Monday, October 31, 2011

An Athlete or a Mathlete?

I know that Aaron Rodgers went to Cal. I also know that before he became a Carolina Panther, last year's Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton, went to Auburn. Christian Ponder was a Seminole before he became a Viking, and his teammate Percy Harvin was a Gator. I know all of this, not because I love football, but because I live with someone who's addicted to college football. When I hop in the car and find the radio dial turned to ESPN Radio, I can guarantee that Craig was the last person to drive it. He spends Draft Day glued to the NFL Channel the same way I'm glued to the news on Election Night.

When we found out we were having a little boy, Craig couldn't have been more excited. One night, though, Craig shocked me when he said, "Amber, I don't really care if Liam's an athlete or a mathlete; I just want him to be involved in something."While Craig and I couldn't be more different in our early interests, I couldn't have agreed with that statement more.

I played sports when I was in elementary and middle school, but I was only involved for the social aspect. I would much rather cheer for my friends from the bench than step up to the plate when the bases were loaded or shoot the game-winning free throw. (Not that I was ever trusted to do either of those things.) I felt far more comfortable being involved in things like Odyssey of the Mind, National History Day, speech, and drama. Yet, if Liam chooses soccer or football or baseball over Destination Imagination, I'll support him no matter what. Being involved in all of those activities taught me a lot about working with others, discovering my strengths, and using those strengths to help our teams succeed.

Don't get me wrong. It's definitely my hope that I raise a well-rounded child. It's my hope that he'll be able to explore a number of things. I hope he finds something he's passionate about. I hope he learns to work well with others. Most of all, I hope he learns a lot about himself.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Monster Mash

With Halloween just around the corner, Liam and I have been enjoying a couple of his newest monster books.

I ordered Noisy Monsters from Amazon because the cover looked cute, and it said it made noise. Once it came in the mail, I was a little disappointed. The noise wasn't nearly as monstrous as I had hoped-- it was more of a squeak, but Liam didn't seem to mind. He liked pushing the button and giggled at the noise it made.

Tickle Monster is a great book about a happy, silly, zany monster who comes from the Planet Tickle. Liam loved the rhyming prose and giggled when I tickled him. You can also order the Monster Mitts. I didn't, but Liam loved the book anyway. It is such a fun, interactive book. Liam loves it when I read it to him.

Aside from reading Tickle Monster, Liam is also spending his time rolling around in his new Frankenstein socks from Aunt Mic and showing off his Halloween costume. 

This is just a sneak peek. There are definitely more pictures on the way.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Let the Wild Rumpus Start

I am a sucker for all things literary, so after spending several weeks searching for a Halloween shirt for Liam, I couldn't resist this Where the Wild Things Are onesie from Etsy. I'm pretty excited about this shop. I'm fairly certain that Liam is going to have to have a "Don't Go Bacon My Heart" onesie for Valentine's Day.

"Check out my stylin' new shirt."
"Okay, Mom, you got it. I'm kind of tired of this picture-taking business."

"Seriously, Mom. I'm tired. That flash is bright. Can we please just put my PJs on?"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Picture Perfect

I started walking at 9 months old. By the time I was five, I was the most uncoordinated member of my tee ball team. It's obvious that being so quick to learn how to walk wasn't very advantageous to me in the long run.

Shortly after Liam was born I donated my copy of What to Expect the First Year. I am sure that some other first-time mom, who is slightly less neurotic than I am will get a lot of good use out of the book. As for myself, I've decided that I'm not going to waste my time studying the book and getting concerned that Liam isn't the most advanced baby on the block. Craig and I do the best we can to provide a stimulating environment--we play with Liam, talk to him, read to him, and give him plenty of tummy time, and there have never really been any concerns about his development.

A few months ago,  I found a coupon for the Sears portrait studio, and I decided I would give them a chance. Since the coupon was set to expire on October 25, I decided to wait until this week, since Liam's only one week away from turning six months old. For some reason, I had the crazy idea in my head that Liam would be sitting, at least in the tripod position in time for the pictures.

As of Liam's four month appointment, his head measured in the 75th percentile, but his weight was only in the 50th percentile. Needless to say, holding his head up for extended periods of time without any assistance is kind of difficult. Liam does really well sitting in the swings at the park, jumping in his Jumperoo, sitting in the Bumbo at Mae's, or on the couch, but for some reason, whenever I try to get him to sit up on his own, he immediately collapses into the pile of pillows around him.

Yesterday, the manager at the portrait studio called to talk to us a little about our expectations for today's session. Sure enough, after I mentioned that Liam was one week shy of turning six months old, her next question was, "Now, is Liam sitting on his own?"

My anxious tendencies immediately kicked in. "This woman works with babies all the time. Maybe he really should be sitting by now." I immediately turned to Google to determine if I should be concerned. Fortunately, I have two months and one week before I should start worrying.

And, just to brag a little bit about my almost-six-month-old, our twenty-something-year-old photographer named Chelsey commented that he was the best behaved baby all day.

Here's a little preview of our shots.

10 Things I Know To Be True

This is another TED-inspired post. Sarah Kay, the founder of Project V.O.I.C.E., suggests that if you share your list of 10 things you know to be true with a group of people, you'll find someone else has something totally contrary, another person has something you've never heard of, and still another has something that makes you think further about something you thought you knew.

I was inspired by her suggestion and decided to come up with my own list of 10 things.

1.      There is so much beauty in the world around us,  if only we take the time to notice it.
2.     Waking up at 5:30 in the morning sucks.
3.     But getting to see these baby blues and dimples before I head to work makes it so much better.

4.     The days are getting way too short.
5.     There are few things better than a fall day curled up on the couch wearing sweatpants and drinking hot cocoa.
6.     I’m fairly certain my baby will teach me far more than I’ll ever teach him.
7.     Knowledge is power. (Thanks Mom for never allowing me to forget that.) 
8.     A handwritten card in your mailbox can make even the worst days better.

9.     I have to remind myself of this all too often.
10. Sometimes, when life gets tough, the best thing we can do is laugh.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spooktacular Treats

One of my coworkers, whose baby is only 6 weeks older than Liam, brought her baby home from the hospital for the first time in nearly three weeks on Monday. It makes me feel grateful for the fact that I have a happy, healthy baby. Due to the medical expenses incurred during the stay in the hospital, we decided to host a bake sale at work today. I think I've blogged before about my lack of domestic skills, so I wanted to make sure that I found a treat that others would enjoy and that I could easily make.

I found this cute idea on PBS Kids.

-Pretzel Rods (I used Snyder's, but any brand would work)
-Candy coating
-Edible marker in black

I picked up my candy coating and edible marker at Michael's. I thought the candy coating worked great, but the edible marker didn't work as well as I would have liked. It rubbed off easily and the writing wasn't as distinct as I would have liked.

1) Melt the candy coating. You can either use a double boiler or a microwave to do this.
2) Dip pretzels in melted candy coating. Use a spoon to spread evenly if necessary.
3) After the candy coating has hardened sufficiently, use an edible marker to draw ghost faces on the pretzels. 

This weekend, I'm linking up to the Fall Followers Fest. I can't wait to check out all of the fun fall ideas.

Where has time gone?

Monday's post got me feeling all nostalgic. As I was browsing through my old pictures, I found this picture of Liam at two weeks old. It was taken when I met up with a couple of the girls I had taught with on the Pine Ridge Reservation. They had brought him this beautiful Star Quilt. I can't believe how tiny he looked buried under that quilt.

Today, you'll find Liam rolling around and playing on his quilt. I can't believe how much he's changed.

On a related note, if you didn't watch Diane Sawyer's Children of the Plains episode on Friday night, it's available on the ABC Official Site. The episode was heartbreaking and made me grateful for all that I had while I was growing up, but it also filled me with hope. The town where I lived and taught has made so much progress in the three years since I left, and I can't wait to see how much the community continues to progress in the coming years.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gus and Ollie: Escape Artists

Last Christmas, Craig and I took Gus and Ollie with us to my parents' house. My parents live on a farm, eighteen miles from the nearest town. Gus and Ollie are farm dogs at heart -- they hate collars, like to roam in the back yard, and love to chase birds and the occasional deer that attempts to sneak into our yard to eat off of our Crab Apple Tree.

Knowing how much they love to roam, we packed their leashes and decided we would keep them on leashes when we took them outside. Craig's kind of a softie, and he started to feel bad for them, knowing how much they hate collars. So, he decided he would let them off their leashes for a little while. Sure enough, they took off with my dad's hunting dog. A few minutes later, my dad's hunting dog returned with no Gus and Ollie. We hopped into my brother's vehicle and searched for them while everybody else was at church. As the sun set, we were sure Gus and Ollie were gone forever.

As Craig and I were driving back to my grandparents' house, where we had been staying, I began to sob. "How are we going to take care of a kid if we can't even keep track of a couple of dogs?" I said.

"Amber, babies can't just run off," Craig said.

Craig was lucky, because the next morning, we got a text from my brother saying that he'd woken up to find Gus and Ollie lounging on my parents' deck.

Gus and Ollie have been a little shy around Liam, but after the current family favorite t-shirt incident, we've been working really hard to make sure they get used to having Liam around. They've come to like Liam so much so that this weekend when Liam and I ventured out on our walk, I turned around to find Gus and Ollie at my feet. They were so proud of themselves. Apparently, they had escaped out the gate that Craig has been promising to fix all summer. Guess what's on Craig's honey-do list for this week?

Monday, October 17, 2011

One Year {and five days} Ago

I had planned to post this on the one-year anniversary of our first ultrasound, which I thought was on October 17. But, alas, when I pulled out the ultrasound pictures to scan, I discovered our first ultrasound was on October 12, and our second ultrasound was on January 17. Maybe, I'll get that post written in time.

This picture is my favorite. Liam was turning summersaults as she snapped this image. I know it's cliched, and I know it's been said before. But it was then that I knew I was in love. Up until this point, the only evidence suggesting that I was carrying a human being inside of me was a little morning sickness and some raging hormones. But, as I saw that little Lima Bean jumping around inside of me, I realized that I was carrying a living, breathing human being inside of me. Regardless of all of my fears, I couldn't be happier.

Today I have a five and a half-month old. He loves to swing, and he can sit on the couch all by himself.  Where has the time gone?

And he wears pretty cute shirts if I do say so myself.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Give a Hoot (About Reading)

For some reason the crisp fall air caused me to get in the mood for a few owl books.

I picked up Owl Moon on our weekly library trip purely for nostalgia's sake. I remember sitting cross-legged on the carpet in my elementary school library as our school librarian read this book to us. I like that it's about father-son bonding time. Liam definitely loves his daddy time, so this was a good book for us.

Owl Babies is a cute little board book I picked up from Better World Books. This is such a sweet story about three owl babies who miss their mama while she's on her night flight. The pictures in this book are also beautiful. It's short and simple, so Liam was captivated the entire time we were reading it.

P.S. I have the best. sister. ever. She gave us this set, which included a daddy, mommy and baby owl. Too cute.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ghoulish Halloween Cards

Liam and I spent our long weekend lounging around the house in our sweats, eating Harvest Soup (butternut squash and apples--delicious) and pears (for Liam -- his favorite so far), and making Halloween cards. 

I originally found this craft on Pinterest. 

Since I don't have a ton of wall space, I decided to make cards for some family members. I happened to have some 4 3/8 X 5 3/4 inch envelopes and some black card stock. All I had to buy was some white Crayola washable paint. 

I cut the card stock into fourths and put the paint on a paper plate. I dipped Liam's feet in the paint and pressed the cards to his feet. Since Liam's kind of a squirmy little boy, they didn't turn out perfectly, but I decided it added character to the cards. This was the perfect craft to do before bedtime -- that way I only got paint on my pajama pants and put Liam in the bath tub as soon as they were done. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's the Simple Things

When I first revealed that I was pregnant, I think a number of my friends were rightfully concerned. I truly care about kids. I wouldn't have become a teacher if I didn't, but there's a reason I teach high school. I never really was a touchy-feely, cuddly kind of person. Last year, a coworker asked me to tutor her third grade daughter. Then, one day, at the end of a tutoring session, the girl hugged me. I was completely shocked. As a result, I think some of my friends and family members were surprised by my parenting style.

I love spending time with Liam, cuddling on the couch on Saturday mornings, watching him gaze at his fingers or his toes. I love how excited he gets when I pick him up from daycare.  I love playing with him on the floor and singing silly songs.  I guess it's the simple things that make me love being a mom.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Being in Love in Paris for the First Time After You've Had Three Double Espressos

Just after writing yesterday's post, I discovered the following video on TED. If you aren't familiar with TED already, you should definitely check it out. The videos are interesting, and the fact that they're usually less than 20 minutes long is great for my attention span. I can turn them on while I'm doing dishes or folding laundry or trying to make a meal, so it's great for my lifestyle.

In this video, Alison Gopnik talks about research on how babies think. It includes a really cute video of a four-year-old, and at the end she describes being a baby as being like "being in love in Paris for the first time after you've had three double espressos." I think this is such a great description. Sometimes, when I look at Liam, I'm a little envious. He's intrigued by so many things that I consider mundane -- things like changing the toilet paper roll, a bird flying over our heads, and typing on my laptop. It must be amazing to experience all of those things for the first time.

Monday, October 10, 2011

My Curious Little Cutie

I can't help but love how curious Liam is. When we step outside the doors of our house, he immediately becomes intrigued by the sights and sounds. He looks around, trying to soak in the world around him.

I love when we go new places, too. He gets so excited, as he looks around at all of the new people, places, and sights around him.

I don't know when it happened exactly, but over the course of the last month or so, Liam became fascinated with his hands and feet. On Saturday night, as we were watching the football game, I looked over and saw him watching his hands as he curled his fingers. I couldn't help but smile.

Occasionally, my family and friends will joke about Liam being "my little professor." I love that he likes to explore and learn, and I hope that he continues to love learning as much as he does now.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Name Game

Craig and I have very different tastes in names, but surprisingly after flipping through the baby name book I checked out from the library, we were able to settle on Liam without too much of a battle.

Initially, Craig suggested Seamus.

"Well, at least he'll be the only Seamus in his kindergarten class," I said.

I wasn't completely opposed to the name, but after running it past a few people, I decided we should reconsider. My office mate informed me that Seamus was the name of her neighbor's cat, my friend immediately said, "That's a great middle name," my mom booed, and Craig's mom was not so thrilled with the choice either. So, we started reconsidering.

I started throwing out names, and Craig was opposed to most of them. When I suggested Harrison, Craig's immediate response was, "What? Are we going to make his middle name Richard?" Yeah, yeah, you get the gist.

We finally decided on Liam Edward, a name that we both liked. (Edward is Craig's Grandfather's name.)

Seamus is still in the running for Liam's little brother's name. Hey, at least it didn't show up on the list of the Top 10 Baby Names Guaranteed to Get Your Kid Beaten Up. (But, let's all hope for a little sister if/when Liam's younger sibling comes along.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Little Monkey

It's a good thing I didn't have a little girl. Otherwise, I'm pretty sure I would spend a large portion of my paycheck on Etsy. When I finally found this Sock Monkey Hat for my little boy, I couldn't resist. 

"Yep, my t-shirt is my new favorite teething toy."

"Check these babies out. It's worth the slobber on my t-shirt."

"Mmm, leaf." (Alternate caption: "I have a horrible mother who was more interested in capturing my new hat on camera than stopping me from shoving these leaves in my mouth.")

More teeth shots.


Black and White and Read All Over

No, I'm not going to be reviewing the newspaper today, but I am going to talk about a couple of black and white books that Liam and I like to read.

I had shamefully little knowledge about newborn development before I got pregnant with Liam. When I first read that the high contrast of black and white images are best for baby's vision development, I immediately ordered Tana Hoban's Black on White, and shortly before Liam was born, I ordered Baby Animals: Black and White.

From the time Liam was very young, I noticed his newborn googly eyes trying to focus on the images in these books. Personally, I prefer the Baby Animals book over Black on White. I found myself wondering what some of the images in Hoban's book were supposed to be. Is that a girl or a doll? A cookie or a cracker? At two weeks old, Liam didn't really seem to care that I didn't know what the images were. He just liked looking at the pictures and listening to my voice.

I recently picked up Look Look!, another black and white book by Peter Linenthal.  It has words and splashes of red. I also liked that it had tips for sharing books with your baby inside the front cover, and it mixes both black on white and white on black images. Look Look! is by far my favorite of our three black and white books.

Monday, October 3, 2011

10 Habits of Highly Organized People

I am fairly certain that I had the messiest desk of any student in my grade throughout most of my elementary school days, and when I moved to high school, I'm pretty sure I had one of the messiest lockers. When my Mom would ask me to clean my room, I would just sit on my bed, not knowing where to begin. It was funny, because in all most other aspects of my life, I was kind of a perfectionist. So, when I read habit number two in this article, I could definitely relate.

In fact, it inspired me to go on a bit of a cleaning binge. On one August day, I loaded up my little white Kia Sportage and tried to purge a few unnecessary items.

I've definitely gotten better at organizing/decluttering since I've gotten older. I've found that finding charities that mean something to you can help with the process of donating. But, there are still a few things I could definitely work on:

1) Separating the emotion from the possession. Craig occasionally accuses me of being a hoarder. For several years, I held onto a pink flamingo dip bowl that my sister gave me. When I called her and asked her if she would feel bad if I donated it, she just giggled. I took that as a "no."

2) Never label anything miscellaneous.
Oops. This was a genuine attempt to declutter during the nesting days. 

3) Walk away from bargains. They're just so tempting, though. Right?