Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Meet Eleanor Thessalia! Her name & mini birth story

Our sweet little girl arrived yesterday! Her name Eleanor means shining light and we love the way it matches Luke’s name, which also means light. Now we have two little lights to love!

We also like the connection between shining light and the Christmas season of Eleanor’s birth. This is the time when we celebrate God’s gift of light to the world in Christ, and so we like that her name captures a piece of that most momentous birth too.

Her middle name Thessalia is in honor of Erik’s mother and great-grandmother. We are delighted to be able to link her to these two very talented and caring women, and we also like that their name reminds us of the two New Testament letters to the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 5:23-24).

While her name matches her brother’s closely, her arrival couldn’t have been more the opposite. Luke was over two pounds heavier and it took almost three hours of pushing before he was born, which happened 5 hours after I reached 10 cm! In hopes of avoiding that, Eleanor was induced (with pitocin) on her due date. She arrived only fifteen minutes after I’d been pronounced 8 cm, coming out during just one dramatic contraction which included my water breaking! Needless to say we are all feeling much more chipper following her delivery and are most thankful that both babies arrived perfectly healthy.

We had some wonderful friends from church watch Luke for us last night, and now Erik is home with him for a bit before they both come back to the hospital to take me and Eleanor home. We can’t wait for Luke to meet his sister then!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Luke’s partners in crime

Recently we busted a crime ring. Their hideout was Luke’s bedroom and their illicit activities took place at approximately 8:30 pm each night. Take note of the ringleader:

For the past few weeks, Luke’s ability to sleep through the night had deteriorated drastically. While a full night of zzz’s had previously been the norm, he had begun waking up once an hour or more in an inconsolable state, beginning around 1 am. We tried all sorts of measures and finally targeted his bedtime. The little boy would seem fairly peaceful when we put him in his crib around 8 pm. But then we would hear his happy talking noises until 10 pm or later! Since he was fairly quiet and happy, we didn’t see it as a problem until he started crying around 10, and then he would need a little reassurance before he would finally fall asleep.

Well, eventually it dawned on us that staying up too late in his crib must be making him so overtired that he wasn’t able to settle back to sleep during the night. But we weren’t sure how to encourage him to fall asleep sooner. After all, when we left him we made sure he had his night light on, his shushing machine playing softly, and his favorite blankets and stuffed animals at his side. Wait! The stuffed animals! They must be the main participants in all the animated talking and moving around that we heard from the living room. So Erik decided to try removing them from Luke’s crib.

When he walked in to do so, he found Luke jumping Mr. Chipmunk from wall to wall – a red-handed arrest. Once the animals were removed, Luke has settled down to sleep in just 10 minutes or so and is back to sleeping through the night! Who would have known that such sweet looking toys would be criminal influences on our child? Perhaps that chipmunk does have a suspicious look to him now that we think about it. Daytime activities only from now on for him!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Luke’s first snowman

Last week brought the season’s second snowfall (read about the first one here), coating the grass and even the roads with an inch or two of snow! First Luke monitored the accumulation…

And then he got ready to face the elements!

Erik made a marvelous snowman and I added accessories. Don’t you love the pink cheeks? All that took was a spritz of food coloring tinted water, though I’d suggest using a proper spray bottle so that it might be less apt to seep down Frosty’s face…

Luke’s admiration of our handiwork didn’t last long, soon he was back to munching on handfuls of snow

and snowmobiling. Looks like Luke should have opted for the winter package on his cozy coupe -- but he did get the CB antenna!

Despite his soggy pants and gloves, Luke would confidently reply ‘O!’ whenever asked if he was cold. So a few tears were shed when it was time to go inside. But once he was cozy with an ‘ibbit” (Lukespeak for blanket) on the couch, he was all smiles once again.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas to me!

Erik gave me the perfect gift this Christmas and strategically completed it a few weeks early. For years, jackets left on the couch, a pile of shoes by the door, and bags set on the table have been my nemeses! But without an easy place to store these outlaws, I’ve had little success in keeping them in line. But now a new sheriff is in town, and we have a mini-mudroom in our entry to corral these offending articles!

I bought the bench online and Erik used paint leftover from our cabinets to give it a crisp white finish. He also made a matching hook rack. I love the time-worn dark grey finish on these vintage hooks, found on ebay.

Then we picked up a few baskets for shoes from Target and our entry miscellany was corralled! Now there’s even room to add another little person’s shoes, coats, and bags to our home. Thank you Erik, it’s just what I wanted for Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our baby Luke

The end of Luke’s tenure as our only baby feels a little bittersweet. We can’t wait to meet our already-adored little girl, but I don’t entirely relish how a baby sister will bump our sweet Luke out of the baby role in our family. Both in our eyes and his own, it will suddenly be clear that he’s light years away from a newborn and we’ll all start to see him as more of a big kid and maybe even a little helper. I know I’ll miss the luxury of time I have to spend playing with and caring for him now, noting his every cute phrase and action.

So here are some things about Luke right now that I just love.

  • How he says his name – ‘ook’.
  • His astonishing sense of direction. It took me some time to get to know my way around the curving streets of our neighborhood, but Luke already has a surefire sense for which way you need to turn to get to the playground. If we’re out on a walk and we don’t make the turns that will take us there, he instantly starts to whine and cry!
  • The way he bends over with one hand on his head to sign reindeer when he wants us to take him out to see the neighbors’ Christmas lawn ornaments.
  • The cute way he kicks his stuffed soccer ball around the house.
  • How he knows the difference between a wheel and a tire thanks to his daddy.
  • The way he rocks his whole body when he nods yes. It is so earnest and eager and adorable!

  • How he tap dances like Elmo on his ‘the Best of Elmo’ DVD. (I also love the eighties-style ‘Five’ song on that DVD!)
  • How he’s quick to say ‘shhhh’ when he sees an animal or person sleeping. Hopefully this bodes well for him respecting little sister’s naptimes!
  • How he thinks Albuquerque is full of fire trucks because of all the red public transit buses. When I try to describe why they aren’t fire trucks, I realize that the difference is rather subtle if you can’t read!
  • How he waves bye and blows kisses without prompting, which is especially entertaining when those kisses are received by the tough guys on the sanitation truck who aren’t quite sure how to respond.
  • How he tells me ‘it’ while pointing to a spot on the carpet when he wants me to sit and play with him.

It’s so much fun to see the world in new ways through his happy, inquisitive, active exploration of it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas wonders

Thanks to our baby girl (due in less than two weeks!), we’ll be spending Christmas in our own home, a first for us as a couple. We also recently hosted two Christmas parties and a few small get-togethers, which adds up to an unprecedented dose of decorating incentive. But most motivational of all is our precious Luke boy who is just enthralled by Christmas lights and symbols!

Our tree definitely got the Luke treatment. After considering buying a real one, we opted to pull out our skinny artificial standby to avoid policing him on de-needling. Then we added colored lights, which he delights to identify, and used non-breakable ornaments exclusively. We love our fun, stress-free tree and the hours of toddler entertainment it has provided.

Luke ‘helped’ put up the tree and add lights, but we waited until he was in bed to decorate further (is that cruel?). The next morning he was so enraptured that he tried to give each ornament a kiss!

He was also pretty delighted when he saw the reindeer on his stocking. But his eyes really widened when I said there would be presents inside on Christmas!

We love our nativity set, but keep it up high until Luke gets a little more trustworthy with his ‘gentle’ skills. In the meantime we have a terrific fisher-price version that we can use to talk about the Christmas story with him.

Things are looking pretty Christmas-ready in our house, now all we need is our much-awaited Christmas gift! When will we bring her home I wonder?!

PS: I love to make and give these Danish heart ornaments at Christmas time. All it involves is folding paper (here’s a diagram and directions). I made this set with watercolor paper which gives them a more sophisticated texture, but it’s a little easier to make them with smooth cardstock since that weaves more easily. You can find lots of additional weaving designs online.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Monkey boy

This has become a frequent scene underneath our kitchen counter. Sometimes it’s Luke’s way of releasing frustration, sometimes it’s a performance to earn our applause, and other times it just seems to be baby body building. We love how the scene captures some of his sweet and active munchkin personality (just as long as our countertop is up for the challenge!).

Since posting about Luke’s speech patterns earlier this week, I keep thinking of additional Luke-isms. So here are three more of my favorites… ‘ah-joo’ = juice; ‘ee-up’ = clean up; ‘ake-ooo’ = thank you; and ‘bel-bo’ = Elmo, often followed by an enthusiastic ‘a-a-a-a’ rendition of the Elmo’s World song.

He also says ‘ee-po’ for Home Depot. He will even cooperate with a diaper change and getting dressed when a trip to this store is on the line. The forklifts captivate him, and his whole body stiffens with glee when their beep, beep sound starts up. He simply can’t contain his excitement until we go spectate and he shines when the operators wave at him. The moving animals and other lawn ornaments in the Christmas section are another big hit with our Luke boy. Most nights we bundle up before bedtime to walk down our block and look at the holiday lights already out on display in neighbors’ yards. What a magic it brings to Christmas to see Luke experience pieces of it for the first time! 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Master bedroom reveal!

For so long our bedroom was a depressing place. None of the furniture matched, in fact much of it wasn’t even intended for a bedroom – we had a desk, buffet, bookcase, and toddler toys all vying for floorspace. We lacked many standard bedroom items such as night stands, a mirror, and sufficient storage. But the worst part was that it was always a mess, clearly serving as the overflow zone for the rest of the house’s junk, and lacking proper storage to ever be neatly organized. I would shut the door when we had guests and cringe if anyone peeked inside!

Slowly, we’ve transformed it. I’ll fill you in on the main stages:

1. We painted the walls. I think it’s recommended that you decide on all your furnishings and decorative accents and then paint to match, but since I hated the old color and a can of paint is a cheap change, we started there. Since the room opens directly into our living room, I picked a deep, saturated teal because I wanted a contrast in color to help it feel more like a separate space. Wee had Home Depot color match Benjamin Moore’s ‘azores’.

2. Window treatments. We traded out the old stained vertical blinds (that would flap unsettlingly whenever we opened the windows) for white faux-wood horizontal blinds at Home Depot. We love the look, price and sturdiness of these blinds, plus we got them at deep discount due to minor damage. They keep the room cozier and more private by blocking the top half of the window while letting in light and air on the bottom. They also work well with two sheer curtain panels that I bought in high school, thinking that they’d be lovely curtains for my house someday and/or a great egyptian costume! Now they’ve served me well on both counts!

3. Erik made us a bed. I loved Pottery Barn’s Riley bed but not its price tag. So I found one of the Riley slipcovers slightly used on ebay and Erik used its measurements to construct a headboard that holds it perfectly, just like the PB one. Then he made an extra-high platform bedframe, which allows for a line-up of storage bins underneath. The bins and the frame’s unfinished  2x4’s are completely hidden thanks to a pretty 18” tailored bedskirt, also an ebay find.

4. We found good homes for a few furniture items that we just couldn’t make work together. This might have been the hardest step, but made such a difference! Our house is 1400 square feet with no basement, virtually no attic storage, and Erik is very territorial when it comes to the garage. So finding new homes was our only option for things that couldn’t work within our floor plan.

5. We flew to Phoenix to shop at Ikea buy a car. We flew in, bought Solveig, and then drove across town to Ikea with a completely empty vehicle to fill with furniture! It was actually my first time ever at Ikea and I do wish there was one closer, or that we hadn’t been rushed by a cranky baby and a looming eight-hour drive back to ABQ that afternoon. Nonetheless, I had a glorious time selecting two nightstands and a wardrobe, all of which matched, for our bedroom. The wardrobe only came with a few shelves because it was meant to store hanging clothes, but Erik crafted plywood shelves so that it now accommodates a slew of plastic bins.

  6. I bought a Lane cedar chest on Craig’s List. The date of manufacture printed on the bottom is in the 1940s! It makes me wonder what sort of history it has seen, and I just love all the storage it provides at the base of our bed. Right now it’s holding gifts that our east coast Santas have dropped off early, my own Christmas shopping to date, and holiday decorations.

7. My mom found the perfect bedside lamps and shades for us on clearance at Target. I love these Thomas O’Brien lamps and the black shades that break up all the white in the room and stand up to the dark walls.

8. On a walk in our neighborhood, we found a huge antique mirror marked down to $30 at an estate sale. It brightens and opens the room wonderfully, and holds its own against the space’s other big pieces.

9. Then I just framed a couple photos and made up the bed with new euro shams.

10. And here is the finished room!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving snow!

Well, we didn’t manage to get Luke into his Thanksgiving costumes this year. I had the best intentions, but by the time we deliberated over paint colors using our stockpile of sample cans, went to the grocery store, and made and ate a turkey dinner, we were all starting to run out of steam. I broached the topic of putting on the ‘deerskin’ vest with the little brave but decided not to push his evening mood from fragile to critical.

Despite his tired ending, the little boy had been in high spirits that morning as he set off to explore the freshly fallen snow!

Without any prompting, he got right to work digging his car out. Just think what he could do with a real snow shovel!

There was one minor point of confusion however. He would empty each shovelful into the trunk of his coupe. We’ll have to be sure to clear that up before we let him shovel out our car.

Then he began to push it free of the ice… and picked up speed!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

O, Ommy!

We have a little bit of a love-hate relationship with Luke’s verbal communication skills. He has never been a talker, waiting a while before saying his first words and still only reluctantly resorting to speech as a mode of communication. He also tends to omit the first sound of words, thereby lessening their impact and often muddling his meaning altogether. Often we ask him to ‘use words’ with no intelligible response, leaving him frustrated that I won’t fulfill his demand and me aggravated by his whining.

But once I finally figure out his way of saying a word, I grow attached to his quirky reinventions. For a long time I wondered if he had some sort of color blindness because he would say all of his colors reliably except for orange which was ‘juh” – green right? But eventually I realized that green is ‘geen’ and ‘juh’ is orange according to his pattern of removing the first sound, only this time he took off two sounds.*

Only a couple months ago did Luke begin to use the word mommy regularly. Before he would cry for me with a ‘ma-ma’ once in a while, but mostly he would just cry or whine and assume that I knew that the noise was for my benefit. But now when he wants me he calls out, ‘ommy!’ Sometimes Erik tries to correct his pronounciation, emphasizing the ‘'mmmuh’ sound, but I’m quick to interrupt and assure Luke that ‘ommy’ is the perfect way to say my name. There are plenty of mommies out there, I’d like to enjoy my elite ‘ommy’ status just a little while longer, thank you!

Fortunately, Luke has also yet to become a child who uses the word ‘no’ frequently, with anger, or even intelligibly! My parents joke that it’s because he never hears it and Erik likes to think it was reinforced by his consistent use of the phrase ‘not for you’ as a no substitute for Luke. Myself, I would like to think that it’s because our boy has such a contented temperament, although I’m not sure how that quality stacks with his whiny fits on the floor. Nevertheless I think we can all agree that his cuteness plus his pattern of removing a word’s first sound leaves him with the sweetest ‘no’ that there could be! If you ask him a question he’d like to decline, he simply shakes his head sweetly and says ‘oh’!

* Need a Lukan lexicon for colors? Red: ‘eye’, blue: ‘boo’, white: ‘ite’, yellow: ‘ellow’, black: ‘app’, purple: ‘buh-ple’, pink: ‘pin-tuh’, brown: ‘bown’.  He still is resistant to saying the names of most animals, though he will gladly let you know what sounds they make!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ship ahoy!

Tomorrow brings our maiden voyage in Thanksgiving dinner preparation! We tried inviting some friends over and considered going to a friend’s house, but due to travel, colds and Luke’s naptime,  none of those scenarios quite worked out, so I’m planning dinner for three. While I still need several items from the grocery store and have yet to start cooking, we’re set to sail on the tablescape front. In fact, I had the table set so far in advance that tonight Luke was delighted to host dinner for the three of us at his play table.

I was inspired by a little pilgrim craft (instructions here) I saw in the Thanksgiving issue of Martha Stewart Living. I added a few sea creatures to our ship scene since Luke loves his ocean books, and then marked the boat with three special initials and a pilgrim hat. Don’t worry, the candles are lit by LEDs so the risk of ship fires is low.

Of course my beloved turkeys needed a little limelight too. And who knows how we would beat out all the competition for our seats without namecards!

Next time, especially if guests are coming, I’ll be sure to have the food prep started a little sooner. But since it’s just the three of us we’re having a very simplified Thanksgiving spread. We’re also hoping to continue Luke’s dress-up tradition – bringing out his homemade ‘indian’ costume from last year (below) and adding a pilgrim one. Happy Thanksgiving says our little brave!

[PS: there are new photos in our most recent Luke gallery plus new videos, hopefully we’ll have cute T-giving shots up soon!]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Website mini-makeover

“We made lots of great changes on our website this weekend!” I reported excitedly.

“Fabulous! I’ve visited it twice already today and didn’t see them, when will they show up?”

Actually, they’d been up all day, but I guess the improvements weren’t quite as dramatic as I’d thought. Nevertheless, we’d love for you to visit our website homepage to see its sleeker look and try out the new links in the header. We also added a navigation bar to our photo galleries page. It allows you to easily access some of our favorite photos and to view photo galleries by topic. On the blog, we updated aesthetics, labeled posts with keywords, and added a sidebar that sorts posts by topic.

As I write out these changes, I can see how my sister missed them. And I wonder if the time it took to make the tiny font, color, or alignment customizations was a little inordinate. Perhaps, but Erik and I enjoyed working on it together, and it’s satisfying to see many of those pesky imperfections resolved. Luke looks pretty impressed with his new publicity platform, doesn’t he?!

PS: Here’s a ‘before’ pic of the blog for comparison…

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