Saturday, February 25, 2012

Three cheers for Luke!

Well, it happened. Our Luke turned THREE! Balloons and a sign set the birthday scene.

Luke wasn’t so impressed with Erik’s and my efforts for his cake at first.

But he warmed up to it after a little while.

And decided to do a little closer examination.

Then it was present time! In the past we’ve done presents after cake, which also puts them right before bedtime. It’s easy to see how this results in a tantruming birthday boy – sugar high plus overstimulation plus amazing presents plus parents who won’t let him play with them until tomorrow equals no fun for anyone. What an improvement to open them in the afternoon, leaving plenty of time for playing with them and less evening rush.

And what wonderful presents he received! Here’s his pizza kit – the cutter multitasked as a present opening tool for the rest of the gifts.

Such a handsome cozy sweater made by Gi Gi Ma! It makes Luke’s hugs even more snuggly too.

We’re all excited about this Leapster game as a fun activity for Luke when we’re traveling, looking at houses, going to appointments, and in other less child-focused scenarios.

Giving me a shot with his new doctor supplies.

After an ear check: “Grandma & Grandpa, there’s a raccoon in Mommy’s ear!!”

We’re not sure where he came up with that diagnosis, but we’ve had quite a rash of raccoon illness ever since. Then there was lots of train playtime, featuring a terrific new roundhouse.

Luke was showered with such perfect gifts that Erik and I were almost going to forgo a bday gift for the boy altogether. But then I found a sturdy tricycle on Craig’s List and we picked it up just before his birthday. He loves his balance bike and maybe a tricycle will teach him the pedaling skills he needs to eventually move up to a full bike.

We stopped by a real estate open house in the afternoon, had a pizza dinner, and then it was cake time! As we were sitting down Luke exclaimed, “Idea! Luke need birthday hat!!” So of course I had to rectify my lapse in planning with a paper crown in Luke’s choice of color.

He blew out the candles like a champ!

And chose the front of the engine for his piece.

Ella chowed down too. She enjoyed the cake so much that I’m sure she would say it was worth it even if a cake overdose was the cause of her upset tummy later on…

We are so thankful for our three years with you, Luke!! You delight us endlessly with your joy, your passion, your creativity, your sweetness, your energy, and your sense of humor! You fill our days with fun, wonder, and of course a steady dose of parenting bewilderment. We pray that the Lord will watch over you and guide you to trust in Him. XOXOXOXO!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Birthday interview with Luke

I can hardly believe that our baby boy turns three on Sunday! Since I can’t bottle his current self and save it for years to come, here’s a little birthday time capsule. Maybe I’ll make this an annual tradition and we’ll watch his answers evolve over the years.

{Luke’s replies are in italics.}

1. Favorite book? Sweet smell of Christmas. This surprised me since we haven’t read it since we put away our Christmas books about a month ago. It’s a very sweet story though.

2. Favorite song? ABC’s. He’s into letters at the moment, delighting in naming the letters and sounds that begin various words.

3. Favorite place to go? Zoo!

4. Favorite animal? Monkeys! Ooh, ooh, eeh, eeh!

5. Favorite food? Hotdogs, chips & guacamole. This is what we were eating for dinner when I asked the question. I think a more accurate answer for Luke might be macaroni and cheese.

6. What are you most proud of about yourself? Luke have baby sister. Her name Eleanor! Awwww, this was our favorite response!

7. Favorite toy? Luke’s big fire truck. It’s cool! He’s played with this ride-on truck daily since he received it for his first Christmas.

8. What do you like most about your family? Duplos! Our entire family does enjoy Duplos, so I suppose this is a fitting response.

9. Favorite show? Curious George. No surprise there.

10. What do you like most about Daddy? He juggles! For both Mommy and Daddy, Luke’s first reply was that “we love Luke so much.” But we asked him to tell us what he likes best that we do, and these are the replies we got.

11. What do you like most about Mommy? Making a T Rex! We made one out of a paper plate earlier today and it was a hit until Luke tried washing it in the sink this evening. Rexie didn’t hold up so well.

12. What game do you like to play most with Eleanor? Hide and seek! Eleanor hides and Luke says Boo! [What does Eleanor do when you say boo?] Eleanor laughs.

13. What would you like to learn to do? Drive mixer truck… and excavator, crane, bulldozer, and dump truck.

14. What type of boy is Luke? Special boy.

Yes Luke, you certainly are!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Red & pink for the paparazzi

On Saturday we snapped our second annual Valentine’s portrait series. How can I not love holiday traditions that allow for extra quantities of pink apparel?  Luke napped in the stroller for a while so Eleanor had a rare stretch of solo camera time. What a little cutie-star she is!

Now that she’s walking she’s even more fun to photograph. We don’t have to worry about whether the ground is clean enough to crawl on. And she lights up with the delight of exploration and accomplishment!

Then Luke awoke, energy restored.

Did I really miss out on playtime at the Botanic Gardens?

We laughed when Luke imitated Eleanor’s Franken-walk inside the aquarium.

And then we finished the day with dinner at the Owl Café in celebration of Luke’s thrilling accomplishment – potty-training! We’ve been accident free this past week and just use pull-ups at night now. What better Valentine’s present could a Mommy ask for? I was also proud of him for signing his friends’ valentines with a yellow 'L’ and sealing them up himself.

Here are some pics from last V-day when the Ellabel was just a tiny babe. A world of difference between those and this year’s pics! They’re looking more and more like a pair of kids rather than a little boy and a baby!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Luke loves you SEW much!

Luke has been my V-day decorating sidekick this year. He ‘sewed’ the hearts for our light fixture with just a little help from me.

We’re planning to make a few more sewn hearts to tie onto Valentine gifts for his preschool teachers. And I can’t resist adding a cheesy note: Luke loves you SEW much!

Luke’s adorable robot valentines march along a garland that Eleanor is yearning to grab. We’ll see if she manages to snatch it down before its season passes!

This year’s V-day décor is shaping up to be decidedly less elegant than last year’s, but it’s been so much fun to decorate with Luke. He’s growing up so fast and becoming a sweet friend for me. The other night he told me: “Luke and Mommy best friends. Mommy is Tigger and Luke is Pooh!” What a heart-melter!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine’s paint & prints

Luke and Eleanor have both been busy little cherubs, painting and printing V-Day art galore.

Luke’s project: WHALE YOU BE MY VALENTINE? {from here}

I made this whale stencil by drawing a whale shape, taping over the page to make it more Luke-proof, and then cutting out the whale. I also cut a few notches on the sides to make it easier to tape the stencil down. Here are some of our supplies:

Then we just taped the stencil on Luke’s page and let him paint! I love these watercolors that color beautifully with minimal mess. I bought ours at Michael’s about a year ago but I’ve had trouble finding them in stores since then. I hope Crayola isn’t phasing out this product. But anyway, after Luke finished painting I outlined the whale, removed the stencil, added a few embellishments, and ta-da!

By the end of the afternoon, Luke had experimented with stripes, dots, and colors and made a lovely little whale pod.

Eleanor’s art: THUMB-BODY LOVES YOU! {from here}

I love how this project is suitable for Valentine crafters of all ages, from newborn to adult.

I just taped together some decorative paper circles, but you could do this on a card of any shape or size. Then I printed the little princess thumb on the page and drew on the rest with a pen. We’re planning to make these in Luke’s Sunday School class this week, and I’m curious to see how it scales up to a roomful of two-year-olds!

We also tried a footprint variant. I printed Ella-belle’s toes on the page and then wrote: “Eleanor loves you from the tips of her toes!” But our girlie wasn’t very patient with the toe-printing so we mostly stuck with her thumb.

Then, we let both kiddos get their thumbs dirty for a sibling printing variant. I expected a cute little Ella thumb and a bigger Luke one, but this is what we got. Somehow Ella’s print outsizes Luke’s!

Happy Valentine’s Day from two terrific little thumb-kins!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Snow bunnies

Winter-long snow a half-hour’s drive away tops the list of Albuquerque’s unexpected amenities. I love being able to access deep drifts and dreamily dusted forests without the everyday hassle of shoveling and slush. So this weekend we bundled up our snow bunnies and drove them up the mountain for some winter adventure.

Luke took to sledding immediately.

Erik didn’t mind it either.

Eleanor seemed entertained for her first few runs.

But then Bumble invaded her sledding space.

And on her next run, Daddy may have been less than respectful when the princess took a spill.

Thankfully, she pardoned Bumble for his misdemeanor and Erik’s mockery was nothing that stroller time with a bottle couldn’t fix. We just might have a little sledding team in the making!

{More pics here.}