Sunday, February 28, 2016

21 Months

This week, Marshall turned 21 months--a year and three quarters! Officially three months away from turning two. We've enjoyed every minute (well, most of the minutes), but I still can't believe he's already almost two!

I haven't done an update in a while, but this blog is essentially a record of all Marshall's milestones, so I'm not going to feel too bad about the lack of updates. Here's what's going on now:

Marshall weighs about 27.5 pounds--about 75th percentile--(no idea how tall he is) and wears size 2T for the most part, size 4 diaper.

Talking: Marshall talks constantly! Sometimes he chats to himself (a mixture of nonsense words and real ones) in his stroller or car seat. Sometimes he narrates everything he's doing ("Put down." "Over here." "Read to Teddy." "Sit down"). Sometimes he repeats every word we say, even if we're trying to ask him a question ("Marshall, what did you do at school today?" "School today"). The best part of all the talking is that we can truly understand Marshall most of the time now. He communicates most of his wants and needs so we don't have to play the guessing game every moment. Plus, hearing his version of words is too cute! That sweet little voice makes me so proud and happy.

Sleeping: Ahhhh, glorious sleep. It took us forever to get there, but now that we've arrived we appreciate it all the more. Marshall sleeps 7:30ish until 6:30ish almost every night. The few disruptions are rare and almost always easy to explain, like a cold or teething. He puts himself to sleep 90% of the time (we've even cut down a lot of our bedtime routine; now it's just story and bed, maybe a few lines of a song as we walk out). Naps are great, too, especially when he's home. At day care, Marshall will sleep 1.5 to 2 hours, but at home he'll sleep closer to three hours a lot of the time! I think he needs those great naps to catch up on rest from his busy days at school.

Day Care: Marshall seems to really like day care. I drop him off at school now, and my heart swells watching how confidently and happily he walks into his building and his classroom. He seems comfortable around his teachers, friends, and other parents. He loves watching everyone and barely acknowledges my goodbye as I leave. It makes me so happy to know we chose a good place for him. I also love that they expose him to experiences I wouldn't have if he were still home with me: social interactions (with other children and other adults), art projects, learning school rules (holding onto a rope when they walk between classes), reading in a group, not always being the only kid around. It's good for him, and he seems to like it.

Eating: He went through one picky phase, and I'm sure more are ahead of us, but lately Marshall has eaten almost all his meals without protest. If he doesn't seem into something, we encourage him a little but don't push it. Usually we serve it again the next day and he'll eat it. (The flip happens, too, where he'll scarf something down one day and ignore it the next.) His favorite foods are pita, sweet potatoes, eggs, soup, crunchy pea snacks, crackers (which is funny because we never really have crackers), and pancakes.

Oh, boy, these are real and here in full force. It helps now that he's a bit older and able to communicate, because we can often get him to tell us something about why he's upset. We do our best to listen and comfort him without giving in to his every desire. Mostly, I feel like we're all handling it as well as we can. We can also usually predict the most sensitive times for these outbursts: right before a meal (toddlers aren't terribly patient, from what I hear), when he's tired, or when he's interrupted in the middle of an activity he's enjoying. It requires a lot of patience on our part, so we're all working on it! Honestly, it hasn't been a big deal or super stressful, but when he busts out those inconsolable tears we really get thrown for a loop!

Play: Of course, play is huge, but lately dramatic play has become so much more fun! Marshall loves cooking in his kitchen (we gave him a bunch of measuring cups, whisks, spoons, a small pot, a bowl, cupcake liners, and rubber spatulas from our kitchen) and having us taste what he's making. He's gotten into drawing with crayons lately and asks us to draw "happy face!" all the time. Trains and trucks are still a hit, plus wooden alphabet blocks and puzzles. Books and reading are the best--we love going to the library to choose new books every few weeks, and Marshall will ask to read the same books over and over again. It's amazing how quickly he memorizes them; if we pause in the story he'll say the next word half the time!

Favorites: Teddy! (I'm not sure if I shared the store here yet, but Marshall found a bear at day care and claimed it as his own, and day care graciously gave it to us. It's a really nice bear, and he is now part of the family.) Going for walks, either in the wagon or just letting Marshall stroll around the block, stopping now and then to check out every plant and stick and wall along the way. Hanging out with his grandparents. Swim lessons. Learning to run. Stop signs (still don't get this one). Tickling and kisses from mommy and daddy.

Marshall, you are a very happy, mellow little boy. We love hearing your sweet voice and watching you learn how to navigate this big world. Thank you for bringing us such joy!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Work Update and the Usual Recap

These two are becoming friendlier and friendlier.

After a meltdown, sometimes you just need to stack some wipes.

 We tried these pancakes and all LOVED them. I highly recommend them if you're trying to get more greens!

On Thursday evening we took a long walk through the neighborhood--one of our favorite family activities. Marshall hasn't figured out how to run yet, but he's practicing every day, and it's hilarious. To me he looks like a combination of being a tiny pirate with a peg leg and having one leg shorter than the other. He's working on it.

Friday we kept things pretty mellow, from what I remember. Terry picked up some tilapia on his way home and we made this super simple fish recipe (if you aren't super excited about fish but like pesto, try this one. It's easy to cook and a very mild way to enjoy fish). Marshall loved it! Yes, he's a great eater, but of course he has his picky moments, too. He's always been hit or miss about meat, including fish, so I wasn't sure what to expect here. Turns out he loves the pesto, so he just kept asking for "more pesto!"--and of course that pesto came with fish! He also scarfed down some serious broccoli this weekend, and I had a little moment of panic that I will not be able to afford to feed this child in the future. I already struggle to make enough for Terry; wish us luck there.

(ignore the bib--he is a Giants fan, through and through!)

Saturday morning we agreed to get up and out early for a jog, and we actually followed through. By 7ish we were out the door for a quick jog to campus to play hide-and-seek in the Sculpture Garden.

We met a group of older men with their dogs who clearly meet up every weekend to turn the place into a dog park. It was awesome. Marshall wanted to introduce them to his dog! Check out that Labradoodle!

Then we hustled (walked, though) home to get ready for the day. I dropped Terry and Marshall off at swim, then ran a few errands. Then we all headed up the freeway for our friends' daughter's first birthday party! We were super late because of traffic, but we still had a great time watching Marshall play and celebrating the sweet birthday girl.

Marshall wasn't so keen on napping, but thankfully he finally fell asleep around 2:30, and Terry and I each took a nap too! I am fairly certain we haven't all napped together more than once since Marshall was born. Terry hates naps, and I always feel like I have a million other things to do, but we were beat. My nap turned into almost an hour, and it was totally worth the groggy feeling the rest of the afternoon.

This morning we took our time waking up (well, getting up--Marshall and Scout had us up before six, unfortunately), and we hung around the house a while. We planned out some meals, and Terry jumped in to help, which almost always results in a request for a new meal, and this time he chose several we've never tried! It'll be a week of experimentation. We hit up the grocery store and the farmer's market, the latter mostly for breakfast burritos because they are out of this world. Chorizo and egg and spinach and cheese...YUM.

Even though it was early, when we asked Marshall if he wanted to play on the playground next to the market he said, "Home," in the sweetest little voice. We called it an early morning and headed out, and sure enough this little guy fell asleep about five minutes from home. Is there anything more precious than a sleeping child?

Of course, that five minute nap meant he took nearly an hour to actually fall asleep at naptime, but he still slept, which gave Terry and me over two hours to get some major meal prep done in the kitchen. I love meal prep time, but it was way better to have Terry in there helping me! He gladly handled all the chopping and roasting while I took other tasks. Here's what we did:

- chopped and roasted sweet potatoes to make sweet potato, farro, & feta salads
- cooked farro for the salads
- prepped salad bowls for the salads so we can grab and go
- made chia seed pudding (a first for me--we tried it tonight but it wasn't set enough yet so I'll let you know the final verdict later)
- cooked meatballs for this recipe (one of the newbies in our line up this week)
- made these muffins
- chopped and roasted the vegetables for potato leek soup (I'll make the actual soup later this week)

It was a busy couple of hours, but hopefully we'll be glad to have it all done, including all those dishes. Later this evening I made overnight oats so that tomorrow will be extra easy, because we're starting a new routine!

Since I started work back in November, Terry has been taking Marshall to AND from day care. He's been able to flex his work schedule to make it work, but he won't be able to do that anymore, starting tomorrow. Instead, Terry will leave earlier and I'll take Marshall to school. Then I'll come home, drop off the car, and walk to work. Terry will still pick up Marshall at the end of the day. We aren't totally sure it'll all work. I have no idea what to expect with getting out of the house with Marshall on my own (normally we're both home to grab last minute items and help each other with morning meltdowns from our emotional toddler), and I am not entirely convinced that traffic will be kind to me all the time to allow me to get to work on time. Luckily my office and boss are super understanding, and I think the occasional traffic jam will be no big deal, but if it looks like the new schedule isn't working I'll have to start driving to work (and also paying for parking--boo). I have grown to loooooove my walks to and from work, so I would be very sad to see them go, but we're going to figure out what works best for Marshall, so wish us luck!

And on that note I thought I'd give a little update about how work is going. I'm a little less than four months in to working full time post-baby, and I would say I'm fairly well adjusted. I still feel like the new guy in my office, because I am, but I am growing more confident with each passing week. I am an academic advisor, so while I mostly have the rules and policies down I am still learning the nuances of our department and all the little tricks that you can really only pick up with experience. My boss is a wealth of knowledge, as is my coworker, so I'm trying to soak up all I can. Sometimes I miss being alone--I used to have several hours during nap every day to be by myself, and now I'm in an office with at least two other people all day--but I'm adjusting to that like anything else. It's another reason I appreciate walking to work; it's as close as I get to alone time.

There are times when I feel a little sad about not being with Marshall, but it's because I miss him, not the other way around. From what we can tell, Marshall is totally content at his school, and he is so loved and well cared for by the staff. Today at Trader Joe's we ran into one of his teachers, and Marshall was so sweet and shy saying hi to her. I can tell he's comfortable and safe and learning a lot at day care, so I feel really good about the decision to go back to work for his sake. It's also nice to feel more financially stable and to be contributing to our income. I really struggled with that part of not working; I felt like I was only spending money and not providing anything. Of course, I know I was doing plenty to make our family run, but this balance works a little better for us and for me.

The schedule was tough at first--I felt super stressed about getting everything done each night to prepare for the following day. Now I'm a little more relaxed about it, and I put some stuff off until morning or just wing a dinner or two during the week. We still try to work out at least 3-4 times during the week and once or twice on weekends, because it keeps us healthy and sane. But there are sacrifices, too, like less time to relax and less sleep than we probably need. But we're finding what works. Mostly I am perfectly happy at my job, and even happier to come home at the end of the day to my favorite people. I always always always wish I could have more time with Terry and Marshall, but that will always be the case. We're doing the best we can with the time we do get, and I'm incredibly lucky to have found a job that truly does maximize my time with them because I'm so close to home and able to leave work at work. Maybe that won't always be the case, so I am taking advantage while I can!

And now I am off to sleep to start another week. Four and a half weeks until our big trip to the Grand Canyon! I can't wait.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Sunny Valentine's Weekend--with My Parents

Happy President's Day! We had some warm weather out here, and these trees are in bloom now. They smell TERRIBLE. But look pretty.

I had a mostly-relaxing, fun-filled weekend with my parents in town! It was their first visit of the new year, and we convinced them to stay three days instead of the usual two. It made a huge difference as far as feeling like we actually got to spend some time together!

Friday afternoon my parents got to go with Terry to pick up Marshall from day care, and then we all met up on my walk home. Then, to celebrate my mom's birthday (which was last week--here's your official birthday wish mom: Happy birthday!!!), we went out to dinner at Sprazzo, our family's favorite local restaurant. We made it home for Marshall's bedtime and played a game before my parents headed back to their hotel.

On Saturday morning, Marshall, Terry, and I whipped up some smoothies--his, hers, and toddler's. 

The rest of the day was a blur: Marshall's swim class, some grocery shopping, miscellaneous shopping with my mom, a walk to the library, and eventually an outing for me and Terry to our neighbors' house for dinner.

Plus, on Saturday, our new photo book arrived! I have a goal this year to make one photo book per month. I am awful about making these things, and I'm always admiring my friends' books, so I am working on a whole bunch this year to make up for lost time. First up was our honeymoon, and it turned out beautifully. I made this one (8 1/2 x 11") on Shutterfly. With my order, they sent a 40% off coupon I can use on the next book. I have also used Costco in the past and loved that one, too. But now I only have 14 days to make the next one!

Sunday morning--Valentine's Day!--Terry made me tea in bed while I watched a little of the L.A. Marathon coverage (it goes right near our apartment and apparently we find that really exciting). 

Scout and Marshall joined for a rare full-family cuddle session!

More Marathon coverage--special shout out to these officers in full gear/uniform!

That morning Marshall helped Daddy build a new storage bench!

Later we headed to my parents' hotel pool for more swimming!

And construction equipment-watching!

Last night, in true Valentine's Day style, we all stayed in for a nice dinner--crock pot chicken, asparagus, Brussels sprouts (from TLT--SO GOOD), and sweet potatoes, and of course delicious wine thanks to my parents. My mom also brought rum cake (yum!). 

This morning, Terry had to go to work, but I had the day off and so did Marshall. My parents came over and we all went out to breakfast! 

And then we had a sad goodbye, and Marshall and I played with the train track. Normally Terry builds the track, so I was SUPER proud of my skills.

But then Marshall totally showed me up. 

And now some miscellaneous photos I never posted but wanted to document:

Marshall's new friend, Teddy, whom he found at day care and decided to love like a best friend. They're inseparable.

Helping us carry groceries home.

Taking Teddy for a walk.

Doesn't he look like Ham from the Sandlot?

Super Bowl snack: layer of hummus, then a layer of chopped cucumber, then a layer of feta cheese tossed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper. Served with pita chips and sliced cucumber.

I hope your week is wonderful! I'm thrilled it's a short one. Yesterday I came down with something weird--body aches, sore throat, headache, but no other symptoms--so hopefully I can kick that before I go back to work tomorrow. Have a good one!