Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Paupac Vacation!

So David and I aren't exactly the adventurous type.  Left to our own devices, our family would just stay home, relaxing with our books and toys and electronic devices, and maaaaaybe go outside for a walk every once in a while.  Maybe.  ;)  It's not that we dislike the great outdoors or going on excursions -- it's just so much easier, especially with little kids, to stay in our normal routines...

So it's a really good thing we have friends to shake things up for us every once in a while!  Lucy and John, whose daughters Anna and Elly are almost exactly the same age as Joshua and Sophia, proposed that we take a joint vacation up in the Poconos, renting a mountain home together for a week.  We invited our friend Anna M. to come along as well, and we all had such a blast!

The house we rented was perched right on Lake Paupac, with a great series of walking trails that wound around the lake.  And much to the kids' delight, there were great patches of blueberries in easy (toddler) walking distance.  Joshua and Anna loved helping to pick berries -- we could generally get them to stay on task for a few handfuls before they set in to eat as many berries as they picked.  :)

It was really lovely going on vacation with such good friends.  And it actually worked out really well to have slightly different interests and goals for the week -- David and I relaxed in the cozy house reading and just hanging out during the kids' naps, while Lucy, John, and Anna went for canoe rides and hikes.  And after the kids went to bed, the grownups got to relive our college days, staying up late having great conversations (plus gourmet s'mores!).

We're so very thankful for friends and vacation time!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Our very girly almost one-year-old girl!

Let me state once more for the record: I love putting together train- and car- and animal-themed parties for Joshua.  And I do enjoy building tracks and pretending to be an airplane with both our kids.  And it's really fun teaching Joshua to share his cars with his sister, and watching him teach Sophia how to hook trains together.

But for Sophia's first birthday party, I'm totally throwing myself into stereotypical pink girliness, and I'm loving it!!  :)

We're doing a flower garden theme for her party, and I had so much fun planning the photoshoot for her birthday party invitation!  I made a pink tutu and long string of pink pearls, both of which absolutely fascinated Sophia.  I dressed her up right after breakfast one morning and took her outside to take advantage of some lovely morning light.  And we got so many fun photos!  Below are just a few (okay, a ton) of my favorites...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sophia Watch: Eleven Months

Our little Sophia is closing in on a year old!  It's hard to believe that it's already been almost a year since she was born...  Our wee Fifi is growing up so fast!!

This month, she's added a little to her confirmed vocabulary -- she babbles constantly, and there are lots of times where it seems that she's parroting words back at us or where she makes noises that could conceivably be intelligible words, but it's absolutely clear that she knows how to say Joshua ("Ja-dah"), Mama, and Dada.  The best moment for me was when I came home from Tae's baby shower, and as soon as I walked in the door, Sophia looked up at me, grinned, and very clearly shouted "Mama!"  A close runner-up moment was when she was sitting on the floor in our living room and noticed David sitting on the couch behind the coffee table -- she had to crane her neck way back to see him, so she started playing peekaboo: sitting straight up, then craning way back and saying "Dada!," then sitting back up, and repeating over and over and over again.  :)

Sophia's also gotten much, much better at feeding herself this month.  We started with puffs, then torn up bits of bread, and then steamed peas and carrots.  She's very trusting, I think, and willing to try just about anything I put in front of her!  And while she's still pretty slow in feeding herself, it's vastly easier than having to actively spoonfeed her every bite.  She continues marching towards greater independence every day!

Oh, and it seems that Sophia is already a positive influence on her big brother.  :)  My efforts at cheering Sophia on when she first started feeding herself steamed veggies led to Joshua insisting on having his very own bowl of peas and carrots -- and then he demanded that "Mama watch Joshua eat?  Say 'good job, Joshua'?"  And then proceeded to finish off an entire large bowl of veggies.  He loves doing things with her (and he also wants me to pay the same attention to him as I do to her) -- and it's nice that those impulses can be channeled towards good!

And we're still working on encouraging Sophia to develop those gross motor skills.  She's much more wriggly and lunge-y these days, but still no scooting or crawling or anything... She pretty consistently practices civil disobedience when I try to get her to stand, too.  She'll fix me with a baleful stare, start huffing her annoyance, and then do crazy splits in the air to prevent me from getting her to put her weight on her legs.  It's absurdly cute, her little acts of defiance.  :)  So far, I can outlast her and get her to practice standing, but I foresee another stubborn KeddieCub toddler...

It's a good thing she's so adorable.  :)  (And is it just me, or does she look SO MUCH like Joshua in these photos??)

Joshua wanted in, but then fixedly refused to look at the camera.  I think he was going for a studied nonchalance?  (Don't tell him that his Reunions t-shirt sans pants kind of takes away from the effect...)  Sophia tried to match his GQ look, but was too excited to see her beloved "Ja-dah" to hold the model's stare for long.  :)

Happy eleven months, sweet girl!  We love you so much!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day Out with Thomas!

Anyone who spends even just a few minutes with Joshua will discover that the kid is obsessed with trains.  And cars, and trucks, and tractors, and planes...  But mostly trains, and mostly Thomas trains.  He has a steadily growing collection of Thomas engines, and he *has* to bring four of them with him to nap and bedtime -- always Thomas and Percy in his right hand and Skarloey and the bus in his left hand.  And while he's getting better about sharing toys with his little sister, he's still very possessive about his precious trains, so we often hear "No, Sophia, no!  That's Joshua's Thomas!!"

All of that to say -- we were pretty sure he would really enjoy himself at a Thomas-themed excursion.  :)  Apparently, there's a traveling exhibit that goes around to various railroads around the country every year with a full-sized engine built to look like Thomas.  And they came up to Phillipsburg, NJ over the July 4th weekend!  We bought our tickets a month ago, and started talking it all up to Joshua a couple days before we went.  It was about an hour's drive up, and the whole way there, Joshua would exclaim, "We're going to see Thomas, and Sir Topham Hatt, and maybe Percy and maybe Gordon!!"

It was an incredibly hot day -- mid to high 90s with high humidity.  And unfortunately, nothing was air-conditioned.  So our kiddos were sweaty and a little out of sorts by the time we made it from the parking lot over to the train... But once we sat down in the passenger car and I broke out the water and snacks, they were both in a much more receptive mood.  And once the train started moving, Joshua was transfixed!

The one blurry photo I have as evidence that Sophia and I were there, too:

And the best shot I have of Joshua with Thomas:

After the train ride, we were on a mission to find juice for the wee emperor.  I thought nothing would be able to distract him from this purpose, but I underestimated the siren call of the model train displays...

And then we wandered around a bit and finally found him some juice.  :)

All in all, it was such a fun day!  Joshua enjoyed himself, though we think he's still maybe just a touch too young to fully appreciate it all... I think David may have had the most fun of all of us.  :)  It was so sweet to see father and son sharing in their excitement over trains.  Both David and Joshua want to go back again next year, so we'll have to make this an annual family trip!