Sunday, December 27, 2009

White Christmas in KC

Kansas City was hit with what one local meteorologist labeled "Winter Storm Banjo" on Christmas Eve/Day with some snow continuing through the weekend. Above was our front yard on Christmas morning. (You can also see the house's nice new paint job we had done this fall!)

Due to the high winds, we got drifts up to a few feet high in some areas, and visible grass in others, as you can see in our backyard. Our deck also had no snow the first day as all of it blew off into the yard below. We are guessing that we had an average of 10-12".

Leaving the house through the front door isn't really an option at this point!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Getting ready for Christmas

We have been busy getting ready for Christmas, Ben's first birthday, and my parents' visit to KC around New Year's. Ben still isn't quite sure what to make of the tree, but has been getting more adventurous and gently pets the branches. I think he's kind of confused as to how some big glowing thing sprouted up in the living room while he was asleep.

Ben got to spend last Saturday night over at Grandma & Opa's while we were in Lawrence for a friend's birthday party. Opa lit the menorah for the second day of Hanukkah and he and Ben read a baby's Hanukkah picture book we found at Barnes & Noble. He had a ball over there, slept very well and tried to eat them out of house & home. We think he may be in a growth spurt, as he has been a hungry little boy these past 2 weeks!

Yesterday we were back at Grandma & Opa's for Ben's first of many annual family cookie baking marathons. Great-grandma Anne showed him how to use the sprinkles to decorate a few cookies, and he tried his first cookie. He also tried getting his hands in the giant mixing bowl with the cookie dough, but was fended off by an alert crew of bakers used to guarding the cookies from the dog.

Dave took last Friday off and we took Ben to see Santa at the Bass Pro Shops near our house. We got there at the perfect time in the afternoon, as Santa had just arrived and we only had to wait behind one other little boy. Ben didn't quite know what to make of Santa or the store in general, and the photographer was desperately trying to get him to look toward the camera instead of staring up at all the fish & geese hanging from the ceiling! Still, we were able to get a pretty good picture. Ben also got to see the giant catfish in the aquarium and some ducks swimming in a pond. He loves his rubber ducks and seemed pretty interested in the real thing.

We tried in vain to get Ben to sit still in front of the tree long enough to get a happy, smiling photo, and he immediately destroyed the "Merry Christmas" blocks we'd set out as a prop. We did get a few cute ones of him playing with the blocks the next night.

Finally deciding he'd had enough:

Today he posed in his "Ho Ho Ho" onesie, blinking reindeer socks (which are still blinking even though Janice gave them to us a year ago! I wish the batteries in the rest of his toys lasted that long!), and Santa hat.

Happy holidays to all of our friends and family. Safe travels to those who will be on the road or in the air this holiday season!

Meals are more fun when they're messy!

Ben has been enjoying most of his food lately. He's still not sold on non-pureed green beans and vacillates on macaroni & cheese and pasta, but he loves grilled cheese sandwiches, Cheerios, apple slices, meat, and blueberry applesauce.

He likes bananas, but sometimes they're a little too slippery to be finger food. Our solution has been to coat them in crushed Cheerios so he can get a grip on them, which works well but also leaves a total mess!

Below is the result of eating his beloved blueberry applesauce. I'd made a large batch of homemade applesauce a few weeks ago and cooked a few portions of that with some frozen blueberries one morning. I'm not sure if Ben had eaten blueberries prior to that, but he sure likes them a lot! He keeps signing "more" even after he's polished off a good-sized bowl!

Friday morning I'd just cooked up a new batch of blueberry applesauce but it needed to cool down before Ben could eat it. We gave him some oat crackers with soy butter (looks like peanut butter but okay for babies) to start on, then fed him the applesauce with oatmeal when it was cool. He had a blast feeding himself the sticky cracker pieces and ended up absolutely filthy, necessitating an immediate trip to the bathtub after breakfast!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Warning: Extreme Close-up!!!

Ben shows off his crawling skills and tries to lay claim to the video camera.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Morning surprise!

We heard Ben wake up and start chattering to himself last week, as he often does. We turned on the light in his room to find this adorable sight:

Thankfully he hasn't woken up in the middle of the night and tried this, as he's not quite as skilled at getting down gracefully from a standing position as he is at standing up yet.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ben Climbs

Ben has really become mobile in the last 2 weeks, pulling himself up on everything, crawling like crazy (although he still finds it just as efficient to army crawl as opposed to making the extra effort to pick his belly up), and trying to head for the stairs. Here is a supervised climb on his way up to his Rockin' Panda.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ben's new toy

A little video of Ben playing with his new activity table. Sometimes he stands next to it and tries to lean over with his belly on the center bowl, angling for the buttons on the opposite side. It also shows how he likes to chatter, especially when he's playing with his toys.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ben at 10 months

Ben had a busy weekend. On Friday, he and I went to a consignment sale, where we got him a winter coat, snowpants, shirt with a banjo on it, The Very Hungry Caterpillar (he already had his much-loved stuffed VH Caterpillar from Ruth & Dick, so we found him the book to match), and a few other books to replace the ones I've taken to use with clients. We also scored an activity table for $15, which helps him work on his kneeling & standing. He has been having a lot of fun with it.

On Sunday, we went with friends and their two little ones for Ben's first pumpkin patch outing. Thankfully, Angela looked at the forecast & suggested going as soon as it opened, which meant that we were finished by the time it started to sprinkle, and to lunch by the time it began to pour. Ben was still too young for most of the activities at the pumpkin patch, but he seemed to enjoy watching the people & animals.

They had a little petting farm with some sheep, llama, goats, donkey, watusi (Dave liked that it was named Greinke after the Royals' pitcher!), rabbits, and buffalo.

Ben meets the llama.

His favorite seemed to be the goat. He wasn't quite sure what to make of it at first, but then seemed fascinated.

Ben decided he needed more cowbell. Sadly, he did actually end up developing a fever later in the day, for which he needed Tylenol in addition to more cowbell, but he was feeling much better yesterday & today.

We picked out a few small pumpkins, since we decided we didn't have time to carve a big one this week. I'm going to let Ben try finger-painting one or two, and cook the third pie pumpkin for Ben. We still let him examine some of the bigger ones, but he was feeling kind of rotten by this point, and also wasn't too sure about sitting on the ground.

At ten months, Ben is very chatty, is army-crawling all over, and is doing well standing up with something to hold on to. He loves his teddy bear, blocks, and musical toys. He is doing well with finger foods & tried spaghetti for the first time yesterday. We do regular video chats with my parents and brother, and Ben is getting more interested in those and will perk up when he sees their faces. He is generally a very happy little boy and such a joy to watch grow and learn!

We are looking forward to my parents' visit this weekend and Ben wearing his Halloween costume again!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Entirely Dignified Family

One of the pictures from Ben's first trip to a pumpkin farm. Ben was really unsure as to why he had to stick his head in a wooden pumpkin cutout and did not tolerate it for very long!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Getting ready for Halloween!

Ben tried on his Halloween costume for the first time tonight. He will be an adorable pumpkin, courtesy of Dena's fabulous sewing skills and Dena & Jen's creativity! Dena even somehow managed to make the pumpkin leaves bendable, although I have no idea how she did it. It turned out so great, though. Thanks, ladies!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

9 Month Stats

Benjamin went to the doctor for his 9-month checkup on October 3. He is doing well keeping his height & weight in proportion and the doctor said that he should be crawling and clapping soon. We also have the okay to start him on table food and anything except milk, shellfish, fresh strawberries, peanuts, and honey. He has been doing better with finger foods this week and has tried Cheerios, puffs, bread, pancakes, crackers, and banana chunks. Daycare also started adding pureed meat (yum!) into his lunches. He's got 2 teeth each on the top & bottom and is working on another top tooth.

His 9-month stats are:
Height: 30" -95th percentile (the doc thinks maybe the last checkup's measurement was wrong)
Weight: 22.5 lbs -75th percentile
Head circumference: 46.2 cm - 75th percentile

Ben's favorite activities at 9 months are scooting, army crawling, chewing/drooling on things, babbling (often at high volumes), standing with help, watching people clap, playing the English/Spanish drum Uncle Tony got him over and over and over, and playing with his rubber ducks, blocks, books, and our watches.

In more depressing news, neither Dave nor I have a team in the MLB playoffs. Ben & I tried to cheer on the Tigers in their tiebreaker game with the Minnesota Twins, but even Ben's cute shirt was not enough of a good luck charm for the Tigers to pull off a win. Oh well, there's always hockey and basketball...

Gone to Carolina

We recently took a trip to visit family & friends in North & South Carolina. We visited Em's cousins and one of her college roommates in Raleigh and spent several days in Spartanburg, SC, with Dave's extended family.

Ben did pretty well on his first plane rides, given lots of Cheerios, toys, bouncing, and repeated readings of his favorite books.

Dave probably doing the 4th of 92 readings of Is Your Mama a Llama?

On our first night of the trip, we got to have dinner with Em's cousin Christopher before he flew up to visit Em's parents in Detroit. In Raleigh, we stayed with Christopher's sister Andi, her husband Chris and their 4-yr-old daughter Phoebe. Phoebe was fascinated by Ben and wanted to know all about his pajamas, what he ate, what he liked to play with, and if he went to "baby school." They took us to experience NC barbecue and to a great steak place called The Angus Barn, which has won awards for customer service and also has a fantastic wine cellar. We toured the cellar and it was really neat. Ben and Phoebe made friends with one of the waitresses, who brought them toys (duck for Ben, sunglasses for Phoebe) and fussed over them!

Ben, Em, Phoebe, and Andi:

We also got to see Em's college roommate Robin, who is a linguistics professor at NC State. She took us on a tour of part of the campus. There are some lovely, big trees, and we also walked to a nearby rose garden. Sadly, we were not there long enough for her to start teaching Ben Swahili. Maybe next time?

We drove down to Spartanburg, SC, where Dave's grandfather grew up. We stayed with Dave's aunt Martha & her husband Joe and spent a lot of time with Dave's cousin Joy and her girls Caroline and Madison. Ben discovered the wonder of Duplo blocks that used to be Caroline's & Maddie's and played with them for at least a half-hour at a time.

Ben showed off his keyboard-banging skills to Joy, Martha & Joe, using an old laptop toy from the girls.

We went to The Beacon, a Spartanburg landmark since 1946. Ben was mad because he didn't get any of our burgers-a-plenty (hidden under a huge pile of onion rings and french fries). Also note that I ordered the small size of hushpuppies. I think there were about 10 for $1.60!

We spent Saturday afternoon at the Inman Fall Festival. Maddie and Caroline got their faces painted. Ben enjoyed people-watching and chewing on his new rain coat. Luckily, we got through most of the festival before the rain really started. Sadly, we did have to take shelter in the cars before I got my deep-fried Oreo!

We stopped by the biggest Krispy Kreme we'd ever seen to visit Dave's Aunt Dot while she was working. Ben tried on a hat and he & I were fascinated by the assembly line of doughnut machines, including the glazing waterfall. Okay, maybe I was a little more fascinated by it than Ben was. But he liked chewing on the hat and smiling at Aunt Dot.

We also got to spend a lot of time with Aunt Mary, who is Dave's great-great-aunt and therefore Ben's great-great-great-aunt. She & Ben cuddled, read books, and he did his "Let me see your teeth!" game. She was a better sport about it than Dave & I are at this point.

Aunt Mary also got to familiarize herself with the literary masterpiece That's Not My Dinosaur!

We also got to take a slight detour to the IKEA in Charlotte on our way back from Spartanburg to Raleigh. Ben had started to get fussy in the car, so we took his bottle in with us in case he kept fussing. He calmed down as soon as we got in the store, and was absolutely entranced by everything hanging from the ceilings and stacked on the shelves! He went 2 hours past his feeding time without protest because he was having such a good time staring and chattering!

We had a wonderful trip and were so glad we got the chance to introduce Ben to everyone! I hadn't met the SC crowd either, so it was a great pleasure for me to spend time with them. Thanks to everyone who took time out for us!

Benjamin on the move

Ben has been working on crawling for the last few weeks. He gets up on his knees and rocks back and forth. He has crawled like that a few moves at a time, but is also getting good at army crawling. Yesterday he became fascinated with crawling over to his exersaucer, scooting his torso halfway in to the saucer part, and repeatedly banging his toys on the saucer. Then he'd rescue the toy, crawl out, and then let the toy slide back in and repeat the whole process. Here he is heading for two of his favorite toys, the star stacker and giraffe block holder.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ben at eight months- photo essay

(Seriously? You're interrupting my duck time to take pictures and you won't even let me chew on the paper?)

Playing catch-up once are some of our favorite pictures from the last few months.

Em's parents came to visit in August. Ben got to play hooky from daycare one day and stay home for Grandparent Camp. Here is Ben greeting Grandma B. shortly after her arrival:

Playing piano with Grandpa:

We met Dave's parents for breakfast at ingredient, a delicious restaurant in the new Park Place shopping area in Leawood. They have a nice green space outside the restaurant with a bunch of Adirondack chairs in adult & child sizes.

Relaxing in it:

At some point, I guess he decided we were taking way too many pictures. This will go into the "Angry Faces of Ben" collection!

He is finally about big enough to try the fabulous Rockin' Panda from Uncle Kenny & Aunt Lynn. He needed help to stay on it, but really seemed to like it.

Em's friend Neilam came to visit us over Labor Day weekend (more pics coming). Ben was especially fascinated by his guitar playing.

We had kind of a rough weekend because Ben is cutting both top teeth at the same time. They broke through yesterday at daycare, but the poor guy was pretty miserable for the past 3 days. Here you can see his two bottom teeth and his puffy top gums where the two top ones are threatening to pop through.

Ben & I went to the Greek Festival on Sunday while Dave was en route home from New Jersey. Ben got a "Greek for a Day" sticker on his hat, tried to steal some of my food, and enjoyed watching the dancers do the big traditional circle dances.

Ben is now sitting up very well and appears to be on the verge of army crawling. He loves having people help him stand up and can stand while leaning against the outside of his exersaucer. He likes chattering, books, bouncing, dancing, and putting things in his mouth. He does not like us being out of his sight for long, which makes it challenging to get ready in the mornings.

Yesterday he tried his first finger food - little baby cereal puffs that melt in your mouth. He was uncertain at first but seems to be getting the hang of it. In hopes of helping with the teething pain, we also got these mesh feeders and filled them with some frozen peach slices for him to suck on. They chill his gums and let him have fresh fruit but prevent choking on the solid foods.

He is really getting into playing with some of his toys - current favorites include his zebra cart w/jingling fabric cubes from Aunt Stacey, the new cause & effect piano I bought at a consignment sale, and some Fisher-Price plastic cubes that have little animals in them, also found for a bargain at the sale. He enjoyed spending time last Friday with his Opa and taking a walk in the stroller to say hi to the neighborhood dogs and people. He will be headed over there again this Friday and will probably go grocery shopping with Daddy & Grandma on Saturday as I will be away all weekend at bereavement camp for work.