26 Jan 2010

20 Months Old

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When Jayce was about 10 weeks old, I went to meet up with a few friends for coffee. It was the first time they had ever met Jayce and they oooo’d and ahhhh’d appropriately over him. As we were discussing parenthood, (one of them had a 4 year old), I told them about how Chris and I had been recently discussing how this age, 10 weeks, was our favorite, and we didn’t want Jayce to get any bigger than this because this age was so fun.

It’s funny for me to remember that conversation now, with a 20 month old, and try to recall what Jayce was doing then that was so much fun. I think it mostly had to do with how he was interacting with us so much more than he had been previously: smiling, cooing a lot, doing that sweet baby jabbering and still being a happy little snuggler. It didn’t hurt that he was a really easy baby in the first place, and we were probably just starting to feel confident in ourselves as parents.

Anyway, I remember making this comment and then looking up at them with pleading eyes, in that “please comment on my comment” sort of way that you do to lure people into a conversation. My one friend smiled and reassured me that I had a lot of fun ahead of me. I don’t remember everything that she said, but I do remember her saying that she had had a similar conversation with an older friend of hers, who said that the feeling of “this is the best time,” had continued throughout all of their children’s lives. That even when their children reached the middle school age, they found the awkward and geekyness of that stage to be just as charming and fun as first words and first steps had been. This was really comforting to me for some reason, acknowledging that though the fun of that stage wouldn’t last, there was a different type of fun ahead.

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Now that Jayce is startlingly closer to 2 than 1, I can truly say that he is a blast and this is my favorite age. :) Though I didn’t mind the baby phase that some people are dying to get through, I can acknowledge that it certainly is a perk for him to be mobile enough to walk himself into the kitchen to eat, get up the stairs himself for bath time, or (while holding my hand of course) walk with me instead of be carried by me in public.

Some of his fun little nuances I know are common of kids this age, such as how much he likes to help. He helps me load the washing machine even though it is over his head to do so. I give him the lighter items of clothing, he throws them up, and they go in about 75% of the time. The other 25% they fall back down and hit him in the face, but he tries again until they go in. His favorite laundry duty is throwing the wet clothes into the dryer, and he grunts with each item that he throws, even a single sock, because that is what I did when I first showed him what to do. When the clothes are dry he pulls them out, often hitting his head as he reaches to get the ones in the back, but that doesn’t slow him down. If the clothes are still warm, he stops to blow on them, because this is what you do with stuff that is warm, obviously. He then pushes the full basket down the hall to the living room where I fold it, though he often succumbs to temptation and pulls the nearest folded pile onto the floor. But I think that having “help” in 4 out of 5 steps is a success, right?

There is no way that the dishwasher will be unloaded without him. In fact, this activity elicits the same type of excitement as chocolate, so this boy needs to get his priorities straight! Chris grabs the sharp knives first, but then Jayce will quickly pull out each item, handing them to Chris urgently and occasionally laying them on the floor if Chris isn’t quick enough. When he pulls out a butter knife he will tell us a quick “no” as he hands it over. He also unpacks the grocery bags, helps take the trash out to the garage, and gets the little vacuum cleaner whenever he spots a bug or a speck of something and sweeps it up.

In addition to cleaning, he likes to take on little projects. As I type this I am watching him unpack a drawer in the kitchen for the 4th time. It is full of only hot pad holders, tongs and some trivets. He pulls out 2 items at a time, one in each hand, from the right side of the drawer only. He then runs over to the left side of the kitchen, puts each thing in it’s own spot on the floor, and then runs back to the right side of the drawer for some more. Once it is all unpacked, he uses the same strategy to re-pack the drawer.2010_01_22_6073

He is not talking a lot, something that Chris and I become occasionally concerned about. He does lots of animals noises though, and I wonder if we should have spent more time having him say dog, than prompting him with what does a dog say? That said, his sounds are cat, dog, monkey, snake, elephant, lion, cow, owl, fish, chicken, bird, horse, car and train. His only real words are da da, ball, go, go go (go Cards), ba ball, chocolate, cookie, cracker, no, yeah, whoah, wow, and uh oh. Also, there is ga, which is all-encompassing. I am ga some days, grandparents are ga, he yells “ga” down the basement when he comes and before he leaves (to hear the echo). He is adding to this every week though, so I really should stop worrying. Oh well.

I think that the option of cooperation makes this age kind of fun too. You just never know what you are going to get. Some days when his dad comes home, he will happily put on a show of all of his tricks for him, but some days he is just a little too wound up to participate in “show dad how old you are.” I think it will really lose something when he always responds to every prompt. Or maybe that never happens.

He still does sign language for more, please, all done and thank you. The week that we taught him thank you (taking your hand from your chin down) his grandma taught him to blow a kiss, so they’ve been rolled into one. Any “thank you” includes a “muaaahhh” blown kiss. Actually, Jayce initiated a family kiss last month, the sort of thing that I would have been a little embarrassed to teach him, but since he came up with it on his own, I will gladly participate in. Any time that Jayce sees Chris and I kiss, he will run over and demand to be picked up, wrap one arm around each of our necks, push our heads together and then lean in, so that we all kiss at the same time. This is accompanied by a big cheesy grin and of course, muuuaahhhhh.

This is not to say that things are perfect around here, because we are certainly seeing our share of tantrums. Also, these “projects” that he’s into, aren’t all helpful. It’s helpful when he unpacks groceries, but not when he swiftly unpacks a purse or diaper bag. As fun as it is to unpack the kitchen drawer, it is much more fun to unpack a bathroom drawer, and he has his pick of drawers since none of those are baby proofed. The contents of a bathroom drawer are so much more interesting anyway, because once the drawer is unpacked there are additional containers to be unpacked: band aids or medicines boxes, cotton swabs, toilet paper, etc. I am always with him in the bathroom, but sometimes I just let him have his way with the drawer if it is the best way to keep him entertained while I’m trying to get myself ready to leave the house. Plus, the band aids make him so happy that I just let him play. The medicine, not so much.

I guess I just want to make a little note to remember these things by. 2 will be here soon enough, and when I am declaring that it is my new favorite age I want to remember what was so great about 20 months.

20 Jan 2010

30 Years

Happy birthday. 

Today, you turn 30.  I am so lucky to have you.  You have brought more joy to my life in our decade together than I thought was possible. 

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We have such a full life and am so happy to have had you at my side on this journey.  And now we also have this amazing little boy.  How will I ever stop counting my blessings?

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Thank you for taking your role as a father so seriously.  It is one of the thrills of my life to watch you and Jayce together.  He loves you so much and looks up to you completely.  Use this power wisely. :)

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We love you, you’re everything to us.  Happy Birthday.

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18 Jan 2010

Family Blocks

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I have been trying to make these blocks for Jayce since well before Christmas, but the good thing about 19 month olds is that they have no concept of late Christmas gifts. And this is good for me.

Since both of our families live out of town, I try to show Jayce pictures and talk about our family members so that when we do get to see them, he has some idea of who they are. I saw this great article about blocks here, and decided that I would make Jayce some family blocks.

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I started off with a piece of poplar wood from Lowes, 36” by 1 1/2” by 1 1/2” for $5. Luckily, one of our friends has a power saw and cut the wood into 1 1/2” blocks for me. They splintered a bit in the cutting process, but it was no problem since I was covering up the sides anyway, and I ended up with 18 blocks. (I saw some 2” blocks at Michaels the other day for $.99 a piece, so I saved $13 doing it this way!)

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I Mod Podged scrapbook paper onto 4 sides of each block, trimmed the excess paper and then sanded the edges off. I think this little detail (the sanding) made all of the difference in the world. I love how the rounded edges look kind of worn and vintage.

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We got an amazing printer for Christmas, (even though I was chastised that this was a really boring request), so I was able to print pictures of each of the family members, print corresponding names, and then Mod Podge these to the backs of the blocks. Here is our little family stack.

Us Picnik collage

I gave each nuclear family a different pattern of scrapbook paper, because I wanted to give Jayce another way to see which family members “go together,” if that makes sense.

Golden Girl Picnik collage

For the couples, I used a picture of the two people together, and just cut them apart. This was the easiest way of making sure that each person’s head was roughly the same size, and the backgrounds matched a bit too.

Golden Picnik collage

Jayce’s unmarried aunts had the same scrapbook paper as their parents. I don’t think that I’ll make new blocks once they get married, and since both just turned 20, I won’t need to worry about that too soon anyway.

Keith collage

However, I do plan on updating this middle block, once the new baby is born, able to be photographed, and a name is decided upon. For now, I just left the picture and name side blank.

Mo Picnik collage

As I was making the blocks I was so excited about them and slightly bummed that they would inevitably end up strewn around the house, so I decided to make myself a little family set to play decorate with. I used a more adult style scrapbook paper and printed the picture in black and white.

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Once everything was glued on, I Mod Podged the whole thing with a matte finish to seal it.

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As I was uploading my pictures onto the computer, Jayce ran over, saw the picture of our family blocks on the screen, pointed to Chris and said “Da!” I went upstairs, grabbed all of the blocks from where they had been drying and brought them down to show him. I obviously think that he is too young to read the names or understand all the family members right now, but he still could point out each of us, and was REALLY excited about stacking them. He also would periodically stand up and say, “Uhhh, uhhhh, goooooooooooo!” (ready, set, go) as he kicked over the stack. He is a boy after all.

blocks collage

I’m glad that I decided to seal the blocks, because one of them ended up in a cup of water shortly after he was done playing. I guess they do look a little bit like ice cubes. But the paper and photo were completely unaffected by the water.

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16 Jan 2010

Christmas in Kentucky

We were only able to be with the Keiths for 2 days over Christmas break so there aren’t nearly as many pictures, but we still had some memorable moments.

Opening Presents (Note the U of L Snuggie)

LVL collage

The Snowman: Introductions. Playing It Cool. The Attack.

Snowman collage

Turning 90

Turning 90 collage

14 Jan 2010

Christmas in Ohio

My Christmas pictures are obviously incredibly overdue, and in an attempt to consolidate my efforts a bit, I turned to collages.

Family Time

Akron collage

Christmas Morning

Akron Christmas collage

My Big Fat Slovak Christmas Party

Christmas party collage

Okay, maybe not the fat part, but the rest is certainly true.  It is our annual family reunion/Christmas Eve party, complete with 50 relatives, a huge table of food, and gifts passed out by Santa and his elves.  I guess I never really appreciated how crazy it was until our generation started bringing boyfriends and spouses and saw their reactions.  It certainly is a big, loud party, but luckily it’s also fun. 

There is always some “thing” that the uncles put together to up the entertainment factor a bit, and this year it was these “New Dad” tool belts.  As you can see (top left and bottom right pictures), the new dads’ belts were stocked with face masks, goggles, rubber gloves, trash bags, diapers, antibacterial wipes, ear plugs, duct tape (because it can be used to fix everything, of course), hilariously hand made pee-blockers, and a pacifier on a string.  It was great!

12 Jan 2010

Sometimes it Does Not Pay to Improvise

I am probably not alone in saying that, when I try something new and it goes well, it bumps up my self-esteem in that area a little bit and I am tempted to try out something slightly more daring. But just slightly. Last month, after having some success with Christmas cookies, I saw these amazing-looking hot chocolate on a stick cubes here (pictured below), and I had to try it.

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I had been planning to make these for over a week, and was happily melting a bunch of dark Ghirardelli chocolate when I realized that I don’t even have an ice cube tray. So much for my planning ahead skills. I started rummaging around looking for alternatives, and discovered that I did have some popsicle molds. Since I needed to make the most of naptime and the already melted chocolate, I decided to make good use of them.

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Two turned out really well,

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and the other two didn’t. I had been planning on giving these out as a few gifts, but who wants to receive chocolate on the end of a broken spoon?

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Or with a broken spoon included?

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Here is yet another failed idea. Hey, maybe these votive holders would work! No, they did not. The spoon came out, the chocolate stayed in, and the votive holders and I all frowned.

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Then I remembered that I did have an ice cube tray. Instead of giving hot chocolate on a stick, I gave out my love in the form of hot chocolate cubes (See how I spun that? Clever clever). And my friends still graciously accepted them.

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And I added “ice cube tray” to my grocery list. Though the heart molds would have been perfect for Valentines Day. I’ll keep that in mind.

Also, don’t worry about my fallen friends, the broken spoon sticks. Chris and I put them to good use ourselves, and they still turned into good creamy cups of cocoa with little bits of chocolate covering the top of the mug. It certainly was still a worthwhile project, even though it didn't go as planned.

Linking to A Soft Place to Land.

10 Jan 2010

I Heart Faces: Faces

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Chris was kind enough to let me get a new lens for Christmas this year. I am still trying to get used to it, but of the first 150 or so pictures that I took, my favorite one is of my favorite pair of baby blues. Luckily it’s faces week at I Heart Faces. Check out more faces here.

7 Jan 2010

It’s An Honor to Be This Proud

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Last May Chris submitted his thesis to be considered for The John Templeton Award for Theological Promise, given by the Research Center at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. 

And he won!!!!  Oh my gosh, he won!!!! 

We found out at the end of December, just before we left town to visit family.  Chris called me when he got unofficially informed by one of his references and former Head of School.  I was in the car at the time, and started screaming and laughing.  It scared poor Jayce at first, but he eventually laughed at my laughter.  Chris screamed and yelled in the hallway at school where he had received the email.  He was the only one there, which is apparently how it goes in that post-exam pre-Christmas season.  Unless you are writing in your office, which he was.  Last week when we arrived home from our Christmas travel, he had the official letter waiting for him, which caused another round of freaking out and celebrating.

The award comes with a cash prize, which obviously we are thrilled about.  It also comes with additional money to cover his expenses in travelling and speaking at universities upon invitation, and he has already been invited to 3 good ones despite the fact that the news hasn’t even been published on their website yet!  Furthermore, the award winners are expected to attend an award ceremony and colloquium held in Heidelberg Germany, so we’ll be headed there this May. Yaaaayyyyy!!!!

The award is given annually to only 12 post-doctoral scholars from all over the world, and is given for the best doctoral dissertation or first post-doctoral book related to the topic "God and Spirituality."  There were only 2 New Testament recipients and Chris was one of them.  If interested, you can read more about the award here.  I tried to wait around until things were announced on their website, but I just can’t hold it in anymore. :)

I have so many thoughts on this.  I am so proud, but still processing, just trying to wrap my head around it all.  I will never actually publish this post if I don’t just cut myself off though, I’ve been trying to write this for days and I keep going off on long tangents.  So perhaps expect a post (or more) on the subject in the future. :)

For now, please just excuse the fumbling and bumbling of a proud proud wife. 

6 Jan 2010

Be Nice to the Kitty

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I just came across this picture of Jayce at my Mom’s house last week.  After a week of trying to ride the cat, I think I can tell what we were telling him when I snapped this picture.  And what he thought about it.

4 Jan 2010

Bags Bags Bags

Picnik collage

Now that Christmas is over, I can finally share this great project! I could not resist making these cute tote bags for everyone and did not resist. I saw a great tutorial on V & Co a few months ago on making wheat pillows with freezer paper and spray paint, and I was hooked. Unfortunately I didn’t really have a place for them in the house, plus there is that whole “no sewing” thing that I try to stick to. So I decided to see if it would work on these tote bags, and luckily it did!

I printed this wheat stencil from Vanessa’s site, traced it onto some freezer paper and cut out the leaves.

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I arranged the leaves on the bag and ironed them down. Luckily, they peeled off easily and could be re-ironed on if I changed my mind about spacing or whatever.

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I taped off an inch at the top of the bag because I wanted to keep a beige rim, and then spray painted it with two light coats of paint.

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When it was dry, I just peeled off the freezer paper and was done!

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It turned out so great! The freezer paper sealed really well so the paint didn’t bleed at all, and the stencil lines looked really sharp.

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Once I saw how well this turned out I had to make more! For this brown bag I followed the same steps as for the blue one, and just spray painted the whole bag, including the handles. It turned out great, but took forever to do the entire thing and used most of a can of spray paint. But I still really like it.

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I thought that a quicker way to make a bag like the one above would be to just start with a brown bag and spray paint the stencil area white, but this just didn’t work. The paint just soaked through the bag and didn’t show up at all. So I used a few leftover scraps of linen from my cheater pillow, taped off little squares, cut out leaf and tree stencils with the freezer paper and spray painted those. 2009_12_20_5128

I then went against my no-sew policy and hand stitched them onto the bag. I was reminded why I don’t like to hand sew-it took forever!! But the end result was perfect and I was really happy with it. The spray paint did bleed a little into the leaves on the linen, but it wasn’t that noticeable and still looked good.

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The finished product.

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I made another brown bag with this blue leaf stencil that I hand-sewed for my sister, but since I finished it the night before we left I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the finished product! Crazy, I know!

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Everyone seemed to like their bags, and now I get to make one for myself! My brother and sister-in-law kept telling me that I should try to put some of this stuff on Etsy, but I think that once people see how easy it is to make, they would just do it themselves, right? I don’t think I’m ready to dive into Etsy yet, but it is fun to think about.

Next week I will be back to let you know what I ended up doing with these fun blocks.

From Windows Live Writer

I’m linking up to the Girl Creative, Metamorphasis Monday, Make It For Monday, It's So Very Cheri, A Soft Place to Land, Today's Creative Blog, Blue Cricket Designs, Shabby Chic Cottage, Somewhat Simple, Thrifty Thursday, Creative Cats and Funky Junk Interiors.

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