Thursday, November 25, 2010


For the longest time, Baylor was freaked out by the horse you could ride at Meijer, our local grocery store.  I mean, he could easily walk by it and such, but if you tried to put the kiddo on it he went ballistic.  So I stopped trying to get him to like it and it just became something we'd walk by.

I decided to try him on it again recently, and now he loves it.  And now it's something we can't just walk by.  Ah, such is life.

The thing is, it only costs a penny.  Seriously, a penny!  For over a minute's worth of fun, you only have to pay a penny.  How cool is that?!

Such a happy fella!  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"You Wanna Go Play Records?"

This is the refrain so often sung by my son upon entering my parents' house.  He runs jiggle-cheeked into the house, practically begging to go into the basement with a willing adult to turn on the jukebox and play some records.  If my dad is there, he usually obliges at one point or another, and it has become another one of their things.

Who knew something that looks like this could be so appealing to a two year-old?

While the music plays, he plays with other toys in the basement, the dart board, the pool table ... whatever strikes his fancy.

But, as each song winds down he runs to the jukebox and anticipates the arm moving, the wheels turning, the next record being selected.

He waits and watches.

Grandpa E pushes the buttons ... 123 is a common choice.  Billy Joel's "Innocent Man" gets played at least once a visit.

The fascination never goes away.

And much to my dad's chagrin, Baylor often pulls the records out himself.  This time he let my dad help.

Oh, and when asked what he wants for Christmas, he typically replies, "Christmas records."  I swear, the kiddo is an old soul or a DJ in the making.

Mollie's First Trip to Birch Run and Bronner's

The last time I went to Birch Run was when I first suspected I might be expecting ... remember this and this?

Well, I finally made it back to Birch Run, and this time the little lady was in tow.  She seemed to enjoy the experience enough.

She even dozed off in the dressing room of Banana Republic ... the same dressing room where I first became aware of her presence.

She was much more lively in the Ann Taylor dressing room, inspecting the clothes with Oma.

I purchased a few cute tops with my birthday money, then we headed off to Bronner's.  For those of you who aren't familiar, Bronner's is the world's largest Christmas store, located in Frankenmuth, Michigan.  Here is a view of the South Entrance.

This elf greeted us on the way in.  I love how borderline kitschy everything is here!

See ... I wasn't kidding!

To say this store is chaotic is to be understating things quite a bit.  But, even with ADD dragging my attention in every which direction, I still love this store!  There is something about it ... I don't know.  Mollie seemed to like it too, but she was definitely distracted while we were there.

So much to look at!

Seriously, the store is floor-to-ceiling Christmas!  There is the selling space below, then little vignettes above of Christmas scenes (many of which you can actually purchase).

Mollie kept looking at me like, "Can you believe this place?!"

Everywhere you look, there are ornaments or decorations.  Some of which are quite traditional ...

... and some of which are not.

Of course, they are pretty well aware of how close Christmas is and don't mind displaying it prominently.  I, on the other hand, was a bit freaked out at how few days there are left until Christmas is upon us.  Whew!

It makes me wonder if this would be what the North Pole would look like ...

While we waited for Oma to bring the car around, we snapped a little picture in the South Entrance lobby.

We had a very fun day, just the girls.  (Baylor stayed at home with Daddy and Grandpa E having fun and doing some bingo shopping!)

Eight Months Old Already?!

It's hard to believe, but my little girl is eight months old already ... can you believe it?!  She is growing up so fast and her personality is developing more and more everyday.

She, for example, won't do anything she doesn't absolutely want to do.  Not ready to eat?  Lips will stay tightly shut.  Not ready to sleep?  She will scream and cry ... wait her out, just try.  Not ready to sit down?  She'll lock her hips and legs into standing position ... even if that means you end up having to lay her down.  And the girl loves to stand, so it's happening more and more lately.

She has pulled herself up to standing once recently, and I feel that this accomplishment is not too far off from being a regular event.  Seriously, she loves to stand.

She also loves to sit up, though, and does it more and more easily everyday.

She has a bit of stranger anxiety right now.  And by stranger I mean anyone that isn't me.  If I'm around, she can be coaxed into hanging with someone entirely new.  And if I'm not around, other familiar faces will do - Dad, Oma, etc.  But if I'm around, chances are the little lady will want me.  It's exhausting, but I know it's just a phase right now and that makes it easier to deal with.

She loves her brother ... LOVES him I tell you!  The instant she sees him she lights up.  She knows where his monitor is and if she hears him stirring from the night or a nap, she gives me a look like, "We have to go get him!  Now, lady!  He's up!  He's up!  He's up!  Woo hoo!"  He has even tackled her a few times and she just smiles away at him; the kid is golden to her.

She's got two teeth (bottom front), but she's working on more.  I have a feeling about four more teeth are about to emerge from her adorable little gums, and that's making sleep a little tough these days.  We've had several nights of bad sleep, punctuated here and there by a few nights where she can sleep right through.

She doesn't really crawl yet, but she is certainly mobile.  Right now she does a combination of rolls and awkward pushes with her legs and reaches with her arms to get herself around.  We're wondering if she's just going to skip crawling altogether and focus her energy on learning to walk, since she seems so bound and determined to get up and go with her brother.

She eats cereal for every meal, plus a Gerber 1 fruit or veggie, and she seems to like them all now.  Puffs, however, are a different story; she'll pick one up, look at it, and bang it on the table, but if you try to put it in her mouth ... well, her lips are sealed.  Occasionally I have snuck one in here and there and she always looks at me like, "What in the heck is this thing?!  Are you kidding me?"  Because of this, one would ordinarily assume she isn't ready for table food, but when anyone eats around her she looks at you like you are totally betraying her by not giving her any.  She'll reach for chips, your glass, anything in your hand that might be food and try to consume it herself.  Give her a puff, though, and she'll look at you like you're trying to poison her.

She's certainly a funny little girl and we are so enjoying getting to know her!

One Morning ...

The night we took Christmas pictures, I dressed the kiddos up in their Christmas pajammies (as Baylor calls them) and snapped a few pictures.  Mollie's have a gingerbread man on them (and were returned to the store because the wrists and ankles were so tight she wouldn't stop fidgeting), and Baylor's have a nutcracker on them and say "I'm a crackup"!  

It was so nice to see them all Christmas-ed out and happy to be headed off to dreamland.

In the morning, Baylor woke up and I went up to get him.  And found him like this.

Apparently, he had tried to take his top off during the night at some point and had gotten it stuck in a shrug position.

Then he tried to take it all the way off.  This is the face he makes when something is stuck.

He then seemed to resign himself to the fact that his hands would be bound this way for all of eternity.  It was super cute!

As usual, Mollie thinks anything her brother does is golden.  Ooh, and she thought the sunshine streaming in his window was awesome, too!

"Ahh, big brother!"

It's never a dull moment with these two, I tell ya!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Couch Time with Grandpa E

My dad, Grandpa E, and Baylor have developed a little routine on the couch.  When they hang out together, the cushions get moved and jostled, and there is plenty of laughter in the air.

Baylor likes to play "April Fools", which is basically peekaboo.  Then, when that gets a little old, Dad will close his eyes and wait for Baylor to properly say, "Open your eyes."  He's getting there ... pronouns are tough when you're two.

I love the way they both get goofy with each other ... it's good for them both.

Dad makes a "Baylor sandwich".

And Baylor always tries to wriggle free.

Lately, Baylor has been saying, "Hold you."  Which is basically him asking you to hold him and snuggle.  It's impossible not to oblige.

And, of course, there is the Grinch.

I swear, each time Baylor's throne gets higher and higher.

The couch is their space, and I'm so glad they have it.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quick 'N Hearty Vegetable Barley Soup

This recipe has been adapted, by my mom, from the back of the Quaker Quick Barley box.  I have had it a bunch at her house, and I got to make it for the first time yesterday - with her help, of course, as the kiddos wait for nothing.  Here's what my lunch looks like today!

Okay, here's the recipe ... it makes a bunch and stays good in the refrigerator for about a week.  My mom hasn't tried freezing this yet, but I'm hoping to once I get our freezer under control (and/or get another freezer).  Enjoy!

Quick 'N Hearty Vegetable Barley Soup

Makes 8 (1 cup) servings (according to the box)

1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used a handful of dehydrated white onions, and rehydrated them before adding)
1 clove garlic (or about 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder)
5 cups liquid (chicken, vegetable, or beef broth: 3 cups, tomato juice: 2 cups)
14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes (unsalted)
3/4 cup barley
diced potato (my mom adds one, I added five medium/small potatoes - we both use Yukon gold and leave on the skin)
1 bag frozen veggies (steam in microwavable bag)
1 Bay leaf
1/2 tsp. Basil

In a large 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, brown meat and drain if necessary.  Add onion and garlic.  Add broth and potatoes - make sure potatoes are mostly covered by broth, adding more broth if necessary; cook until potatoes are tender.  Steam vegetables in the microwave according to package instructions, then add to pot.  Add all other ingredients except tomato juice and diced tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Add tomato juice and diced tomatoes.  Cook for 10 minutes.

Also, if you don't eat it immediately, you may want to add some chicken broth to it again when you go to reheat it later on, as the barley tends to absorb a bit of the moisture.

Note:  It is very important that you NOT add any tomato products to the soup until everything else is cooked to your liking.  According to my mom, tomatoes stop the cooking process.  Fascinating, huh?

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I do!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our Friday In Kid-Land

As has become the norm, we spent last Friday night in as a family of four.  Where once my husband and I may have gone on a date or run errands, we now find ourselves in kid-land.  Where snuggles are plentiful.

And little boys grab hold of their mama's camera, cover the flash with a finger or two, and take a self-portrait.

Where baby sisters like to steal blankets.

And little boys tackle their dads and shove their butts in said-dad's face.  (Yup, that's my husband's head in between Little B's legs!)

In no time, kid-land will become tween-land and I won't even be able to tackle my son for a hug.

And those beautiful blue eyes will roll at me more often than they'll sparkle.

But, for now, faux bread will be slobbered upon.

Blue "eggs" will be cooked in the frying pan.

And our little man will jump on his daddy.

We spend our days in kid-land ... and that's okay with me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Where Are My Terrific Twos?!

Seriously, where are the terrific twos I told myself were going to come on September 6th?  Today has been brutal with Baylor.  No, he's not a tantrum kinda kid; if he does throw a fit it usually lasts less than a minute - knock on wood.  But he's been trying today ... very trying.

So I'm attempting to find the terrific amid the chaos.  

We had our first outing today without the infant car seat.  Can you believe that?!  Mollie, my little girl, has outgrown her infant car seat!  It boggles the mind, really.  Anyhow, going out with a two year-old and a seven month-old without the aid of an infant car seat is tough.

*sigh*  Really tough.

I had to leave Mollie in her high chair while I got Baylor dressed and chased him around the house.  Then after I got them hustled out to the car, Baylor crawled in on Mollie's side while I got her strapped in ... but it took longer than usual and he climbed into the front seat and started pushing buttons.  That wasn't really a big deal until he pushed the button for her door and it started to slide shut on me!  I pushed the door back and got it to stop, but he pushed the button again and shrieked with laughter.  I was pretty much done getting her in, so I let it slide shut, stormed to the driver's side door, and opened it ... letting Baylor tumble out into my arms.  He bonked his head on the way down, so I had to be patient and calm and try to get him to understand that horsing around can get you hurt - yeah, I'm sure that sank in.  We had to make it to the pediatrician's office by 11:50, and by 11:49 we were about twelve minutes away.  I called to tell them we'd be late, and they notified me that my appointment could be given away if I was ten minutes late.  *sigh*  Okay.

We made it there with only seconds to spare, and I still had to somehow get them out of the car and into the office.  The whole way there I had tried to work it out in my head how I was going to manage this - "Take him out first then go around and get her.  No, no, take her out first then ... but where am I going to put her while I unbuckle him?!  Okay, what if I just have the doc come out to the car?  That sounds good to me."  I ended up taking him out first and begging him to keep his back against the (so very dirty) car door while I got her out of her car seat.  That lasted all of ten seconds, and then he was dashing about all around me.  I managed to keep him close to me while I got Mollie out, but before I knew it, every mother's nightmare was occurring right before my eyes: my son ran giggling into the parking lot!  With my daughter in my arms and the diaper bag slung over my shoulder, I dashed after him yelling and screaming - which only served to make him laugh more.  Even when I finally caught up to him at the curb and started talking sternly to him, squeezing his little body probably harder than I should have, he laughed and laughed.


The appointment went well enough, but because we got there late it took longer than I had anticipated and we had to head home right afterwards.  We had lunch (imagine peanut butter and jelly everywhere) and then settled down to read some comics.  Have I mentioned that Baylor loves comics?

The little dude loves the comics!  I love them too, except that the ink tends to get everywhere and the humor is always over his head.  Oh, and he likes to read the same ones over and over and over again.  One day it'll be Baldo, the next Peanuts.  Today he seemed focused on the ones where someone was dealing with leaves, either jumping into a pile of wet leaves (Garfield), having to rake a yard full of leaves (Baldo), or wondering where to purchase a leaf pile (Peanuts).  After reading a few, I told him it was nap time, causing him to kick and cry.  It's a surprise to him everyday that we have to take a nap ... shouldn't this be routine by now?

He wouldn't even go up the stairs the correct way, he wanted to go up backwards.  So I carried both of them simultaneously upstairs and got them into his room for story time.  I asked him to choose two books - like I do everyday - and he chose to hide in his closet, giggling.  I announced that I was going to choose the books since he wasn't around, which usually makes him scurry over to resume his duties, but he stayed in his closet.  After choosing the books, I extracted him from his closet and sat him down.  Unhappy with my choice in reading material, he ran over to his book bag and started to pick it up.

"Not heavy!" he said, straining.  "It's ... not ... heavy!  Ughhhh."

He put it down, looked at me, then picked it up again, his arms barely reaching around the tote, and once again groaned, "It's ... not ... heavy!"

Just then, the tote upturned and all the books spilled out onto the floor.  Baylor looked down and laughed, of course.  Then, he jumped belly first onto the pile and exclaimed, "Jump into pile of leaves!"  He smiled and I couldn't help but smile, too.

And there's the terrific.

He even helped me pick up the books, too!  I'd put one in, then he'd put one in.

Maybe the key to getting through the twos is not to think of them as any one thing but rather an amalgam of a bunch of T's: terrific, terrible, trying, tiring, and so on.  It's just important to focus on the terrific.