Thursday, April 18, 2013

More Easter Photos

In case you didn't get enough of the awesome Easter photos from the end of March, here are some of my favorites.

Daddy and Theo peeling onions to dye our Easter eggs. We got a nice dark batch this year.

Theo and Vivian "hunting" eggs at the local grocery store. In the under 3 area, there wasn't much hunting involved, as you can plainly see. We plopped Vivian down in the middle of a batch and Theo made his way over to her selecting some as he went.

Theo and Vivian collecting eggs in their buckets. Despite what you might think, Vivian did put some in the bucket (and take them out again, and put them get the idea).

Theo opened all 24 eggs. (There was a 12 egg per kid limit at this hunt.) Vivian couldn't care less about the opening or the contents, unlike Theo. Instead, she is fascinated with the rotating rack of cards.

Vivian scored three eggs (two with assistance) at the local community center mob scene, uh, I mean egg hunt.

Easter basket goodness. I bet you can't guess which basket belongs to whom.

Theo cracking open more eggs in the morning from his basket.

Easter hike in the fabulous sunny weather. Vivian had the best ride in the backpack.

Theo and Tetley hiking.

Vivian passed out for her morning/mid afternoon nap in the backpack.

Theo thinks he is hiding in this spot behind Daddy.

Vivian's bunny bum.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Theo at Two and a Half

Theo turned two and half this past weekend! We got hardly any decent photos. I got exactly none. Michal did somewhat better with at least a couple actually on the couch. Sometimes Theo seems so much older than two and a half. He has very complex thoughts, and he can often express them quite nicely. Since he had only one word at a time back at the two year mark, we've come a long long way. He started putting two words together soon after two years, and now he's ninety-nine percent verbal. At two years, he used a lot of sign language and most of his spoken words were for reserved for proper nouns or other things that didn't have signs.

Mleko (milk in English) was the last sign to go. Now he still knows the signs and can use them when we are using them with Vivian, but unless his hands are full of milk cups, jez, and books, he will talk instead of signing.

He still has the habit of using "you" to refer to himself, and "me" to refer to others. A sentence such as "You have it!" (always said with a lot of emphasis and emotion) means Theo wants whatever it is. "You chase me" means he wants to chase the other person, and "You go with me" means he wants to go with another person (usually downstairs). He has started using "I" on occasion, but it's still rare enough that I notice when it happens and am typically smiling.

Theo knows his colors very well, and messing them up is something he uses to get a laugh or play a game. He knows all of his numbers most of the time (the digital two on our alarm clock he still calls a five) and regularly counts from one to ten for his own amusement. If you ask him how many of pretty much anything he wants (treats for the dog, cupcakes, spoons, etc.), he says five. Or eleven. Eleven is slowly becoming the new five. He tried to count to twenty but usually skips from thirteen to seventeen. He used to skip from three to seven so clearly there's a pattern there. He loves to countdown (hmm, is it called counting up when it starts with one?) to the the tunnels on the expressway which he always knows are coming even though he still rides facing backwards in our car.

Theo loves letters of the alphabet. He's practically obsessed with them. He can name all the upper case ones at this point, and assemble his alphabet train floor puzzle without assistance (although I am sure some of that is familiarity). He adores singing the alphabet song, and it will often be a continuous loop restarting at "now I've sung my ABCDEFG etc.). He likes to cook with letters and stomp letters and play with them, but most of all he enjoys having someone else write the letters on his art or on his magnetic doodle board. "Theo" and "Grandmama" are the most popular request, but it could be anything depending on his mood.

Today for the first time I heard him singing in Spanish. He hears one Spanish song when we attend library storytime, and we don't always sing it each time or make it each week. But clearly it's been enough for him to master most of it. I was super impressed.

Theo still loves Wheels on the Bus, and I would say he sings that second only to the alphabet song. He will sing it while accompanying himself on the piano. And his piano skills are sometimes frighteningly good. The only song I have taught him so far is Chopsticks. If you know that, it might sound somewhat familiar. But otherwise his playing is usually very pleasant to listen to and much closer to an actual song than the banging I would expect. He adores piano rolls for our player piano, and picks them out himself each evening after dinner. He checks everyone's plate to make sure they are done eating, then looks expectant, says "Daddy...." and then shouts "piano rolls!!!!" while throwing up his arms and practically dancing a jig.

Theo still has relatively small feet. He can wear his size 5 snow boots from last year (they were too big then but the smallest size Target stocked), and still wears a size six or so regularly. He outgrows long-sleeve shirts in about two seconds, it feels like, but can still squish into a twelve month short sleeve one if he loves it. I finally retired his favorite One Fish Two Fish 12 month long sleeve shirt. Not only was it too short in the sleeve by several inches but his non-existent belly was exposed as well. In pants he can still wear some of his 18 month without looking like a flood is coming, and it's just now that I don't have to roll up the waist of his 2T pants. He prefers soft pants over jeans or anything with a non-elastic waist, won't go anywhere near overalls, and given the option chooses his own outfits every day. He likes his fish shirts best (he has several now) but the airplane ones are pretty good too. His favorite pants are the stripey ones from Zutano and the fleece (red is best but the black ones are also good) ones from Old Navy. He looks for his orange socks every day, and wears all the bright colored socks first. He will wear neutral colors as a last resort when nothing else bright or patterned can be found in his collection. He loves the moose red and black winter hat, and his airport print Zutano hats best. Even though the moose one is too small and he often literally outruns it when we got to the park or playground.

He is stick thin, and poops out anything he eats. If he poops, that is. Theo is not potty training, nor are we working on that skill. Instead, per doctor's order, he gets a laxative twice a day. That's because Theo has learned to control his bowel movements and what's he learned is that they hurt. Which is definitely the case when you hold it for two or three days or more at a time. We are still trying to get him back to a regular once (or more) a day pattern, and to encourage as well as make pooping a positive experience, he gets two M&Ms every time he makes a poop. He can do it on command if he decides he wants some.

On the eating front, Theo eats most things - if he had pooped. When he's constipated, he eats nothing. Heck, he's a toddler. Sometimes he eats nothing and we have no idea why. We offer breakfast around 8. It's not his favorite meal, and he's generally just had a cup of milk around 7 or shortly after so he's not starving. He likes waffles when he's eating, and yogurt and bagels with cream cheese and graham crackers with jelly (two kinds on each cracker) and a bunch of other stuff when he's hungry. Most of all, at any meal, he likes what he sees on someone else's plate, including Vivian's. In fact, Vivian eating solids has probably improved his diet dramatically as we still try to give her a good balance of fruits and veggies, dairy, and protein. With Theo we had adopted a whatever works eating approach. Lunch is around 12:30, snack is offered but rarely consumed around 4, and dinner happens sometime around 6. He still loves macaroni and cheese and it seems to be one of the more reliable dishes if there is such a thing these days. Theo loves candy, particularly the aforementioned M&Ms. He likes the idea of other candy, like what he scored at Easter, but sometimes chews them up and spits them out. He likes ice cream, too, but this weekend when we got some for him he said it was too cold for about half an hour. He seems to run on solar energy because skipping a meal (or three) does nothing to slow him down.

As for sleep, Theo is getting less and less, which is perfectly natural but still sad for some of us. He takes one nap around 2 in the afternoon (we start the bedtime process around 1:30, where we change his diaper, get a cup of mleko, put on his sleep sack, and read two books and flip a third. Theo closes the door and turns out the light and then the animals get kisses. He currently sleeps with all his stuffed animals, but only Mis (currently wearing a pig costume), Jez, Gruba, Duck, and Pillow get kisses. Today he added his homemade giraffe, and he would have us kiss all twenty or so animals in his crib (yup, he's still in his crib and seems to prefer it and we're not inclined to move him out) but I don't have the patience for that many.

At night, Theo goes to bed somewhere between 7:30 and 8 depending on what's going on, and he generally sings before falling asleep. No matter what time he goes to bed or to sleep, he is awake around 6:45 am if not earlier. We get him out of bed at 7, not a minute sooner.

Theo has finally noticed that it can be cold. He's often in a short sleeve shirt and his winter jacket when it's 40 or below and windy outside. Then he wants to be picked up. He can't quite tell you that he's cold, but he does know what to do about it. Once or twice over the winter I even got him to wear his mittens, which hasn't happened since he was about six months old and learned to take them off. He can take off his socks and shoes no problem and has started learning to put his shoes on himself. He can put his own hat on, although he doesn't do it often. He can take his jacket off if the zipper is easy to operate. And he can definitely get out of his own sleep sack, although we've never tried getting into it on his own.

The most popular toy by far is his wooden train set and all the trains that go with it. He loves to build it on his own, and doesn't care if it all connects. He often supplements it with Legos or our wooden blocks to build additional tunnels and bridges for it. I'd guess his magnetic blocks get the second most attention. His favorite thing to do with them is build a train and run it under the dining room table, usually while the rest of us are still eating a meal. He also really loves to build anything pictured on the boxes of his toys, or in books. He recently used his Legos as a stamp set, running around and stamping everyone and everything with different ones.

His kitchen complete with pots and pans and food is definitely a top contender as well. Theo loves to cook. He doesn't always care to eat what he's made (if it's real food), and seems to prefer to serve others the pretend variety, but he loves to move it around, set it up, put it on cooking sheets and in pots and pans, and clean up.

Theo's only chore so far is putting the silverware in the dishwasher and he loves to do it, although we've gotten kind of slack about waiting for him to come help. In the evenings on weekdays Daddy is home and much too intoxicating for dishes to compete. On weekends we're usually super busy and often out and about. He loves to empty the dishwasher, too. So far as I know, only one dish has been sacrificed.

Theo adores feeding Tetley and Rocket treats and does so daily upon request. He loves to feed the chickens and fill the bird feeder outside. Pouring water (mostly) into Tetley's bowl is also a huge hit. 

As for stuffed animals, Theo has definitely grown fond of them in general, especially compared to earlier in his life when he was, for the most part with one exception, completely uninterested in them. Now Jez would go everywhere if we'd let him. And Mis gets a lot of action, including clothes, time in the Exersaucer before we packed it away, served food on a plate, and even a costume all his own. Duck and Gruba are next in line, but pretty much any animal will do when he decides to pretend.

We don't do much in the way of consistent discipline. About the worst thing Theo usually does is scream his ear-splitting scream. For that we ask him to either remove himself to the hall or use an indoor voice if he'd like to remain with us. For serious infractions, like hitting someone (generally Vivian), he goes into time out until he can calm down, which can take anywhere from instantly to several minutes.

As for noteworthy events, Theo busted his nose on New Year's Eve. We suspect he broke it as there is still a noticeable bump to the touch on one side, but there wasn't much to do about it. Luckily it was on his face, because Theo hates seeing scabs elsewhere on his body. Despite the fact that he loves stickers and stamps now, he does not like these other weird irremovable things attached to him. In milestones, he could count to 3 just a week after his second birthday. He began jumping with both feet off the floor about a month after he turned two. We upgraded him to size 5 diapers in early November, and he learned how to open doors the same day he learned how to unlock them (also in November). He was speaking in three to five word sentences by 2 years and not quite four months (ie early February), and has totally taken to bigger picture books since early March. He still loves board books and other shorter stories but Dr. Suess and The Missing Piece and The Giving Tree also fascinate him now.

Overall we are nothing but thrilled with Theo's progress and he continues to delight everyone around him in a myriad of ways. We look forward to seeing what the future brings as he hurtles towards preschool and age three in the fall.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Texas Times Two

A random selection of photos I liked from Michal's giant Texas-sized gallery.

An awesome shot of Theo in a tunnel slide at one of the many playgrounds we visited. I believe this one is at Zilker Park.

Theo at the park, with sunglasses on because it's too bright and a hat because Daddy got sunburned at a different playground the day before.

Vivian swinging at Zilker Park.
A much better shot of all four kids enjoying themselves in the playroom at Kristine's house in Fort Worth.

You'd think with three adults and four kids we could get a decent shot. You'd be wrong.

Well, at least we can get a decent shot of two adults.

Theo loved Kristine's dog Charlie. And John's dog Ellie. But we don't have any photos of Ellie.

You could feed birds blueberries (for free no less!) at the Dallas World Aquarium - which was a really awesome non-conventional set-up. And we have no pictures that do the awesome main three story exhibit with multiple levels of trails through it justice.

Mama and Vivian at the Dallas World Aquarium.

I don't know how many times Theo made the loop around the outdoor penguin exhibit.

All of us at together.

Feeding the fowl near John's house in Dallas. I spent a lot of effort throwing bread crumbs away from my enthusiastic toddler to lure the more aggressive birds in the opposite direction.

With Grandma at the Alamo.

Theo feeding Vivian a cracker at the Alamo.

All of us with the Alamo in the background.

Grandma and Vivian on the boat ride along the river walk in San Antonio.

Theo napped in the car from San Antonio to Manor and has just woken up.

Playing in the giant sandpile at Gwyneth's parents' manor.

Petting the neighbors' (full size) horses in Manor.

Granddaddy and Vivian exploring.

Mama and Theo enjoying a ride in the miniature horse cart. The neighbors next door were kind enough to give all the kids who wanted a ride a turn. Since there were 8 kids total (all age 7 or under, half 2 or younger), it was no small gesture of generosity.

A better idea of what we were doing. You can't see her in the this shot, but the neighbor is running along beside the miniature horse.

Theo enjoyed it so much he took another turn around with Daddy.

And Vivian got a turn, too, riding with Gwyneth.

Theo digging.

And pulling a tractor.

Theo on the far right serving up something tasty to Grandma at the Children's Museum back in Austin. I love how all the adults have the same bland expression in this shot.

Lounging around in the backyard in Austin.

Feeding goats at the Austin Zoo. Theo loves to feed animals. We went on the coldest morning of our trip and we are all wearing the warmest stuff we packed. And we were still chilly. Note to self: next time pack more warm clothes, just in case.

Theo passed out in the car after our morning at the zoo.

Theo has removed his food from his plate and lined up the sandwich strips for train cars with blueberries for wheels.

Waiting at the Austin airport to come home.

Well, there you go. I managed to condense 1022 photos down to about 30. Not too shabby. Maybe between the two selections you'll get a pretty good idea (and look) at our entire trip. But there are always more photos to enjoy if you didn't get your fill.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Texas Tour Favorite Photos

Here are some of the photos from our trip to Texas. We met up with Grandma and Granddaddy, who drove out, as well as Auntie Blah, who flew out for part of the visit. We visited four sets of friends (you know who you are), and met six of their seven children for the first time. All in all, it was a fantastic trip and my only complaint is the weather. I watched weather reports for a month before we left, and it was 75 and sunny everyday. The sun came through for us. The 75 did not. It might have hit 70 once, but I didn't notice. It was generally cool in the mornings and didn't warm up to 60-something until well into the afternoon. We fared no better in Dallas. Spending only one night there before heading back to Austin, the night we left they predicted snow. Yikes!

Here are some of my favorite photos from my collection. The better ones are all over here in Michal's stellar gallery. To give you a bit of an idea what you're getting into if you decide to view the entire galleries, mine has 216 photos. Michal's has over a 1000.

Vivian enjoying the selection of new toys loaned from friends and brought by family.

Vivian wearing Granddaddy's hat.

Theo all aboard for the scenic train ride around Zilker Park. He made everyone get on even though it didn't leave for another fifteen minutes or more. We did get good seats as a result, though.

Theo and Daddy riding the train. It went over a bridge and through a tunnel between two playscapes, so it hit all the basic requirements for Theo's obsession with trains.

Vivian in Grandma's lap on the same train ride. She liked it well enough but spent most of her time trying to chew on the handrail in front of us.

Theo in the sandbox with Auntie Blah at Zilker Park.

Vivian snuggling under the covers in bed one frosty morning. She slept in until about 5 or 6 most mornings in the room with us, at which point I'd feed her and discover she was a block of ice and throw her in the bed with us.

I did a terrible job taking photos at the beginning of the trip because this one is from Dallas. I got exactly two shots with all four kids. Here are Samantha, Theo, Wyatt, and Vivian in the playroom in Fort Worth, having a ball, although not exactly together.

Theo preparing some tea and cake for everyone. He adored Samantha's kitchen and baking sets.

Vivian at the children's museum in Fort Worth, which is part of the Museum of Science and History.

Samantha and Kristine rocking the hula hoops at the Museum of Science and History.

One hands-on exhibit had vertical wind tubes and materials to make flying things, like these paper cones. The cones were all in a stack until Theo discovered them and did this.

Theo in the tunnel at the Dallas World Aquarium.

Theo enjoying the flamingos at the Dallas World Aquarium. Michal has an even better video of his delight, which includes standing on one leg like a flamingo.

Vivian thoroughly enjoyed the huge underwater window on the lowest level. She talked to everything that swam by us.

We took a walk to feed the ducks in Dallas while John cooked a spectacular meal that all four of us enjoyed. It was very very cold and windy. As previously mentioned, they were forecasting snow that evening. We didn't stick around long enough to find out if the forecast was accurate.

Theo during that same walk. He went horizontal in the stroller in an effort to avoid the wind, and we tucked him under the blanket up to his chin in addition to that.

Theo and Grandma walking around the grounds of the Alamo in San Antonio.

Granddaddy and Vivian doing the same.

Watching the fish who have been corralled into one small part of the water under this footbridge.

Theo sharing a snack with Vivian at the Alamo. Vivian has been upgraded to the stroller after Theo vacated it.

Enjoying the river walk in San Antonio.

Daddy and Theo watching a boat on the river walk.

Theo, in his bridge obsession, loves to point out the water every time we go over it. Bridges over water are the best.

Theo playing with Vivian back at the house in Austin while Grandma looks on.

Theo constructing a tunnel for the train.

Opening presents from Auntie Blah.

Vivian enjoying rice and other stuff during lunch.

Daddy and Vivian enjoying the sunshine in the window seat.

I adore the way Vivian held onto the table with her toes while she ate.

Vivian enjoying the playground at the elementary school around the block from the house we rented.

Vivian went down a slide for the first time on her nine-month birthday here. Theo thought it was awesome, and so did Vivian, who laughed. After that, they went down together. If Theo saw her going without him, he yelled and came running over to join the fun.

Bedtime with Grandma.

Snacktime with Daddy.

Theo is one cool dude. Here he is enjoying a milkshake in his shades, which he is wearing because it is "too bright!" It is also, for the record, too bright for him in Seattle in the winter when the sun comes out.

Vivian discovered where Granddaddy kept his pen.

Saying goodbye at the airport.