Sunday, September 28, 2008

This last week was pretty exciting for the vehicle-obsessed member of the family. It marked the beginning of another of the projects we knew would be needed when we bought the house and this one involved a digger and mini-excavator in the backyard! (Note that I only know the name of a "mini-excavator" from one of Edward's books featuring 100 different vehicles.)

This project involves regrading around the back and west side of the house to direct water away from the foundation and, thus, the basement. A mid-project adjustment involved creating a small retaining wall so we also took the opportunity to add a small patio of paving stones for a grilling area to the side of the screen porch. Now if only we could finally solve the roof leak and close the hole in our living room ceiling. We are on to plan D in how to completely eliminate any seepage in the area around the chimney. It's good to get these things done, but the thought of the impending bills is a bit stomach-churning. We just have to keep thinking long-term.

On Friday we went to the Homecoming Parade, hoping it would be as mesmerizing for Edward as it was last year. He was very enthusiastic, though he did find it a bit overwhelming when the alumni band stopped with the drum section right in front of us! He liked seeing the "big cow" that is usually parked at the dairy near one of the grocery stores we sometimes go to. He'd never seen it "in action" before and was quite satisfied to see that the cow was wearing a Herky (which is the name of the Iowa mascot and what he calls any identifying symbol for the Hawkeyes.) He was VERY interested in the various items thrown/passed out by parade participants, especially the candy. He came home with a load worthy of Halloween, though it was pared down while he wasn't looking. All gum and hard candy were removed leaving him with some tootsie rolls, smarties, sweet tarts and other limited-mess items.

Unfortunately, the game was not as successful as the preliminary pageantry as Iowa fell to Northwestern.

Daniel was not terribly impressed by the spectacle, but he was willing to watch from his stroller or sit on the blanket playing with toys. Another way to pass the time--feeding himself some Gerber Puffs. After weeks of just spreading Cheerios or puffs all over his tray and eventually dropping them on the floor, he finally managed to get some in his mouth this last week and there's been no stopping him since. He still ends up with as many or more on the floor as in his mouth, but he definitely recognizes that in the mouth is the goal. Concurrently (and maybe not coincidentally) he has learned to clap. He does it spontaneously, not on command, but two primary times for practicing this new skill are while sitting in the high chair or while laying on the changing table.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It feels like we've moved all over again. John and his dad spent Saturday afternoon retrieving our remaining items from the storage facility, so we're back to boxes and unpacking. Some of this has been packed and stored since we first listed our house LAST July. So clearly, it's non-essential stuff...possibly even not worth keeping. But who knows? We've got the space now we just need to put it all away. In this batch of stuff was a table and chairs for our screen porch--a welcome addition. Edward thinks it's great to eat outside, and we must admit we also have been looking forward to that since we first saw this house!

(A note about this photo: Edward put his own shoes on and asked John if he had them on the correct feet. John checked and affirmed. After this, Edward somehow switched them, but they didn't notice until I got home about an hour later and pointed it out. There's something goofy about shoes on the wrong feet--it always cracks me up.)

After moving all afternoon Saturday, overachiever John decided to tackle some of the jungle that is our yard today. He got some info from neighbors who said that apparently two owners ago there was someone here who fancied himself quite the gardener. But he moved out in a bitter divorce and nothing was kept up. Then the next owner (the one we bought from) also neglected it, with his primary contribution being a large plastic tarp over an overgrown (e.g. eight-foot weeds) garden plot at the back property line.

The worst part is, this garden guy must have also been a "natural security" freak because almost everything is prickly, including the tree in the front yard that has something resembling two inch toothpicks all over it. Holly says this is a red haw tree, which will be pretty in spring. We are thinking it may not be long for our yard...we'll see if we can get the lower branches off without inflicting any serious wounds. There was another plant (unidentified by anyone in our posse) that had tiny, sticky burrs on it. Edward and John discovered it accidentally and separately during the week. I noticed some burrs on Ed's t-shirt and had a heck of a time picking them off one by one (brushing them did nothing.) Then John found a shirt that had gone through the laundry that still had some on it. So when John got covered in it while executing the removal this afternoon, we knew the best option was to toss the shirt in the garbage. (It was a freebie from one of our March of Dimes walks.) The gloves also went out. I think he was going to try to salvage the jeans.

We think the roof issue is finally going to be resolved early this week, which means the contractor can return to close the hole in our living room ceiling (was supposed to be about three days and has been more than three weeks.) Apparently the flashing around the chimney was incorrectly installed, but done in such a way that it appeared to be correct. It took a roofing specialist to dig deep enough to find the problem and create the solution, which he is expected to employ tomorrow. Fingers crossed...

While we're crossing, here's hoping Daniel's digestive bug has left the building, or the body as the case may be. He had quite a week and ended up back on a basic breastmilk diet. The medical advice was "feed him more often to avoid dehydration." Easier said by a nurse than done by a mom staring down two of the sharpest little teeth in the infant world. The last several days we've been back to every two hour feedings, and let me tell you, I do not miss that newborn schedule! We didn't have to wake him to feed him though, so we still got most of each night's sleep. Now I just hope Edward doesn't get it. That would be a serious set back for his diaperless lifestyle.

This coming weekend is Homecoming and we're hoping Edward will enjoy the parade as much or more this year. Last year he sat rapt and holding a single dum-dum sucker in his hand for more than an hour. Unfortunately, both boys have grown out of their Hawkeye apparel. We captured this shot just before leaving for school on "spirit day" (the Friday before the big show down with Iowa State.) These shirts do not offer full belly coverage for active boys. We'll have to see if we can remedy that sometime this week.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Daniel must have eaten his spinach overnight, because just a day after Mary wrote here that she thought he needed more upper body strength before he could pull himself up to standing, he did it several times this morning. I caught it on video here as he pulled himself up to see what his brother was doing in one of our moving boxes.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's way too late for me to be up, but I'm still decompressing after my class. This semester I'm taking Managerial Finance and it's "not my favorite." Tonight was better than last week, but there are still nine weeks to go. I will definitely have something to be thankful for when Thanksgiving rolls around and I'm all done!

Once again, Daniel's "month" picture was taken but not posted on the big day. Yesterday marked eight months since his arrival. I'm trying to savor all these baby moments, but it's really speeding by. He has two teeth (middle, bottom) and likes to chew on anything within reach. He also is determined to give up the sedentary lifestyle and go go go! He's got crawling figured out--still not terribly fluid in movement, but he gets around. Now he's working on pulling himself up to standing. I think he needs more upper body strength for that. As we move into fall, we actually have clothes that fit him--Edward's cool weather 12-18 month clothes, which he wore when he was actually 12-18 months, as opposed to his bruiser brother.

But just to show that he has his aura in balance, here is a bit of baby yoga, Daniel's impression of the "downward facing dog" position. I actually am not a practitioner, but this still cracks me up. He does it a lot, but can't hold it very long, so capturing the picture was tricky.

Since all the photos are Daniel, I'll end with an Edward story. We had a babysitter tonight just for an hour because I was going to have to leave for class by 5:30 and we weren't sure John would be home by then. (His weekly newspaper is finalized on Thursdays and sometimes things run late.) Our new house is around the corner from my boss's house and his daughter has been chomping at the bit to babysit. I thought this was a good opportunity to introduce her to the boys--I would be here part of the time and John would come home shortly after I left.

She arrived and I brought her in to where Edward was playing, announcing, "Edward look, Emma is here to play with you!" He looked dubious and I tried to remind him of other times he'd met her. He kept giving her this sort of evil eye and finally said, "What do you start?"

We were perplexed. "What do you mean," I asked.

"What letter you start?" he demanded.

"Oh, Emma starts with 'E!' Who else starts with E?" I prompted.

"E for Edward!" They are now best buddies.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Taking advantage of some great fall weather, my mom and dad and I took the boys out to "Move It, Dig It Do It!" an event at the Johnson County Fairgrounds that essentially involved a big field full of garbage trucks, buses, cranes, firetrucks and every other imaginable big vehicle or piece of equipment that fuels Edward's obsession. His cousin, Sean, in Phoenix, had attended a fair like this last year, and Ed was jealous of the photos of Sean with various big trucks and such. So, we knew this would be a hit.

It would have been a bigger hit if not for one thing: horns. Every machine had a horn, some louder than others, and the kids in attendance were happy to honk them at every opportunity. Seems harmless enough, but Ed has a thing about loud noises. Ever since a day at day care earlier this summer when they tested the fire alarms, Ed has been terrified of loud noises. Just the threat of a loud noise has him clapping his hands over his ears and cowering. So, when we walked up to the first thing at this event, a big semi truck, the few seconds of bliss at being that close to a big rig were cut short when the kid in the cab pulled the cord that set off the horn. It startled me, and stopped Ed dead in his tracks. I feared we'd need to leave right then, but he toughed it out and walked around looking at things. He passed on the chance to get in the semi because of the hornophobia, but did climb in several other vehicles. I convinced him that the horns wouldn't go off if he was the one in the cab, because only he could set off the horn. This admonition came after he had climbed into the cab of a giant crane and honked the horn, scaring himself in the process. It seems some buttons are just too tempting not to push.

Along the way, he had the chance to sit behind the wheel of all kinds of things, including two fire trucks, a city bus, a tractor or two and more. He also saw some animals, including a pony, two cows (to which he gave a hearty greeting of "mooooo!") and some bunnies. They even had some old bi-planes fly over, which also captivated him.

The firetrucks were among his favorites. For some reason, at our new house he has deemed one particular wall to be a firetruck. He and I sit against the wall wearing backward baseball caps to approximate firefighter helmets, and then he spins his hands to turn the wheel and makes engine noises as we drive. When he had the chance to get behind the wheel of one truck today, I told him as we left it that he forgot to turn his cap around to drive it. He pointed to another truck and we headed off. There, a firefighter let Ed try on the turnout coat, which was so big it practically stood on its own. Ed then somberly turned his hat around. When offered a real helmet to wear he passed, pointing to his cap. Imagination trumps reality, I guess. He then turned to the firefighter and said, "I want to drive it." We climbed up and he grabbed the wheel.

His little brother didn't get much out of it, not that I expected much. He enjoyed riding in the stroller and getting attention from Grandma and Grandpa, but about halfway through he just slumped against the side of the stroller and took a nap.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Don't get used to this quick pace of posts, but we do have fresh news to report: Daniel has a tooth! One of his front bottom teeth is just poking through. He has been a good sport about it, though some Tylenol was a must when putting him down to sleep.

You wouldn't know he was feeling any pain given the way he and Edward played tonight. Edward has loved using our boxes as hideouts and firetrucks and general places to jump around in, and tonight he invited Daniel into his favorite box for some fun.

Monday, September 01, 2008

We survived the move and are settling into our spacious new digs. Once the boxes are unpacked and removed we will have two rooms with no furniture. One, the dining room, will be the boys' play area for the foreseeable future. The kitchen is big enough for a table so we don't feel the need for dining room furniture right now. The other, alternately referred to as "the library" or "the den" will ultimately have a cozy reading chair or two. That room has a full wall of built-in book shelves, which pretty much sold John on this house. I love them too, but my biggest selling point was the walk-in closet in the master bedroom, which is actually larger than my childhood bedroom. (Those who have been to my parents house know that this is not saying much, but still...)

Speaking of size and things that could be described as "comically huge," this box came from the local music store, where a friend of ours works. He told John that they get boxes every day and send most of them to the compactor. We were able to snag a few great ones, including this, which our friend said he thought held three trumpets, possibly trombones. Anyway, it was huge--as wide as our oven and taller than the bottom drawer. Nothing heavy could go in it, but it was perfect for every piece of tupperware I own.

John and I took vacation for the whole week, which was definitely the right choice. We had lots to do in preparation for the big day on Thursday, and those morning hours while the boys went to daycare were vital. The other crucial factor in this successful venture was the two men who actually did the heavy lifting. Hooray for Two Men and A Truck--if this franchise is available in your area, I highly recommend it. The only glitch was due to my lack of planning. I thought everything would be off the truck by the time I had to leave for my class at 5:30 (oh, yeah...did I mention that my next MBA class started the night of our move?) We had left everything in our dresser drawers so when the time came to get ready for class and my dresser was still way back in the truck, I had to improvise. I found a bag of my maternity clothes and pulled out a skirt and t-shirt that were not too billowy. I'm sure no one else even noticed, but it felt very odd to me.

In this picture, Daniel is waiting with me for the movers to arrive. Edward spent the afternoon and overnight with Grandma and Grandpa, but with Daniel still tethered to me as his food source, it was easier to keep him with us. I picked him up from daycare around 12:30 and then came to the new house to wait. I had earlier brought some toys and his saucer so we'd have something to do and a safe place to put him. We also set up the portable crib so he could take an afternoon nap. Someday it will be funny to look at this picture and try to remember a time when the house was empty.

He is quite mobile now, not fully crawling on hands and knees, but getting where he wants to go and even starting to pull up a bit, as on this box. Among our first purchases for the new house will be at least one and probably two new baby gates because he'll soon be full steam ahead toward the stairs.

Over the weekend Edward got his hair cut for the fourth time in his two years and eight months of life. On the last bath before the move, John took this picture to demonstrate that Daniel might not be so shiny up top. He was taking it for the hair, but the goofy grin was definitely a bonus. This picture just cracks us up.