Monday, February 4, 2019

18 Months with Tommy

Tommy is now 18 months old. Does that make him officially a toddler or is he still allowed to be my baby? I see pictures of him from this time last year and cannot believe how much he's grown and changed in that short time. He is amazing, he is wonderful, he is my favorite little person in the world. He is wild and loud and rough and rambunctious. He is sweet and snuggly, feisty and funny!

I thought I’d do a little update like I used to do monthly just to have a record of all the Tommy-isms from this season of life. I know I’ll be so glad I did this whenever Tommy has a sibling and I’m trying to remember what to expect for this fun and hilarious season. Plus I never want to forget how he squeezes his eyes closed tight when he's really happy, or how he twiddles his fingers and raises his fist above his head when he hears itsy bitsy spider.
Weight: 26lbs. Of course after the 100zillionth “up” of the day he feels more like 50lbs but for some reason I don’t seem to be getting any stronger lifting all this dead weight, just more achy.

Height: 32.2 inches (he’s now more than half my height....)

Clothing size: 18-24 months, some 2T

Diaper size: 5 but only in Pampers Pure. Just a little PSA that not all diaper sizes are the same even in the same brand. I accidentally let myself run out of diapers (again) and had to quickly pick up the only pack available which was Pampers Baby Dry in size 5 and he woke up soaked through! And so I held one up next to the Pampers Pure and the Baby Dry was soooo much smaller even though they claim to be for the same weight range.
Milestones: I truly think he understands everything I say. It’s incredible to see him learn and definitely makes me more and more mindful of how I speak in front of him. He follows directions so well (when it pleases him) and he now says quite a few words of his own: Mama, Dada, up, ball, football, touch down, good throw (he is his father's son), all done, sit down, light, hot, please, thank you, Alexa (luckily she doesn’t respond to his particular pronunciation...). He is also getting better and communicating what he wants by pointing and getting very excitable and also sometimes by screaming, He makes lots of adorable animal sounds, my favorite being his loud and exaggerated BAAAAA for sheep.

His skills with a spoon and fork are also really coming along which means I might get to just feed myself at mealtimes soon. He also has 8 teeth with 4 more big ones trying to work their way through. He can now climb up onto our kitchen chairs and loves to sit there like a big boy. Climbing in general is a favorite past-time and just one of the fun ways he keeps me on my toes.
Eating: Our last time nursing was on December 10th and while I had to pump for a little bit longer after that date, we are (both) fully weaned. And while he occasionally still sticks his hand down my shirt it was a very easy transition for him (emphasis on "for him" I'm still not over it). He now gets whole milk in a sippy cup, ideally at breakfast lunch and dinner, though he sometimes takes his time with it casually throughout the day along with water. Now that he has more teeth he pretty much eats what we eat. For breakfast he either has a frozen waffle with peanut butter, or oatmeal, or whatever cereal I’m eating that looks more interesting to him and fruit.  For lunch we do a lot of pb&j’s, grilled cheese, yogurt, sliced turkey and cheese, pita with hummus, and of course more fruit. He LOVES fruit and I often catch him trying to tear his way into a clementine with the peel still on. For dinner boy loves his meat so if we’re having chicken or pulled pork, meatballs, you name it, he is all about it! He also loves mac n cheese, cottage cheese, potatoes, beans. I've had a bit of a harder time getting him excited about any vegetables so I also give him pouches with more greens from time to time and hide shredded zucchini and carrots in these chicken meatballs I make pretty much weekly.
Sleeping: Tommy is still a great little sleeper. He gets up around 7:30am and then goes down for a 3 hour nap around 12-12:30 and amen and hallelujah for that! He goes down for bed around 7:30pm. Easy peasy. He is still sleeping in his crib and using a sleepsack and he cuddles with his Hudson bear. I was worried that our sleep routine wouldn't be a sweet and snuggly once we stopped nursing but I love our little snuggle time. We read a couple books, sing a couple songs and rock and cuddle while he sucks his thumb.
Favorites: I think his first true favorite that almost goes without saying is his undying love for all the balls. Baseballs, footballs, Hunley's tennis ball, pieces of paper balled up. You name it, he throws it!  His favorite books lately are More More More and Are You My Mother, which was an all time favorite of mine when I was a little one so I am happy to read it to him again and again and again and again... He loves to give hugs and cuddles and says "awwwww" every time he leans his head down. He runs full speed, arms flung and throws himself on me or T.J. or Hunley. Two out three appreciate the love, I'll let you guess which one is less than enthused. His favorite toy is the Roomba and now that he's figured out how to turn it on and off himself it has become the background soundtrack of my life and I have to hide it in the garage when he's not looking so Mama doesn't lose her mind.

He loves grabbing fistfuls of dog food and flinging them about wildly and then immediately sticking his thumb in his mouth. Blech! He is my little helper though and eagerly puts his shoes away on the steps when we come inside from a walk, or he will throw things away in the trash for me while I'm making dinner. Of course he also likes to take things out of the trash hence his nickname "trash panda." He is very interested in other little kids and he happily plays in the church nursery which is thrilling and means I get a little adult time during the week.  He thinks Hunley is his best friend.... the feeling is not mutual but Hunley is mostly very patient with him. He loves long walks as long as he has snacks. And he stomps his feet excitedly and runs about when he sees his Daddy getting home from work. He is becoming much more opinionated and dare I say strong-willed.  Just when I think he's going to drive me crazy and I'm looking at the clock for bed time, he comes in for a cuddle and melts my heart.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Favorite Books of 2018

I set a reading goal of 52 books last year and I was pretty optimistic when I read 9 books in January alone. But alas that was a bit of a fluke and, even though I made a big push during my two kid-free trips to Colorado this year, and pounded out 7 books in December, I finished two books short! I think it had something to do with the fact that Tommy became a little bit more wiggly and distracted during nursing sessions which prevented me from doing any more reading while nursing.

Regardless, here are some of my very favorite books from this past year that I managed to read in between wrestling my little wild child and sneaking in a few pages at night before my husband passive aggressively pulled a pillow over his head and said "uhhh... so bright..."
*post contains affiliate links :) 

Throne of Glass (series) - Sarah J. Maas
If you like fantasy, magic, a badass heroine (or two or three), a world shaking, heart breaking love story... this is for you. The best part is that's it seven books and even then I didn't want it to end.

Beartown - Frederik Backman
Dark, sticks with you, gets under your skin, breaks your heart, makes you cry, makes you mad, makes you feel things about being young, about being a mother and a daughter. The extremes we go to, tearing apart our lives, just to break something, just to hurt so we can feel like we're doing something to take away the hurt in our children's lives.

Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
Speaking of mothers and daughters.... oh this was such a complex and devastating story about that most complicated relationship. 

"To a parent, your child wasn't just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present your were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once. It was a place you could take refuge, if you knew how to get in. And each time you left it, each time your child passed out of your sight, you feared you might never be able to return to that place again." 

Six of Crows - Leigh Bardugo
A fantastical, magical heist. Oceans Eleven with the same impossible odds and an eclectic crew of capable misfits, but set in a make believe world. "No mourners, no funerals!"

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman
I started this one skeptically and at first thought it was a little weird and not my thing, but because everyone was talking about it, and my mom loved it, I kept reading and it totally softened my heart and was worth all the hype. Eleanor is not annoying, as I initially thought, she is uniquely endearing and unapologetically herself in the face of incredible childhood tragedy. It made my heart hurt for the lonely and also made me think twice about how flippantly we answer "fine" to the question "how are you?"

The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
For book lovers and lovers of book lovers. For anyone who's ever been changed by a really good book.

"...a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us...when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day." 

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore - Matthew J. Sullivan
Long live the bookstore!! An unexpected mystery, twisted and connected through hidden clues cut out of the well loved and well worn pages of books.

The Great Alone - Kristin Hannah
What's more dangerous? The unknown wilderness of Alaska or the unknown wilderness inside your own family?

A Man Called Ove - Frederick Backmam
Another by this author quickly becoming a favorite of mine. It's totally different from Beartown but equally as wonderful! This title has been out for a bit but I just read it at the end of the year and it was the sweetest feel good way to end the year! Just lifts the spirits and puts a smile on your face!

Educated - Tara Westover
It would be unbelievable if it wasn't a true story. The things children are capable of surviving at the hands of their damaged and damaging parents...

My Oxford Year - Julia Whelan
A fun quick read and a sweet little love story set in one of my favorite places in the world. If you liked Me Before You, and especially if you didn't like it because you hated the ending and overall message... this is 100x better.

Into the Water - Paula Hawkins
"Some say the women left something of themselves in the water; some say it retains some of their power, for ever since then it has drawn to its shores the unlucky, the desperate, the unhappy, the lost. They come here to swim with their sisters." 

I got a kindle for Christmas and I’ve already got a few books checked out from the library on my nightstand. I set the same reading goal for 2019, 52 books, so wish me luck and leave me your best recommendations!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Catch All

Think of this post like the Queen of England's annual Christmas broadcast in which she gives a sort of state of the union and shares her thanks for the year's blessings and hope for the New Year. Much less formal mind you, more like a list, and probably much worse grammar. Got to get back into it somehow and there's been so much going on lately that I haven't shared so I just want to dump it all into this post along with a few of my recent favorite pictures.

So here's what's been going on since I last blogged...in no particular order...

1. Tommy is now 16, almost 17, months old and becoming more and more of a full fledged, energetic, rambunctious, tender hearted, neck squeezing, strong-willed toddler. I plan to do a feature length 18 month update in January but for now I'll share just one my favorite things he does lately, which is come up to his mama, or daddy, or Hunley and emphatically lay his head down on us while saying "AWWWWW."  It is melt your heart adorable, I come completely undone, he has me wrapped around his little squishy fingers and it's a good thing because boy keeps me on my toes. So many major milestones have happened in such a short period of time. He is down to one nap a day, and as of last week he is fully weaned. And next week he's heading off on his first date and then I'll be moving him in to his dorm at college the week after that...
2. Speaking of weaning. It is by far the hardest thing I've done so far as a mom. I do not think this emotional rollercoaster/heart break is talked about nearly enough. Yes there are countless sources and posts about how to actually go about weaning and I honestly expected to feel relieved to be done with it. Done with the responsibility and the lack of ownership over my own body. I did not anticipate just how sad I would feel, and still feel, about the end of breastfeeding.  I know there are some real hormones at play here so I'm trying to think of it less as the loss of something so sweet and more like a passage into a new season, but I'm not there yet. It still feels like a loss. Tommy of course handled it like he's handled every transition, totally smooth despite his mom's bumbling about. I think we could have stopped sooner as he was only nursing a few times a day, for less and less time, and it was more for both our comfort, but I am so proud and thankful that we got to breastfeed for these 16 months. It truly was one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life.
3. If it had been just up to me, we might have kept on nursing until he formed the words and literally asked me to stop but T.J. had a work conference (our second trip to Colorado this year) that lined up just right! My mother in law came to stay with him while I tagged along, and thus ended the question of when should we wean. This was now the second time we'd left Tommy for longer than a couple hours and he did great again while mom and dad got to rest and relax in snowy Keystone. Well... mom did most of the resting since T.J. had actual conference obligations, but it was still a fun time away together. T.J. gave me my early Christmas present in the form of an indulgent massage at the spa, and I enjoyed sleeping in, ordering room service, and having no one else's butt to wipe.  Of course, after all the quality time with my husband, my second favorite thing was coming home to a big hug from my sweet boy.
4. Tommy and I also took a solo trip to Fort Worth, Texas where he finally got to meet some of his mama's best friends from college! It was such a sweet girl's weekend, made even sweeter by the addition of the two new baby boys in our little circle. I just loved seeing my friends love on my son and I loved having time to catch up on their lives. We just pick up right where we left off. As the Ben Rector song goes, you can't make old friends.
5. Tommy recently visited Santa and had a slightly different reaction to him than last year. Also... how has he grown so much in just one year!? We are looking forward to our little Christmas at home, just the three of us this year. Our house and halls are decked and Tommy gets excited to turn on the Christmas tree lights every day. We haven't had any ornament casualties yet, though not for lack of trying. This year he's slightly more aware of what's going on so we've introduced him to Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas, showed him the old classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which ended up being mostly just mom and dad watching the Grinch while he ran around as per usual), and we end each night rocking in his bedroom to the glow of his very own little tree. Having a little one definitely rekindles the magic of my own childhood Christmases and I love getting to create special memories for him.

(2017)
So that about brings us up to date! We have a lot of potentially big changes headed our way in the New Year that I hope to be more diligent about documenting and sharing here. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Bend, Oregon Travel Blog + Vlog

We headed down to Bend, Oregon over the Columbus Day weekend to check off another item from our Pacific Northwest bucket list. It was such a fun getaway and Oregon has officially solidified it's place in my heart as one of my favorite states. T.J. got home from work around 3 on Friday and I had tried to have mostly everything ready to go so all we needed to do was load up the car, change the baby's diaper one more time, and hit the road! It's about a 5 hour trek from our home to Bend and we did it mostly in the rain and in the dark but we made it safely to our little AirBnb cottage and Tommy was a trooper on his first real road-trip. The new Eric Church album helped.

After letting Tommy explore our home-base for the weekend, we quickly set up the pack 'n' play and then all collapsed, ready to get some good sleep so we could explore the next day.  We woke up to a cold, gray and rainy day but being the good Pacific Northwesterners that we've become,  we threw on our rain coats and headed out. We saved the hike for the next day and instead made our way to the High Dessert Museum. It is called a wildlife and living history museum and had so many cool exhibits indoors featuring Native American culture, and a desertarium, plus tons of trails through the woods that lead to the birds of prey exhibit and the cutest otters' habitat, and then winded around to an authentic homestead and sawmill with reenactments. It was super kid-friendly, the grounds were beautiful, and while we joked that the high dessert seemed awfully wet, we enjoyed walking around in the beautiful golden fall colors. Plus! Everything is more fun with an adorable little yellow raincoat-clad toddler in tow!
After that outing we headed back to our cottage so Tommy could nap and so we could watch the Clemson game. It was the perfect cozy afternoon and got us recharged to hit up the downtown area once Tommy was up. Our Airbnb was in walking distance of some of the breweries T.J. wanted to check out which made it so convenient. We also seemed to have chosen the perfect weekend to visit as it was their Fall Festival. There were several blocks closed off and lined with booths, music stages, and yummy food trucks.

Our first stop was Bend Brewing Company which had a fun outdoor area right on the Deschutes River. T.J. grabbed a beer and his first stamp on his Bend Ale Trail passport. There are 16+ breweries in Bend and if you download the app and check in at each one you get a free glass or something. We weren't quite that ambitious but it was fun to cross off a few while in town and the app gives you info on each brewery like their location, a little about their history and what's on tap.
After, we meandered through the Fall Festival and were immediately drawn to the prettiest little food truck I've ever seen for some fresh hot donuts with butterscotch dipping sauce! We decided to do things a bit out of order and have our dessert before dinner. Vacation, right?? 
We walked to Deschutes Brewery and Pub for the next stop on our "progressive dinner" grabbed another stamp, another beer, and a big yummy pretzel with beer cheese. Feeling a little bit fuller we still decided it was time to actually have dinner and we landed at McMenamin's Old St. Francis School. McMenamins are a Washington and Oregon establishment. Each one is uniquely funky. The one we visited happens to be a former Catholic school now converted to a brewery, pub, eclectic hotel, and a movie theater with a mismatched mix of couches and arm chairs. It had several cobble stone courtyards with fire pits to gather around, and inside, the brewpub was cozy and dark and just right for a cool fall evening. We split an appetizer and a burger in a little corner booth and Tommy chewed on crayons and flung coasters and had a grand time. 
The next day was drier but still chilly so we bundled up again and headed to Smith Rock State Park, one of the "7 Wonders of Oregon." We have now checked off 4 out of 7: Smith Rock, Mt.Hood, the Oregon Coast, and the Columbia River. I love how different the landscape is throughout Oregon, and Smith Rock State Park felt more like the high dessert that it is. It was simply stunning. There are tons of trails all with impressive vistas. We chose the easy River trail which had the winding river on one side and neck-craning rock walls on the other side. The park is a mecca for rock climbers from all around the world and it was so crazy to see dozens and dozens of them scattered at different perilous heights along the rock faces.
 
(can you spot the climbers??)
Even the "easy" trail was quite the workout for mama aka the pack mule but it felt good to at least pretend to be active and outdoorsy and cool like all the climbers we passed. Since we were already out of the city we headed a bit further north to check out something that had caught our eye (mostly T.J.'s eye, but I love him so I was happy to oblige) on the drive in- the Erickson Aircraft Collection. A hanger full of rare and vintage aircraft, most from WW2 and most still in flying condition. T.J. was like a kid pointing out all the different planes he recognized (P-51, F4U Corsair...) and it was truly an impressive little museum. I couldn't believe how pristine some of them looked and can't imagine the upkeep they require to still fly them today! 
After this big outing we went back to the cottage and all took a nap and then that evening we headed to one more brewery for our final dinner in Bend. Crux Fermentation Project was in a different part of Bend, near the Old Mill District, and while it's a little tricky to find they have a great set up! We ambitiously attempted to sit at a table indoors but Tommy was one step away from knocking over all their merchandise so we ordered our drinks and food and meandered out to their awesome lawn space which luckily had a roaring fire going along with corn hole and picnic tables. Their food menu is surprisingly gourmet for a brewery and they had food trucks outside as well. I had their kombucha and a yummy green bean salad and T.J. ordered a brat with sauerkrat from one of the trucks to go with the German beer they had on tap. 
We were sad to leave the next morning as there were so many other cool things to do in Bend. But I'm so thankful we got to go even for just a short visit. It was such a fun little adventure with my boys! I made a point to bring my gopro and document as much as I could to put together a little travel vlog. While T.J. admittedly doesn't love stopping for photos or videos he does love watching the final product so I'm trying to make more because I know that in 5, 10, 20 years, we are going to still watch these home videos of ours and probably cry! 

Monday, September 24, 2018

don't let me forget

Tommy is so fun these days. He is almost 14 months now and I really love this age. He is so engaging and able to do more and more fun things! He is becoming a full blown toddler before my eyes and sometimes I catch a look at him and see the teenager he's going to be, the handsome young man I'll get to know one day and it simultaneously thrills me and makes me realize how quickly time will pass. It's so easy to just feel like I'm surviving each day but they are filled to the brim with precious, silly moments that make me laugh out loud, or roll my eyes, or want to squeeze the stuffing out of him.
How he head bangs when you tell him to "rock n roll!" The naughty silly smile he gives right before he undoes his own diaper. How he notices every single dog we pass. The way he braces himself for a lick from Hunley. The way he says "uh oh" every time he drops something off the highchair like it's an accident but really he did it on purpose (over and over and over again). 
The way he's started to turn around and back up slowly into my lap to sit and read. How he yells with excitement when daddy comes home. His attempts to say "cheeeeeese!" His fast little walk-run in his moccasins.  The way he sticks his hand in the snack cup and wildly yanks out a fistfull of puffs sending them flying. 
The way he squeezes his eyes closed and shakes his head back and forth when he doesn't want another bite. How he imitates saying "thank you." That he hides behind the kitchen table a safe distance from the Roomba. The way he sings the "do do do do do do" part of the Baby Shark song. 

My sweet wild boy has me chasing him around all day and I definitely fall onto the couch once he's down for the night with a big exhale. But all these little nothing moments make up the sweetness of these long days. So I write it down, capture it, remember it, all his interests, personality quirks, all the funny things he does.  Please oh please, I don't want to ever ever ever ever forget!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

welcome fall + a bucket list

It's not technically fall yet but it sure is feeling like it in the Pacific Northwest and it's after Labor Day which is a much more appropriate time to dive in to all things pumpkin spice (except the lattes-blech) than the end of August like some fall fanatics. I love summer, I love the heat and the sunshine and the long days and I don't even mind the humidity if you've got AC and a lake to jump in. Which is exactly what we did last week when we were home in South Carolina where it still felt very much like summer. I am not one to wish away summer and every year I roll my eyes at the Halloween swag that you start seeing in the grocery stores as soon as the 4th of July is over.  But...I can't deny there's something magical about this time of year.
This tends to be a short season for us here and we don't really get all the beautiful crisp days with an explosion of golden leaves like you have back on the East coast. It's more of a soggy dampness that settles in and doesn't leave until June. So I think I better go ahead and put out my pumpkins, burn my spiced candles, and buy some mums to kill while I'm still in the enchanted phase of fall and not the "sick and tired of wiping off my dogs wet feet every time we come in from a walk" phase that takes over later in the season. 
I made a fall bucket list on our kitchen chalkboard (#basic) and can't wait to check these off with my little family. T.J. asked why Harry Potter was on the list, and while I considered going the standard Hocus Pocus route, Harry Potter just feels right.  Like the perfect rainy day, snuggle in movies for fall. Plus the first book came out 20 years ago, we've grown up together, so I feel like it deserved to be highlighted this year.
I am really excited to do all the fun, classic, memory making things with Tommy this year. It's only his second fall, and last year we started the makings of some fun family traditions with him, but he was only two months old! This year he's older, he's walking, he's into everything, he's exploring and it's just so much fun! He's already a big fan of picking up leaves and pinecones (and trying to eat them). I can't wait to experience it all with him this time around and see him really start to take it all in.