Friday, December 26, 2008

As promised, I return bearing photos. I think I will start at the end and work backward with photos and comments. The way we create a distinct birthday celebration for our Christmas baby is to gather Christmas Eve with Grandma and Grandpa and exchange all family presents. Then Santa's loot arrives on Christmas morning (once again, I was able to persuade Edward that Santa would come while we were at church so we managed to get to 8:30 mass.) Then we play all morning, have lunch, and take naps. After naps, Christmas is over and it's ALL birthday! Edward asked for pasta for his birthday dinner and chocolate for his cake. I stood in the cake mix aisle with him earlier in the week showing him all the choices and even allowing for chocolate cake, suggesting other kinds of frosting. Nothing doing. It was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Later in the week, I learned that it was also supposed to have a red car and a number 3 candle, so that required a separate trip to the store.

He really had cake on his mind all afternoon. I don't think he fully realized until his pasta was in front of him that we weren't actually having cake for dinner, but after dinner. While playing with Grandma and Grandpa before dinner, he was serving "cake" at the new table they got the boys for Christmas.

Here's a video of Edward with his birthday present from Mom and Dad. Too much snow for outdoor use, but the basement is an acceptable practice area. He'll be ready to hit the neighborhood sidewalks come spring.

Christmas morning was a bit fragmented since Daniel was beyond ready for a nap by the time we got home from church. He went straight from his car seat to his crib, barely cracking an eyelid and stayed asleep for nearly two hours. In the meantime, Edward dove in to see if Santa was listening regarding a certain request for train tracks and train cars. Man, that Santa really has it covered!
By the time Daniel woke up, Edward was more than ready to assist. We also dove into the stacks from far-flung aunts, uncles and cousins. Each new discovery was more thrilling than the last. Cars, trucks, games, puzzles and books--oh my!
As noted previously, we spent Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa's, which started the whole celebration off with a bang. Daniel enjoyed his first ham so much I had to go back for more in his bowl before I even started my own serving. He also was quite fond of the homemade mac&cheese. However, after fully shovelling it in for about five minutes, he discovered the greater joy of dropping the pieces off his tray with an "Uh oh!" Luckily we had remembered to put a towel under his chair before we started! Edward discovered the joy of Jell-O with marshmallows. Grandma had this treat in individual bowls. Edward scooped up his marshmallows, then worked on the Jell-O for a while before asking for more marshmallows. Lucky for him, Grandpa Softtouch still had a few left and handed them over. (Side note: this morning, Edward was talking about Jell-O and "mushrooms" so he's still working on the marshmallow addition to his vocabulary.)

After dinner it was time for presents, including the table seen above. Here is Daniel with the favorite toy of the evening (Edward now battles for possession.)

So I have learned that the key to the once-a-year gift extravaganza that is a holiday birthday is to quickly stash away some items to be carefully doled out in the coming months as an antidote to boredom or a quick reward (bribe?) as needed. It's getting harder to pull this off as Edward gets older because he wants to open not only the wrapping, but also the package of every gift immediately. Still, we have managed to spirit away a portion of the week's bounty and will be ever grateful to all who have shared Christmas and birthday with us as these items resurface throughout the coming year.

Not to be forgotten in the holiday hoopla, we should report that Edward sailed through his three-year well-child check, mightily impressing his doctor with his vocabulary and conversational skills. He is now almost 33 pounds and 36 inches tall, which is about average for weight, but a little on the short side. Sorry buddy--looks like those Geraghty tall genes have passed you by. The best part of the exam for me was the little robe they gave Edward to wear after changing out of his clothes. So cute! For a look at how far we've come in the last year, I turn your attention to this gem of a video that had me laughing 'til I nearly cried at the memory.
Merry Christmas from all the Kenyons! We've had quite the whirlwind celebration and one more gathering coming up on Sunday. We're having trouble with the concept of naps today so I may get interrupted and have to continue later.

We did not send Christmas cards this year and although I have heard several friends refer to this as an "environmental" decision, I can't truly claim that as an honorable excuse. We just didn't quite get around to it. We did manage the simultaneous cleanliness required for this photo, but couldn't quite sync the smiles. Photo credit to my dad on this one. He and my mom and my sister Nora visited last Saturday/Sunday for the beginning of our Christmas/Birthday Extravaganza 2008.

Much revelry and of course, presents ensued. An unexpected highlight was this toy Chicago Police car with working lights and siren. Gram claims she didn't notice this feature when she bought it on a whim. Suffice to say, we have become adept at the quick kick under the sofa to give this car a rest. No worries about it being lost. It never takes long for Ed to wonder where it went! On the birthday side of this celebration were many, many tools, including a battery-powered light-up drill from Aunt Nora. This visit also resulted in several new books and puzzles to discover and explore. That plus lots of time to snuggle, chat, and enjoy whatever make-believe world that Edward happened to be concocting at the moment, made for an enjoyable weekend. The only downside was that Gram didn't get to take Ed out on his sled due to sub-zero conditions.

This really was the year that Edward grasped the concept of gifts and birthdays. I'm not holy enough to have attempted to explain the true Christmas story. Anyone who has spent any time with Edward can only begin to imagine the number of unanswerable questions this would produce. A day after we brought some presents to school for each class and each teacher, I was trying to instill in Edward how nice it is to give gifts, not just receive them. "Remember yesterday when we brought a present to your class and to Kate? Wasn't that fun?" I gently reminded on the way to school. "Yeah, I like to give presents. I'm the present man. I'm the pres-i-dent," he intoned. And then, since he is quite the politically savvy toddler, he continued, "President Barack" momentary quiet while pondering. "President Edward Jesse Kenyon!" No, I did not drive off the road.

Another conversational gem came on our way home from Christmas Eve with John's parents. All week at school people had been wishing Edward a happy birthday since many were not going to be there the whole week. We started talking on Monday about how Thursday would be his birthday. He's been talking about "in December when it's my birthday and I'm three" since about September. So while driving I said, "Edward, do you know what tomorrow is?"

"No, it's Thursday, it's your birthday. And it's Christmas."
"On the SAME DAY?!?!?!"
"That's right, on the same day."


I think it probably loses something in the blog translation, but it was definitely one for the ages.

Our photo editing program is on the fritz at the moment, and I don't have any more photos ready for posting so I'm going to stop with a promise to continue later tonight or tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

We took the boys to see Santa on Saturday afternoon and had a nice chat. I think I've said this every year, but it bears repeating: the Santa at Sycamore Mall in Iowa City is fabulous. He's so friendly--jolly even--has real whiskers and doesn't scare kids, at least not ours. There is never a line to wait in and they let you take your own pictures. Talk about the Christmas spirit! When Santa asked Ed what he wants for Christmas, Ed exclaimed, "A PRESENT!!" Stifling a laugh, he then tried to coax something more specific and elicited (as coached) "Some tracks and train cars for my wooden train." He had an extended chat with Ed about the various characters in Thomas the Tank Engine and even knew a few we'd never heard of. It is safe to say Edward is definitely into Christmas this year.

Walking through the mall toward our dinner destination (pizza) Edward found this train and immediately clambered up. He had the other customers giggling down the aisles as he shouted "choo choo!" Daniel got in on the action as well. They didn't know it accepted coins and we didn't point that out. Their enthusiasm was not dimmed. We only got Ed out for dinner by promising to return on the way back to the car. Then we only got him out by trying to psyche him up for going to buy a Christmas tree. That was almost a disaster as we got to the one tree lot in town to find it closed (6:15 on a Saturday.) Possibly for the best though because the few remaining trees looked pretty forlorn. We ended up at Menards the next day and found a nice thin one that doesn't overwhelm the room. Now the challenge is keeping the ornaments in place. The lower branches are filled with unbreakables (some left from when John was Ed's age) but fragility is still an issue for the tree itself as needles are dropping quite rapidly.

We had a bit of a warm spell over the weekend that melted all our snow and Ed's snowman. But never fear, three more inches fell today. We went out Saturday morning to burn off some energy. It wasn't quite as warm as we expected--Sunday ended up being the better day at 55 degrees early before the bottom fell out and an evening sleet storm ensued. But we had a fun trip to the park as you can see from Ed's expression in the swing. I'm posting this blurry photo of Daniel to show that despite his stoic expression in other shots, he really did have a good time. The blur is indicative of his constant motion.

I think Daniel took the previous update (in which I said I would not yet classify him as truly walking) as a personal challenge. The very next day he was up and around and has only improved since then. He still topples over quite a bit, but he is definitely toddling around on his own. He doesn't like shoes, but finds our floors a bit slippery, leading to some crash landings. Other times he just gets over-confident and thinks he can run like Edward. Then his trajectory carries him forward to a big belly flop. Perhaps related to this, I can report that his first word is, "Uh oh!" (Does that count as a word?) I think so, since he's using it in the right context. For example: he might take his cup, hold it over the edge of his tray, drop it and say, "Uh oh!" This can be repeated to hilarity as many times as the cup is retrieved (which is not as many as he would like and many many more than we would.)

And finally, since it's less than 10 days to Christmas and we still have not jump started the Christmas card process, here's another potential contender. Our across-the-street neighbor saw us packing up for our outing on Saturday and came over insisting that we had to take a picture. We snapped one of the boys, but he said, "No, all of you! This is what neighbors are for!" Apparently in this neighborhood, neighbors are also for snow-blowing, as our next-door neighbor cleared not only our sidewalk, but also our driveway this evening! Cookies will be forthcoming in hopes of continuing this lovely tradition!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Here's Daniel at 11 months. I'm sneaking this one in under the wire--no more convenient excuses (moving, homework, etc.) for missing birthday posts. He is improving his upright movement, though I still wouldn't say he's truly walking. He definitely realizes he's much faster on all fours so after putting in some effort on his feet he generally drops to his knees and speeds toward his goal. Generally, this is the two steps from our living room to front hall. He has learned to turn himself around to go down on his belly and takes every opportunity to practice/show off. To my great amusement, he sometimes turns himself more than 90 degrees and ends up backing up parallel to the stairs. He gets quite mad when he realizes he is not progressing as intended.

Another fun new skill is bringing us books to read. It is interesting to see him grab a book and then attempt to carry it while crawling toward us. Often he ends up with a knee on the book and then can't figure out why he can't move forward while holding it in his hand. Once he arrives at a seated parent, we take the book while he turns around to plop himself in a waiting lap. It's very fun. He seems mildly aware of the "reading" aspect of this adventure, but is much more interested in the "page turning" aspect.

Another "Daniel-ism" we find amusing is that if he's in his high chair and we walk away, even for just a moment (say, to get a paper towel to clean up his latest meal mess) he twists himself around to watch from the opening in the back of his high chair. The rest of the time in the high chair is not so fun these days. He is strongly resisting any attempts at spoon feeding, and "strongly" includes swatting at the spoon as it approaches, arching his back, turning his face away and grunting unappreciatively. However, he is not yet skilled enough at self feeding that we feel confident that enough is going in his mouth, as opposed to down his shirt, into the chair or on the floor. I guess he won't starve. I just need to recall those early finger foods from Edward's first year and stock up.

Here's a museum photo I forgot to post last time. I think it's still worthy, even out of context.

And in case we don't get around to an actual Christmas card this year, here's an appropriate shot that John captured in the process of getting the monthly birthday shot above. We love the expressions on their faces and if you look in the background you'll see Will's memory tree, lit once again this year. Our boys.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

In the last post John shared the first snow adventure of the new season. I provided the photos, which were taken from the warmth and comfort of our library, which conveniently has a large window facing the back yard.

I got my turn on Wednesday though. We got about two inches of fresh snow during the day and by the time the boys woke up from naps it was prime time for snow play time. It was quite a process to get all three of us ready to go at the same time without leaving either of the boys fully bundled too long inside, thus growing sweaty before heading out to the cold. Daniel wasn't too keen on the boots, but his limited snowsuit mobility worked to my advantage as he could not attempt to crawl up the stairs while I was finishing the bundling process. All told, I believe we were outside for slightly longer than it took to get ready to go out, so I count that as a success. Daniel spent the whole time in the sled and I pulled him up and down the snowy sidewalks. I forgot to give Edward his good, waterproof mittens, and his daily-wear (i.e. cheap so I don't care if he happens to lose one at daycare) fleece mittens got soaked when he started burrowing in the front yard. He also got snow up his sleeve in this maneuver and started shrieking, "It's cold! It's cold!" To warm up, Edward had his first cup of "hot" (read: lukewarm) chocolate and deemed it delicious.

Also this week, we visited the Children's Museum with Grandma and Grandpa. Daniel is finally old enough to explore a bit and had lots of fun with the vegetable bins in the grocery store. Then he discovered the carts and walked around like a bumper car, changing direction every time he crashed into one of the food shelves. He also was quite fond of the slide in the farm room, especially the five stairs he got to climb to reach it. It was a two-person operation though, with one person behind him on the stairs and another to catch him at the bottom of the slide, so hooray for grandparents!

And for tonight's moment of hilarity: I was folding laundry in the bedroom while John was helping Edward get ready for bed. Edward asked why babies cry, and John explained that they cry because they can't talk to tell us what they need.

"If you're hungry, you can say, 'Daddy I want a fruit bar,' but babies just cry when they're hungry," John said.

"Harry's crying," Edward said, referring to his baby doll. "He's hungry. I will feed him with my milk thing in my belly."

"Oh, your 'milk thing in your belly,'" John replied, trying to mask his horror.

"Yeah, I'm a pretend girl."

Editors note: John didn't realize until after he'd written the previous post that he was logged into Blogger as me.