Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Big Boy Triumphs

Benjamin is comfortably settled into his big boy bed now and has told me that the crib is for the baby in Mommy's tummy. He hasn't given the baby permission to play with any of his toys, however.

He's also been talking like crazy--in full sentences! I think this really started to take off while we were in Utah and around so many people, and it hasn't slowed down since. He loves to enunciate big words that he's learned how to say, like "bah-nana." He loves to say prayers, and will usually repeat it several times, fully expecting us to close our eyes and bow our heads each time. Benjamin loves hearing scripture stories, especially the one about baby Moses and the one where Jesus calms the raging tempest. He wanted that picture hanging above his bed.

I tried to cut his hair the other day, but my skill level and his patience resulted in a half-job. So it's shorter on top and longer around the ears and the back. I only cut a little off though, so it's not too obvious of a mullet. I've asked him several times since if we can finish it, but he hasn't let me yet. It's not one of those things I think would be a good idea to force...

Before he would let me near his head, we of course had to cut all of his stuffed animals' hair. And then he had to do it himself to see that the buzzer wasn't scary. I got a little video of him cutting Bear's hair. I'm sure I'm the only one who thinks it's funny though, since I'm his mommy.

I guess potty training is also now underway, so we get to spend a lot of time in that lovely 70's bathroom. I haven't done much other than read Benjamin a few books and buy him a little stool to stand on, but the kid is motivated. He has had several successes, although it's usually after running around naked for an hour in anticipation. I still need to figure out his rhythm.

So our days go like this. I'll ask, "Benjamin, do you have to go potty?" To which he'll usually reply, "Oh, yes!" Then he gets totally undressed, puts his new stool in place and gets in position, making sure that I'm nearby and watching. He then tries really hard with no success, so I'll say, "Good try!" He then wants to get off and on, over and over, saying "It's coming!" After this repeats itself several times, I suggest, "Should we go put your diaper back on and try again later?" To which he'll usually reply, "No! Potty again!"

And thus it ensues for an hour or more...but he has gone a few times--and usually very cleanly. I never had to do the whole target practice thing with him. But I do reward him with "monkey snacks" (fruit snacks) for each time he goes. He and I are still figuring out when to anticipate an actual need and get there in time. In the meantime, I really don't mind diapers. I think they're far more convenient when we're out, so I'm not really pushing it. Maybe that will change in a few months when we're buying diapers for two!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Quick Family Visit

My parents and youngest siblings drove through late Thursday night and stayed until Saturday morning. It was so much fun to see them! They are on their way to Utah where they'll be closing on a new house tomorrow. And the house I grew up in now has new people living in it. So strange.

Here's Jeannine, Michelle, David, my Mom, me, my Dad and Benjamin in front of the St. Louis Temple, which is just a ten minute drive from our house. We also showed them our church building (five minutes from our house) and the best parts of Kirkwood. It was fun to show them where we live!

Mostly, after a LONG day in the car after closing on their house, everyone just wanted to hang out and relax. We finally got out our wading pool, and everyone got their ankles wet as Benjamin had his own little pool party. (Oh, and there's your pregnant belly shot. At least for now.)

Benjamin didn't want to keep his shorts on for very long. But he's good about keeping his hat on and letting me slather him with sunscreen. (Here's your front-on prego shot)

Oh, and I can't forget a particular highlight of their visit- planting raspberry bush implants from the yard I grew up in! I'm so excited about these! I just hope they do as well as they did in our yard in Virginia. I feel like I have a little bit of home here now.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Transition Complete

Well, we've had the "big boy bed" for a few months now sitting next to Benjamin's crib, and for the most part, it's sole purpose was our reading spot. Benjamin thought it was cool at first, but eventually couldn't handle the freedom. He craved his bars. So for a while, I had a few totes set up next to his crib where he could climb in and out on his own (to get him used to freedom and to save my back). He liked that...especially the part where he could get up at 6 am sharp every morning and come out of his room to wake us up.
During our last trip to the library, I started getting serious about looking for big brother books, potty books and big boy bed books. He loves reading them over and over again. So this past weekend, we finally bought an area rug, picked a wall color, and painted the new room. Then I decided to just make the commitment yesterday and moved his big boy bed and other essential furniture into his new space. I took everything off his old walls, hid the old crib mattress, and left it pretty bare looking in his old room. He helped me carry all of his books, teddy bears and blankets into the new room, so he felt involved in the process.
Nap time was a little disastrous yesterday. It got later and later, and he became more and more irrational about actually taking a nap, especially after I mentioned the candy we'd go and buy at the store should he took a nap in his new bed. I finally pinned him down and hummed some songs, and it worked. He was too exhausted to fight anymore. After his nap, we went to the grocery store and he picked his favorite candy, Peanut M&M's. That night, he wanted to call Grandma and tell her about his big accomplishment.
When bedtime rolled around, and it was a lesser struggle, but a struggle nonetheless to get him to go to sleep in a new place. He finally let me out of the room and stayed put with "Cuddles" (his blankie), a stack of about 20 books, a dozen stuffed animals, his little train and a bottle of water. I went in after he was asleep to clean up of course. Then in the middle of the night, he fell out. I went in and he was shaking and pretty upset. So I rocked him for a while then laid down with him. The thunderstorm outside didn't help him go back to sleep anytime soon, so I spent who knows how long slowly inching back out of the room. But he did it. And nap time today wasn't bad at all. I think he's still figuring out a comfortable new routine, but as far as I'm concerned, we're there. Perhaps I'm a terrible parent for forcing this transition on him, but my previous method certainly didn't work. He'll get over the trauma, right?
Oh, so a baby update...we tried to find one of those ultrasound places while we were in Utah, but I'm pretty sure they don't exist anymore. I couldn't find any current listings anywhere. So at my last doctor's appointment, I met with the nurse and told her I'd REALLY like another ultrasound to find out what we're having. None of my symptoms seemed to work as a medical reason to have one, but she assured me that if she were authorized to do it, she would have. Instead, she left a little note for the doctor (who I'll be meeting with again in a few weeks) suggesting that the baby might need to be measured again ;). So we'll see. I know some people like surprises, but I need to know. I like to prepare physically for a certain gender, and somehow that makes it more real for me mentally. Paul's the same way. It's still really weird for us to actually picture having another baby, and I'm entering my third trimester in a week. So crazy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Our Family Trip

I'm finally getting around to posting about our family trip to Utah. We spent 16 glorious days in humidity-and-bug-free Utah and got back on Monday evening. We had such a wonderful time with our families, it was hard to say goodbye! It's strange to be just us again, but it's also good to be home.
It's nice to be able to say that about where we live now since Utah was our home for the first few years. Benjamin of course has no recollection of his first home, other than the stories we tell and the pictures we show him. But he had no trouble at all getting comfortable with everyone! It was fun to see him "meet" all of his relatives who watched him grow for the first year of his life. He is a very different kid than the one who left Wymount just 11 months ago! It was SO nice to be around family again! This trip was just what we needed and so rejuvenating.
We got a few family pictures while we were out there, which hasn't really happened since Benjamin was tiny. So it was time.
Thanks, Grandma, for doing these! I'm really happy with how they turned out!

Hot Air Balloons

One highlight of the trip (especially for Benjamin) was the Hot Air Balloon Festival. We got up pretty early to go see them, but just missed the last launch. We still got to see dozens of them floating in the sky, and even chased some down to watch them land. Benjamin didn't want to get too close, but he was obsessed with the fire that would blow inside them every minute or so.It was a beautiful morning! Once the rest of us had had our fill, we headed back to Grandma and Grandpa Cannon's house. Benjamin couldn't stop talking about them, and desperately wanted to go back. So I found some YouTube videos of hot air balloons for him to watch repeatedly, and he was satisfied. He talked about them for days!

The Fourth of July

I love the fourth of July! It was especially fun this year to celebrate it with almost all of Paul's family. We were just missing Brigham and Alexandra and their two boys.
We all went down to Provo Center Street to watch the parade. Benjamin wasn't too jazzed about it at first, and wanted to hang out in his stroller behind the crowds, but eventually he got into it. He especially loved the marching bands, trucks and large character balloons.
My brother Nathan joined us for the picnic, and Benjamin was elated to see him. He's definitely a contender for favorite uncle!
After a scrumptious meal, we all headed down to the river behind Grandma and Grandpa's house for the "annual river walk," which I believe was named that last year when it was first instated.
Here are the crazy brothers, who all jumped in to the chilly water.
And here's Paul sharing his wetness with me.
Benjamin certainly didn't want to get in the water. But he had a marvelous time throwing rocks in the river. This became an afternoon ritual for him while we were there.
We kept Benjamin up past his bedtime with hopes of taking him to see the big fireworks near the stadium. Before we left, we lit off a few small backyard fireworks. Benjamin was terrified, and wanted to go inside, so we stood by the window and watched. I guess that felt safer to him. He got really into them, but could not be coerced into going back outside to watch any. So we put him to bed and a few of us went to battle crowds and watch the spectacle. I was glad we didn't bring him when I watched another young family juggle their six restless kids on the busy corner of the turn-in to a parking lot. We were all so nervous for them and were glad no one got hurt!

Adrian's Baby Blessing

Josh and Anne were able to bless their new baby while we were there. It was wonderful to be there for that. Little Adrian is a cutie!

Miriam's Baby

My little sister Miriam had her baby on July 4th, so we were out there for that! Little Anna is a really healthy, good-natured baby. I had the opportunity to go play Miriam's surrogate mother for a few days while Paul and Benjamin had some bonding time at Grandma and Grandpa's house. It was the first time I left Benjamin overnight, but he did great! I really enjoyed that time with Miriam and Marc. It also reminded me of what we're in for in a few months! So much sleep deprivation...
Benjamin had a good time! Here he is with Abby, having a little dance party.

The End of the Trip

We spent most of our time in Provo, but we made it up to see my grandparents towards the end of our trip. We had a wonderful time visiting Grandma Lowe and my cousin Matt (who is staying with her this summer) and even had a nice glass of homemade root beer (the yeast kind!).
My older sister, Rachel and her two girls Natalie and Lucy came during the end of our trip, but we got a few visits in. We tried to get a picture of all of the cousins with little Anna, but it just never happened. Here they all are with their special blankies.
Rachel, Nathan (and his special lady friend Tracy), Miriam and Marc, and Paul and I all got together at Grandma and Grandpa Smith's house for an afternoon barbecue. It was a lot of fun.
After visiting both my grandparents, we went to a Black (Paul's Grandma's) family reunion. It was at the end of a long day, so Benjamin wasn't feeling especially social. There was a river next to the house, so we ended up throwing rocks most of the time while Paul visited with extended family.

Paul helped me with the other highlights of the trip:

1. Loads of fruit (strawberries, peaches, grapes).

2. Bombay House...no comparison. So good.

3. Cafe Rio. There is no such thing as good Mexican or Tex-Mex here in St. Louis. (Paul added, "all about the food, baby!!!")

4. A wonderful evening out just with Paul's parents.

5. Doing a session together at the Timpanogos Temple.

6. Sleeping in while Benjamin occupied himself with thousands of toys in the playroom.

7. Hanging out with PEOPLE after Benjamin was in bed each night.

8. Paul got to see Phil and Brooke Mason, Jon, Chuck and Royce.

9. Getting my free yearly ring cleaning and re-plating. It looks like it did the day we got engaged!

10. Playing in the wading pool with Benjamin...oh yeah, and did we mention NO humidity?! It was so nice to get outside!