Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January Play

January has been cold. Fortunately, we haven't had quite the bitter, dangerous weather that the poor Midwest has suffered through. Nevertheless, the wind chill is a bit much for our little fellas on most days. So instead, we've been making our own fun indoors.

I signed the boys and myself up for a class at the Y called "Mommy & Me." This twice-a-week fitness class ran all through January and was for moms and their children of any age. I was pleasantly surprised with the class, as I got much more of a workout than I thought I'd be able to get. The boys were generally happy during the class and enjoyed the change of pace.

Some of our activities included walking/crawling/jumping like different animals across the room, stretching resistance bands (for the moms) while singing various kids' songs, forming a "London Bridge" with the moms holding their legs up for the kids to crawl under, or playing games like "Red Light, Green Light" and Ring Around the Rosy (with moms doing lunges or squats). The boys' very favorite activity was walking or jumping along this ladder.

At times during this class, Jaden and Cody were more interested in scattering floor mats around the room, finding treasures in other moms' diaper bags, climbing inside other people's strollers, or making faces at the older ladies trying to have a book club in the next-door room. Overall, though, they were smiley, full of energy, and (mostly) good listeners. :) It was a good new experience for us!

At home, we've been experimenting with various new toys & activities. Some ideas have worked better than others. Having races by sliding various cars down a plastic ramp-- definitely a big hit! Digging for hidden toys in a container of rice-- not so much. (Maybe Mommy was getting a bit too adventurous out of desperation on that particular day!) Here are some other examples of our January play:

Practicing our Pouring-- Cody especially loves pretending to pour water from his sippy cups into bowls or onto various toys. So, I gave the boys something they could actually pour-- poker chips.

Both boys were actually entertained for quite a while, transferring the poker chips from one container to another. Oh, the joys of being one and a half!

 Sorting Cotton Balls-- This activity is designed to give good practice with fine motor skills. The idea is to place each cotton ball in an ice cube compartment of its own.

The boys seemed to understand right away what to do and concentrated hard... least at first. :) Eventually the fine motor skill practice transitioned to "How do I pull these funny cotton ball strands out of my mouth?" Oh, dear. Perhaps this Mommy needs to invest in some pom-poms if we plan on repeating this activity. Thankfully, no one was any worse off for the wear. We'll keep refining. :)

Next activity-- Balloon Games
Mommy tried to initiate a few catching/hitting activities with the balloons, but Jaden and Cody were perfectly content holding their balloons,

whacking their balloons,

and chasing after the runaway balloons. Hey, whatever works!

And finally-- Book Adventures
Yes, these two are boys after my own heart! :) With toddlers around, people often say that when it gets quiet-- that's when it's time to worry. In our household, though, it typically just means that our boys are engrossed in a book. The picture below is a very common sight for the boys these days. Flipping through the pages of various books will often entertain them for quite some time!

Other days, the boys just like to relocate ALL of the books from their shelf to other places in the house-- on the fireplace, into the bathroom, on the kitchen floor (especially when Mommy is trying to cook), or on the piano bench. Because they carry the books out one at a time, this activity is often very time-consuming!

Recently, Cody has been interested in lining up his toys. He'll often take our two Cozy Coupe vehicles, his dump truck, his push rider, and his bulldozer, and place them front-to-back all across the room. He enjoys doing the same with his books.

Many of the previous activities listed were Mommy-initiated. Most of the time, however, the boys have no problem at all coming up with their own fun. The following video gives a great example of how Jaden & Cody chose to entertain themselves after church one Sunday morning. 

We will certainly appreciate some more outdoor-friendly weather coming (hopefully soon!) in the months ahead. For the time being, though, we've enjoyed thinking a bit outside of the box for our playtime fun.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

19 Months Old

At 19 months, Jaden and Cody are now officially closer to age 2 than age 1. Should we as parents be more nervous or excited?? :) One thing is sure-- we've enjoyed watching them grow up to this point and are amazed with how quickly they grow and change.

Jaden & Cody-- a favorite place to roll and tumble,
Mommy & Daddy's bed

Jaden & Cody-- having a heyday in the rocker

Jaden, Cody-- lounging out in the clothes basket

Jaden, Cody-- more playtime on the bed

Jaden, Cody-- goofiness doubled!

Here is an overview of our little ones at 19 months:

  • Again, another not-so-great month (typically 3-4, sometimes up to 8-9 nightly wake-ups!!)
  • Especially rough due to multiple sicknesses (flu, colds, fevers, coughs)
  • Gave us ONE glorious night of sleep from bedtime until 5:30 a.m. this month (God wanted to give us some hope, I believe!)
  • Love afternoon nap and sleep anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours

  • Love hearing the same word over and over & will sometimes imitate the word's last sound. Don't quite yet get the word's full repetition
  • Will emphatically shake their head "no," often grunting slightly, usually when it involves food or drink they don't want
  • Frequently give us the sign for "more" when they enjoy a specific snack or playtime favorite
  • We're hoping to hear more verbal communication soon, though both boys seem to be content enough with their own babbles back and forth (guess that's the common "twin talk" we hear so much about...)

  • First month of purposeful brother-to-brother play! Will roll a ball or their bus back and forth together for at least a few minutes-- so cute to watch!
  • Love playing on Mommy & Daddy's bed
  • Enjoy playing with new toys received at Thanksgiving, especially their new musical toolbox & car carrier
  • Have started "teasing" Mommy & Daddy more often. Love to run back and forth across their bedroom, hiding alternately behind the changing table and their cube organizer whenever Mommy says it's time to read before naptime or bedtime. Will giggle and giggle as they run just past Mommy's reach
  • First downhill sledding experience-- not so great (Jaden screamed the whole time, and Cody seemed very uninterested.) Not our tough outdoor MT boys yet. :)


ALWAYS reminds Mommy to turn off the heater when
leaving the room!

Old Favorite Hangout 

New Favorite Hangout 
  • Loves looking at simple seek & find books and can consistently find objects (especially animals)
  • Enjoys pulling Jaden's socks off his feet when Mommy is holding Jaden
  • Likes to pretend to pour water or milk from his sippy cup into other containers
  • Our microwave man! Knows how to find and push the microwave's start button when we ask


LOVES his new "pet" doggie

Enjoys his new cardboard fort

Loves listening (?) to the dishwasher, or perhaps
feeling its warmth

Also a favorite new hangout

  • Mastered straw-drinking this month
  • LOVES his High-Five magazine from Grandma & Grandpa, especially waving at the kids on the back cover
  • Consistently picks up only the lion and the dog card from our new animal game, and hangs on to these 2 cards all over the house
  • Habitually chews on the edge of his coat collar

We've enjoyed observing some random, unique habits for our boys this month. They're definitely fun little fellas!

Uncle Jon & Aunt Chelsea's Visit

Having our family spread all across the country (living in 6 different states, as a matter of fact) can be tough sometimes. It typically means that we don't get to see our family nearly as often as we'd like.

Thankfully, 2013 was a unique year in that sense. Jon & Chelsea's visit to our home in early January marked the 8th month in a row that we've been able to see 1 or more of our family members. We've certainly been spoiled with all of our family visits & vacations.

Jon and Chelsea's visit to Billings actually was in two parts. Part I was a last-minute, VERY brief stopover just before Christmas. Jon, Chelsea, and Chelsea's sister Lindsea were en route from Sioux Falls all the way to Kalispell to see the Vaudt family. Because they had such a long drive ahead of them, their Billings stop couldn't be for very long. Jaden, Cody, and Amy (Jason was gone leading our Saturday night worship team) had the pleasure of visiting with these 3 for just over a half hour.

Our boys giggled with Ace and freely gave out hugs while the four adults chatted briefly. We especially enjoyed hearing about Lindsea's recent student-teaching stint in Panama. Jaden was quite impressed with Lindsea, too. :)

Although it was good to see this traveling clan, our half hour visit just didn't feel like quite enough. So when Jon and Chelsea asked if they could stay overnight with us on their journey back home, we gladly welcomed them in! They arrived on New Year's Day, just in time for dinner. 

At first, Uncle Jon wasn't too sure what to make of Cody & Jaden's mess-making ability (they're really quite good).

It didn't take long, though, before he and Ace were right on the floor, joining in.

Uncle Jon and Ace easily got the little boys to laugh and laugh.

Jaden warmed right up to Ace and wanted to give him hugs.

Cody was just ready to play!

Then, before bedtime, Aunt Chelsea and Uncle Jon read their nephews a few stories.

Since Jon recently had his birthday, we were happy to continue the celebrations...

...with Oreo pie, singing,

...and blowing out the candles.

Happy Birthday, Jon! We love your energy for life, your enthusiasm, your initiative, and your thoughtfulness for others. We were glad we could celebrate with you!

At the end of their visit we, naturally, fit in some game time. Jon's request was Stone Age. The birthday boy pulled out a great win.

We enjoyed the chance to see Jon and Chelsea for much more than a half hour visit this time. Thanks for making the visit possible, you two!

And so far, we don't have any family lined up for our 9th month in a row February visit. We certainly wouldn't want to break the cycle! Let us know if you're interested. Our home is always open to you! :)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Girl & Guy Time

With 5 little ones now in the family, the majority of our time spent in Albuquerque was centered upon the kids' schedules and their needs. We did, however, take the luxury of planning a specific girls' outing and a guys' outing for the adults. What a nice respite this was!

Mom spoiled us by taking the ladies out for an afternoon tea.

Our room was such a cozy, quaint little space. It definitely gave a sense of privacy and welcomed relaxed conversation.

Upon entering the tearoom, we each selected hats for ourselves from St. James' collection.

The tea began with a gentle, ringing bell promptly at 1:00. We were served a traditional black tea to start.

We took turns trying to elegantly drop sugar cubes into one another's cups, though this brought about several accidental "kerplunks" and splashed tea. Guess we have a bit to learn before we would fit back in this era... :)

Soon after we started tea, our server came with the food. It was served in two "acts" with an intermission, all themed upon The Nutcracker.

We were impressed with our server's ability to recite off all of the food's specific titles (as some were quite lengthy!). She explained each food item all at once, and then left us to enjoy the tea at our own pace.

 Act I was the Savories. It included beef wellington, a cucumber tea sandwich, truffled ladyfinger potatoes, a cheddar quiche, and creamed sprouts and mushrooms, all served with black tea (though mine contains quite a bit of cream & sugar by this point!). While the food samplers may certainly appear to be dainty, this portion of the meal was surprisingly filling-- and VERY tasty!

We took our time sampling each treat and enjoying some peaceful, uninterrupted conversation.

The intermission was made up of our breads-- soda bread and a cream scone with clotted cream and cranberry curd. This course was served with a sparkling sugar plum black tea. I was an especially big fan of the cranberry curd. Yum, yum!

Sarah got tons of great pictures of our meal. We're thankful for our creative, risk-taking photographer. :)

The last portion of our meal was Act II: Sweets. This selection included framboise custard, a Russian truffle, a sugar plum, and the waltz of the snowflake, all served with ginger peach white tea.

Believe it or not, we were all stuffed by this point! Two hours after our starting bell, a waitress roamed the hallway ringing another small bell, signaling the ending of our tea. The waitress brought us warm towels so we could tidy up. :)

What a relaxing, enjoyable afternoon!

These three ladies are such wonderful influences in my life. I value their faith, their creativity, their talents, and their love. My life is so enriched by each one of them-- I love you Kim, Mom, and Sarah! It was SO great to have this extended time to visit with you!

A few days later, the guys enjoyed a fun afternoon of their own. Believe it or not, their outing looked a bit different than the girls'! I'll let Jason share the details of the Guy Time...

Matt, Andrew, and I (Jason) have developed a tradition of participating in some sort of athletic competition while celebrating holidays together.  Most years, these competitions have involved frisbees.  This year, the competition only involved football.  We called it the Ru.P.K. competition which stands for Run, Pass, and Kick.  We used pee-wee sized footballs for our three-part event which was all based on the time it would take to run, kick, throw, and run.  Below, I was very unsuccessfully trying to throw a football across a basketball court and hit a backboard.   

Here, Matt exercises his inner-college soccer skill and sets up for one of four field goal kicks.  If you look very carefully, you can see plastic cups lining the middle part of the backstop.  Yes, we created our own version of goal posts using dollar store plastic cups.

Our final Ru.P.K. picture is of the 2013 Champion as he approaches the finish line nearly 3 minutes ahead of either of his competitors.  Ian is cheering his Daddy to victory!

We celebrated the injury-free end to another boy-like competition by meeting Dad for a glorious lunch at Tucanos.  The ladies had dainty food and delightful conversation.  The guys had meat, more meat, and an unbuckle your belt type resolve to make Tucanos lose money on us.  We're pretty sure they did lose money.  Dad did not participate in weighing himself while working at Church before we met him.  Matt, Andrew, and I did weigh ourselves before Tucanos and after.  We will let the numbers speak for themselves...we three Ru.P.K. competitors gained 13 lbs. together over lunch.  13 pounds.  The meal wasn't amazing simply because of the various meats wrapped in bacon, the massive salad bar, or even the sweetly glazed and grilled pineapple.  It was extra wonderful because of the caring conversation we shared as men.  We listened to each other (easy to do when stuffing your face full of manly "delights"), talked about the past, and dreamed together about the future.  Thank you, Dad, Matt, and Andrew for another glorious trip to Tucanos where the food was great and the company was even better.  I love you all.  13 pounds.  Wow.