Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Little Christmas Town

My mom has always been one to really welcome whatever season it is into her home.  I remember vividly coming home from college for fall break for the first time and seeing that she had "autumnized" the house in my absence; it was a stark realization of what I was missing back at home, and it made me more homesick than I thought I could be.

But I digress.

My mom is an awesome Christmas decorator by nature, and even though there are small children (who could break just about anything) around now, she still welcomes the Christmas season into every nook and cranny of her home.  Baylor was particularly fascinated by one such decoration this year; he got to help Mom line up her Cat's Meow village on the dining room window sills.  I didn't realize that these little painted blocks of wood could be fun for a child, but that just goes to show you how our imaginations change as we age.  Baylor could see endless fun in this tiny town, and he took full advantage of it.  

It's amazing how someone so small can change how you see an object you've known almost your whole life.

Like Father, Like Son

Weeks ago, Lego-mania took over our house and since then the boys (Bryson and Baylor) have enjoyed a few sessions of Lego building time.  The second session took place upstairs, with Mollie and me present, so I snapped a few pictures of the momentous event.

Mollie, for her part, wanted so badly to join in the fun.  Unfortunately, at one-and-a-half years old, she is just too young yet.  Instead, she got to go crazy with some washable markers and stickers.  While photographing, I got a lot of this ...

... which can be interpreted as, "I have green on my hand, Mom!  Please wash it off!"

The boys barely noticed we girls were there.

Yes, that is a pretty intense Lego set you see there.  It is actually one of Bryson's from when he was a Lego-loving kid!

Mollie really went to town with the stickers and markers, then distracted herself a bit with a coffee filter she found laying around.

Baylor really started getting the hang of counting out the spaces and figuring out where each piece should go.  I'm not sure Bryson could have been more proud or excited.

Without a doubt, these images are likely to be repeated time and time again in the future as Baylor's love of Legos grows and develops.  He even got two of his own Lego sets for Christmas, courtesy of Aunt Christine!  Now we just need to get Mollie to learn to not break them apart the minute she sees them.  *sigh*

All in good time, I suppose.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dad's Birthday (A Month and Three Days Late)

Yup, things have been a little busy around the house and in my life lately, and I have neglected my writing space here on this blog.  (Oh, and in case you were wondering ... it has taken me a week to get this post up and going, hence the miscalculation of time since my dad's birthday.)  Hopefully this post will mark the return to regular blogging ...

Dad's birthday was on November 18th, and we all got together to celebrate it.  Baylor helped me wrap Dad's gifts, though I questioned his choice of wrapping paper.  

I think he liked it because it had words on it; he's never really heard the word "naughty" before in his life, and I actually had to explain the meaning of it to him.  (I have never told him he is "naughty" because I feel like, when you start saying things like that to your child, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  And he's not naughty, so why start saying that in the heat of the moment when it isn't true?)  Regardless of its meaning, he still wanted to use the paper.

He also "helped" me with the ribbon, unspooling as much of it as he could before I got to him.  Thanks, buddy!

We went to Bobarino's in downtown Grand Rapids for dinner.  Mollie had just woken up not long before we left, so she still had puffy baby face.

And Baylor still had bed head.

Baylor got to sit next to the birthday boy.

And had every one's attention for most of the meal.

After they were finished with their meals, Baylor and Grandpa E went for a little walk around the BOB.  I believe it was during this walk that Baylor fell in love with the place; he has repeatedly asked to return there for dinner since that night.

Mollie decided to be a finicky eater that night, so she got to hang back with the ladies.

Back at my parents' house, Baylor helped Grandpa E open his gifts.

And while everyone was focused on the gift opening, Mollie decided to take advantage of the lack of supervision and get into my parents' DVD cabinet.

Then, after her brother decided to run around pants-less, she went over and practiced her self-dressing skills and put them on.

After all the gifts were opened, we decided it was high time for pie time!  (Yup, my dad requested an apple pie in lieu of a traditional birthday cake ... awesome sauce!)  Baylor, lucky guy that he is, got his own piece of pie and his own bowl of ice cream.

We're so lucky to live so close to my parents that we're able to celebrate all sorts of milestones with them.  Happy (very belated) birthday, Dad!  I hope it was a great one and that you have an amazing year to come!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Loves Music, Loves to Dance

Baylor just started dancing more this week, and it makes my heart sing to see him so happy and free.

Sorry this last one is so blurry, but I had to share it ... it was too cute not to!

Have a wonderful, dancing day!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Diagnosis

As you may have noticed, I have been a bit absent lately.  There are many reasons why this happened, from a brief-yet-efficient obsession with Christmas gift shopping to Mollie getting up way too early every morning to getting behind on photo touch ups and organization and letting that overwhelm me.  But another reason is that there is something I have wanted, and needed, to write about but haven't really known how to.  Or even whether I should.  Having thought about it for a couple weeks now, though, I think that talking about it is better in the long run because it will increase awareness and understanding.

What I am putting off saying is that Baylor was recently diagnosed with an early childhood developmental delay; more specifically, were he having difficulty in a school setting, he would have been diagnosed with either Asperger's Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS).  I'm doing all I can, with the time and attention I have, to learn about each of these issues, both a part of the Autism Spectrum, and to figure out what I can do to help him.  Since he was diagnosed by people in our school system, they are providing us with assistance according to Baylor's individualized education program (IEP).  Still, though, I feel like I need to learn more, do more to help him out.  I have had a suspicion that there were issues here for a while, and now that I have an idea of what they might be I both notice them more and feel a sense of urgency in working to help my little man adapt to his surroundings a little better.

Does this diagnosis change how I feel about my son?  Hell no!  Absolutely not.  Is this the end of the world?  Not in the least.  There are so many people who have much bigger problems than this.  But it does give me an awareness of how everyone else might see my son and how his future social interactions may play out.  And because of that I feel moved to action.

I hope to write more on this later as I learn about these syndromes/disorders, but I just wanted to share this with you now.  You who read this blog, how ever many people that may be, are a part of my life and, as such, I wanted to clue you in on what is going on in my life right now.  And to those of you who know and love Baylor, I hope that this provides you with at least a little insight as to his ... quirks, for lack of a better word.  Have patience with him, and hopefully after more research I'll be able to share with you how to better interact with the little man.

I hope all is well with you.  Happy holidays!

Scrumptious Sunday: Homemade Applesauce

Lately I've been into making homemade applesauce.  It tastes WAY better than anything you can buy in the store, and I like the consistency of MY applesauce better than the jarred stuff; it's thick and creamy, almost like pudding or yogurt.

So what do you do to make homemade applesauce?  Well, you take a whole bunch of apples and peel and core them.  (This part of the process is made much easier if you have a contraption that peels, cores, and slices all at the same time.  Like this one!)

(It's even easier if you have your husband do it.)

Once the apples are peeled, sliced, and cored ...

... make sure the majority of the rest of the peel and core are removed, then slice the apples in half for easier cooking.

Put them in a pot that is big enough to allow you to stir them frequently without having to worry about them spilling over the edge.  Add a small amount of unsweetened apple cider (about a cup or so), then start heating it over medium to medium-low heat.  It might take a while doing it this way, but you end up running less of a risk of burning the apples at the bottom.

Stir the mixture frequently, chopping up the apples with your spoon as you go.

Once the apples start to get really mushy, much like in the picture below, get out your immersion blender and start pureeing the apples into applesauce.

Mine is typically the consistency of a thinner pudding with very few chunks, but when you make it yourself your applesauce can be just to your liking.

After getting it to your desired consistency (chunkiness, thickness, etc.), cool it down either in its original pot or by pouring it into glass or ceramic bowls.  We chose the latter because it helps bring the temperature more quickly.

Once it has cooled to about room temperature, you can either put it into Ziploc freezer bags for freezing, or just cover it and store it in your fridge.  If I remember correctly, a bushel of apples made five gallon-sized freezer bags (not entirely filled)

We really enjoy homemade applesauce, much more than Mott's even, and it's awesome to be able to enjoy it all year round!  I hope you enjoy it as well!