Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This Year/Last Year Pt. II: The Portraits

We took a couple of Christmas portraits for our cards this year!  But first...  You guessed it.  Last year!

Christopher and I took this on Christmas Eve last year.  That meant that I had about 20 days left.  We had been procrastinating with Christmas photos because I just didn't feel too pretty on most days or up to being photographed.

And here is this year's photo.
I was hoping for a photo of Eliot smiling, but, come on.  He is ten months old.  I took the photo with a remote, so I'm really super lucky that he was even looking at the camera since no one was behind it.
I plan to take a few portraits of Eliot himself.  I took this one while Christopher was changing, so Eliot wasn't smiling as big as he could have been.  We can do better than this, but it is still a pretty good shot.

As you might be able to tell, our tree is a little, well, bare.  We opted not to put on breakable ornaments, just lights, candy canes, and a few others that won't hurt Eliot.  I am so glad that he is not too interested in the tree.  I really thought we would be fighting with him constantly and pulling him away.  He has mostly ignored it, but wanted to help with the lights.

I think our outside decorations are all together, but it has been raining, so that photo is for tomorrow, I guess.

Monday, November 28, 2011

This Year/Last Year Pt. I

Prepare yourself for a lot of this year/last year posts.  So much has changed in a year, and it is so apparent in our photos.  Last year, I was at the uncomfortable stage in my pregnancy.  I would have a month and a half left, but looked very ready to go.  We picked up our tree today, but before I get into that, here is a photo from last year and then a similar shot from today.

I never realize how ridiculous I look while holding him until I see photos.  He's so big and I'm so small!
We finished up our Christmas shopping for Eliot today.  He is getting a few toys and then his whole twelve-month wardrobe.  I feel kind of bad that I'm not showering him with endless things that he wants, but the kid can't say what he wants.  And I know he doesn't need a house full of toys, just enough to explore and learn from.  While at the store, Chris showed Eliot a bouncy ball.  He thought it was hilarious, so we picked it up for him.  It's the simplest things that amaze him.

From there, we stopped by the local nursery to pick out our tree.  Last year in my journal to Eliot, I wrote about how I'd let him pick out the tree and that I was sure he'd select the best one.  He didn't exactly make it clear which one he wanted, but he thought it was so funny to poke them and laugh.

I'm not quite done with the Christmas decorations, but we're getting there.  We hung our new stockings and decorated the mantle while sipping egg nog and listening to Bob Dylan's Christmas record over the weekend with Elizabeth.  We also put up more lights outside, and I made it my personal vendetta to whip our Japanese maple tree into sparkling submission.  I have climbed that thing with lights in hand to hog tie it three times now and I think I am finally at peace with its glimmer.  We just need to hang the wreaths and put the candles in the windows, so expect some this year/last year photos of the house in the next couple of days.  It looks very different, and the new paint color is perfect for Christmas.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011!

Eliot has really gotten down feeding himself just in time for Thanksgiving.  Also, I've been concentrating on feeding him more solids while reducing his formula in-take, so he has been very excited to eat anything and everything.

Here is Eliot eating a Morningstar fake corndog nugget.  I had torn half of it up into little bites, which he wasn't interested in picking up.  However, he grabbed the other half and chewed on it.  It is becoming more and more apparent that I have been babying him and have been too cautious with his food.  He wasn't interested in nibbles--he wanted to take bites himself!
We have been pigsitting the neighbor pig for the holiday.  Can you believe this pig can walk down the stairs?  That's Boone for ya!

Christopher's parents and sister came in around noon.  We had Thanksgiving dinner at his uncle Scott's.
Granddad Robinson
Eliot had a little bit of everything.  Turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, mac'n'cheese, and a lottt of cranberry sauce.
This morning, Christopher and I went for a run.  Have I mentioned that we have been running on schedule for a whole month now?  Later, Chris and his dad cleaned up the yard (so many leaves from the neighbors!) and then we put up some Christmas lights.  It is the first year we have them on the house itself.  Each year, we add a little more, and it looks darn good so far if you ask me.  I'll post a photo when it is finally finished.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Baby Diet

Eliot and I have been enjoying two of my favorite things around the house today:  trying new foods and cleaning.

I had mentioned about a week ago that I was worrying over Eliot not feeding himself.  I think it really came down to a few things.  I hadn't been giving him that many opportunities to do so since he has been developing his eating habits cautiously.  He didn't eat a thing until he was six and a half months old.  This was after a month of offering various solids every day.  It wasn't that long ago that I had to break his puffs in half or he would choke.  He teethed a little later than usual, I guess, and just got his top two teeth about two (maybe three) weeks ago.  He'd eat whatever we were eating, but these foods (black beans, rice, avocado pieces, dices of tomato, and so on) weren't finger foods.

Anyway, today we split a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch.  After showing him a few times, he picked up a piece and fed himself!  So he can do it.  He just needs more chances to.  Then he proceeded to throw the sandwich pieces on his lap and had me feed him some, but, you know, it is a start.
For lunch, he also had guacamole, puffs, half a sippy cup of mango juice, and a little bit of spinach and black beans.  We should all eat like Eliot does.

I have had food on the brain a lot lately.  And as weird as it sounds, I have been trying to eat like Eliot does.  Chris and I always talked about how we'd need to change our eating habits when we had kids.  It's not that we ate bad, just weird.  Also, I'd skip meals frequently and ended up eating a lot of cheese and crackers during grad school.  With Eliot around, though, I have been trying to eat mostly vegetables and fruits with beans for protein instead of meat.  Last night, I made avocados and tofu breaded with panko over brown rice for dinner.  That is definitely an Eliot meal.  He loved it aside from the rice.  What's the deal?  Doesn't like brown rice, but loves Mexican rice?

Growing up, I was a terribly picky eater.  There were a lot of foods that I never had until I started pushing myself in college.  It was certainly not my parents' fault--they tried, but I refused.  But it has been fun showing Eliot new foods and watching him enjoy them.  He won't eat all baby foods, but he'll eat almost anything from out plates.  So far, he has just said no to eggs, brown rice, and baked dessert-y foods, like pumpkin bread and muffins--and I'm sure he'll come around.  I'm trying to keep him well-rounded and give him a full, extensive palate while avoiding some of the typical "kid" junk foods.  I want to avoid having a kid that will only eat pizza.  That was probably me growing up.

After lunch, Eliot played for a while and we read some books.  Then we came upstairs to play with Neko in bed, have a bottle, and take a nap.  Eliot loves animals.  He seems to especially adore Neko and has been saying some form of "kitty cat" when he goes after her.  It's so precious.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Excitement in the Mundane

Eliot's bunting came in the mail from an Etsy seller today.  It will be hanging in the doorway to the dining room for his birthday party.  I have been planning out his party perhaps a bit too enthusiastically since it is still over a month off, but I can't wait to celebrate the little guy with our families.  Then I stop to think about how my baby will be a year old and I get all emotional.  Ha!

I have to admit that every new day grows more and more exciting.  The older Eliot gets, the more I see his  personality taking shape.  He is becoming a clear individual, and each new physical development is so much fun.  Tonight we were crawling around in the den and slamming our hands down on the rug, a game that he started.  Then we wrestled some and I blew on his tummy and tickled behind his ears.  He laughed on and on forever.  He grew tired, so I gave him a bottle.  Chris read two books to Eliot and he helped turn each page, leaning forward and paying attention.  Then I brought him upstairs and he fell asleep next to me in bed right away.  That was just the final hour or so before bed and it was so incredibly full of happiness, interaction, and love.  We couldn't do these things and connect in this way when he was a newborn, so he is becoming "more fun" all the time.  I look forward to the future and watching him enjoy the world even more.  But there sure is something that I will always miss when I think of our first days when he fit in those tiny sleepers.

Nine days old
Eliot has been in a little bit of a "funk" these past few days.  I think the trip has thrown off his napping schedule, so he has been emotional and cling-y.  Also, he slept in the car a bit on the way home, but I don't think he really gets a good, deep sleep in the car, so it doesn't fully count as a nap.  Today in the grocery store, I walked around with him sleeping on my shoulder.  He finally decided to wake up when we checked out.

On the way down to Chesapeake.  I need to angle his carseat back some; he has a difficult time leaning back.
Looking at those two sleepy photos, I can see how much Eliot has changed over the months.  When I look at him, though, I see echoes of his newborn days.  I see expressions of his father and other relatives too.  And I see a lot of me, but that is becoming more and more diluted.

I've written something like this before, but I see it becoming more true all the time.  I remember planning my wedding and thinking, "This is it.  This is my wedding.  And once it is over, it is done.  I can't ever plan my wedding again."  Too often, girls romanticize their weddings and don't really think about what comes after the wedding--they just want the dress and the glamor and attention of the day.  I had an idea of what Chris and I hoped to do after we got married (and I was really looking forward to that more than the wedding itself), but I couldn't imagine the details.  I couldn't imagine how much better life would be on days when Chris and I sit around the house to grade and play with our little boy all day.  Our "mundane" day to day is so much better than our wedding day.  I have no clue what is in store for us in the future, but it keeps on getting better.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chesapeake Visits and Basketball

We had a really great, packed weekend visiting Chesapeake for pre-Thanksgiving Widen family time.  We even got to see my grandma, which hasn't happened in a while.  It's a long, crazy story, but she has been avoiding my family for the most part.  She had not seen Eliot since he was five months old and then a month and a half old before that--and in between she had skipped many family get-togethers, including Easter.

Here is the best shot of her and the great-grandkids, but Matthew (my nephew) was hiding.  Ha!
There Matthew is--and Memaw looking kind of silly.
The cousins all went for a bike ride...

But Eliot was not entirely too stoked on it.
It was funny and kind of weird to watch our babies riding bikes down the road that Chelse and I used to---the same asphalt that I crashed into learning to ride without training wheels and that same driveway where I sold Kool Aid for a dime.  My parents have been living in that house since I was six months old, but I moved away for college six and a half years ago.  That is a long time to be gone.

Eliot took his first unassisted step yesterday while visiting Kimmy, but hasn't taken another one since.

We headed back to Lynchburg early this morning.  Eliot took the world's most-needed nap and then we showered up and headed to Liberty's basketball game.  Christopher got season tickets and was so excited to share it with Eliot.  I was excited about concession stand food.  Eliot was scared of the buzzer the first time, but then seemed absolutely fine.  He would lean forward, point, and talk some until he got kind of bored and wanted to crawl around.  So, we walked him around.  He made it through the whole game, though.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Feed Yourself!

My appetite is back, but I still can't taste anything!  Ha!  It better happen fast because we're going to Chesapeake tomorrow and I think good food is in store for the weekend.  The other day, I made this big breakfast of French toast, Morningstar "sausage" patties, hashrounds, and raspberries.  I was determined to get Eliot to eat a big, good, full meal.  And I was determined to get him to feed himself.

Eliot will hold his bottle himself if he is laying down.  He will hold mum-mums and eat them.  However, he will not feed himself anything else.  I tried puffs.  He just plays with them.  I tried tearing up his food.  Nope.  In the end, my breakfast was cold from trying to feed him and his was cold too.  How awesome is cold French toast?  Not very awesome.

It is frustrating because I know he can.  I know he is capable of it.  He simply doesn't understand that he is supposed to and then a lot of food ends up on the floor.  Maybe I'm expecting too much from him too quickly.  From what I read online, perhaps I shouldn't be thinking about self-feeding for another handful of months.  I guess I got on a kick because the doctor asked at his nine-month appointment.  He probably just need more time and practice.  When did your kids start feeding themselves?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Cold Mountain in November

I think that we are all finally feeling mostly better.  Eliot did not cough one time last night, so I think he has officially beaten croup!  This all lasted for almost two whole weeks.  Goodness!  And I thought I felt cooped up last Sunday!

Everything has been piling up in the process of trying to get better.  I completed all of my school work ahead of schedule so I knew I wouldn't be frying my brain at the last minute, but the constant stream of emails became overwhelming.  I have a system for student emails.  Answer it right away.  If I can't because it is complex, mark it unread and do it within the hour.  Instead, I found myself shifting through to find "easy" ones that I could get to immediately, but saving the harder ones for when, you know, the room wasn't spinning and Eliot wasn't being needy and I wasn't simply starving.  Those moments were hard to come by.  I get a lot of work done at night when Eliot is asleep.  In this case with croup, he needed a lot of help during the night, so that was impossible.  I think everything is completely sorted out and caught up, though, and no one went 24 hours without a response.  I just try to usually keep the responding process more immediate even though I actually am permitted 48 hours.

All that to say that I have been kind of stressed (ha) and that today we did something fun.  The weather was trying to trick us out of November, so we grabbed sandwiches for lunch at Magnolia and headed to the mountains.  Cold Mountain!  Chris mentioned doing McAfee's Knob, but I reminded him that it would be eight miles total out and back with about 25 pounds on his back (baby and carrier).  He conceded and Cold Mountain it was.

I don't know how some people can live without mountains.  There is something about them that takes away the worries.

The last time we were there, I was fifteen weeks pregnant with Eliot.  It was fun to sit on the same rock with my boy trying to climb away and explore.  I joke that my trail name is Weak Ankles.  We called our dog (Abed-nego) Sure Foot because he takes care in deciding where he steps.  I need Eliot to earn such a name before I let him go scooting down a giant boulder!  And the ability to walk might be helpful too.  However, when we set him on the ground to let him crawl and explore, he took off for that rock and proceeded to attempt to climb up it.  You can't pose photos like this one (below) with a now ten-month-old.  He is too good!  I love how adventurous he is.  He is such a boy.

And just for fun, here I am back in July 2010 with Eliot-boy on the inside and then today.

Dear Eliot: Ten Months

Dear Eliot,

Today you are ten months old.  I am bursting with pride, but it also breaks my heart!

The other day, I was buying you new socks.  I feel like I am always buying you socks, but, anyway, I grabbed a few pair that were sized 0-6 months without a second thought.  You are much closer to a year than six months.  To think 0-6 month socks would be best for you is ridiculous, but I think that goes to show that no matter how old you get and how big you grow, I still think of you as my tiny, little baby.  Don't be surprised if I am still buying you 0-6 month socks when you're in college.

Your physical and cognitive develop seems to have sky rocketed this month.  It is something new and amazing every day.  You clap your hands, give high fives (but I think you were doing this last month too), pucker your lips to return kisses, play peek-a-boo, turn pages when we read books, roll a ball back and forth, and can put your car down its ramp.  I think that you are beginning to understand shapes and space.  You can stand up without pulling on anything, stand for a few seconds on your own, walk while barely holding onto anything, and walk all around the house with your boat or walker-cart with just one hand (or both at the same time!).

Your teething has continued, but you didn't seem bothered at all by it.  You now have three on the bottom and two up top, but the second up top isn't grown in all the way quite yet.  Unfortunately, you did get sick for the first time this month.  It seemed to start off as a small cold, but turned out to really be croup!  The doctor gave you a shot to help your vocal cords and you were just fine after a few days.  At night, you would cough, gag, and choke horribly, but you never got cranky or moody.  You were very sweet and loved to read with us.

This month, we have enjoyed all things autumn.  We picked out our pumpkins from Morris Orchard and baked pumpkin bread--which you hated, by the way; thanks.  We went to Williamsburg for a weekend and enjoyed walking around Colonial Williamsburg.  Halloween came at the end of the month, and we dressed you as an ewok.  When we took you by to see great grandma Glenna, though, we changed you into an owl, which was also quite cute.  We handed candy out to the neighborhood kids and watched Return of the Jedi.  I have really enjoyed establishing our own fall traditions with you.  Now we are moving closer to Thanksgiving and the holidays.  I can't wait to share them all with you!

The World Series came on this month and you watched the whole thing with your dad until you fell asleep at the very end.  I was upstairs doing work and your dad texted me photos of the two of you.  He said that you were a dream come true.  Your dad seems to really love watching sports with you and somehow you love it already too.

While out shopping for your shoes one day, you picked out a stuffed animals that I think just might be a long-term favorite for you.  It was a panda bear that I named Bamboo--you can change his name if you want, of course.  You cuddle with Bamboo all the time and seem to enjoy reading Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? to him.  I think that is also your favorite book.  If pandas are your favorite animal, Eliot, I think that is very rad.  I used to call you "Panda" when you were a little guy.

Eliot, you are unbelievably sweet, joyful, and affectionate.  Your dad took a video of you and I walking around the house.  You were pushing your cart and I was close behind to help you steer.  I was watching the video and noticed that at one point you turned around to check on me.  You put your hand out to me for mine.  When I took your hand, you gently led me to your side:  you wanted me next to you, not behind you.  I'm such a sap, but I definitely teared up seeing your sweet nature caught on video.  Everyone around you can recognize how full of life you are.  Strangers come up to you and tell you how beautiful you are and that you have a good spirit and a beautiful face.

Every month, week, and day keeps getting better and better.  It feels like my heart is outside of my body, crawling around on the floor and knocking down block towers with toy cars.  We love you, Eliot.