Sunday, June 12, 2011

Brookfield Zoo and Clow Airport pics

The weather here can't decide what it wants to be (literally 97 degrees one day and 55 the next), but we've still been able to make a few fun outings lately.

Brookfield Zoo

We went to the Brookfield Zoo on June 2nd with Grandma Kay Ellen and her friend, Mr. Mike, who is a member of the zoo. Thankfully, the weather was beautiful that day -- 70 degrees and sunny, with no wind. This was John and Lila's first trip to this zoo, and my first trip there in at least 15 years!

John did a lot of things at this zoo that he'd never done before. At the Children's Center, he got to paint his own face and pet a snake and a hamster. I was so proud of him for being brave enough to touch the snake! I pet it too, even though I didn't want to, since I wanted to show John that it was o.k.

The petting zoo wasn't as nice as it used to be, so we only spent a little time there, mostly in the goat section. John was hesitant at first to get close to the goats, which didn't surprise me, since when we went to the petting zoo in Portland last fall, he was terrified of them. I showed him how to pet the goat on the head, and then John did it too. He also got to pick out a brush (a "broom," John kept calling it) to use on the goat. What good-natured creatures goats must be to tolerate life in a petting zoo!

We left the goats to head over to the 11:00 dolphin show. John waited very patiently in line with Mr. Mike and Grandma, and he got to sit on Mr. Mike's lap during the show. There was so much for John to take in during the show that I think it was a little overwhelming for him. One of the dolphins would do a trick, and John would get so focused on that dolphin that he'd miss the other dolphins doing their tricks, hehe.

Later, after lunch, we went to the new stingray exhibit, where John got to pet some stingrays! He had to wash his arms all the way up to his elbows, and then we laid him on his tummy on the side of the pool where the stingrays were swimming. John dipped his arms in the water and waited for the stingrays to swim close enough to him that he could touch them. It took a while, but one finally swam right past his hands. He immediately pulled his arms out of the water. I think he thought the stingray felt gross (I know I did -- it was completely slimy) because he was very cautious about putting his arms back in the water. He didn't really want to touch another one!

We wrapped up our trip to the zoo with a visit to the Africa section so John could see his favorite animal, the giraffe. While we were there, John wanted to take a "ride" on this aardvark display.

I snapped a few photos of Grandma, Mike, and the kids, but of course I didn't think to have someone else take a photo of me with the kids!

Literally minutes before we turned around to head out of the zoo, Lila had a bit of a diaper blowout. This was her first public blowout in months, and it could have been a lot worse. I was so glad that I had remembered to bring a change of clothes for her! Mike helped me change her on a park bench right away, before the poop got everywhere. Thanks, Mike!

I am totally excited to take the kids to the Milwaukee County Zoo in the next few months. Everyone I talk to tells me how kid-friendly the zoo is. And it's actually in Wauwatosa, where we'll be living, so I'm sure it'll become a frequent destination of ours. Update: I just checked Mapquest, and the zoo is exactly 2.81 miles from our house. Not too bad a drive!

Cavalcade of Planes

We went to the Cavalcade of Planes at Bolingbrook's Clow Airport on June 4th. It was SO HOT that day, it felt like we were back in Texas. Our family friend, Ray Jakubiak, has a hangar at the airport, and we hung out with him most of the time so we could watch the goings-on from the shade. We missed seeing Aunt Wrenne, who was helping out at her grandkids' soccer game that morning.

Lila, dressed in her adorable giraffe-print outfit from Aunt Jen and Uncle Norvel, sat on Grandma's lap and helped herself to some of Uncle Ray's arm hair. She is also a big fan of Daddy's and Papa Jeff's arm hair.

Here is the little giraffe in the stroller, trying to stay cool.

John and Uncle Ray are good buddies from way back when. We have visited Uncle Ray at the airport several times before. Usually we meet for breakfast at the airport cafe and watch all the planes taking off and landing. That day, of course, there were even more planes, and there were parachuters and other cool displays too.

Here's John with his fireman's hat (that he procured from four Bolingbrook firefighters!) in front of Uncle Ray's Navion plane.

There were a couple of helicopters at the cavalcade, including a Blackhawk, and it was awesome to see how excited John was to get in them. He had to wait in line for awhile to get into the cockpit of the Blackhawk, but he was very patient. I kept reminding him that Daddy flies helicopters, and he would shake his head in agreement. I think he is very proud of his Daddy.

Coming soon: John's 29-month post!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The loving siblings

As promised, here are those pics of John holding Lila. I love these!!!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Our 7-month-old Lila

Lila's 7-month birthday was May 26th, which was not quite a week after we got back to Illinois from our marathon of traveling. Since Lila spent almost her entire 7th month away from home, she didn't have her 6-month well-baby appointment until May 20th, when she was about 6 and three-quarters months old. At that appointment, Lila weighed 16 pounds, 0 ounces and measured 27 inches long. With these measurements, she is now slightly below the 50th percentile for weight and in the 75th percentile for height (she was exactly 50th percentile for both the last few months). So it would seem that our little girl is lengthening faster than she is widening!

Hair and eyes: Lila's hair keeps getting darker and thicker. The other day I looked at John's 6- and 7-month photos, and his hair was definitely lighter than Lila's. His was also a lot crazier! It would stand straight up in the air after his naps. Lila probably has as much hair as John did, but hers stays put a lot better. Maybe it's because of the bow clips I use. Lila's eyes are still blue (with that one tiny golden speck in her left eye), so I guess that means the blue is here to stay! I am glad because I think it's so pretty for a little girl to have dark brown hair and blue eyes. Her eyes are a medium blue that is in between Papa Jeff's baby blue eyes and Uncle Jesse's gray-blue eyes.

Other stats: Lila now wears 6-12 month and 9-month clothing. Her drawers are PACKED with summer clothes. The only thing she could really use right now is another pair of pajamas. I wish that her size 1 jelly sandals fit her, but they're still a little big. Lila has the daintiest feet, making it difficult to find socks and shoes that won't immediately fall off of her. It's funny thinking about how different her feet are from John's -- his feet have always been wide and chubby, with crooked and overlapping toes on his left foot, while hers are narrow and thin, with perfectly straight toes on both feet. Both of them have short feet, though. Neither one of them is going to wear an unusually large shoe size.

Nursing: While still a great nurser overall, Lila picked up two habits this past month that have made it a lot more difficult for Mommy to feed her. First of all, she's SO easily distracted now that I can't even look at her while she's nursing, let alone talk to her. I feel bad doing it, but I usually have to look the opposite direction the whole time, since if she catches my gaze, she immediately pulls off to give me her big toothy smile. Secondly, she started biting - ouch! It totally took me by surprise the first time she did it (May 21st) and I screamed, which was the worst thing I could have done. She laughed and laughed at my reaction and then wanted to bite me again so she could see my reaction again. After a crazy first few days during which she bit me multiple times per nursing session, Lila has thankfully decided not to use her Mommy's "nursing instruments" as a chew toy anymore. I remember John biting me only a couple of times EVER, so Lila's biting really threw me off. And I don't think he had as much trouble focusing on nursing like Lila either. Once he was on, it was impossible to get him off!

Lila's daytime nursing schedule is not really based upon clock time. I nurse her after she wakes up in the morning, after she wakes up from her first and second naps, and right before she goes to bed in the evening. She usually wakes up between 10 p.m. and midnight for a feeding and then once again during the night at some point. I think Lila must have been going through a 6-month growth spurt while we were in North Dakota because she was wanting to eat three times a night there -- it was like having a newborn again! Now that the growth spurt "feeding frenzy" has subsided, I'm certain that the second night feeding is more of a "comfort" nursing than anything else, so I'm trying to get rid of that one.

Solid food feedings: Lila's solid food feedings got a lot easier this month. Even though she started on brown rice cereal in early April, she didn't really overcome the reflex to push her tongue out of her mouth (with the cereal on it) until early May. I think Grandma Bonnie helped her get the hang of it, since she fed Lila her cereal most evenings while we were in North Dakota.

Lila eats solid food twice a day now. She still gets her cereal in the evenings, usually between 5:30 and 6 p.m., or whenever we are all sitting down to dinner. As of May 26th, Lila also eats a vegetable or fruit around lunchtime. The first vegetable she tried was sweet peas. I was definitely not expecting her to like them, especially since John gagged on peas when he was a baby, but she did! Since then, she has also tried carrots, sweet potatoes, pears, butternut squash with corn, prunes and bananas. She has liked everything so far! The only problem we've had feeding her is trying to keep her hands at her side so she doesn't shove them, her bib, or the highchair straps into her mouth. She loves to eat her bib and highchair straps almost as much as the food.

Look at the little pea-eater! Doesn't that look delicious?

Of course the only downside to starting all these solids is the stinky solid food poop. It took Lila so long to start ingesting enough of her rice cereal to affect her digestive system that she didn't have her first solid food poop until May 10th (yes, I wrote it down). Since then, her pooping has been really inconsistent. One day it's tiny brown Playdoh patties and the next day it's like this blast from the past (pun intended) from John:

Sleeping: Lila is great at falling asleep on her own in her crib, whether it's for a nap or at bedtime. She will even fall asleep in her car seat when I need her to, like during a church service. The sleep-training techniques I learned from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby have definitely helped me to get her to this point (i.e. making sure to put her in her crib before she gets too cranky, always using the same routine), but I know that Lila's ability to self-soothe has played a huge role too. Lila can instantly soothe herself by 1) sucking on her forefinger and middle finger and/or 2) touching her swaddling blanket to her face. If Lila fusses when I lay her down, she'll immediately (within 30 seconds) do one or both of the above. It is amazing to watch! Lila is so obsessed with her blanket that she freaks out in excitement when I get it out to bundle her in it. She'll thrash her arms and legs to try to grab it out of my hands! Here's the bundled little baby just waking up from a nap.....

Maybe it's because Lila's a second baby that she's so good at self-soothing. John didn't suck his fingers (or thumb) or have a blanket obsession. I don't think he had any self-soothing techniques at all, actually! I guess that's why he was WAY harder to sleep train.

Lila is now down to two naps a day. She stopped taking an evening nap right around her 7-month birthday. Occasionally she'll fall asleep for a few minutes in the evening if we happen to be driving in the car or taking a walk in the stroller, but usually she won't. It's been really great so far to have her on a two-nap schedule because it means she goes to bed before instead of after John goes to bed. Since Daddy is still not home for good, it can be difficult putting John to bed when I also have Lila to take care of. Lila's new sleep schedule looks like this:

Wake up - between 6 and 7 a.m.
First nap - between 9 and 10 a.m.
Second nap - between 1 and 2 p.m.
Bedtime - between 6 and 7 p.m.

The only problem Lila has now with sleeping is staying asleep at night. She is still waking up more frequently than I think she should be. I might be at fault for that, since, if she wakes up at night and starts crying really hard, I go to her. Lately she's been waking up because she gets an arm or a leg partially stuck through the crib slats (I don't feel comfortable using a bumper). Sometimes she cries even if she's just rolled over onto her stomach, which is strange, because I often check on her during her naps and find her sleeping on her stomach. (Normally she sleeps on her side.) Lila never wakes up crying from a nap, so I don't know why she automatically does it at night unless she's hungry. I am glad, though, that we are back home where she can sleep in her own bed. I think part of the reason she slept so poorly while we were traveling (besides the growth spurt thing) was that she was in the Pack n Play.

Personality: Lila is still the happiest baby ever. People are always commenting on how often she smiles (basically non-stop). She loves being around people and will still go to strangers without even batting an eye. This definitely came in handy while we were traveling, since she had to meet new people multiple times a day. Of course she prefers to have her Mommy around, though. She has actually started fussing a lttle if Mommy leaves the room or walks by her without picking her up.

One of Lila's adorable quirks is her throaty little laugh (she still has the congestion in her lungs that she's had since birth). I am guaranteed to get a laugh out of her if I give her raspberries on her tummy, so I do that a lot. It's so cute! Lila has also started doing this low growl from time to time. It kind of sounds like she's trying to imitate a bear or a lion. I will have to get it on video.

Milestones: Lila started sitting up unassisted around the week of May 2nd, while we were in North Dakota. One day I put her in a sitting position on a blanket, intending to prop her up with some pillows from the couch, and she surprised me by doing it all by herself with her back completely straight! I think she may have been able to do it sooner, but since we'd been traveling so much, we weren't playing on the floor as often.

She also shows great interest in crawling. She has almost gotten onto all fours in an effort to get to something that is out of reach. It's obvious that she wants to be mobile because she starts fussing when she can't grab ahold of a toy she wants! She leans as far forward as she can and will plop right onto her forehead if she doesn't get her arms out in time. I think she's getting closer. John started his "Army crawling" a few days past his 8-month birthday.

Lila has very strong legs and can stand against something (the couch or coffee table) for a few seconds on her own when her arms are on top of it. She has also pulled herself up to a standing position! Much to my surprise, she did this at Grandma Bonnie and Papa Jeff's house while she was sitting at this toy piano they have. She reached out for the handles on either side of the keyboard and lifted herself right off the seat!

Playtime: Lila has two toy buckets full of toys, but her favorite toys are these little Sassy brand things that you can hook to the bar over the car seat. There's a red lady bug, a blue butterfly and a yellow butterfly, and they all have a little bell inside that makes noise when she shakes them. She adores chewing on them. She also really likes her crinkly paper book. Sometimes when she's sitting on my lap or Grandma Kay Ellen's lap, she'll dive for the newspaper because she knows it makes the same crinkly sound her book does.

Lila definitely isn't that interested in her jungle anymore. It's all about the Exersaucer and jumper now -- we've still got the Exersaucer in the kitchen and the jumper in the basement. She also likes to play with kitchen utensils in her highchair and toys in her Bumbo seat. If we're playing on the floor, I'll put one of her toy buckets in front of her and she'll dump it out and she'll be entertained by its contents for a really long time.

Another favorite pasttime of Lila's is hanging out with her big brother. John can always bring a smile to Lila's face! Lila makes John laugh, too. He thinks she is really funny, as long as she doesn't try to take one of his toys ("No, Wiwa, that's mine toy!"). I have a bunch of photos to post from the other day when I let John hold Lila.

So, with a promise to post more photos, I'd better finish up this post. Lila had a pretty eventful 7th month, as 7th months go. Here are a few more photos from the month:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

John at 28 Months

I have to knock out a 28-month post for John tonight, since he'll be 29 months a week from now! John's 28th month was extremely hectic because of his Daddy's arrival and our ensuing car trips to Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. If I had to sum it up in one line, I'd say it was one of those "best of times and the worst of times" kind of experiences, both for John and for his (very tired) parents.

Of course the highlight of the month for John was getting to see his Daddy again. After months of hearing that "Daddy's at work," he welcomed home his Daddy on the afternoon April 13th. I had told John before I laid down for his nap that Daddy would be home by the time he woke up, but I think John was still really surprised to see him walk through his bedroom door to get him out of his crib. Just as he had in October, John played shy with Daddy when he first saw him -- he smiled but didn't talk very much. I videotaped the reaction in two parts (see below).

Once Daddy was home, John wasn't nearly as interested in Mommy anymore. In fact, that afternoon John told Mommy to "go inside" so he could play alone with Daddy on the back deck. Mommy was happy to oblige. They played with his new basketball and hoop and chased each other around the tree.

Other highlights of the month for John were getting to see all of his extended family in Minnesota and North Dakota again, making some new friends in North Dakota, and attending his very first wedding. If you ask John about who got married at the wedding, he'll say, "I got married!" If you ask him whom he got married to, he'll give you a different answer every time (but my two favorite answers are "Mommy!" and "Uncle Jesse!")

So you might be wondering what the lowpoint of the month was. No big surprise here -- it was taking John househunting in Wisconsin. Our first mistake was thinking it was a good idea to leave for Wisconsin on a Tuesday afternoon after John's Parent's Day Out program ended. We assumed John would be so tired that he'd fall asleep in the car as soon as we got on the interstate. When that didn't happen, we started to get worried. Thank goodness there was a 15-mile construction site on I-94 as we approached the Milwaukee area. Those cranes and bulldozers kept us all sane.

Our second mistake was thinking John would understand the concept of "going to Wisconsin" and "going to Milwaukee." Apparently, crossing over the border of Illinois into Wisconsin wasn't interesting enough for John to actually think we were "there." We told him over and over again that we already were in Wisconsin and to look out the window, but he just kept saying, "I go Mis-consin! I go Mis-consin!" We eventually realized that John thought "Mis-consin" was a person ("Miss Consin"). It got even worse when, as we passed by Milwaukee and pointed out all the buildings to him, he started saying, "I go Mis-waukee! I go Mis-waukee!" He didn't want to see the buildings, he wanted to see "Miss Waukee." So we were dealing with a nap-deprived 2-year-old who was asking to see two people who didn't exist!

Once we had checked into our hotel in Brookfield (a suburb just outside Milwaukee) and brought up all our bags to the room, John had finally settled down and wasn't asking to see "Miss Consin" or "Miss Waukee" anymore. But when we started leaving the hotel to go get some dinner, John started getting upset again, shouting, "No! No! I go Mis-consin! I go Mis-waukee!" Somehow he had begun associating the names "Wisconsin" and "Milwaukee" with the hotel itself, and he didn't want to leave the hotel!

I wish that I could say the rest of the trip went more smoothly, but it didn't. In addition to the "Miss Consin"/"Miss Waukee" confusion, John just didn't understand the concept of "looking at houses." At this point in our search, we were still thinking we were going to rent, so we were driving around neighborhoods in different towns to get a feel for the areas we liked. We did go in one house that we found for rent on Craigslist, and after we did that, John assumed we would be going inside every other house we looked at from the outside -- yikes! For him, "looking at houses" necessarily meant "going inside houses," which is something John absolutely LOVES to do. Anyway, that trip to Wisconsin ended up being far, far worse than all of the driving we did a week later to go to Minnesota and North Dakota!

To end the post on a more positive note, I'll mention that during his 28th month, our little social butterfly really "spread his wings." At the playground across the street from Grandma Bonnie and Grandpa Jeff's house, John started going up to much older kids (boys AND girls, sometimes three or four or five times his age!) and, using what I call his "deep big boy" voice, asking them their names. He'd respond with, "I John," and then he'd proceed to run around and play with these kids as if he were just one of the gang. Hahaha! Now he does this all the time, and I never get tired of seeing the look on kids' faces when they realize that a 2-year-old is trying to make friends with them! Too, too cute.