our house instead.  See what I mean about staying on the road and welcoming family in all the time?

Little bits of me has felt melancholy, though.  I don't mean to complain or whine.  I feel conflicted, really.  I am happy with now.  I love time with our families, Eliot is at a fun age, and Lynchburg is beautiful in the fall.  I love our jobs.  At the same time, I look forward to things changing and life evolving.  Where will we be in a year?  I wonder if or where we will move.  I wonder what it will be like for Eliot to be older, bigger, and doing more things.  I wonder when we will have our second baby and if that baby will be a boy or a girl--and who the baby will look like.  As I am beginning my dissertation course tomorrow, I wonder what it will be like to be finished with the thing.  I think that is the source of my angst.  I'm anxious.  I want my dissertation to be done and over and done done done with school for a while, but I haven't even started yet.  Probably not the best approach.  Sometimes I'd like to fast forward through life to the next part, but then I look at photos like the one below and yearn to freeze life--to freeze that baby boy and his baby cheeks and stunning eye lashes.  Good thing I don't have a life remote because I'm sure I'd make all the wrong choices.  Instead I'll try to savor each moment, love on that baby, and accept all of the changes that will surely come.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Morris Orchard

Christopher and I wanted to find a nice pumpkin patch to get our pumpkins this year.  Last year, we didn't have much luck finding a farm, but we had to do something special for Eliot.  Everyone seems to be going to Layman's this year, but fifty minutes is kind of far with Eliot.  Somehow Chris stumbled upon Morris Orchard, which was just thirty minutes away and very awesome!

The orchard has rolling hills, goats, a donkey, apples, pumpkins, and mountain views.  I wish I could have taken more photos of the farm itself, but it was quite windy and I forgot Eliot's mittens.  Eliot is no fan of winds.

My favorite part, perhaps, was that you could go to the pumpkin patch itself to pick your own.  It was a little bit of a walk, but they even offered wagons to carry the pumpkins and our little guy.  Eliot picked out his own little pumpkin, we picked out one to carve, and we also bought a couple of French pumpkins to cook.

When we went to go pay, we ran into my OB doctor, which was kind of interesting since she got to meet Eliot after providing months and months of prenatal care.  She didn't deliver Eliot because she wasn't on call that evening--or morning when he actually came.
Oh, the cuteness!
Some days I'm ready to pack up and move home to Chesapeake.  Some days I think it'd be better to move someplace in the "middle" so that we are between both sets of Eliot's grandparents.  Then there are the days, like today, when the mountains are amazing and I wish I could own a small farm to grow my food, bake my bread, give snacks to goats, and run a rabbit sanctuary that rescues and rehabilitates bunnies from humane societies.  You can't have it all.  In the end, I just wish we were closer to our families.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ivy Creek Park, Nursery Drop-offs, and That Pirate Ship

This weekend, Christopher, Eliot, Elizabeth, and I went to Ivy Creek Park!  We're late on the park bandwagon, but finally made it there.  The trees around Lynchburg really have been changing.  It seems that fall is going to happen again this year.  Oh well.  The weather has been beautiful, though!

The park has a nice little loop around the pond, so we're hoping to go running there sometime soon.  Just not tomorrow because Eliot has his nine month check up in the morning.

This weekend Eliot went to the church nursery for the first time.  I didn't want to send him back because I wasn't sure how he'd react.  I knew he'd be fine, but I didn't want him to give anyone a hard time, especially with his teething fussiness and the fact that he had only drank two ounces that morning--he usually chugs ten ounces within a couple of hours of being awake.  Chris and I both work from home, so he is hardly ever away from us.  However, the ladies said he didn't cry at all.

Eliot has decided that his pirate ship makes an excellent walker.  He has been using everything as a walker these days, but few things are as frightening as this unsturdy boat.  I mean, it is good for what it is meant to be used for, but it is no walker.  Not at all.  Eliot hardly needs any support, though, and hasn't fallen once with it.  I hold my breath and hover around him for a good while whenever he starts to push it around the house, but it works out.  Somehow.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dear Eliot: Nine Months

Dear Eliot,

You are nine months old!  Today, you have been with us on the outside for as long as I carried you on the inside--actually, we have five more days for that since you were five days late.  Nine months sounds like such a big number and perhaps justifiably so--you are doing big things.

This month, you have grown into such a boy.  You do all sorts of big kid things.  You have turned into a thrower and love tossing your toys all around.  This is fine most of the time, Eliot, but it isn't a good idea at restaurants.  You also have grown to be very awesome at giving high fives.

They say that babies' eyes can change for up to nine months.  I thought you might have brown eyes since they are dominant, but you were born with dark blue eyes.  Your dad and I have been watching and waiting for them to turn to their final, definite color.  Now I think we have reached that point where we can officially say that you have dark, dark green eyes with small bits of dark blue and brown.  Your eyes are beautiful!  And your eye lashes!  They are so long!  Your eyes are so very expressive.  Eliot, I have always had this thing for green eyes.  I think it is because green eyes are not that common.  Somehow, your eyes are the perfect combination of my brown eyes and your dad's blue-green eyes. 

We don't have an official weight or height yet since your doctor's appointment is coming up, but the scale at home reads nineteen pounds.  You are in size nine month clothes and some twelve month clothes.  Your speech has continued to expand as you now "jabber" by combining multiple syllables.  Your favorite right now seems to be "mom-ba".  You say all sorts of things, like mama, dada, baba, nana, yaya, and many other words that I don't know how to spell.  I'm not sure that you actually connect people and objects with the words yet, but you certainly yell "mama" a lot when you are upset.

Your eating is going well; your favorite food is broccoli and cheddar soup.  Pureed baby food is still OK with you, but you prefer to eat what we are eating.  Whenever I sit down for a meal, I have to worry about the two dogs and then also you snatching my food away.  You will eat almost anything as long as we are eating it, including whole grain bread crust, tomato sauce, vegetarian chili, turkey or chicken, black beans, and so much more!  Your teething seems to be bothering you more this time around as your top teeth are coming in, but you aren't impossible, just not feeling too well.

You keep growing more and more mobile.  And fast.  And independent.  You love to cuddle and play with me, but you are happy to explore on your own as well.  It isn't uncommon for you to crawl into the dining room, pull all of your books down, and thumb through each of them.  You also like to play with things that are not toys at all, like Mr. Rufus's water bottle.  We're working on that....

You are cruising all over the place like it is no big deal.  You just use one hand, but you barely seem to need it to keep your balance.  In fact, you did stand up once without pulling up and stood for a few seconds, but you were on the couch, so maybe you were leaning on a cushion somehow.  You push your walker-cart toy around, and it only gets away from you sometimes because the wheels go so fast on the hardwood floors.  You also use the dining room chairs as walkers.  And anything else that is tall and can be moved, like cardboard boxes.  I've been saying that I think you will be walking by Thanksgiving--I'm holding to it, so don't let me look silly here!

Despite your independence, you still love to cuddle.  My favorite moments are when you pull up on my legs and ask to be held. 

This month, you have grown especially attached to your puppy, Dexter.  We have taken a lot of road trips this month.  A lot.  Like, three four-hour trips.  When we get going, Dexter jumps in the car seat with you, and the two of you cuddle almost the whole way.  You laugh at him being with you, and then fall asleep.  It's just precious.  I felt kind of silly getting a puppy since you are, well, a baby, but the two of you are so close.  I know it was the right decision.

You are a very social baby boy.  You love to people watch and interact with those around you.  You absolutely love your cousins, Sydney and Matthew.  I wish that I could introduce you to more babies and children, but I don't really know many people with kids in the area.  You're a really sweet boy, though, and I know you'll continue to do well socially when I see you smiling at everyone you meet.

This month, your dad celebrated his twenty-sixth birthday.  We all went to Johnson's Farm to get apples and look at the animals.  Your dad told you how happy he was that you were there with us and how he loved your birthday so much more than his own because it was the day that you came to us.  We went to Johnson's Farm last year at the beginning of September as well.  I was pregnant with you then, and while your dad and I had fun, it was so much better to have you there with us.  I say it all the time, but everything is better when you're around.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Refunds, New Plans, New Phones, New Teeth

After three separate phone calls and talking to five people, we are getting our money back from Priceline since our flight was cancelled!  It seems like common sense, but we worried that it might not work out since we didn't order traveler's insurance.  However, it went through!

After my fun phone circle, I was ready to chuck my phone across the room Eliot-style.  Did I mention that Eliot is throwing everything, especially if I'm around so he can throw it at me?  Anyway, my phone is nuts to pieces.  Chris has been trying to get me to agree to an iPhone, but I just hate spending money when we don't need to.  We were able to cut down our texting plan so that an additional data plan would be the same bill each month.  I just got the 4 instead of the 4s so we saved $50 too.  I am glad to be getting a better phone without the guilt.

We hadn't seen Elizabeth in a handful of days, so we took her to dinner.  Then she came with us to get the iPhone followed by the usual trip to Target.

Eliot is most definitely teething.  One of his top teeth came through today.  He is having trouble eating--I guess it hurts--and then fusses because he's hungry.  And fusses because he's tired.  And fusses because it just hurts in general.  I have to admit that I lost my patience a couple of times, like when he pushed a spoonful of squash away from his mouth and all over his clothes and chair.  Only for a second, though, because he is a sweet boy and he feels bad.  I think he'll be doing better in a couple of days.  Maybe that second upper tooth needs to break through too. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cooking with a Baby in the Pack

Sometimes the most difficult part of eating at home is finding a way to cook and then clean up.  Eliot is into everything, which is great, but our kitchen is far from babyproof.  The dogs' water bowl.  The trash can.  Worst of all, the stairs down to the basement--the door doesn't stay shut.

Tonight I put Eliot in the backpack while I cooked.  I used to carry him in the sling when I cooked, but he's so big and wiggly now that I worry about him getting burnt somehow.  He had fun watching while I got things done.  Vegetarian sloppy Joes, broccoli, and a spinach salad.  Noms.  And Eliot seems to love Boca these days.

I think Eliot's top teeth are bothering him more than the lower ones did.  He's being more clingy and fusses when we aren't playing with him alll the time.  Yesterday, he skipped two of his naps--and we really paid for it.  He's so cute, though, that he can get away with anything.  Almost.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sometimes Dexter is Just Dumb

I hate to say it, but sometimes Dexter is just dumb.  He goes around staring at light.  He is startled by shadows.  He walks on laptop keyboards.  He steals the cat's food.  He falls off the bed when he scratches himself.  There is so much puppy in him still.

And that's just it:  he's a puppy.  Sometimes I expect too much of him, like the ability to walk on a leash with perfect form.  He's learning all of that still.  As silly as he is at times, I'm so glad that we got him specifically.  He lets Eliot play with his feet, pull his ears, and yank his tail.  Dexter gives Eliot endless kisses, and plays with Abed-nego all the time.  He's a good pup.


The hard thing about budgeting when you don't have to is that there always seems to be something we need.  Eliot could use more shoes.  He always needs more socks.  His pants are already getting tight (he has two pair).  I can easily think of $1,000 worth of "things" I'd like to get that I can half-way justify at first.

Our flash is broken--that is one thing we will be purchasing soon.

There is a cute convertible couch at Target for cheap that would be nice in the downstairs bedroom--but, really, how often would we use it?  Chris's parents sleep on the sofa bed downstairs.  Now that Elizabeth is at college, she rarely stays the night at the same time as them.  It would be nice for her then, but this scenario doesn't happen often at all.

My phone has been eligible to upgrade since August.  And it is really sucking these days.  I could get the new iPhone, but I think I'm just going to get a regular phone instead.  Chris has an iPhone, so do we really need two?  I'd only use Facebook and Instagram.  Sure, it'd be nice, but is an extra $20 a month and an extra $150 for the phone itself really worth "nice"?  Just the other day, we were talking about how I could probably cut my line off completely and be fine.  I more or less only talk to my parents and then Chris when he is at meetings on my phone.

I'm still trying to decide if we kind of need more dining room chairs, but I think I'm going with "no" on that one.

This past weekend, we got some clothes for Christopher and me, which is rare, so we should be doing fine in that are for a while.

When it comes down to it, I try to ask myself if I need it.  Like, do I actually need it.  For the flash, the answer is kind of yes.  We take a lot of photos.  For the phone, the answer is probably yes again for the regular phone because mine is quite sleepy and ready to go to that place that phones go when they die.

We're doing well enough financially, but if we're more conscious of how we spend our money, we can save up a lot and also set a good example for Eliot about budgeting.  I want to start a savings plan for Eliot for school and college.  I want to save up to eliminate our school debt (which is about a car payment).  I want to save up so we aren't frantic or feel "house poor" when we move in the summer.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

To Northern Virginia and Back Again

We are back from our trip!  While we had planned to go to New Orleans, it didn't work out, so we had a nice, long visit with Chris's family instead.

It was Elizabeth's fall break, so we took her up with us.

We got this very cute sweatervest cardigan for Eliot.  He'll be wearing it in our Christmas photos.  Now if only we could find him a clip-on tie.

Chris's parents got Eliot this very awesome pirate ship!  I had been wanting to get him a ride-on firetruck because he seemed to love Sydney and Matthew's when we visited my parents.  Then we found this ship version.  He had too much fun on it.

In the morning, Chris's dad set up Chris's old wagon for Eliot.  They all pulled him around the neighborhood and Eliot just had the most nonchalant attitude.  He acted like it was completely normal, no big deal.  It was rather funny....  But when they would stop, he'd hit the sides like he wanted to go again.  Silly boy.  He was so ready for a nap.

After his wagon ride, he fell right to sleep.  We had Panera for lunch following Eliot's nap.  He is simply nuts about their soup.  I think it is his favorite food.  Then it was back on the road to head home.

I've said it a thousand times, and I'll probably say it a million more all throughout Eliot's life.  So often, children only experience one side of the family.  Whether it is distance or disinterest, I can think of few people who have two sets of grandparents who are very active in their grandchildren's lives.  Eliot has that, though.  We live four hours from my parents and three and a half from Christopher's parents, yet both sets were there when Eliot was born.  Both sets see him about once a month (or more often).  He's really blessed in that way.  And I'm so thankful that Eliot receives mountains of love from everyone around him.