It Was a Good Day

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My grandparents had a wonderful vegetable garden in the backyard for as long as I can remember and one of the bonuses of having bought their house is the three plots of asparagus. I picked enough for the two adults around 5 pm, consumed by 8 pm. Delicious!
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Two year olds are not always fun (he threw himself to the ground in anger only minutes after this) but he is sweet, loving, funny, and smart as a whip!
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There is nothing better, according to my boys, than playtime with Daddy. This photo is one of my favorites of all time, taken in our own backyard

7 Months

I’m struggling to believe that my squishy newborn is a chunky, active, BIG baby already but for some reason, they don’t ask permission to get big!

Teddy saw the pediatrician for his 6 month check up at the end of April. He was 16 lb 6 oz (20%), 27.25″ long (63%), and has a 17.5″ head (73%). He got two more vaccine pokes and the rotavirus oral vaccine. He was fussy until bedtime but that’s pretty close to par for the course for Teddy and vaccines. He had a DTaP granuloma lump at the site of that shot so I’ll have to remind them to give his next dose at 18 months in a different place. He’s hit most of the developmental milestones expected by 6 months (rolls over (!), likes to look at himself in a mirror, likes to play, smiles at familiar people, talks, puts things in his mouth, raking grasp, sits briefly with support, transfers toys between hands) and now we’re looking forward to things like actual mobility and sitting upright!

He is on the shorter side so he’s still wearing all 6 month clothes. It took me FOREVER to get all of the outgrown clothes out of his dresser so I’m glad I don’t have to do it again soon. I did go out and buy a few more pairs of neutral pants and some long sleeves to help with the transition between seasons. There’s been about a 50 degree temperature swing in the last 30 days so almost every day calls for something different. It snowed since we got back from California but today is nearly 80! My favorite purchase this month was just this past week when I found a pair of R2D2 Robeez shoes for $2 at a garage sale. Score!

Teddy FINALLY figured out rolling over from his belly to his back at the beginning of the month. He is getting faster by the day. He’s also rolled from his back to belly several times (all in his bed). He gets really confused when he wakes up sleeping on his belly!  We’ve been working on sitting unassisted but he either falls over or folds himself in half!

We started giving Teddy solid foods right after his 6 month birthday and he took to it like a fish to water! We started with banana and added in sweet potato sticks, avocado, carrot sticks and puree, applesauce, pear slices, graham crackers, rice crackers, and pea puree. He figured out the mechanics of getting the food to his mouth immediately and really enjoys playing with what we give him. I had forgotten how incredibly awful the diapers during this transition period can be. Ew! We’re still using cloth diapers but I’m not as vigilant about getting them washed and folded so it’s not too out of the ordinary to find the baskets empty and reach for a disposable instead.

Teddy doesn’t have any teeth yet but we’ve had a full month of issues with an ear infection, croup, and general fussiness from his vaccinations. Let’s hope that his 7th month is a free from those complications but I wouldn’t mind the teeth. Let’s just get them over with!

This was a pretty big month for everyone’s sleep habits. Teddy got moved into his own room at night right after we got home from our San Diego trip. Right after that, I stopped swaddling him cold turkey and he had to readjust. THEN I started pushing him to take 2 naps a day instead of 3 by lengthening his afternoon nap to longer than 45 minutes. We’re not completely successful every day (Ben refuses to take naps occasionally so some days I get nothing done in the afternoon) but it’s slowly getting easier for him to sleep longer. He usually naps for 30-45 minutes in the mid-morning and 2 to 2.5 hours after lunch. Sleep training is tough but I know we’ll all be better for it in the end.

Overall, Teddy is still a super contented little guy who loves to play with toys (the ring stacker is his favorite right now) on the floor with his people around. He is happy to be worn in a carrier of any sort, enjoys car rides, nursing, solid foods, the cats, and being tickled. He wakes up happy for the most part and is a much-loved part of our family.

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Playing with the kkkkk(kitty)
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I bought the boys’ Easter outfits last year right after we found out we were expecting another boy. I’m so glad they fit!
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Sitting gives Teddy a whole new perspective on life
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“No tummy time, Mommy. I’m just going to lay here.”
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Almost every photo I have of Teddy from this past month is him on his belly. C’mon buddy, roll over!
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Picnic with Benny
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Banana
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Hey! What are you doing!?
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Sweet potato sticks
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Contortionist baby
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Peek!
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Avocado
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Teddy’s “I have croup and am too stick to play” pose
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Woo! Naps!
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Applesauce on a basting brush means he can feed himself but I can never reload it fast enough for his liking
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Applesauce on toast
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Teddy taco
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Carrots
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Who has two thumbs and took a 3 hour nap? This guy!
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Graham cracker
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Trying out the reenacting clothes. This dress ultimately became Ben’s but Teddy does fit perfectly in all of Ben’s hand-me-downs
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Peas
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Happily playing with a stuffed animal while Mommy tries to wake herself up

Kitchen Garden

The weather has been gorgeous here in West Michigan for the last few days. We’ve been hurrying through dinner so we can spend more time outside. In fact, the first thing out of Ben’s mouth this morning when I got him up was a request to go outside!

Last night the boys were happy playing with their toys so Brian and I got a little bit of bonus yard work done. Brian trimmed the back (western) hedge, I weeded half of the kitchen garden, Teddy played quietly in the bouncy seat, and Ben ran around but mostly played with the water table (best toddler toy of all time!).

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Watching Ben and Brian from my weeding spot
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Teddy happily played like this for more than an hour!

I finished weeding all the maples out of this bed today during the nearly nonexistent naps that the boys gave us and was able to make some plans for all the empty space I had uncovered. I forgot to get a photo before the sun went down so you’ll have to put up with the partially finished one from last night. I have two small chives to plant yet this weekend and will pick up some lavender soon. I’m going to split and move the hosta that are between the tree and the house to the empty middle of the garden so we have a place to store his outside toys without crushing plants.

IMG_6309My mom and grandma stopped by yesterday and identified some of the mystery plants as different kinds of lilies, astilbe, and columbine. The beautiful (yet scraggly) flowering bush below the window is a flowering almond. From what I read today, they put up with a lot of pruning so I’ve started clipping it back to (hopefully) encourage it to fill in.

Progress! We has it!

Lurking Behind the Garage

I finally got a chance to get back to work outside today. It’s been cold and rainy for most of the week and while I want to get the yard work caught up, I’m not that hardcore!

Today’s projects were to:

  • Trim the 4 spirea in front of our front entry
  • Deadhead all three areas of hydrangea since we’ve determined they’ll flower off old growth
  • Clean all off last year’s growth, leaves, and those dang maple saplings from the large 6′ by 20′ bed

Did I finish? Oh yes I did! I was able to sneak a little over two hours in while the boys napped. The spirea project was over quickly thanks to our electric hedge trimmer. I was able to pull out a lot of dead wood and cut them to a more uniform shape and size.

I quickly moved on to the hydrangeas. We have three areas of hydrangea, two flanking the mess where a spruce was cut down last spring and one really large plot along our back (western) fence. Cutting off dry flowers isn’t tough work so that was quickly finished.

I have been dreading working in the bed behind the garage since we moved in last summer. By the time we moved in, the bed was full of fast-growing weeds and unidentifiable plants. I pulled off last year’s flower stalks but the biggest issue, as with most of our yard, were these little suckers…

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Itty bitty maple saplings

Little maple saplings! It seemed like thousands of them! Last year was a big year for errant maple growth because of the really heavy snow cover. With packing one house, cleaning and updating the other, growing a baby, and caring for a wild toddler, I didn’t have enough energy or time to pull them all by hand so they had a full season of growth in their roots.

Now to brag a little, the garden looks pretty awesome now!

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Cleaned up and spiffy looking

Moving from the background to foreground we have lilies, a mix of irises and tulips, mystery plant (that will grow around 3 ft tall and flower purple? maroon? fuchsia?), three peonies, more irises, and mystery plant #2 along the back by the wall. I moved the cement stepping stone to this bed today too. At some point, my grandpa removed the gutters above this bed and the rain cascading out of open end of the gutter system was causing quite a bit of soil loss next to the path. We had a few extra pavers on the other side of the house that I could move over until I figure out a more permanent solution to last until we replace the leaky gutters.

What’s up next? This garden!

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Kitchen garden

The window you can see through the branches of the tree is the window over my kitchen sink and this bed lays on the opposite side of the walkway from the bed I cleaned today. From left to right, we have stray maples, a rose bush, primroses, maples, the same mystery plant #2 as the other garden, a trillium, maples, tulips, maples, a few hosta, and some maples. The tree is a dogwood and the bush by the window is a…. mystery bush. It is about to flower what look to be small, pink blossoms so that’s exciting.

I want to add lavender and chives to this garden at some point and pave the area closest to the house with landscaping tiles to store the boys’ outdoor toys. I look at this garden a ton while washing dishes so I’m excited to get it looking as good as the other’s I’ve worked on.

Guess This Plant II

I’ve been chipping away at the weeds and spring yard clean up during naps and after the boys go to bed off and on this week. I still have so much to do but the yard waste bin is full again!

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I wrapped around the house to the northwest end behind Teddy’s bedroom (left window) and the full bathroom (right window). I need to pull out about a million tiny maple trees and other weeds. The majority of this bed is taken up by the biggest holly bush I’ve ever seen. There are a few hostas in the foreground of this photo and then there’s this mystery plant to the left of the holly…

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Mystery plant is about 2′ tall and kind of like a tree with leaves concentrated on branches, not up the stem
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Emerging foliage and berry-like things

So, any ideas? Is it something that should be growing in a garden or is it a freakishly large weed?

Pulling Weeds and Outdoor Plans

I am not a gardener by any stretch of the definition. My parents enjoy telling the story of how I grumpily told them as a teenager that I was going to live in an apartment high up in a skyscraper so I’d never have to pull weeds as an adult. I didn’t end up in that apartment, however, and my feelings toward yard work hasn’t changed. We are on our second suburban house with loads of planned and beautifully landscaped garden beds. In fact, it’s probably pretty safe to say that we have twice the square footage of garden space that needs to be maintained at this house than what we had at the old house. Cue the sad trumpet noise!

Because I haven’t spent much time in the yard since my forced labor as a kid, I can’t identify very many plants nor do I know much of how to take care of them. Join me this growing season as I explore the jungle that we bought! I’ll make some guess, use Google a ton, and ask people who know more than me and hopefully not kill off everything in the process. By recording my work here, I hope to have a long list of completed projects that I can be proud of by the time snow flies later this year.

I headed outside today to start attacking the mess that is the front landscaping. Our house was vacant for several months last spring and we didn’t move in until the heat of summer when I was already uncomfortably pregnant so much of the yard hasn’t been weeded for more than a year. My goals for this afternoon were to get as much cleaned up during Ben and Teddy’s afternoon naps as possible including:

  • Trim the last of the ornamental grass before the new growth takes over
  • Cut back the butterfly bush in the front yard
  • Trim whatever else comes back as new growth in the front bed
  • Pull out invasive grass and tiny maple trees still growing from last spring

How much did I get done, you ask?

This is what the corner of ornamental grass looked like when I started and…

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…this is what it looked like when I was finished. I cut out last year’s growth, cleaned out the remaining dead leaves, and yanked out the surprise baby maples that were hiding under the leaves.

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I don’t know what this plant is (do you?) but it grows from new growth every year so I needed to cut off all the dead stuff from last year.

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This is how that area looks now that the plants are uncovered. I can’t wait to clean up the edges of the garden and put in mulch to keep the weeds from taking over!

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This is our butterfly bush. It has gorgeous purple flowers when it blooms and caps off the western end of the garden bed. It is another plant that sends up new shoots every year so everything you see in the photo had to be cut back. This was intimidating to me because some of the branches were an inch thick!

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Here she is in the lower left corner! I cut off all the sticks from last year, dug out a surprise maple tree hiding inside that had gotten to nearly 3′ tall (yikes!), and pulled out the chunks of wood that had started rotting and were soft.

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I worked on the middle of the garden bed but didn’t make as much progress as I had hoped. The bed is supposed to be kidney bean shaped but the middle was choked with invading grass. Grass in the yard = good, grass in the garden = awful!

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I got about half of the grass removed before I started running short on time and needed to move on. There wasn’t a whole lot to uncover under the dead grass except a few lily bulbs and what might be hostas. I’d love to widen the bed a tad through the middle and add a few more flowering plants that can handle full sun yet this year.

IMG_6132As a bonus, I dug out two more 2-3′ tall, self-seeded maple trees that were growing along the north side of the house and tested to see how much effort it would take to clean up the bed below our eastern bedroom windows. The answer, a lot of effort! Depending on how sore I am when I wake up tomorrow, I may have another post ready soon!

 

Teddy Starts Solids

The other title I was considering for this post was “Teddy noms on a banana and then throws up” but it was a bit too long for my taste.

We gave Teddy his first solid food tonight: half of a banana. Yes, we gave it to him in one piece. Our favorite way to teach a baby how to eat solid food is called Baby Led Weaning where you skip spoon-feeding your infant pureed food by providing age and skill appropriate whole foods. This teaches the baby how to hold, “chew,” pinch, swallow, and experience food at their own pace with the goal (at least in our house) of creating a healthy relationship with food from the get-go.

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Teddy couldn’t keep the banana in his hands even though he tried really hard so I provided a little assistance at first.
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Learning early that food tastes better if it smeared all over one’s face

It was about this point that Teddy gagged when he realized he had something that wasn’t completely liquid in his mouth and spat up his banana and some of the milk he had drank just before dinner. We’re not worried about that; it would be more worrisome if his body didn’t instinctively try to move the food away from his airway. Gagging didn’t stop Teddy from enjoying the taste of banana for the rest of dinner, though!

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Teddy mushed up the banana on his tray, kept rubbing his fingers in it, and the sucking the banana off of them. That’s one way to do it!
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Mmmmm, tasty!

 

6 Months

Teddy is getting big! He’s just as round and jolly as he ever has been and is aware enough to interact with the rest of the family, including the newly discovered kitties!

In spite of all the tummy time he’s had this month, Teddy STILL refuses to roll over. By the way he twists around when he’s on his back, it looks like he might roll back-to-front before front-to-back. We’re still working on it and tummy time is a highlight of Ben’s day, even if Teddy isn’t too thrilled. Teddy’s hand-eye coordination has improved tremendously and he can usually get whatever it is that he is holding into his mouth without missing. Just last week he started trying to snatch food away from me so he’ll be starting solids super soon. We’re going to try modified baby led weaning with him like we did with Ben and adjust as necessary for his skills and interests. First foods will be banana and avocado!

Teddy’s 6 month appointment isn’t until nearly the end of the month but I’m fairly certain his growth has slowed down quite a bit. He still wears a lot of 3 month pants since his legs are so short and has plenty of room in 3/6 month and 6 month onesies. Size 2 diapers are getting tight because his little chunk legs so we’ll be moving on up to 3s very soon. In addition to not growing as fast, Teddy has slowly started to sleep longer and better at night (mommy is thankful).

The last month has flown by for all of us. We wrapped up our Florida trip with a (cold) beach day in Bradenton and drove home over Saturday and Sunday. Teddy did much better on the way home than he did on the way to Florida. We got in a good rhythm during the road trip of drive time with a movie, lunch for everyone at a restaurant with a play area, diaper changes, “quiet time” in the van with only music playing (both boys always slept well without a movie), afternoon break for Teddy’s sake, and perhaps another movie before dinner. Ben thoroughly enjoyed his long-promised pj day on our first full day home.

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Ben didn’t want to go in the water but had a blast playing in the sand all day. We’re going to prioritize building a sand box this spring
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Teddy Bear! I have a very similar photo of Ben on the same beach at the same age
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PJ and movie day. Ben was running a little bit of a fever the day after we got home from Florida and happily watched movies all day. Note: cowboy boots with pjs

We got home to our freshly painted dining room and kitchen and seeing how clean it looked was worth every second of extra preparation before leaving! We installed new light fixtures, light switches, vent covers, and outlets and framed and hung new art. Little by little, we’re starting to feel more at home.

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New light fixture (and it even has LED bulbs installed now!)
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Blue: Behr Swan Sea, White: Behr Cotton Knit
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New art!

Last week, Brian and I flew to San Diego with Teddy to attend WordCamp San Diego. Teddy did marginally well on the flight there. We were in the air when he thought he should be going to bed, which didn’t go over too well with him. He cried for almost an hour on the plane and fussed in the car almost all the way to our friends’ house but that was far from the worst case scenario.

The WordCamp itself was really well run and the speakers I got a chance to hear were knowledgable and interesting to listen to. Teddy behaved angelically for both days of the event. Many attendees remarked that they didn’t hear him make any noise at all! He happily played in my lap and slept in the sling when he was tired. Teddy surprised us by adjusting to the three hour time difference pretty quickly and not waking up at 4 AM a single time all week!

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We spent the first half of our trip staying at a gorgeous hotel and very much enjoyed breakfast on the balcony, even if it was cold by southern Californian standards
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One of Teddy’s many conference naps over the weekend. He is a big fan of falling asleep wherever I am

 

We had a chance to see Disneyland for a few hours one day and now we know that we’ll be headed back to southern California as a family. The best description of Disneyland as a frequent Disney World guest is that it’s like visiting somewhere in a dream that you’ve been in real life; it has a lot of the same parts but nothing is where you expect it to be. One thing that California Adventure has that Disney World does not is Cars Land, which is probably the most immersive and detailed area of a Disney property that I’ve ever seen. Radiator Springs Racers, the star attraction in Cars Land, was incredibly well made. I could have ridden it all day!

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Look at that tiny castle!
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Teddy and Brian in front of the New Orleans-styled Haunted Mansion
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Can I have those glasses, Daddy?
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Mountain range behind Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure. I’ve seen those mountains in real life and the false range looks so believable!
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Another rock formation decorating the queue for Radiator Springs Racers
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The three of us enjoying our day at Disneyland (photo courtesy of our friend, Chris Lema)
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Teddy did a lot of this on the plane rides home. It made the trip faster and smoother for everyone!

We don’t have any more family travel plans on the calendar until June (except a short trip for Brian to Vegas in early May) so we’re going to soak in all the at-home fun we can! The weather is warming up and flowers are starting to poke out of the gray landscaping so we’ll be taking long walks and playing hide and seek in the backyard before we know it.

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Teddy discovered the cats and gets fairly exuberant whenever they are close enough to pet

 

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The sun was shining and Teddy felt like snuggling. No more reasons needed to sit for a while with my littlest boy
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Tummy time is slightly more exciting when there are tag-things to pull on
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Mario Kart Wii is one of the first things Ben asks Brian for when he comes “home” from work every day
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Teddy was super excited for his first WordPress t-shirt experience
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I couldn’t resist seeing if Teddy fit in the doll bed. Not anymore!
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Big brother Ben cheesing on the way to Costco
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Teddy’s first experience sitting in a shopping cart. Both boys thought it was great and I didn’t mind having more space for food!
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I picked up a doorframe style baby jumper from Craigslist for Teddy. He loves that he can spin between watching Ben play in the front room and me work in the dining room
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Ben was SOOOOO excited that he could make his own frozen yogurt and kept asking for more M&Ms
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Crazy jumping cowboy (as decorated by Ben)

 

 

5 Months

Happy 5 months to you, Chunks!

We’ve been traveling for almost two weeks now and I’ve been asked almost every day if Teddy is as happy as he seems. Yes, he really is. He smiles and loves to cuddle, is super ticklish, and can’t get enough of his people, especially Ben. The only things that really set him off and make him mad are being left alone, waking up from a nap while still in his car seat, and not being properly tucked into bed promptly at 7 pm (driving in the car at bed time is all sorts of nope for this kid). He hasn’t made road tripping easy but if we don’t start now, he’ll never learn anything else. 

He’s been slowing changing his sleep habits again to sleeping most of the night until 4 or 5 for a one-sided feeding and the other side around 7. I’m so thankful for longer stretches of sleep again! I’ve been going to bed crazy early this week since both boys are struggling with sharing a room with the whole family and am just barely getting enough sleep. Teddy has just started noticing that we eat by bringing food to our mouths but isn’t too interested in what it is we eat yet. 

Teddy is very even tempered. Brian and I decided this weekend that if he had a spirit animal, it would be a manatee: Slow, round, just hanging out and in no hurry to get anywhere. He still hasn’t rolled over so we’re going to be focusing on that a lot more in the next few weeks. I’m sure he could but he has no motivation. He does love to play though. Mr T has gotten so much better at grabbing things in the past month that he now has favorite toys for play time. He likes the Taggies triangle most of all but a close second is a small bumble bee with crinkly wings. 

He tolerates car rides but Teddy really enjoys the stroller and being worn in the Ergo. He spent a lot of nap time snoozing in the Ergo at Disney last week. He’s so much snugglier than Ben was (and is) that being worn is enjoyable for him instead of torture. 

T Dawg is wearing size 2 diapers and some 3 month separates but I’ll be pulling out all the 3/6 and 6 month clothes after our road trip. Some of his 6 month sleepers are starting to get small already! His hair has really started to grow quickly too and has filled in the bald spots on the sides of his head and the back spot is shrinking a little. It’s super soft and a pale red color. We aren’t sure what kind of red it will be yet (mine was very orange as a kid but darkened with age) but the color is definitely there. I’m so glad we have at least one red head!

Fuzzy head!

Brothers in a basket
Ben loves when Teddy gets tucked into his bed at night for prayers and songs
Teddy was a lucky recipient of some of Benny’s Valentine’s Day stickers
Teddy realized he was out of his clothes and car seat on the drive south and couldn’t contain his wiggles
First day at Disney World!
I spy one cute Teddy nose
We took breaks at Disney every afternoon when Ben slept. Teddy likes to people watch as much as I do
Nemo!

Ben was so excited that they both had Buzz clothes on and insisted they get a picture. Teddy has the perfect round legs for baby leggings so we’ve been having fun with those this trip
The best family photo from our week at Disney. No surprise that Teddy is looking at Ben!