Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Science museum

After visiting the amazing Durham science museum last month, we decided it was high time that we check out the one right here in Albuquerque. We’ve been three times now and seen most of the exhibits, so here’s a little tour of Luke’s highlights.

1. The trains. The way Luke plays with these makes me search Craig’s List for more train equipment. But then I remember that our house lacks a good spot for a permanent train installation and I close that browser window. I think Explora is the perfect place for you to play with these, Luke!

2. The outdoor playground. The first time I went down a roller slide, Luke was on my lap. I had one hand holding him and the other gracefully gripped my lukewarm coffee. I quickly learned that roller slides can pack some speed, but without a free hand I was powerless to slow our descent. We flew off the bottom, landing with an embarrassing thud on my then very sore behind. Now I’ve adopted a ground-based assistance strategy.

3. This air chute in the toddler room is genius. Kids place the scarves in the bottom and the air flow shoots them upwards. Big wow factor while being completely safe, sturdy, and non-messy!

4. This one is Mommy’s favorite. In a long table filled with water, a current flows from one end and there are all sorts of pieces you can insert to stop, mitigate, or redirect the water’s flow. When Luke is ready to move on to the next exhibit, I’m only halfway through my masterplan to maximize the flow’s force and direct it along an interesting path. But in this pic I’m trying to roll up Luke’s sleeves. First things first!

And of course we brought our Ella-bug who who had a grand time watching all the activity.

Now that the temps have creeped near 100 and our swamp cooler has been giving us trouble, the fact that most of Explora is inside a deliciously cooled building is a pretty major perk too. Need a little more deterrence from outdoor activity? Check out the icons chosen by the National Weather Service for the next three days. I’ve shown you this one before, Wednesday’s tagline is “areas of smoke” but it looks more like a volcano alert.

Areas Smoke

And this is Thursday and Friday’s icon, with the tagline “hot”. We think this picture is from the Mars Rover; Albuquerque may be semi-desert but it never looks this desolate.

Hot

Fortunately, Saturday’s icon is much prettier and even looks like an Earth shot. Erik and I will have to put it to good use!

Sunny

Friday, June 10, 2011

Five amazing months!

It’s hard to believe that Eleanor is five months old already. Somehow five months sounds so much older than four. To me five is practically six, which is half a year old and the time for all sorts of leaps and bounds of development out of the itty-bitty stage. Sigh!

But five months old she is, and she’s been learning a number of new skills leaving no confusion with a newborn here. However, she has held onto her pretty blue eyes with a touch of green. Luke’s turned brown like Erik’s after only a couple months, so we’re hopeful that her color sticks so the girls and guys each have their own eye color in our little family!

 

Recent Milestones

Engaging with the world has kicked into gear and this time there’s a whole list of milestones to report! Elzabel has adopted a variety of non-traditional means of locomotion. First there’s pushing herself in her swing, which I’ll soon post in video. By swaying back and forth she revvs that swing up to a pretty fast clip!

There’s also bumbo punting. She leans over to one side of the bumbo, sticks the opposite leg out to the other side and then uses it to push herself across a surface. What a trickster!

Since around three months she could roll over both ways and around four months she mastered rolling at will either way. She seems to prefer to be on her stomach, turning over immediately if set down on her back. Then she pushes up to survey the action.

She recently became much more interested in playing with toys. She’ll hold onto toys of choice for quite a while, banging them on a tray and examining them.

Her exersaucer is clearly a hub for fun toys and a favorite hang-out spot. Eleanor makes it look so exciting that Luke has been known to climb in to play for a while too. The bumbo is also a favorite because it allows her to be on Luke’s level when he plays on the floor, or on our level when we sit at the dinner table and install her as its centerpiece. Erik and I have become much more comfortable with the bumbo since we bought the accessory tray to help contain her squirmy self within it. Here she is bumbo-bound with a poolside view of the Luke show.

Even more than her seats, she likes to sit up on her own on the carpet. Of course this requires parental assistance as she is still very prone to toppling, but we all enjoy seeing her learning to master self-sitting. Here she is smiling big because Luke is coming in to say hi.

Likes/Dislikes

At her four-month check-up at her pediatrician’s office, she made it clear that she remembered her two-month visit. And her recollections were not favorable! In the waiting room she was her usual charming self, but as soon as she was brought into the examining room she began to scream hysterically and would not calm down until we left. The doctor and nurse agreed that there was no mistaking that she remembered the shots that were administered last time she went to that room, and they thought it was quite precocious for her to recall the experience at such a young age.

Sibling Report

Now that she’s more engaged with her surroundings, Ella is absolutely enamored with the Luke-channel. She lights up when she spots her big brother and she and Mommy both miss Luke when he’s down for his nap and Ellie is much fussier!

Luke sweetly requests that Ellie sleep in the crib in his, wait I mean their room. He also is always willing to share toys with his little sis and enjoys having her smile and laugh at him. Unfortunately he seems to also enjoy testing how far he can go in throwing items near her or waving them near her head. The fact that we established those boundaries several times already that day doesn’t seem to be sufficient for the Luke-boy. So we have regular discipline over that issue in our house. But we also have more and more times when both kiddos are happily engaged in the same activity. Bedtime stories are especially precious!

Our Routine

She’s settled into taking a morning and an afternoon nap each day, plus an occasional early evening catnap. My goal is to get both children’s afternoon naps to line up, but for the moment they seem to be tag-teaming nappers. The lack of nap overlap plus an escalation of two-year-old power struggles can make getting out the door each day a herculean task, but we try. Lately the lunch hour has been the easiest time, so we’ve been enjoying picnics in parks.

We still haven’t made any progress in Ellie’s number of night wakings. Feeding at 12p, 3:30a and 6:30a seemed pretty good for a newborn, but it’s not so impressive when you’re five months old. Maybe this next milestone will soon help to change that…

She recently started solid food! I hope to write another post on this soon, but here’s a little teaser pic until then. Ellie, you’re so cute you could make facial food a new trend. We love you precious girlie!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Another Luke list

I’ve been cherishing his still-a-little-boy self, knowing that it won’t be so long until peers become more important and his ardent preference for Mommy recedes. So here are some things I love about Luke right now.

1. The way he tilts his head to the side and says ‘hmm?’ to express that he doesn’t quite understand something. You can see it at 0:44 in this video. I could watch those two seconds on repeat for a long time!

2. The awestruck way he says ‘waw-ooow’ [wow] when he finds something particularly impressive. In a single word, it’s a powerful pep talk for planning special activities and new experiences for our days.

3. Last week I asked him who his friends are, thinking he’d say one of the kids we’d just seen at a playground or had over to our house. Instead, he said ‘Jack and Sam’! Mommy liked hearing that the other babies she helped raise a tiny bit (my younger brothers) were so esteemed. I even caught the question on video and will post it soon.

4. I’m sure this Luke-ism will get cuter in hindsight, but right now it drives me crazy! Whenever Luke is in our garage or a parking lot, he makes a beeline for car wheels, sticking his hand into them and then smearing the brake dust on his clothes, face, and of course it ends up on Mommy too. I hate to think of all the toxic chemicals that brake dust holds, and also all the times that big black smudges have been our most prominent fashion accessory!

5. He can reliably count up to six items, so we count all sorts of things throughout the day. When counting to two, he pushes one hand up into the air and then pulls it down as he pushes up the other. I find it so difficult to resist giving him a second treat when he uses his adorable hand motions and says, “one, two please!”

6. His favorite videos feature ‘ook’ [Luke]. He comes up to me urgently saying ‘watch ook pease’ when I use the computer. Movies that feature Eleanor are not so well appreciated. But as long as he’s the star, he watches raptly and answers any questions asked in the video, such as: ‘Is that cake yummy?’ or ‘Would you like to go to the playground?’ The frustrating part is when he dissolves into hysterics after the movie because I tell him we’re not really going to eat cake or go to the playground right now…

7. When he hurts himself, he first wants me to pick him up and then he says ‘boo bake-it’ [blue blanket]. Most of the time it’s forgotten on his bed, but his blanket has become an important security object for tough situations like a skinned knee or a traumatic hair wash in the bath tub (still a contested activity).

8. Sometimes he tells me ‘ommy rock’. This game hails from my older sister era, and is a particular favorite early in the morning. One person lies under a blanket on the ground and the other comes and lays his/her head on the rock, marveling at what a nice soft rock it is to sleep on. Then the ‘rock’ starts to squirm and talk and the sleeper becomes more and more agitated about this strange rock until the rock person pops out, revealing the source of the problem. But it didn’t take too long for Luke to add his own twist to the game – he hisses like a snake and I run in fear from him, hiding under blankets/rocks. The part that makes it really ridiculous is that my fear of snakes is so great that even hearing a two-year-old’s funny ‘sssss’ strikes a twinge of genuine anxiety in my heart!

9. We’ve also been having lots of fun painting lately. I made a little display area for my budding artiste in our hallway with these cool clips that my sister gave me a while back.

Hanging the clips afforded an opportunity for Luke to hone his home repair skills. He took a water toy and used it to help Daddy hammer on the wall.

10. I think he does a great job sharing his toys when we have friends over, and I love how he seems to truly enjoy the excitement of playing with others. He especially loves a friendly game of chase. We think these two introverted parents might be raising an extrovert!

Alongside the joys, there are of course times when our boy’s boundary-testing leaves me frazzled. In fact I just ordered Setting Limits with your Strong-Willed Child and can’t wait for it to arrive. Right now he’s using the timer to give Snuffles and Doggie time-outs. Does that mean my methods are making an impression or that they’re just another game? Hmmm….

Mostly though I find our little boy to be sweet company and love that I get to play with and talk to him throughout the day. You are becoming a good friend, Mr. Luke!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Fair winds and sweet teens

I’m so thankful to report that the weather smiled on our dinner last night. The wind cooperated by coming from the south (so our house shielded the backyard from most of it) and it blew away the smoke. We were able to all eat outside where there was plenty of room.

The other heroes of the evening were our friends’ teenaged children. If only they were at all our get-togethers! Observe the toddler violence that usually erupts once the adults are having a good conversation.

Yes, those are remnants of plants, found strewn across our yard. I think Luke started off trying to replant them for me and then his crazy streak took hold.

But last night, instead of looking up and seeing pulled up plants and other forms of toddler self-entertainment, I saw a well-organized, inclusive game of duck-duck-goose. And a sweet teen trying to find Luke’s misplaced shoe. And another responsible teen carrying him around pointing to crickets.

We even received helpful status reports, like the following:

Girl: Excuse me.

Erik: Yes?

Girl: Luke is drinking all our soda.

(other girl confirms)

Luke (with soda in hand): Eeeeeee!

Of course Luke is not yet allowed to have soda and I may have assured him at various points that it doesn’t taste very good for little boys and little girls. But last night seems to have reshaped his opinion on the matter.

We were too busy to take any photos of the event, but I can show you two of my recent Target purchases that made an appearance. First there are two strings of solar-powered globe lights that we hung in our desert willow.

They don’t show up so well in this daytime pic, but I love how we don’t have to turn them on or run wires to have lovely mood lighting in our side yard.

I also picked up these cute melamine plates for this and other outdoor dining occasions.

I love how bright and festive they are and hope they hold food for many a happy meal. Well, that’s it for my dinner detour. I’ll do my best to be back with at least a few of those promised May updates soon!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Areas of smoke

image

Who knew that this symbol along with the tagline ‘areas smoke’ qualified as a weather forecast? Erik suggested that a man smoking a pipe might be a clearer symbol, but this is the picture and tagline that hang over Friday in the current NWS forecast for Albuquerque. Once I saw that the fires were in Arizona, the forecast struck me as mildly entertaining, a bored weatherman’s excuse for variety amidst our usual rotation of sunny, mostly sunny, and windy. But I just saw that the National Weather Service issued an air quality alert for Albuquerque, alongside a forecast for 46 mph wind gusts. I’m left uncertain of which to hope for. High winds to chase away the smoke that has settled over our fair city? Or would minor lung irritation be preferable to the risk of blowing debris from gale force winds?

Either way, it seems that the lovely outdoor party I’d envisioned for tomorrow may need to move indoors. We will be cozy with ~30 dinner guests in our little home!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

MIA in May

June already! What was it about May that left me with one measly post? Surely it wasn’t a lack of cute kiddo moments and new experiences. Maybe it was the yard work we’ve been doing, the long hours Erik has spent using my computer for work, or Ella’s fewer naps and Luke’s unreliable ones. Check out the anti-nappers in action.

There’s also been our typical lineup of entertaining to keep us busy, like this dinner with our small group last week.

Tomorrow night we’re having a dinner for our Sunday School class and expect a record-setting number (for our ABQ home) of guests to join us. We’ll see how our little 1400-square-foot ranch handles the crowd. I’m counting on nice weather, which in ABQ hinges on a lack of gusting wind since rain is a sort of fairy tale here. So the forecast that didn’t mention 30mph winds for tomorrow must be the accurate one, right?

May also held a house project that I’ll post on soon -- the kids’ room redo! Here’s a preview, the ‘before’ of the dresser I repainted.

Now Luke’s room is set up for both kids to sleep and store clothes with a fitting fusion of girl and boy d├ęcor. I still need to get the dresser handles right, but once I do I’ll write in with pics of the updated space. Now if getting them both to sleep in there was only so easy…

All these little excuses are to say that nothing too dramatic has pushed us out of blog-land. I hope to be back soon with lots of updates on this adorable pair!