Friday, May 29, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend

We spent this past long holiday weekend down in St. Petersburg for a nice visit with family. We got off to a bit of a rocky start, with E.J. unable to nap in the car on the drive down and then likewise in his Pack-N-Play at my dad's house. We had planned to go to the Tampa Bay Rays game that afternoon as well, but that got scrapped and the stormy afternoon weather kept us otherwise inside. Luckily, the kids found ways to keep themselves entertained inside Papa's house.

He couldn't get to sleep in his bed, but as soon as I picked him up he got the sleepy eyes and before I knew it, he was asleep in my arms for the first time since he was teeny tiny. I ended up laying in the bed and dozing with him for some time, and it was so special to me. He has never been one to cuddle while sleeping so I really treasured that.

And, then he was rested to be back up to his old tricks. In this case, he's climbing up/onto/through a table to get at an electrical outlet. Just another day at the office.

Ellie and Papa playing piano

Thankfully, Sunday went much better. We started the morning off by visiting Toni, and Gramz, Ronnie and Charlie joined us. Both Toni and Gramz were ill when we were down in March, so this was the first we were able to see them since Christmas. It was good to see them! Ellie was a bit shy, but E.J. was his usual charming self.

Ellie standing outside of Toni's room

Games with Gramz!

Kisses from his Nonnie

After our visit we went to Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast with Ronnie and Charlie. After we ate, the big kids had a great time running all over the place and playing together!

Charlie and Ellie

She sneak-attack hugged him!


Brothers and babes

After breakfast we went back to my dad's house, where we enjoyed a quick play session....

Playing with Papa

...before E.J. went down for a nap (which he actually took!), and the rest of us donned our swimsuits and hit the pool.

Pool party!

That is a happy girl!

Ellie had an absolute blast in the pool. We all did, actually! We all took turns on "Ellie duty" and had a great time swimming, playing with the pool bubbles, floating on Papa's raft and making waves.

Pool fun time

Ellie and Eric

Taking a break from the pool to run through the sprinkler!

Happy little fish!

We took a break from the water to grill some hot dogs and hamburgers ("Papa made fire!" says Ellie) and enjoy a nice picnic lunch outside.

Lunch is served!

E.J. woke up while we were eating our lunch (two-hour nap WHAT), and we got him suited up and brought him out to join the fun.

Rocking a Memorial Day-appropriate hat

Welcome to the pool, E.J.!


Swimming with my boy!

The weather started to turn gray and drizzly at just the right time, as we were ready to wrap things up anyway. We went inside and it was naptime for Ellie, while Eric, E.J. and I went out to kill some time at the mall. The rest of the evening was spent playing at Papa's house before calling it a night.

We brought E.J.'s walker home with us so he could really cover some distance in a bigger house

Reading with Ellie before bed

And that was it! We left for our return to Jacksonville the next morning, and the rest of our Memorial Day was spent pretty quietly around our home. It was a quick but really nice visit!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Black & White Ellie

In sorting through pictures on my computer this week, I came across this one of Ellie again, and it is one of my new favorites so I've been meaning to share it. This was taken at Treaty Oak at the end of April.

She's growing up so fast, isn't she?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


On Friday night we went to a members-only preview of the new Dinosaurs Unearthed Exhibit at the Museum of Science and History (MOSH). It was a nice little family evening!

We were excited to see the new exhibit, and started talking it up to Ellie in advance, because I was worried that as soon as we walked inside she would freak out and not be able to enjoy a moment of the event. MOSH helped our efforts by installing a giant animatronic T-Rex in front of the museum a couple of days before the exhibit opening, and we walked past it several times in the days prior. To my surprise, Ellie was a little wary but not nearly terrified of him. We took to calling him "Buddy" (from "Dinosaur Train") and whenever he would roar we would say things like, "Oh, look! Buddy's saying hi to you! He wants to play with you!" Ellie totally bought into it and now she's forever telling me, "Mama, Buddy was saying, 'Hi, Ellie! I like your shoes!'" and such things, and she even does a high-pitched Buddy voice. So, I figured we had it made.

"Buddy" outside MOSH!

(For the record, this is Buddy from "Dinosaur Train" that the above T-Rex is named for:)

The resemblance is uncanny.

Regardless of Ellie's reaction to the actual dinosaurs, the preview event promised some other more easily-frightened-toddler-friendly activities. Upon arrival, we sought out the first of those: crafts! We stopped in the preschool room and crafted some dinosaur hats.

Dinosaur children!

From there we made our way to the science theater for some liquid nitrogen ice cream. They were still setting up the theater when we got there, but not to worry: Ellie kept herself (and everyone else) entertained by running around like a crazy person, roaring at everyone.

Dinosaur Ellie on the loose

VIDEO: Dinosaur Ellie, roaring all over the place

When they were ready for us, we went into the science theater and watched the ice-cream making demonstration, then sampled the product. It was tasty, and they had chocolate syrup and sprinkles available for a true sundae treat.

Making the liquid nitrogen ice cream!


Then we went upstairs to see the actual dinosaurs exhibit. I had been marveling at how well Ellie was doing, until she refused to get in the elevator. She and I took the stairs, and as soon as we reached the exhibit, this happened:

Poor thing!

And, so, this is how she chose to "enjoy" the exhibit:

See her in the stroller over there?

To be honest, she still did much better than I expected. She quietly sucked her thumb under the safety of her umbrella canopy and let us walk through the museum with nary a wail or tear. And of course, the next day she started telling us, "We forgot to see the dinosaurs at the 'seum! We didn't see them! We have to go back to the 'seum to see the dinosaurs!" And I'm all, "Hey, crazypants. The rest of us saw them!" We'll try again with her another day, though I can't say I expect much of a different result! Threenagers, am I right?

Anyway, the exhibit was really cool. All the dinosaurs were animatronic and I'm sure there was lots of cool information to be gathered on all the signage, but we didn't have that much time to spend. We did enjoy ourselves, though, and E.J.'s little pointer finger was going a mile a minute.


They were all roaring and moving and just being generally pretty cool.

T-Rex trying to be stealthy

It's possible we blew E.J.'s little mind.

After walking through the exhibit, we stopped for a quick session in the photobooth...


...before continuing the dress-up fun in the museum gift shop.

Dinosaur parents!


And then it was home and off to bed for our little baby dinosaurs!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

E.J. Eats (Except Really This Time) and Gets Fat (Relatively Speaking)

I know you all have been waiting with bated breath for the next installment in the "E.J. Eats Solid Food" saga, but you can all sit back off the edges of your seats now, because the moment is upon us.

I first shared our struggles with getting E.J. to eat solid food back in February, and then updated in early April. When I last shared our solid food-feeding progression, we were just graduating from the strategy of dousing Puffs with pureed good stuff and moving on to pinning the baby's arms at his sides while feeding him from a spoon—both very elegant and not at all shameful options, of course.

Well, since my last update, we have made tremendous progress. Tremendous! Admittedly, we continued the arms-pinned approach for some time. E.J. would allow us to actually spoon-feed him that way, and then when we finished his puree we gave him some time to play with finger food. He was still...well, let's call it expressive while eating, but there was actually food being consumed.

The "duck face" was BIG for a while there.

This is his, "My mother is STILL trying to get me to eat avocado" face.

But, as with all other strategies that came before it, this method worked until it didn't. Eventually E.J. figured out how to wiggle his little arm up and out of prison and when he did, he was reaching right for that spoon and guarding that little mouth of his.

But that's when we figured out what really works: E.J. will let you feed him with a spoon if he also has finger food to eat simultaneously. As with all our other successful strategies, Eric happened upon this discovery and it has not failed us ever since. We discovered this right before E.J.'s April weight check, and much to our delight, his weight percentile actually did not drop that month. Instead, he held strong to the third percentile. Hey, he was still on the chart! The doctor instructed us to keep doing what we were doing and come back for another weight check in six weeks.

Well, somehow, some way, something clicked for E.J. in the last six weeks since that doctor visit. Our new feeding approach continues to work and, believe it or not, E.J. even seems to enjoy eating now! He is willing to try new things and has even found some favorite foods. For breakfast, he eats a yogurt/oatmeal/fruit puree mixture along with a scrambled egg and wheat toast. For lunch and dinner, he has some combination of pureed fruits and veggies, steamed vegetables (green veggies like broccoli and peas are his favorite), pasta, cottage or shredded cheddar cheese (other favorites), chicken, watermelon, and really anything else we have laying around that I think would be good for him to try. And he gobbles it up!

Get a load of this guy! Happily eating peas, steamed carrots, Puffs and the remains of some sort of puree.

Not only does he willingly eat his food, but E.J. has started doing some baby sign language to request his favorites. I want to write more in a separate post about his baby signs, because he is killing it with probably at least five signs already, before he is even eleven months old. I'm super impressed. But for the sake of this post, I'll just share that his two favorite food-related signs are "more" and "cheese." That kid strenuously requests cheese quite often! I love that not only is he actually eating, but he is exercising some say in the matter and communicating to us what he wants. Amazing.

E.J. doing his version of the "cheese" sign

VIDEO: E.J.'s version of "more"

VIDEO: E.J. signing for cheese. I love how happy he gets when we acknowledge what he's trying to say!

Of course, this is all well and good but what really matters is if he's gaining that weight. Well, I am pleased to report that we had that six-week follow-up visit today, and little E.J. is weighing in at a hefty 17 lb 9 oz—that's the seventh percentile for his age! Heeeeey there, big boy! Look at you and your chunky self!

Looking oh-so-roly-poly at the doctor today. (Hey, just humor me.)

He's also up to the ninth percentile for height (again, he was in the third percentile six weeks ago), so basically, he's a giant.

The doctor was quite encouraged by this, because now we can see that yes, his body is absorbing the nutrients he needs when he eats, and now he seems to be getting the calories he needs. And he needs A LOT because that boy is CRAZYCAKES in terms of crawling and climbing and generally turning my hair gray, but that's another post in itself. But anyway, this growth means they are no longer concerned about something else being afoot, so there is no need for any testing or anything like that.

So here we are now, with our little late-blooming-eater, who finally found his food groove this month and now is skyrocketing up the growth charts. Phew. What a relief! And not only has the situation improved generally, but this little sweetheart is actually happy when he eats (usually, because, you know. He's still a baby.). I am so relieved that mealtime is no longer a stressful situation in which I sit before him and beg him to eat lest he otherwise whither away to nothing, and instead has now become a fun experience for everyone that involves smiles, laughter, games, communication and, you know, just eating.

A happy, healthy, growing boy!

Way to go, little man. Keep it up and you won't be little much longer!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Grammy's Weekend Visit

My mom spent this past weekend with us and we had a really nice few days, both with her and without! That sounds like odd phrasing, but she very kindly offered to babysit a good bit so I could have some time to myself and Eric and I could have a date night, plus we did some fun things as a full group. All around, it was a great weekend!

My mom arrived Friday morning and our first order of business was getting Ellie to the "Mickey Store" (Disney Store) for a new Rapunzel dress. My sister gave her one for her birthday, and Ellie loved it so much she literally wore holes into it. And then I would patch them ("put some Rapunzel thread on my dress, Mama!"), and then new holes would pop up, and so on and so forth. Finally I was like, enough already. My mom generously offered to split the cost of the REAL Rapunzel costume from the Disney Store, so I promised Ellie that next time Grammy came, we would get her a new dress. And boy, did she remember.

As luck would have it, Disney costumes were 40% off that day, so she got her dress for a great price and I also picked up a Sofia the First dress to stash away for when she's finally potty trained (coming very soon!). Ellie loved her new Rapunzel dress and has been wearing it near constantly ever since.

She's a bit edgy, but isn't she a lovely lost princess?

Then it was back home for lunch and naps. During naptime, I left the kids in my mother's capable hands and went for a haircut, my first since before E.J. was born. That's tragic, I know. Needless to say, I was due. I tried a new salon in Riverside and I loved the end result. I cut probably about eight inches off (and probably lost nearly 10 pounds off my total weight) and actually have some style. It's so nice to feel like a real person again, and not just a frumpy mom with a messy, frizzy, "I've given up" bun.


That evening, we once again left the kids in my mother's care while Eric and I enjoyed a delightful date night. We had the idea to go to a Jacksonville Suns game, and relive some of the "childless couple" magic of attending a baseball game without small kids in tow. As you may recall, it is a bucket list item for Eric to see games played at all Major League Baseball stadiums, so needless to say, we have attended quite a few ballgames together in our years as a couple. We do love taking our kids to the games, but let's be honest: those afternoons at the ballpark include a lot of walking, entertaining, snacking, and distraction, and very little sitting, watching the game, and BEER DRINKING. So we decided to live it up and went to a game, just the two of us. We ate food (no tiny fingers stole our french fries), we drank beer (without fear of tiny feet kicking it over every time I set it down), we watched some baseball (no tiny beings needed constant entertainment), and we stayed for the fireworks after the game (and no tiny people freaked out about the loud noises). What a night!

Date night at the ballpark!

All the ladies got free pink caps that night!

With the Suns losing at the end of the game, Eric had to don his rally cap.

Post-game fireworks

The next morning, Eric had a Teach for America conference all day, so it was just the ladies and E.J. left to entertain ourselves. On the agenda for Saturday: a haircut for Ellie! Can we talk about how long the mane on my former baldy was getting?!?!

Before pics!

I didn't like how stringy it was looking in the back, so I wanted to trim it up to/above her shoulders. We went back to the children's salon we took her to the first time, and they pampered her to the fullest: glitter polish manicure, Doc McStuffins on TV, nice trim, two sparkly clips, and a fancy heart hairdo topped with glitter to finish things off. She loved it.

Glitter manicure to start things off

Haircut time!

She now has permanent glitter dandruff, but she loved it.

New shorter, cleaner locks!

That evening, after naptime, we went for a walk across the Main Street Bridge to the Jacksonville Landing. We had a fabulous time dancing to the music there!

Eric and I were just goofing around, and wound up inspiring a full-family dance party!

Ellie got in on the action in full force

Eric joined her

I shared a dance with my little man

Then Grammy cut in!

VIDEO: Ellie dancing at the Landing

We sat for a while and watched the draw bridge go up and down, then walked back across it (and got stopped at it again ourselves).

The Main Street Bridge

With my favorite crazies

Watching the bridge go up

Waiting for our turn to cross the bridge

Walking across the bridge

When we got home, we put E.J. to bed then had a pizza picnic on the front porch. Perfect end to a fun evening!

On Sunday, we drove down to St. Augustine for the Children's Art Festival, which was a lot of fun. We originally wanted to attend this event because our local PBS station indicated that Daniel Tiger would be making an appearance, and Ellie is a HUGE Daniel fan so we wanted to make that happen for her. Alas, Daniel couldn't take the heat (quite literally) and they scrapped that appearance, but we still had a fun morning crafting, dancing and enjoying some ice cream (thanks, Grammy!).

Craft time with Grammy

Painting with nature

Making a picture of a sandcastle, but that should be obvious.

Sharing a cup of mint chocolate chip ice cream

E.J. got a little taste of the ice cream, too, and this was his reaction.

Cuddles with Mama

And, Daddy time.


Burning off some energy in the grass before heading home

Sweet boy!

When we got home we had some lunch then bid farewell to Grammy. Thanks so much for coming, Grammy!

My mom and the kids!