Wednesday, July 11, 2018

13 months with Eric

At 13 months, Eric is still a pretty happy guy who still seems more "baby" to me than "toddler."

He loves his bottles now and drinks more whole milk in a day than I think he probably should.  Like Olivia, he cannot be bothered with prayers, books or cuddles at bedtime until he has had his bottle.

We always say Eric must have a cuddle quota that he has to meet each day because he really is just the snuggliest little guy.  He is happiest sitting on your lap, just laying his head on your shoulder.  He constantly comes up to me for hugs and kisses.

Books are one of his new favorites.  I credit school with this new found love.  I got this picture one day from his teachers saying that almost every other baby had crawled off bored with the books, except for Eric and a friend!

During the day he loves to bring a book to you, have you read 1 page and then shut the book and go get another.  But at bedtime, he is more focused for some reason.  Once the bottles/prayers/etc are over, I usually sit in the rocker and we read at least 2 books.  Favorites are Dear Zoo, Goodnight Moon and The Wonderful Things You Will Be.

Speaking of school, we are finally settling in to our new class and I can leave now without him crying.  As long as I get him breakfast, he's fine.

I am really trying to soak up this summer because I think things will only get more complicated from now - with summer nannies/camps.  But for now, I've got both kids at a school they love with teachers who I know love them.  We have settled into such a sweet routine where Olivia and I drop Eric off together - she scurries around the room putting away his backpack/bottle/etc while I get his breakfast ready.  Then we both give him hugs and kisses and go to her room (which happens to be right next door).  And each night at pick-up, I get a report from her on how he was that day.  They have recess at the same time so she always tells me who he sat next to in the baby buggy, where he played, and who he played with.  I just love knowing she's close to him.

And while I know he is happy at school, each afternoon as soon as I open the door, he starts crying and crawls to me as quickly as he can!  (Note: This is probably his new favorite teacher in his new class - Miss Tamisha.  She was actually Olivia's teacher when she was in Kindergarten but she moved down to the baby classes so Eric has her.  He took to her immediately and most days when I go to get him he is either sitting in her lap or right next to her!)

And speaking of breakfast, Eric's interest in food has peaked lately.  Like his sister, he really loves a good snack - especially Pirates Booty.

While he will also tolerate some healthy foods - fruits and veggies - his real love is for anything cheesy.  A cheese stick is okay, but give him a grilled cheese sandwich or a quesadilla and this guy will eat for days!

He also discovered graham crackers at school, and his teachers told me he has to have one in each hand or he yells at them!  On this particular day we left before snack time was over so he held onto these graham crackers with all his might.

We have seen a small amount of jealousy/sibling rivalry lately as to who gets to sit in mamma's lap.  Like Olivia, Eric has a certain affection for mamma and constantly want me to hold him or sit in my lap. 

Olivia is okay with this, as long as she can sit on my lap too.  Eric on the other hand tends to be a bit more possessive - he will try to push her off or bite her.  Hoping he gets better about sharing his mamma..(who, as Olivia likes to point out, was her mamma first and she was born first, and if he doesn't like that, he can go sit with dada!")  (Also - my children like to be shirtless on Sunday mornings apparently)

Given his need to be carried so much, I've gone back to wearing him more and he usually loves it for about 15 minutes and then wants no part of it.

A nasty stomach bug went around Houston and tore through Eric's class.  Unfortunately, it took down all of Casa Dean.  We ended up taking E to urgent care because he could not stop throwing up and we were worried about him being dehydrated.  Luckily he was okay within about 24 hours.  Poor little buddy.

Toys are a mixed bag - on any given day he prefers the phone or remote to almost anything.

He does like this little pop up toy though and he's pretty persistent and patient to put the little sticks in.

Eric is slowly getting more and more confident in his walking.  We even have shoes now!  I suspect it won't be long before we are chasing after him.

We have been outside a lot lately - mostly swimming but sometimes running errands.  Sunglasses and hats are a big hit to distract him!

He still is pretty limited in words.  While he has no problem letting us know what he wants - he doesn't really say "mama" or "dada" with any regularity yet.  He does say "wa wa" and it definitely means he wants something to drink.  He also says "day" for "yay" and he will clap his hands.  And of course - "Ah" is still Alexa.  So, I guess he does have a few words - just maybe not the traditional baby ones!

Regardless - this baby is so LOVED!

And I would be re-miss if I didn't at least mention Olivia.  We try really hard to be intentional about spending time alone with her and one of the best ways I've found is to have a "big sister date night."  It serves a couple of purposes: first it obviously gives us time with her, it gives all of us something to look forward to, and it gives she and I an extra bonding in our "getting ready" time. On the days we go out, she is SO excited - like literally almost squealing in the car as we back out of the driveway.  She is mature and grown-up and agreeable.  She is willing to try new places; acts like a grown-up; and is so sweet and thankful during our time together.  It really is one of the best nights of the month!

Monday, July 9, 2018

San Diego

We recently got back from family vacation to San Diego. This was our first vacation with Eric and we agonized about the location for a while. We wanted to get out of the Texas heat, but also wanted some place that would accommodate a 1 year old who is barely walking and a daddy who is still recovering from a shattered ACL. After a bit of research, San Diego seemed to fit the bill!  Overall, it was a great trip. It’s such a beautiful city and we lucked into amazing, sunny weather.

This was Eric’s first plane ride and our first time flying with a baby this little. We decided to bring him as a lap baby (i.e. we didn’t get him his own seat). If I had to do it again, I probably would get him a separate ticket. We flew over naptime/bedtime on purpose so he would sleep. And he did – or at least he wanted to – but it was really hard to get comfortable. He slept probably 1 hour of the 3 hour flight. The rest of the time he was great – sweet and smiley and cuddly. But, I know it would have been better for him if he had slept.

That being said, the kids were rockstars on that front. We started out in the United Club for dinner.

And then changed baby into PJs and headed to our gate. Our flight was delayed about an hour for take-off, so we were about 1 hour past E’s bedtime. He was exhausted.

But once we got on the flight and got him his bottle, he was able to sleep for a bit. At one point, both kids were sleeping but that was pretty short-lived.

We didn’t get to the hotel and checked in until about midnight (2 am Houston time!) and we all crashed and slept in till about 8:30 the next morning. But we rallied, got dressed and headed out to enjoy the 4th of July activities. We stayed at the Hotel del Coronado, which ended up being the perfect spot. Its location to food/stores couldn’t be beat.

We were able to walk out of our hotel and down a few blocks to the annual parade. Matt and E held our spot while Olivia and I walked to a little bakery and grabbed some breakfast for us. Once the kids got some food + flags, they were all smiles.

We then let Eric take a nap (which I guess he needed, because he slept for about 3 hours) while Olivia and I headed to the pool. This girl would swim all day, every day if I let her.

Then Eric woke up so we went to check out the beach. I read about The Sandcastle Man’s beautiful creations and mentioned them to Olivia before we left. We basically stumbled right upon them – they were so amazing and meticulous. I can’t imagine the patience to make this happen.

Unfortunately, this was about as good as our beach experience got – the water was freezing cold which put a big damper on O’s sand castle plans and Eric wasn’t too keen on the sand.

So we went to dinner and headed to an early bed.

Unfortunately, that night was pretty bad. Matt got SUPER sick and spent most of the night in the bathroom with what we assume was food poisoning. But, we decided to be safe (can't think of anything worse than all of us getting some stomach bug in a hotel room in California!) and that next morning  he headed to urgent care, while I took the kiddos to the Aquarium. It was a nice place to spend the morning - especially by myself in a new city with 2 kiddos.  Olivia enjoyed all the exhibits and liked reading about all the different marine life (specifically the sea horses and told Matt later, "if you were a sea horse, you would have birthed me"!).

And Eric got a chance to crawl around and liked pointing at all the different fish!

We also hit up the famous Ellen Browning Scripps Park to fly a kite and take in the beautiful scenery.



After lunch, we headed back to Coronado for naptime, and to let Matt rest. Olivia and I decided to go explore the town. They had such cute shops, so we did a little shopping and also treated ourselves to some ice cream!

The next day we hit up Lego Land.

When I planned our trip, Lego Land actually wasn’t even on the itinerary – Olivia isn’t super into Legos so I didn’t think she would even want to go. She hasn’t seen any of the movies and definitely isn’t into Ninjago. But the more I read about it, then more it seemed like something we needed to do if we were going to be that close. Matt separately brought it up and he came to the same conclusion, so we decided to go. And I am SO GLAD we did. She absolutely LOVED it. The past few weeks she began watching the Lego Friends tv show – and they had an entire exhibit featuring those girls, which she loved.

It was also just a neat place to visit and see all the various things made of Legos.

Olivia and I went on a little ride where all the fairy-tale characters were re-created out of Legos

They also had a Duplo Land where Eric could crawl around and explore. And of course we had to ride the little train! We had a really good time there.

We let Olivia pick out a toy from the gift shop.  At first, she asked for this entire display (reminiscent of our time at Disney) but she finally decided on just the camper and the Lego Friends happened to be in the store and approved of her purchase!

And of course we sampled some of the sweet treats, including the famous Apple Fries

These 2 were pooped by the time we left

That night we walked into town and stumbled upon a little Italian restaurant.

On our last full day, we hit up the San Diego zoo.

 If I’m being honest, would say this was probably the hardest day. I think everyone was tired, it was super hot, and Olivia was just grouchy – which tends to put a damper on everything. We spent the morning walking around and she perked up a little bit. I found an old camera of mine before we left and asked her if she wanted it. She really liked it and enjoyed taking pictures.

But, we were all tired and just a little on edge, so we decided to stop while we were ahead and we left early. We didn’t see several of the most famous exhibits, but I think for Matt & I, it was a good reminder to be flexible and adapt to the kids’ needs. At that point, no polar bear or panda was going to cheer Olivia up, so taking a break and heading back to the hotel was definitely the right call. We were able to put Eric down for a nap and we spent some quiet time with Olivia building her new Lego set she had gotten the day before.

And for our last night, we headed back to La Jolla for some seal watching. We didn’t get any really great pictures of seals, but we climbed to the top of a little cliff and got a great view.

Then we headed to Duke’s for dinner – it was a great way to end the trip – everyone was in a good mood and happy, the drinks and food were delicious, and the scenery was gorgeous.

We were all sad to leave the next morning and head back to reality. Luckily, Eric was able to take care of some business calls before we boarded! (and then he tried to “help” sister color, which didn’t go over so well!)

We still weren't seated all together for the flight home (so annoyed with United!) but this time Olivia sat with Matt, while Eric and I sat together.  Again he only slept for about an hour and was DYING for a bottle.  But luckily I had lots of snacks + some kind strangers sitting next to me who helped entertain this cute little guy.

The time change also messed with the kids a bit.  We have 2 usual early-risers and they each took turns rising even earlier than usual.  Since I'm more of a "morning person" than Matt, I would quickly grab the kid and we saw the sunrise almost everyday we were there!  Luckily there is a Starbucks right by the beach!

For me, I think I will remember this trip for 2 reasons:

(1) It seems that the universe is constantly reminding me to pack my patience and go with the flow. From messed up plane seats (somehow I got seated with both kids on the flight to San Diego?), to sick husbands, to daughters who are still learning to deal with big emotions and exhibit empathy, I am trying my darndest to stay calm, patient, and easy-going. Good thing I am given lots of opportunities to practice!

(2) Olivia and Eric really bonded on this trip. Lately Eric has been a little clingy to Matt and I, to the exclusion of Olivia. I can tell it hurts her feelings and every now and then she will sadly mention something about it. We try to remind her that he’s a baby and she was the exact same way when she was little, but I know it’s hard for her. For the trip, we rented a car and carseats/boosters. They were a little smaller than the ones we have at home and consequently, Olivia was able to sit in the middle, right next to Eric. They both LOVED it! Olivia had him laughing so hard one time that we had to tell her to stop so he could take a breath.  So for the rest of the trip, Eric really favored Olivia.  One morning, she and Matt went back to the room to grab her hat and I was standing by the stroller looking at my phone. All of a sudden I heard Eric shriek and start laughing. I snapped a picture and turned around to see Olivia running up to him yelling and making silly faces.

 I’m sure their relationship will ebb and flow, but for now I am enjoying this new silly state.

And finally - a tip for any future trip-takers with lots of walking.  We have a "kid plate" on our big stroller at home that Olivia can ride on, but we just bought a little umbrella stroller for this trip.  As I suspected, the hot weather + lots of walking got to her and there were a few occasions where she got upset and really wanted to stop and ride in the stroller (or have one of us carry her?!!).  Luckily, we got her one of the new kid Ace Fitbits before we left.  It was a total game changer.  That Dean competitive spirit came out and she would dash around us!