Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Three Year Old Milestones

It's been awhile since I've written about Caleb's development. I enjoy looking back at these posts to check their progress and sometimes to compare between siblings. One thing I've noticed for better or worse is that I'm far less concerned about Caleb's overall development compared to the firstborn. For one, I don't have any time to really think or worry about it so long as everything seems to be coming along fine. You really do learn to chill out a little about it the second time around. Also, I know that Caleb will be one of the oldest in his class once he starts kindergarten. We've got the luxury of time. He will have another whole year to learn letters and such. He will be six years old for nearly all of his first year of school (9/23 birthday with a 9/1 cut-off date) whereas Emily didn't turn six until school was out. HUGE difference. So, here's a snapshot in time of what our little 3 year old is up to. What he loves. What he says. Just to help me remember this precious middle child.

Hiking at Point Reyes
Gross Motor

My kids develop fastest in this area. Maybe it's genetic. Maybe it's because I'm outdoorsy and a PT and would much rather be outdoors playing instead of inside making messes inside. I don't know. Probably a combination. Anyway, little guy is a fluid runner and climber and has been for a long time. He can slide down fireman poles, climb up all the challenging obstacles at the playground, etc. He has a three wheeled mini-micro scooter and he's really fast and proficient at it. He's learned how to build up speed and ride it like a skateboard. He can go over a mile in it. (We've taken it to the beach and back many times.) He can also peddle his tricycle and balance on his Strider bike for short distances, but he mostly prefers the scooter. He LOVES to play ball, esp. baseball and soccer. He can now hit a ball that is thrown to him by Dad without using a tee.

Hike at Redwood Regional Park

Fine Motor

Umm, I don't pay much attention to this. Oops. We don't use scissors yet. He enjoys coloring (sometimes on the walls.) He can copy simple letters like "O," "C," and "H." He's using the small Lego pieces to build things now. (He can't follow the harder instructions on his own, but he can manipulate the small pieces pretty well.) He can work 20 piece puzzles on his own.

Jackson's Orchard


He's such a happy, funny kid with a touch of defiance. When he gets into trouble, he likes to say "Mommy, I wuv you." He often wants to make everything a race and then gets SO mad if he loses. We have to remind Emily to let him win sometimes just to avoid mini melt-downs. You can also use this to your advantage. (Betcha can't get into your car seat first! Let's time you and see how long it takes to put on your shoes! Ready, GO!!!") He wants to pray at dinner every night. He has been working on his prayers for awhile. He used to need prompting. He would look up at us and ask us, "What's next?" Now, he confidently prays like this. "Thank you God for Mommy and Daddy, Googoo Gaga (baby Anna Kate) and Emmy. Thank you for me. Thank you for Dinkney, Poppy, and Nan and Pop. Thank you for our food. Amen."

At baby sister's birthday party


He talks A LOT. He's starting to ask all of the "Why" and "What" questions. He can keep me busy answering questions the whole time we're in the car. He can't pronounce his "L" or "R" or "S" sounds correctly. He sticks out his tongue when pronouncing "'s" sounds so he has a lisp. The "l" sounds either become "y" or "w" sounds. For example, "I wuv you, mommy." Or "I yike pizza!" Hopefully, all of that will even out in time. It's pretty darn cute for now.

Hot day in Point Reyes

Potty training

Making such great progress! Caleb was two when Anna Kate was born. I didn't think for a minute that I could potty train him before she was born. We were in survival mode for months AFTER she was born. Potty training the middle child is most inconvenient when you also have a baby! Although we bought little potty seats and gave him many opportunities, encouragement, and tutorials, little guy was not the least bit interested or compliant until recently. Something finally just clicked! We've only been working on it for a little over a month now. He has learned how to pee standing up. He can go nearly every time we take him and does quite well! If we forget to take him, he sometimes will communicate his need to go, but he also will have accidents. He's only been doing regular BMs in his little potty for maybe three weeks. He's gone twice today, but had an accident yesterday. That's how it's going now, but he's succeeding more and more all the time. A few days ago we were at the playground and Caleb told me he needed to poop. I rushed him to the potty and he did his business on a park bathroom potty! Huge deal for us! I was really proud. We've been giving him small candy rewards. I also give him bigger presents for his BMs. Recently, I told him after he pooped 5x on the potty, I would get him this cool recycling truck he wanted. I just ordered it for him. :) We also saved back a few of his recent birthday presents and distributed them to him with different potty successes. In summary, we are doing pretty well, but he still needs some motivation and encouragement. He has gone several days with no accidents at all. We let him wear underwear most of the time now. He wears pull-ups for sleeping time.

Opening Bday presents


I'm embarrassed that he's so picky. He basically exists on dairy (cheeses/milk/yogurt), bread, fruit, and nuts. He used to eat fish sticks. Now that's a battle. He won't touch chicken or lunch meat or beef. I got him to try a piece of bacon recently and that was a success. He won't eat eggs. (Both girls do.) Most lunches are PB and J or PB and Nutella, grilled cheese, or quesadillas with black beans. Most dinners are pasta, pizza, mac n cheese, or rice/beans. He eats corn, sweet potatoes, peas, green beans, carrots, and cucumbers. Little guy won't even eat potatoes! I finally got him to try a tater tot. For real. It is so ridiculous. Luckily, he eats ALL the fruits. All of them. I try to buy a huge variety and he has something with each meal. I also make smoothies from time to time and hide kale in them. I would love to be stricter and make the kids eat what Jeremy and I eat. I try to get them to at least try everything on their plates. Even when we do this, he outlasts me. He won't eat dinner and then just wait until breakfast to eat the carbs and fruit he wants. Sigh. Sometimes I feel like I'm failing here, but I remind myself that he is just three. I didn't eat rice or cucumbers or green beans when I was three. It could be worse, I guess.

My sweet boys!


Caleb still takes a long nap almost every day. He's flexible and I can put him down to nap anytime between 1 and 3pm. I usually aim for about 1:30 or 2pm depending on the day's schedule. He's old enough now that if we have to skip a nap, we can, but then he's usually more irritable in the evening. If he starts acting up worse than normal, I'll find myself thinking, "What is wrong with this boy!!!" Then, I remember, "Oh yeah. No nap today." He falls asleep in his car seat extremely easily. If it's near nap time and he's riding in his car seat for longer than 10 minutes, you can almost bet that he will fall asleep. He's a dream child for long trips. He naps about 1 1/2-2 hours. Our normal routine is to read one book and tuck him into his pack n play in our master bedroom. This was the solution I came up with once we transitioned him out of his crib and into a toddler bed. He was getting in/out of his toddler bed too much at night. It was even worse for naps. So, I made him a nap time "cave" in our room. It was darker, quieter, and Emily could still use their shared room for quiet play during his nap time. It has worked like a dream for months now. He does sometimes resist and cry that he doesn't want to go to sleep, but he almost always does. Because he naps so long, he has a hard time falling asleep at 8pm. We try to have lights out by 8 or 8:15pm, but it's probably closer to 8:30 or 9pm before he's actually asleep. Even though this is later than I want, I don't want to take away or shorten his nap. It helps my sanity during the day and allows me to help Emily with her homework uninterrupted. Some nights I cuddle with him in his toddler bed. (It is so tiny that it makes me want to get a twin bed soon so we can cuddle more easily! However, I do like that it doesn't take up much room in their shared bedroom.) He wakes up around 7am. Some nights he stays in his room all night, but it is pretty common for him to get scared and come downstairs to sleep with us at some point in the middle of the night. I don't mind so long as he is quiet and sleeping. He's so cuddly and warm! Love my boy! He loves to get his extra cuddles and attention between mama and daddy and I know he will outgrow it before we know it. I guess because he was just two years old when Anna Kate was born, I feel like he deserves and needs this extra attention. I was still rocking and cuddling him before bedtime when Anna Kate was born. Then, we had to stop because Anna needed me to nurse her and I couldn't do both at the same time. He lost his bedroom and his cuddles once baby sister was born. :( So I cherish my morning snuggles with my sweet boy.

Favorites, etc.

He knows most of his colors. He can count past ten. He can recite his ABCs with pretty good accuracy singing the song, but doesn't recognize the names of many letters. He likes to sing and dance. (He dances a little jig when he gets excited about good news.) Favorite toys are all of his various car, trucks, and tractors. Second favorite would probably be his sports balls. He likes his Paw Patrol figures. He likes playing with his little play kitchen. He's talkative with his pretend play. His favorite shows are Daniel Tiger and the Paw Patrol. Goodness, he is obsessed with Paw Patrol. I really should have made his 3rd birthday party theme that! He enjoys being read to before nap and bedtime. Favorite books right now are his Paw Patrol books and Calvin and Hobbs comics. (They just like Daddy's funny voices and sound effects. Jeremy picks out the age appropriate ones for them out of these big collector's books he has.)

Hot wheels are always a clear winner. Never mind that he owns dozens already.


He wears 3T pants and 3T- 4T shirts. He's 38 1/4 in. tall and weighs 34 lbs. 4oz. We had a difficult time getting his height at his 3 year old check up so I take that with a grain of salt. (He refused to stand up and they measured him lying supine on an exam table!)

I guess that's all for now. I'll leave you with a favorite quote.

Caleb: "Don't you know, Mom, that superheroes don't go to time out?"

This was said while wearing one of his favorite superhero shirts and trying to get out of time out early. Nice try, buddy.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Caleb is THREE!

Our little man tuned three on Sept. 23rd. In some ways, I feel like he's been that old for much longer! He's been a very verbal kiddo. Last year, he regularly played with Emily's kindergarten friends at the playground and hung right in there with them! The second (and third) children seem to grow up a little faster in that way. We decided we wanted to throw him a party at our new house. By the time his birthday rolled around, we had been in the new house several weeks. Pretty much everything we needed to unpack was put away, we had a few photos and decorations up, and we decided it looked "good enough" to have some guests over to celebrate!

Those eyes and that expression! 

This mama was very happy to have the space to rent a jumpy house for the day. That was never even an option at our first CA home. The Superman jumpy house was by far the biggest attraction. The kids loved it! I didn't even worry with coming up with other entertainment. We had a good group of friends and their kids here. Most of the kids dressed up as super heroes, too. We ordered a few party decorations (banner, balloons, Superman themed lollipops, etc.) I made sure the whole family had blue/red Superman t-shirts to wear. Caleb's also had a detachable cape which he LOVED. We had eye masks and lollipops for the kids to keep as party favors. I made some homemade cupcakes and did my best to make them cute with little cupcake toppers and matching liners.

Chocolate cupcakes and homemade buttercream icing. Yummy!

Jump house FUN! Only a few minor injuries...

Caleb and the children had a great time. Unfortunately, I did not feel like the hostess with the most-est. Anna Kate was extremely clingy. Literally, I could not put her down without her crying. She had been fighting a cold for several days. (Prior to the party, I let the parents know she wasn't well.) I had hoped the worst was over for her. We had had a few days of fevers, but she was fever free the day of the party. I also took her to the doctor the day before the party to make sure there was nothing else I could do for her. (No ear infection or other issues, etc.) Anyway, baby girl did not get a good morning nap the morning of the party and she was not a happy camper. Then, the first time she got put down to walk around a little, she tripped on the patio and bloodied her nose. Awesome. Mrs. Pam and I went to the back bathroom to clean her up. She pretty much never "recovered" and only got worse as the party went on. At one point, I tried to rock and nurse her to sleep. That didn't work. After the party was over, I did get her to sleep quickly and as I rocked her, I had a good cathartic cry. Exhausted. Disappointed. Frustrated. I just had a little pity party because more than anything, I just felt sad that after all the preparations, I did not get to enjoy the party with my sweet boy (or our friends) like I had wanted.

So funny story. I mentioned to one of our guests that we don't normally drink soda much anymore, but I wanted a few drink options for the adults. He said something about me serving carcinogens. haha! Only in California. I didn't take any offense because I know he was just agreeing with me that soda isn't healthy, but it did make me pause and think, "Well, crap! I'm serving carcinogens! What was I thinking???" 

We also added some lunch sandwiches to the spread.

Yay for our patio! Perfect for parties. 

A few of the super heroes who enjoyed the day with us.

Caleb with some of his boys. 

Poor baby girl. I can just tell by the look in her eyes here that she wasn't her normal smiley, happy self. :( 

Super Hero Lollipops! 

Caleb felt special that day. He loved all the special details. He still talks about the day we had his friends over for the jumpy house party! I'm glad he had fun because that makes it all worth it. The grandparents sent wonderful care packages so Caleb got to open presents all week! I even used a few of the presents from aunts/uncles as potty bribes. (Is that wrong? If so, I don't want to be right because they totally worked!!! haha! I did let him know who they were from.)

We took these pics after the party and after AK's nap. Yes, we got out the tripod for our one family shot! 

The Reiss family knows how to work a theme.  

Lots of love for his Daddy!

Goodness, soooooo much love for this little boy on his birthday and always! We love you, CALEB!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Moving and Emily's 6th Birthday

There's not much hope for me ever catching up on my blog. Life is SO busy and full. The last little bit of time I had to do it has been taken up with Anna Kate's care (and she's an inconsistent napper.) Most nights I'm too exhausted to do any writing after they go to bed. I hope to eventually catch up on at least their birthdays and vacations. We got a new computer when we moved and now a lot of our old photos are harder for me to access until they all get transferred to the external hard drive....another project.

Emily turned six on the same week we moved. Our new lease started August 1st. Our moving truck came on August 4th. Emily turned six on the 8th. We spent several days taking boxes over to the new house prior to the big move because we were moving just a half mile away! By moving a little bit at a time over a period of about a week, we were able to manage much more  "easily." My MOPS group really stepped up to help us during a difficult time with no family here. There was no way for me to do much packing when I'm the primary person completely responsible for ALL the needs of three little people! Plus, Emily wasn't even in school at this time. I still don't know how we managed to do it. There were late nights of packing, combined with friends who watched the kids from time to time, and a hired Task Rabbit employee who mostly packed the kitchen and somehow we got it done.

 I'm extremely grateful for the help we had. I'm thankful that Jeremy was able to take time off from work during and after the move to help get us settled. He's so good to always put our needs first. Our new house is very different than our other one. First of all, we have a much larger home and we have the whole thing! No more duplex! :) I think it's about 2400 sq ft., 3 bedroom, 3 1/2 bathroom. This house is a custom built mid-century home whereas our other home was a cute Victorian. The midcentury has been updated nicely with great appliances (I have a Subzero fridge!), but it hasn't been updated as far as the wallpaper in a couple of the bathrooms. The house is well suited to having parties. I hope I can take advantage of that and be more hospitable now that we actually have room to entertain. It's definitely a unique home. Do I want to live here forever? Umm, no. Is it almost perfect for our needs now? Yes!

We are still leasing. This house's monthly rent is significantly higher than our first CA house, but we felt like it was worth it for several reasons. 1) We are still in the same school district for Emily! We are so happy that she did not have to switch schools. She still has an easy, pleasant walk/bike to school. Today I hopped on my bike and was there in less than five minutes and we rode home together. I love being so close to her school. 2) We are still in arguably the prettiest area of Alameda! I love how pretty the homes are here and how walkable the neighborhood. 3) We are just a half mile from the beach! (Not a big change--I think we were just 0.7 miles away before we moved.) 4) The house is much larger than our previous home and with more usable outdoor space. 5) The kids have a long driveway to ride their bikes and scooters. Our road is like a driveway just off the dead end of another street. 6) We have more privacy than our other house. Many people remark that they didn't know our tiny street even existed until they visited us the first time. I  may end up regretting this, but so far, I have been able to leave out our scooters, strollers, etc. unlocked in our carport and there is no through traffic to spot these things to steal them. We do have some outdoor storage we can lock, but some days it is too much hassle to get them in/out all day. 7) I have a carport and my own parking space! Yay! We used to live on the corner of a street and next to a private Catholic elementary school. I didn't have my own driveway--just street parking. I can't tell you how many times I would come home and circle the house trying to find a place to park. With groceries. With kids in tow. It really did stink. Of course, it was fine in the evenings, during school breaks, etc., but it was still a frequent inconvenience!

I'm not mentioning any of these things to brag. Believe me, this house keeps me humble in many ways when compared to what my friends own in Kentucky. Just saying that for a move that we didn't plan or WANT to do, I'm happy that this home fits our family's needs better. Like I told Jeremy, if we HAVE to move, let's pick something that makes all the trouble worth it! Not sure if/when I will get around to posting house pics. I'm really self conscious because everything usually looks worse in a photo compared to real life. We are pretty settled, but I've bought few new things specific for this
house. Just trying to make do with what we have. We still could use more furniture to fill it up, area rugs, etc.

As far as Emily's birthday, I wasted a lot of mental energy trying to decide if we could manage a "simple" park party for her with her friends. Ultimately, even a simple party was just out of the question. We were just trying to survive the move and get settled as soon as possible. I had zero energy to put towards a party. I'm just as happy with what we decided to do instead. Without having to spend hundreds of dollars on food, party supplies, jumpy house, etc., we had money to go shopping at the American Girl Store in Palo Alto! I had wanted to take her there for about a year. This was the perfect chance! We completely surprised her on her birthday. We did a little day trip there, bought lots of cute stuff for her dolls, ate lunch nearby, and then visited Stanford's campus before heading home. We did an ice cream cake for her birthday. Honestly, I just loved doing an outing and something simple and meaningful for her! She was very happy, too! We allowed her to have a friend over after church on Sunday. She and S.G. went to see a movie with Dad. Six year olds are very social so I was happy that we managed to do both family and friend things for her.

I'll end this post with a few iPhone pics from our day at the American Girl Store in Palo Alto!

Emily's surprise sign!

LOVE my six year old cutie. (Check out the license plate!)

So cute of Jeremy and Emily!

I kind of want this doll outfit for her next. There's a matching big girl version, too. Just a nod to our KY roots!