Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

From our home to yours, best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a very happy new year!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Our Favorite Toddler Things: 13-18 Months

Check out our other lists for younger babies:
We've officially hit Toddler-hood, so I thought it would be a good time to do a new Favorite Things post. Plus, since it's close to Christmas, this may be helpful if you're looking to buy something for a young toddler in your life.

This table has been a big hit at our house. Like most FP toys, it has several different settings - music, learning, Spanish - so it offers lots of different options to keep it from being too repetitive. Each side has a different toy; it has a telephone, a laptop computer, a piano, and a book which all play different songs and information. Bonus points to this one for being crawl-under-able...always a winner with MC!

This walking toy is plastic and quite lightweight and therefore very easy to push and steer around obstacles. As you can see from the picture, it also has tons of buttons to push and other activities on the front.

We got this toy at a local consignment shop for like $5, so it was already a winner in my book! Ours came with two additional figurines than what is shown in this picture. This was our first foray into Little People land, and MC loves these little guys. They are easy to hold in her hands and are interchangeable with other LP toys. We do lots of putting people on the bus and taking people out of the bus with this toy. The bus also plays music and lights up, but no on/off switch and no volume control.


Around 15 months old, MC really started being interested in her books. She will bring a book and then sit in your lap so you can read to her. Sometimes it's still more flipping the pages and talking about the pictures than reading the actual story, but whatever keeps her interested in books is fine with me.

Lift-the-Flap books in general are a big hit; we have several of the Karen Katz books, and MC likes them all. The one pictured above is especially fun right now because MC is very interested in naming and pointing to body parts.

Of course we have several of the Boynton books, and they are all very cute. Our favorite one continues to be Pajama Time, which BD can recite from memory at this point.

This is another favorite book at our house right now, along with Farmyard Beat. Both are Boynton-esque in that rhyme-y/rhythmic/song-y way - so another fun option if your little one likes reading to a beat.

We have a couple of these picture books that get a lot of read-time as well. No story, just pictures with labels - MC loves to point to a picture and listen to me say the name and noise of an animal.

This is a baby-friendly photo album that we've stocked with grandparent pictures. Another one where she likes to point to a picture and have me name the person. Fun for her to make a connection to those that she doesn't see very often.

I'm pretty sure "snacks" will be added to MC's expressive language pretty soon. She loves these little cups and the flaps in the lid give her easy access to the snack but prevents them from making too big of a mess everywhere. The flaps do not do anything to prevent her from pulling out a handful of snacks and dropping them on the floor to her accomplice Kip, however.

This toddler-sized slide is perfect for indoor play. MC loves to climb all over it, and it's low enough to the ground that when she inevitably falls off, she doesn't get hurt. She also uses it as a ramp to roll other things across the room.

MC is learning to throw and catch and kick right now, so any kind of ball brings lots of fun. This set has several round balls but also several other fun shapes. We use these a lot on the elephant slide to see which shapes will roll easily and which ones don't roll very well. That is an Amazon link above, but I found our set at Costco for around $12.

We have a couple different sizes of these just standard rubber balls; I think I got them all at the grocery store. These are simple but lots of fun for indoor/outdoor play. When BD is home we'll get out a bed sheet and place all the various balls on them, then pop the sheet up and down to make the balls bounce up in the air - MC absolutely loves it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

{Private Blog} MC Video: Yucky = Funny

Click here to see the video on our private blog.

Monday, December 16, 2013

New Private Blog

In looking for a convenient way to share videos of MC with our close friends and extended family, I have created a blog for just those video uploads. These are videos that contain more information than we are comfortable sharing with the whole internet, so I have chosen to make the "video" blog private - meaning you'll have to be an invited reader.

I'll cross-post here with a link to the private blog each time videos are posted, so you still only have to use this main site.  You'll just have to sign in to access the new blog, after you've clicked the link here.

In the next day or two, if you don't receive an invitation to the private blog and you would like one, just send me an email!

Thanks for reading!


Have A Toddler Christmas!

Since I've been working to learn more about my camera this fall and trying to take better pictures, I decided to attempt to take the picture(s) for our Christmas card myself this year. Trying to photograph a toddler was more...*ahem*...difficult than I expected it to be! I actually think these are pretty darn cute, just not quite what I was going for on our Christmas card.

I dressed Bear up in some Christmas attire, thinking that using Bear as a prop would help hold her attention. 

She was too busy playing peek-a-boo with the camera to notice that Bear was in the picture.

It is worth mentioning that these are the best ones I got out of the whole set - in most of them she's either rolling around on the floor or trying to escape over Bear's legs or taking her shoes off, etc.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Eighteen Months Old!

Our sweet girl is 18 months old! She is the joy of our life, the apple of our eye.

{click through for video if you're in a reader}

It's been a while since I last posted a monthly update and since that time we've moved fully into toddler-hood.
  • She's been walking since the beginning of August and is well on her way to running.
  • She likes to color and read and push anything with wheels (and some things without!). 
  • She likes to stack blocks and put things into/out of containers. 
  • She loves to be a helper - whether it's handing me dirty laundry to put in the washer or bringing BD his shoes. 
  • She knows what she wants (or doesn't want) and loves to express her opinions. 
  • She drops what she is doing and makes a bee-line for the door when she hears BD come home in the evenings. 
  • She surprises us every day by how much she understands of what we say and how much she is capable of doing.

Eighteen Month Info

Stats (Updated 12.16.2013)
I'll update height and weight after her well baby check-up next week. I think she's around 20 pounds and 28 inches.
Height: 29 1/2"
Weight: 19 lbs 15.5 oz
As her pediatrician said, "She's petite but perfect!"

She nurses twice a day - first thing in the morning and last thing before bed. I never really intended to be nursing a toddler (my goal was always 12 months), but it is still working for us. I know in the US breastfeeding a toddler is somewhat out of the norm, but it is quite common in most other parts of the world. The WHO actually recommends BFing until 2 years old. I don't really have a goal in mind anymore; we'll just stick with it until it's not the right fit for us anymore.

She eats 3 meals plus a snack or two of solid food a day - some of her favorites include whole wheat pasta noodles with marinara sauce, almost any kind of fruit, cottage cheese, waffles, cheese and bean quesadillas, dry cheerios, Annie's bunnies.

She is still a champion sleeper: 12+ hours per night, usually 7:30p - 7:30/8a. 

Over the last 6 weeks or so she has transitioned to one 3-3.5 hour nap a day. The transition to one nap was pretty rough. She got to where she just wasn't sleepy for that morning nap until around 10, which would push her afternoon nap really late, and then she wasn't ready for bed until late but would still wake at her usual time the next morning.

We had several weeks where she went back and forth between one nap or two, depending on the day. Then we had about two weeks of unpredictable, short one nap and a resulting early bedtime.

Currently she would really prefer to nap around 11a - 2:30p, but then she's ready for bed before 7pm which means BD gets to spend very little time with her in the evenings. So most days we try to push that nap until 12 or 12:30p with a wake up around 4p, and then it's much easier for her to make it until bedtime at 7:30p.

She's in 12 months clothes for the most part, with a few 12-18m in the brands that run a bit small. Size 3 in shoes, although I really should go have her measured again as I think she is starting to grow out of those.

She has a few words that are fully understandable - Mama, Dada, uh-oh - and lots of words that we can usually discern given a few context clues - "oooes" for shoes, "daw" for dog, "duh" for duck, etc. There are also some words that clearly mean something to her - she repeats the same sounds over and over - but are mainly still babble sounds at this point.

She's starting to mimic some animal sounds - "woof woof!" for dog is her current favorite.

She has lots of signs that she uses regularly - more, all done, eat, water, bath - and we've discovered that she learns the signs really, really quickly now. Previously we'd sign a word to her over days or weeks before she'd pick it up, but now after we've signed it just a few times, she starts using it herself. She learned the sign for bath after BD showed it to her once! 

She got her first tooth just after her first birthday and now has a mouthful - four on top and four on bottom plus all four one-year molars. I think she's also starting to get at least one incisor. I tried to feel this morning to see if one is pushing through the gum, and she bit the heck out of my finger, so I think I'll keep my fingers out of her mouth from now on!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New Built-Ins - Before and After

Our house was built with the intention that the TV be hung above the fireplace in the den. However, the room is not really wide enough to comfortably watch TV at that angle. So instead, we've had our TV in the corner of the room for the last two years, which has created this awkward little setup:

We've been kicking around design ideas for that corner since we moved in the house and finally decided that a built-in unit was really the only solution.

Earlier in the fall we started meeting with custom cabinet builders to find one that could design, build, and install at a realistically affordable price. We found plenty of builders that could do the design, build, and install -- it seemed that the affordable part was where we kept running into problems!

Finally we were able to find someone and, after a 6 week design and build phase, our new cabinet was installed last week.

We are happy with the final product, although the process was not completed without a few hiccups along the way.  

Eventually we will install a wall-mount bracket for the TV, so it can swing out and swivel to give a better viewing angle for the other half of the room.

(under mount lights above the display shelf)

Overall, the cabinet gives the room a much more finished look, along with better storage for components, etc and also some display space for more photos of MC our knick-knacks.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Oh, What a Difference One Year Can Make!

Helping with Christmas tree lights, December 2012

Helping with Christmas tree lights, December 2013

Doing OK

According to YouTube, this isn't a new commercial, but I just saw it for the first time recently and loved it. Enjoy! (And maybe have a tissue handy!)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Brunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus

We took MC to have brunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus over the weekend. The Jr League hosts this event for league members every year at the Hill House - a beautiful, historic home in downtown Durham.

She was pretty suspicious of Santa and not at all interested in sitting on his lap, so we just took a couple pictures with him in the background and called it good for this year. I'm not a fan of the red-faced, screaming kid on Santa's lap picture, so we did not press the issue with her!

There were graham cracker gingerbread houses for decorating. She enjoyed nibbling on the house but wasn't interested in going to the crowded decorating table, so we didn't press that issue either. (Are you sensing a theme here?! Low-key, low-stress, no pressure, no meltdowns is the name of our game!)

I can't even handle their cuteness. Look at that tongue sticking out!

Family pic photo-op. Notice she's still holding on to her gingerbread house! Mrs. Claus was reading stories near us, so she is still not thrilled with this situation.

 After we circled the tree several times and "gentle-touched" all the ornaments, she was happy to sit down in front of the tree for a picture.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

We had two sets of grandparents visit back-to-back during the Thanksgiving week. Since we actually had visitors, we did a traditional meal - turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, etc. (If we're alone on Thanksgiving we usually do Mexican food or something else non-Thanksgiving-y.)  AND we even ate in the dining room - for a total of two meals in that room in 2+ years of living in this house! The food was really good (BD made most of it, obv), and we had just enough for next-day leftovers, which is just the right amount in my book!

MC donned her cute little turkey dress for the meal. I ordered this dress a little big, so I'm hoping we get two years' worth of Thanksgivings out of it. Check back here this time next year to see if it was a successful gamble, ha ha! 

Don't be fooled by the apparent interest in the food in this picture. I'm pretty sure all she actually ingested was the marshmallows from the top of the sweet potato casserole and a roll! I can never predict whether she will be interested in new foods or not - sometimes she gobbles up new food and other times she won't touch it. Thanksgiving was mostly a "won't touch it" day.

However, she was interested in the utensils! She loves using utensils lately, even with food that doesn't need one. Most of the food ends up back on the tray before it makes it to her mouth, but she is so proud of herself regardless!

And now a few extra photos...we'll just call this pulling back the curtain on the reality of photographing a toddler. I did get the good photo at the top of this post, but I got a lot more that looked liked this:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Sorry for the lack of posting lately! We are transitioning to one nap around here, so I'm having to learn how to get things done with fewer toddler-free hours in my day. And blogging falls to last place on the list behind watching TV, laundry, surfing the web, dishes, working get the point.

Here are some recent pictures of our girl; these are from Nov 2013. MC is 16.5 - 17 months in these pics.

After watching BD do some sanding in one of our bathrooms during a recent cosmetic upgrade, MC decided our kitchen cabinets needed a little sanding as well. Monkey see; monkey do.

Bundled up for a chilly afternoon walk with Kip. This suit supports my theory that any baby clothing item can be made cuter if you put ears on it!

Ready to cheer on the Tar Heels to victory; unfortunately the Tar Heels lost to Belmont. And yes, taking a toddler to a basketball game was a much different experience from than taking an infant last year.

Little artist at work.

Playing outside on a chilly afternoon. Snack trap full of Cheerios is our constant companion these days!

Helping Daddy make chocolate pie.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Here are some recent pictures of our girl; these are from late October and early November 2013. MC is 16 months old in these pics.

This is how we vacuum these days: MC in the carrier with a drink, snack, and/or paci, and wearing her noise-reducing headphones.

Last year we got some really cute Baby In A Pumpkin photos, so we thought we'd try again this year. She was very interested in the pumpkin while BD was carving it, but she was very not interested in the pumpkin once she was sitting in it. I think in this one she's saying "Where are my real parents and when are they coming to get me??".

A family photo on Halloween. BD and I are dressed as Parents of a Toddler. Notice how realistic our costumes are!

In case the face isn't clear enough, the shirt says it all.

She loves to play outside, so we spend a lot of time exploring the yard when the weather is nice.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Happy "Howl"oween 2013

MC wanted to dress up as her favorite animal for Halloween, so naturally we had to find a Kip costume.

We got the costume about a month before Halloween and hung it in her closet. Every few days the costume would catch her eye, and we'd get it out to look at it and talk about it. I put it on her a few times so she could see herself in the mirror. She seemed pretty unphased by it, so I wasn't really worried about her freaking out about wearing a costume. I don't know if she's too young for the famous toddler freak-out over the Halloween costume or if it helped that the costume was basically a onesie with a hat or what, but she was very cooperative.

Kip, on the other hand, was very wary of the intruder in our midst. We took some of these shots in the backyard, and he refused to come near her so I could get a picture of them together. 

The houses in our neighborhood are too far apart for Trick or Treating so we just had a potluck party in one of the cul-de-sacs. MC was happy to run around in her costume with the other kids near her age while the adults ate and visited. And then we headed back to our house for her usual supper and bedtime routine.