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  • Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

    *Prepare for a photo overload!*

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    Last weekend the part of the Whitlock clan, my brother, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew, came down for a visit. The four of them haven’t been here together since Forest’s birthday last year and my SIL, Zoe, and Grayson haven’t been here since last November. It was time for a visit!

    Friday evening we all walked over to the park so they could hunt some Pokemon. While Zoe and Curt were searching for pidgies and the like Grayson and Forest played around on the jungle gym and were being silly boys! Grayson told me he was a monkey as he was climbing the jungle gym—lots of evidence above that that’s the truth—and Forest tried to stay as involved as he could. Spending a little time at the park was good for everyone and got the toddler to fall asleep a little faster than usual.

    The family have turned into fishing fiends which delights Chris, because that means they can spend hours on the dock catching fish. Unfortunately for me I can’t really go and hang out right now because Forest doesn’t understand he can’t jump off the dock. There was plenty of fishing over the weekend but also a lot of cooking—Chris smoked a brisket and I made potato salad for dinner Saturday, and breakfasts were frittata and French toast—and all around playing. It was really good to see Forest and Grayson interacting together and I can’t wait to see them playing together even more as the years go on.

    I’m hoping Zoe and I will be able to spend more time in the studio on her next visit…time was a little short this go around because I didn’t have the studio cleaned up very well. We get to see the crew again soon to celebrate Zoe and Grayson’s birthday—8 and 5! What?

    Taking photos over the weekend reminded me to get my camera out more. I don’t think to shoot photos constantly and I know I’m missing moments that I want to look back on one day.

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    This kid: turning into a big boy, got a hair cut, always has a cracker in hand, ready to explore the world.

    Love, love, love him!

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    These days, the toddler is much more of a toddler than he has ever been. There’s glimpses of little kid coming through, too. I realized this more the other day when I was looking at photos from February’s trip to Village Creek State Park. He’s a baby in those photos! I know that in six months I will look back on photos from this summer and think he was so little now and that yes, this will be never ending.

    Forest’s verbal skills are improving immensely but he hasn’t hit the sentence stage yet. Words that he’s never even tried to say will just come out all of a sudden. Sometimes he repeats them but sometimes he says them once and tucks them back in for a later date. Others, like Nooooo are a favorite! He’s been using that for probably two months and saying it even more, usually mixed in with something he does in fact want. Just the other day I asked if he wanted another piece of bread to which he replied with “Noooo” and signed ‘more’ at the same time. So, ya know, sometimes no means more!

    He loves to read books and magazines and we’ve gotten good at working through most common animals and noises. He is great at repeating sounds or telling us what sound a particular animal makes. When he says a word we repeat that word and tell him good job and keep working on the language skills. Forest may not talk a lot but he understands just about everything. He even understand enough to ignore but also to follow directions—when he’s not choosing to ignore.

    We have alphabet magnet letters as well as alphabet puzzle pieces but Target had a huge section of $1 Spot teacher stuff in their bins a few weeks ago so I bought a package of sticky-felt letters that I put onto construction paper and cut out. My goal was to start him on letter recognition, which seemed to work a little—I held a letter up and told him what it was and many letters he repeated it—but then they turned into something in which to chew on so it’ll be a more supervised activity from now on!

    It’s hard to write everything that he does now because he does so much little kid stuff. I will definitely say it is a little easier with him being able to communicate somewhat, though there are still plenty of times we don’t know why he’s having a tantrum (or as my brother coined, a Forest Fire!). He’s really good at body parts and last week he had something in his eye and he was able to come to me and tell me ‘eye’ as he was rubbing it, letting me know that he had a problem. I love this!

    We’re still nursing, too. I never thought I’d go this long but here we are and he shows no signs of wanting to stop. I’m still debating about stopping pumping when he turns two; I still pump once a day around lunchtime. I’ve donated all of my frozen milk, though I have one bag of frozen as a backup, so I just pump the 3-5 ounces and he gets that at daycare with his meals and snacks, along with water. Just for that reason and because I’d rather he drink that instead of cows milk, I’ll probably keep pumping. It doesn’t take long, five minutes now, so it isn’t that big of a deal. I know almond milk is an alternative (and our pediatrician actually recommended it) but because he’s in the stubborn/picky toddler eating phase where he sometimes-not-all-the-time eats meat or beans (protein sources), I’d rather he still get a milk with a higher protein content, and almond milk doesn’t have that. I don’t know, all of that is still up in the air. I’m definitely going to be turning into that ‘crazy’ extended breastfeeding lady you see on the news very soon. I’m comfortable with our choices to keep breastfeeding this long, despite some annoyances at times. It’s been good for us!

    I/We haven’t been great at taking photos the last few months and I’m kicking myself for it so we’re trying to make up for it. Our point and shoot died and we finally got another so we should be getting back into taking videos. Gotta catch all of the cute little phrases and mannerisms before they disappear! Now, a bunch of adorable toddler photos…

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    Oh, we were forced to try a booster seat at a restaurant for the first time, due to the table we were put at. We were nervous about it but he did really well!

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    Um, this sweet gum ball is rough!

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    The title of this post should actually be Toddler-Who-Pulls-Labels-And-Gets-Into-Things…but that’s ok, our future gardener loves being outside and we (mostly) love chasing him around the yard. It certainly gets the Fitbit steps in even if Chris and I have to take shifts.

    Happy Friday! Hope you get some gardening in this weekend!

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    Nemastylis geminiflora, Prairie celestial

    Over Easter weekend we made the trek to west of Austin to Pedernales Falls State Park. The last time we visited this park was in September of 2011. I went back through my archives and realized I barely wrote about visiting the park. I think I intended to put together a video from the park but I remember that at the time I was having trouble figuring out how to use the editing software. And then I abandoned that project, went to Pennsylvania to work for a few weeks, and life kind of took off. I had a lot of trouble trying to remember the park before we went this time around and dug around in my memory for awhile to even pull up some frame of reference for trails and campsites.

    Alas, once we arrived at the state park it all came back to me. This park is quite large and would be a great for a multi-day exploration. We barely saw all that the park has to offer!

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    After we got our campsite set up we headed for Pedernales Falls where Chris wanted to spend some time fishing. I was set up for toddler wrangling which was quite a feat, that’s for sure!

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    Water, terrain, people….lots of things to entice toddlers for exploration but also lots of potential dangers.

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    Our last visit to the park was in the middle of the drought. Then, Chris and I had been able to explore a lot of the nooks and crannies of the riverbed that were exposed. This time the river was running and those areas were full of water.

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    For a few minutes Forest was content staying in the backpack, looking at birds soaring in the sky, the water, and the people. But then he quickly lost interest and began whining to get out. I navigated him back to the shore where we played in the sand (he did belly flops!), picked up rocks and sticks, pulled off all of the seedpods from several Sesbania bushes, and generally poked around as much as we could without getting close to the water’s edge.

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    Eventually the water won interest again so we returned to the backpack and Chris fished for a few minutes with Forest on his back.

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    These days the words ‘cheese’ and ‘fish’ sound very similar coming from The Toddler, but they are his two most used words around here…well, maybe aside from ‘bubbles’. I think Chris is quite smitten that Forest seems to like fish right now!

    I’m working through the rest of the photos and I’m just about back to semi-regular blogging mode. Stay tuned!

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    As a perpetual flower picker, Forest had a lot of fun running around the bluebonnet and paintbrush fields at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. We had to gently tell him that he couldn’t pick all the flowers, that he had to save them for other people to enjoy! The shiner on his eye is from daycare; Forest is entering the toddler always-has-a-boo-boo phase of life.

    I didn’t take many other photos at the wildflower center but I’ve got tons from our camping trip. I hope to get a few posts up soon about that.

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    We’re deeply entrenched in toddlerhood. Except, when I look at Forest, I can easily see him as a little boy already. The baby-baby is long gone. It’s a fast and subtle change. It seems that every few weeks is a new transition, something that will throw us (and him) off for a few days until we get back into the swing of things. Most of that has to do with sleep…sleep is *hard* around here.

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    At his 18 month checkup Forest was 24 lbs and 9 ounces and 32 inches long. I knew he had grown a few inches since his visit in early December and I believe it was at least 2 or 3 inches. We’re into full-on tantrums but I’ve found that if you let him just get the tantrum out, usually it’ll fade off in a few minutes and he’s happy again. Or just change the subject and move on! He’s working on exercising his new found ability to have freedom and opinions and that’s what half of the tantrums are. I have an opinion and I’m going to express it!

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    As for talking he’s still a really big babbler and isn’t saying too many words. He’s said a smattering of various words in the last six months but the most consistent are mama, dada, sometimes he’ll say mom, no, and night-night. In the last week he’s been trying to say bubble and puppy. I accidentally called him bubba one day, a tongue twist of trying to say baby and changing my mind in the middle, and he repeated it thinking I had said bubble! However, he may not use real words yet but he does understand just about everything we tell him. He will point to things and we’ll say the words to them or if we ask him where something is at, his favorite is his balloon and the light above the kitchen table, he’ll point to them. He’s also fond of pointing out the fans in the house. I think in the next few months the words will just start pouring out of his mouth and it will be a fun day when he starts doing that!

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    Food-wise, he’s turning into a typical toddler. We typically try to start by offering him whatever we’re eating for dinner, which depending on what that is he may or may not eat. Then we move onto something we know he will eat. He’s still nursing some during the day when I’m with him but we definitely stretch it out quite a bit. Sometimes if we’re sitting around the living room he’ll come up and ask to be picked up and throw himself to my chest and we’ll nurse multiple times in the course of an hour or two, but then other times we’re going 4-5 hours or longer if we’re out and about. Nighttime is still his biggest nursing time. *grumble grumble* on my end, there.

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    His attention span is definitely getting longer and he has no problems playing on his own for a long period of time, giving Chris and I a chance to relax on the couch or to do chores. We’ve actually not been doing much in the way of tv these days, except maybe on a weekend, but I have been showing him some crazy cat videos on YouTube sometimes. He *loves* seeing the cats fall in the water and run! Apparently, that’s hilarious! If he does watch tv we’ve been trying to put some more nature-type shows on for him to watch. Sometimes it’ll hold his attention and other times it won’t. I found the Brave Wilderness YouTube channel the other day and it has a lot of good, short videos that he really enjoyed. He *loved* the wolf video!

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    Forest still loves to read and has no problem finding books to sit down and flip through. We’re starting to be able to read to him incrementally as his attention span gets longer, but he mostly enjoys flipping through and looking at the photos. He was rambunctious one morning as we were getting ready for work/daycare and I sat him in his Elmo chair and handed him a book. He sat there and flipped through it for quite awhile; I had even gone outside (Chris was inside) to do a few things and when I came back he was still there, reading! Please, be a reader! Please!!!!

    His most favorite thing in the world, though, is to be outside. Which is pretty awesome for us, but remember those tantrums? He does not like to come in when we have to! Forest loves looking up at the birds, finding flowers to pick, just wandering around…whatever. If it is outside, he’s happy! Now, to get him not to wander off every 30 seconds…

    He does not like his socks and shoes on when he gets in the house but if he thinks he can go outside, such as if he sees one of us go out the door for whatever reason, he will go get his shoes, sit down, and try to put them on! He has definitely tried helping when I put his shoes on, latching the velcro and such. Clever little dude!

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    I briefly mentioned sleep, but sleep is definitely an issue. I did read that there’s a big 18-month sleep regression and it’s pretty rough. I figure that’s what we’re dealing with right now. I’m doing my best to be patient but it gets old when I’m sitting there with him while he’s trying to go to sleep in his crib. I mean, yeah, I’m reading on my phone but really, I’d like to be able to leave the room and get some other things done. Especially when the time changes, I plan to add some running into my evenings in addition to whatever gardening I want to do outside. And he’s still waking up in the middle of the night. Where it used to be that he would go back to sleep and I could put him in his crib; that isn’t happening now. He *knows* that I’m creeping away and sits straight up and wails. He may have actually been asleep, too. So frustrating. It’s insane because in early February we were actually getting a few times with one wake-up and then he’d sleep until 4 or 5 am, or even a few nights of pretty much sleeping through the night. I guess I’ll just ride it out like always. Oh…naps. Naps! Sometimes they are great, he goes down easy. Sometimes they aren’t. And I just give up, he doesn’t get a nap that day. I don’t know how daycare does it!

    All in all, the kid is keeping us on our toes, making us laugh, and teaching us how to be patient. Forest is incredibly sweet and we love him so, so much! Leo…Leo might not be loving him so much now that Forest has figured out how to chase him! I think Leo’s getting a lesson in patience, too!

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