Thursday, July 31, 2008

Out with the old, in with the new!

Ben had his 6-month checkup yesterday and all is well. I guess he was concentrating his energy on all those personality and developmental changes over the last few months, because he hasn't physically grown all that much! He weighs 16 lbs., 13 oz and is 25 and 7/8 inches long, so he's now in the 50% for babies his age. Dr. Smith is not worried, so I'll just be grateful that he's been able to wear the same clothes for longer than expected and that he's not a back-breaker to carry!

He was a very brave boy for his shots and actually laughed when the nurse was trying to draw blood from his toe! Laughed. And I really regret not having my camera handy to capture his fascination with the paper on top of the exam table. Definitely the most fun he's had at the doctor's office so far! Tyler got to come to his appointment too, so it was nice for him to hear the doctor's recommendation for eating and sleeping besides my rationale of "It's what the book says to do!" or "Kelley's doing it with Carter!" Dr. Smith said it's time to increase solid foods to twice a day, and I'm sure Ben would be very excited to know there is more rice cereal in his future, among new and interesting flavors. We've tried sweet potatoes so far, and while it doesn't solicit the same spine-tingling chills as rice cereal did at first, he is definitely not sold on the idea.

So there have been lots of changes for Big Ben lately. No more sitting sweetly in the Bumbo or lying calmly on the activity mat; he's graduated to the spaceship highchair and whirly-twirly excersaucer!

Yeah, I'm a pretty big deal.

There's just so much to do in here!

This is my special rocking sheep from my "Aunt" Shelly in Ohio.

Am I still a cowboy if I wear a lobster john-john and ride a sheep?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Six months old!

Dear Ben,

Seriously. Six months old? We just cannot believe that you have been in our lives for half of a year. In some ways we can't remember life without you, but it's hard to comprehend the speed in which you are hurtling through babyhood. No longer a tiny bundle waiting simply to be held, fed and changed, these past six months have produced a rolling, wiggling, laughing, babbling, grabbing, shrieking, cooing, complaining, learning ball of energy and personality.

Just in the last month you've done a lot of changing. We'll go to the doctor next week to learn about your specific physical growth, but we're expecting you to be right on target as your clothes are mostly all in 6-month sizes. You're wearing size 2-3 diapers, and I'll be sad when you've outgrown these oh-so-soft Swaddlers. (new mom note: Cruisers just are not the same!) Your eyes are changing from true baby blues to a lighter hazel/blue color. Your hair is still auburn-ish and is just about ready for its first cut! Two tiny teeth are now visible right below the surface of your bottom gums, and Daddy the Dentist checks their progress daily. (You are already a compliant patient by rubbing a washcloth on your own gums during bathtime.) And oops, you got your first suntan during the two-day car ride home from the beach...left arm only.

In other “oops” news, you could now join a class-action lawsuit against Bumbo as with one swift swivel this month, you twisted right out of that silly chair and face first onto the table top! Daddy and I both lunged for you, but you are a quick one! And a brave one too - didn’t squirt one single tear. (Which helped Mommy to be strong too, I might add.) We have since moved the Bumbo into retirement.

This impressive torso and lower body strength has been exhibited in more AAP-approved activities as well, such as pulling your legs under your bottom and schooching forward on the floor like a wobbly little inchworm, arms by your side. Daddy is concerned about your lack of confidence in your arm muscles, but I say "no rush" because once you raise up on your arms, crawling (thus the required baby proofing) is only a few pushups away!

Still sleeping through the night (with the previously mentioned week's exception), you are now able to fall asleep on your own after playing and discussing the day's events with your cribmates: Lovie the blanket, Elephant, Lamb and Giraffe. And our "where's Ben" game is now much more interactive as you can pull your blankie off your own face for the big "there he is!" reveal!

That being said, we haven’t heard a really good belly laugh in a while, which we realized as we watched this video from several weeks ago.

Not sure if we’re losing our comedic timing or your sense of humor has just become more discerning, but we’ll keep trying everything we can think of to make sure we hear that contagious giggle at least once a day!

We do know from past experience that this kind of persistence pays off. Introducing rice cereal to your single-entree menu was not well received at first, as you’ll see here:

But I kept trying, and now you love it so much that you would lick it straight out of the bowl if your tongue was long enough (You tried. It didn't reach.) I can not fill you up with it! I've given you not just seconds, but fourths before! Turns out that it may be an inherited taste. Your daddy liked it so much when he was little that he can remember making it himself until Nana had to cut him off!

Your love for Zoe grows stronger every day, which is sadly unrequited at this point. Your squeals, neck craning and arm flailing when she walks in the room are met with a mix of apathy and disdain. But don’t you worry – I have a feeling she’ll come around once you learn how to throw a ball!

You’re still our #1 cuddler, and even though I know you need your exercise (especially after a hearty meal of rice cereal), I love to hold you as much as possible, particularly on those special occasions when you purposefully reach out for me. Melts my heart.

As you get older, you’ll quickly learn that birthdays are a pretty big deal to your mommy. On your half-birthday (see?), you should know that you are our gift, whose health and wellbeing have given us so much cause for thanks. Daddy and I are humbled by the responsibility we been given to raise you and ask the Lord for guidance on a daily basis. “Love” fails to describe what we feel for you, but we do love you Ben, more than you will understand for a long time to come. Keep growing, sweet boy - as Daddy often says, “you’re the best!”



Monday, July 21, 2008

What a trip!

Vacation as I've known it, will never be the same. We've been home for a week now, and while recovery is a slow process, we're just taking it one day at a time.* Gone are the days of lounging by the pool, interrupted only to sleep, eat and go on the occasional sightseeing expedition. Apparently, Ben doesn't "do" vacation. Or maybe - since his grasp of the English language is still a work in progress - he defines vacation as reverting to newborn sleep and eating patterns, minus the daytime naps, with a bit more crankiness tossed in!

Lack of sleep and sanity aside, it was so so good for Tyler and me to spend time with him, not to mention everyone else. It had been a year and a half since we'd seen most of the family, and when you're little, a lot changes in that period of time. Babies are little girls now, the big girls have traded in their Disney princesses and Barbies for American Girls (who are decidedly better role models), and the boys, well...boys will be boys. Caleb had spent months counting down the days until he could go fishing with Uncle T, and the event proved to be worth the wait when they caught an actual shark! It just doesn't get cooler than that. Luke was a source of continuous entertainment, from showing off his muscles and break-dancing skills, to helping me in the kitchen, shouting "let's do it!", complete with fist pumps.

Watching and listening to a gaggle of excited kids produces lots of favorites moments like that. Almost 2-year old Cadence was very interested in her younger cousins and loved to say hi to "Nen" over and over. And my favorite quote from the week occurred while I was walking back from the beach with Elena. The kids had all just turned our nice sunset stroll into the kiddie version of ABC's Wipeout. I commented on the sand in her hair, on her legs and probably in her armpits. "Yeah," she said thoughtfully, watching the windsurfers head to shore, "armpits are always warm." True, Elena. So true.

In between beach trips, mealtimes, pool parties, storytimes, and the before and after preparations that are required for all of the above, the adults got a couple of chances to catch up too! We loved every minute of it and are so thankful for the opportunity to make more memories with the fam - they don't come often or last long enough.

* Laundry and cleaning have fallen by the wayside as you've seen that one of the first items on the agenda turned out to be Tyler's surprise blog facelift. When it comes to blogging accessories, I believe, like plastic surgery, there's fine line between tasteful and tacky, and while I agree that it may have needed a little freshening up, I also don't want people to have to buy protective eyewear to be able to read it! So we're working on a compromise. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

technical difficulties...please stand by

I'm changing my password.

And not telling my husband what it is.

Let's just say I'm in a WHOLE lot of trouble...

So its 11:30pm and I (Tyler) have officially erased mama's template... not good! Not sure how to fix it so now I'm digging myself deeper but on the upside, here's a few more pictures of our trip...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Roadtrip: OBX or bust!

Ben's first Fourth of July was a bit anti-climatic as it was spent in the backseat of the Subaru! (although he was dressed in appropriate holiday attire, Mom.) From Birmingham to Chattanooga on Thursday, Maryville, to Asheville and Raliegh on Friday, we finally reached our destination on Saturday of Cape Hattaras, NC to spend the week with Tyler's family.

Once I mastered the art of pumping and giving him a bottle on the go, Ben was a very good sport in the car. Here are a few pics from our travels:

Eating with my feet may not be polite,
but it sure makes it easy to hold my own bottle!

This bed is juuuuust right.

"99 bottles of beer on the wall...everybody!"

It's been a fun week with the family and an interesting week for Ben so far (schedule, schmedule). But that deserves its own post. I will say however that certain events prompted us to try rice cereal yet again. ...Success!

This is great, Mom! Why didn't you try this before?!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy 31st Anniversary!

Thirty-one years is a LONG time. It's more than four times longer than that dreaded seven-year itch, and it's longer than I've even been alive (good thing, you two)! So I just want to celebrate my parents on sticking out another year together...a year which has included welcoming a new son-in-law, traveling to Hawaii, riding a roller coaster of health issues with their parents, and becoming grandparents. Not to mention another year of carpooling across town together every day...which I'm pretty sure would test some vows!

Congrats Mom and Dad! Your commitment to each other and devotion to our family is inspiring. Hope 32 is the best year yet!

July 3, 1977
Don't know what's the best part of this picture. The hat? The bowtie?
Nah, it's definitely their happy smiles as they enter into married bliss.

Just another Tuesday at the Crandall's. Fancy!
31 years later, and ever the handsome couple

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A big day for Zoe and Canada, eh?

July 1st may be just another day for most people in Birmingham, but not at our house! It's a double celebration for Zoe's birthday and Canada - Tyler's homeland.

Six years ago, we fell in love with this little flea-market pup from Sweetwater, Tennessee with sad eyes and a conehead, who was ironically born on Canada Day! Soon her conehead leveled out, her tongue outgrew her mouth and she wiggled, licked and snorted her way securely into our lives. If you're reading this Zo-girl, happy 6th b-day! We love you! ;)

Birthday girl's going to catch some rays on her special day!

"Oh Canada...
those are all the song lyrics I know, but I'm still showing off some Canadian pride!"

My two Canadians. Well, one's a half breed, but I love him just the same. :)