Favorite Things

As the holiday chaos hits full swing I am receiving almost daily packages of ordered Christmas presents. I’m sure the post person, UPS and FedEx drivers are getting tired of my long driveway, gated yards, and over-protective “guard-dog”.

Anywhere you go you see advertisements for everything you could possible want for Christmas. Before half of December has finished, you can easily be up to your ears in Cheery Christmas deals. No matter how hard you resist, you feel yourself pulled in by sales and stretching that holiday budget.

The advertisements this year are all about how to make my baby’s Christmas “magical”. In order for that to happen  I need to buy the newest educational toys. I need to pay for photos of my child in a Santa hat in front of a Christmas tree. And I need to take my son to see Santa. Oh and I need to buy him holiday PJ’s and  . . .the list continues. The pressure is: they only have a first Christmas once.

As I open one of many brown boxes, I see the excitement in both my son and dog’s eyes.

But it’s not for the gift inside.

Our dog loves the plastic air insulators. With supervision, she enjoys popping them with her teeth and throwing them up in the air. (When the air is gone we throw them away).

And my son? He has discovered the joy of a cardboard box. It is great to sit in, play peek-a-boo with, push or throw around the floor, it makes a great drum and if big enough (with mom or dad’s help) it can be a nice car or space ship.

A cardboard box and packaging: my family’s favorite things.

It’s a refreshing reminder this holiday season that we do not really need all that much.

I saw posted on Facebook this week “Buy Presents Be Present”.

It’s easy for me to get so preoccupied by preparing for tomorrow that I miss out on the festivities today.

This ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ needs to be more about the memories we make than the tree, outings, outfits, or presents.

Being present in the holiday moment right in front of me; it is the best gift I can offer my family this holiday,

. . .that and maybe a few more cardboard boxes.

Zachary: 6 Months

Zachary is now 6 months old! Half a year has gone by with this little ball of curious energy-it’s hard to believe it!

This month Zach went to see his Aunt Stina and Uncle Matt in Walla Walla. He liked spending time with their dog Pepper, who loves kids, and wasn’t quite sure of their cat Alice. Zach also enjoyed listening to his Aunt, Uncle, and even Mom, play the piano.

He had a great Thanksgiving weekend with his NaiNai and Papa (Luke’s parents) and his great-grandma Coulombe. He decided to stick to applesauce and pumpkin for thanksgiving dinner. For more on our Thanksgiving see (Thanksgiving Leftovers ).

Zachary also went on his first Christmas outing: Zoolights at the Oregon Zoo. This was Zach’s first time to the zoo and to see Christmas lights. He loved all the people, the bright lights, and seeing bats, seals, and elephants.

Zach can sit for a good amount of time unassisted but we rarely see this happen: he’s always on the go. The days of staying on his blanket are over. He is scooting: using an army crawl and pushing off with his feet to launch forward determined to explore every object on the rug.

Zachary also started a new game, possibly after watching a game of catch with the dog. He will throw one of his smaller toys then case after it and throw it again. As you can guess we are buying baby gates now.

He likes to explore everyday objects like measuring cups, cooking spoons, hangers, and most recently, Christmas cookie tins, and hit them against counters and floors to hear the noises they make. He also likes to drop or throw objects to see how far they will go or how long it will take for someone to pick them up.

Zach now has realized that peek-a-boo is a game and laughs and smiles. He figured it out quickly then initiated a game with NaiNai in the car, hiding his head behind the car seat and popping out with a big grin.

He has been interacting more with Kira grabbing her ears, paws, whiskers, and even chewing on her tail. Kira has handled it all with grace like a good furry big-sister. If she gets fed up, she just moves away.

Zach is now in 6-9 month PJ’s, is sitting nice and tall in his highchair, and now has a very full head of blonde hair.

Hope you all have had a good November and we are excited to soon share with you about Zach’s first Winter Holiday Season.

Thanksgiving Leftovers

For Zach’s first Thanksgiving we were at his NaiNai and Papa’s house (Luke’s parents place).  We enjoyed a quiet peaceful weekend of puzzles, games, cooking, baking, of course eating and spending time together.

For Thanksgiving meal we tried giving Zachary sweet potato and mashed potato mixed with very ground up beef but it was too rough on his gums. Because he is teething badly he settled instead on applesauce, which has become his favorite food. He did enjoy dessert of pumpkin banana though.

I also made probably my best gluten free, organic, alternative sugar apple pie so far.  I was frustrated by having to piece-work the top together so I covered it with maple leaf cut-outs. It turned out looking pretty great.

I had even more leftover pie crust which I then turned into shortbread cookies by adding a little agave and cinnamon. These little cookies went over well with tea in the afternoons.

We came home with a ton of leftover mash potatoes, gravy and turkey to use up. So I thought: what do to with all the Thanksgiving leftovers?

I decided to make a freezer meal I call: Shepherd’s Turkey Pot Pie.

I bought cheap tin foil pie pans then defrosted peas and carrots.

I cooked the peas and carrots with a little garlic and pepper. Then put in the turkey meat and gravy. And ta da! Pot Pie filling.

I put down a bottom layer of pie crust which, is not necessary for true Shepherd’s pie.

Then once the pot pie filling cooled I put it in the tins, then covered the whole thing with leftover mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes needed to be re-whipped with a little cream to thin it out.

Last of all I covered them each in foil and plastic wrap and into the freezer they went.

Now I have four easy ready-made dinners for those crazy days before and after the winter holidays.

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Now anyone have suggestions on what to do with a ton of leftover cranberry sauce?

Zachary: 5 Months

Zach had one busy month. He spent one week with is grandmother, during which Mom and Dad got a night away for their Anniversary. Then he spent another full week with his NaiNai and was his Papa and Dad’s mascot for hunting season with an all camo outfit for the occasion; but he has a few years before he can join the fun.

Zach turned 5 months on Halloween and went to our church’s Fall Fest for thirty minutes before it was time for bed time routine. For fall fest he sported a coordinating star wars outfit with Dad. For more on our very busy October see (October Review 2017 ).

Although on the early side, the pediatrician noticed Zach’s interest in food and ability to sit well so she gave the thumbs up for solid food. His first food was avocado from his grandma and grandpa’s tree in California. He didn’t like it very much, but once banana was added, it has become one of his favorites.

Most of his food ends up in his mouth although plenty ends up on hands, feet, legs, face, and of courses the high chair. We decided, after a week of very dirty clothes, that for now, Zach eats in a diaper and bib only.

He is learning signs like “more” “food” and “all done”. If you say “all done” and he is still hungry, he will get angry and cry . If you say his name-he will look up at you too.

Zach will mimic our mouth movements while we eat. He now likes mum mum crackers-rice rusks that dissolve in baby’s mouths. He feels so independent being able to hold and “chew” on these teething crackers. They are a great appetizer so Mom can get Zach’s food ready or as a morning snack so Mom can get work done in the kitchen.

As mentioned earlier, Zach is sitting with assistance well. He can use the boppy pillow to sit up for a short while on his own and can even balance for a few seconds on a harder surface without help. He will also use his hands on the ground in the frog position to help him sit up.

A few weeks ago, Zach started babbling. It seemed sudden and happened briefly after Luke showed him how to open and close his mouth while still making vowel sounds-then the flood gates opened and talking hasn’t stopped since. He is so close to the right sound combination for “dada” and is working on his “mmmm” sound mimicking the “moo” of the cow from a toy at NaiNai and Papa’s house. It will be interesting to see which word comes first.

\Zach is currently rolling from stomach to back without a second thought-often log rolling right off his play blanket with a wide grin on his face. He can pivot himself on his stomach to face a different direction, and loves to scoot or rock on a leg. Zach has been working hard to get his legs under himself and push himself forward with a frog-like kick.

He so badly wants to crawl and gets frustrated that with all of that frog-kicking he still hasn’t gone anywhere. But Mom and Dad are in no hurry to see our very active boy that mobile.

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October review 2017

October was a crazy busy month that needs recapping. At the beginning of the month, my Mom came to stay with us for the week. She blessed us by watched Zach overnight so Luke and I could go away for our 5th year Anniversary. Yes, it’s been five years.

It took several months to pump and save up the milk needed for that one night away, but it was worth it. We drove out to Westport where we visited for Valentine’s day last year (for more see Day-cation) and stayed in a cottage on the jetty with ocean views. We toured Westport Winery, they had good red wines. Then we tried a unique dinner from Aloha Alabama, a Hawaiian/Southern BBQ fusion restaurant.  I had my first Poke bowl and Luke of course had brisket and ribs, it was great. We thoroughly enjoyed the first full night of sleep in more than four months. In the morning we stopped by Granny Hazels for specialty chocolates, and a thank you treat for Mom, then got coffee and headed back home. It was the perfect get-away.

That week Mom and I did fall baking and holiday décor shopping. I treated Mom to the Country Chicks Fall Festival  at the local fair grounds. We loved exploring vendor after vendor or shabby chic and country themed fall décor and goods. The place with abundant with pumpkins, wreaths, and holiday signs. We walked away with a felt green pumpkin and a used very cheap Pendleton wool blanket as well plenty of ideas for home decor.

The next weekend Mom and I drove down to Stevenson WA, along the gorge, where I helped Mom-in-law with a day conference while my Mom, once again watched Zach. The next day we met my Dad for lunch in Woodburn, did a little Christmas shopping, then Zach and I drove back home in time for our small group at church that night.

We had one full week and weekend to re-group, during which we fought seasonal colds. Then we left at the beginning of the next week for Luke’s parent’s place. Luke and John left early Tuesday morning for a week of hunting at their “elk camp”. Mom-in-law and I had the week together with Zach. During the week, I got a few Christmas cookies made (yes I have to start this early to get them all done; at least this year). We also did Christmas shopping, went to a few meetings, and Zach did a great photo shoot. Zach’s great-grandmother visited on the weekend, then the men came back on Sunday afternoon.

We packed up and left the next morning headed back home then took the CRV in for work. The next day was of course Halloween. On Halloween Zach turned 5 months (more on this to come)! I drove Luke back and forth to work and used the car to run errands and take Zach to a doctor’s appointment.

Because of the crazy-busy month we did not have time to work out any creative or special family costumes like you see all over facebook or pinterest. But Zach and Luke were able to show-case what I got Luke for father’s day: coordinating star wars shirts. I was also wearing a black and grey shirt with yellow words “star wars” on it (although no pics of me).

We ate my homemade pumpkin sausage sauce over gnocchi, our Halloween/Fall Fest special dinner. Then we got in the car (for the fifth time that day) and drove over to the church’s Fall Fest. We toured the games and activities checking them out for future years. Since we live on a country road, we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters but think the church’s fall fest will be a fun alternative in future years.

So, that is our October, and why I was too busy to be blogging. How has your fall been going?

 

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Kira: 2 years

I know so much of my blog has been centered around Zach. But I am due to give you an update on our dog Kira. Kira celebrated her 2nd birthday in July with us, it’s hard to believe because we feel like we have had her so much longer.

Having a dog door at this new house has been life changing, although sometimes she still looks at the door and waits for our permission to go out. Two huge fenced in yards to play in is a blessing too. Kira spent a good deal of her summer running around the trees in the front yard or laying on her back sunning herself in the grass.

Kira loves that we have property to explore. Every couple of days she goes to Luke begging for a WALK, not just to play in the yards. She knows the route through the trees well and we can trust her off leash. If  her nose leads her down a different trail, Luke can whistle and she will come back to the house within a few minutes.

She is learning some new tricks living in the Northwest.  When we go to a coffee kiosks she thinks “if I poke my head out , they will see my cute face and give me a treat.”

Kira loves her cousin Pepper, the two of them wear each other out playing, which is great for us. We have to not say Pepper’s name for a few days after a visit or Kira looks for her and gets excited. Kira loved going to the beach and Lakehouse this summer. She seemed less scared of the dock then last Christmas and wanted to stick her whole head in the lake on a canoe ride.

She did great when the niece and nephews were here; she loved playing with the smaller humans.

On that note, it has taken Kira a few months to warm up to Zach. At first she didn’t know what he was and was shy. She was a little upset that I wasn’t playing  with her during the day and asked for attention often when I was breastfeeding, I guess she thought I was just sitting and relaxing.

All of a sudden Kira has realized Zach is part of the pack, a young fur-less puppy. She gets excited every morning, or when we come home to greet him. Now we have to keep her from licking his face constantly. A few days ago I filled a water bottle with dried rice as a rattle for Zach. Well, Kira loves water bottles and was unsure why this wasn’t her toy. I gave her one of her own and that seemed to concrete something in Kira’s mind. Now she is protective of Zach too and is shaping up to be a good furry big-sister.

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Zachary: 4 Months

This past month Zach has gone through a large growth spurt! The end of August it seemed he was constantly hungry and wanted to cuddle with Mom frequently:  he was changing day to day.

For labor day weekend he went on a long roadtrip (well long for an infant anyway) to visit the grandparents at their Lakehouse . There he saw the lake, deer, and had a beach picnic lunch in the sand. It was windy at the beach so he cuddled up with grandpa and grandma with his hood up.

As summer came to a close, he enjoyed time out on a blanket in the front yard, staring at the trees and watching Kira play. Speaking of Kira, he is showing more of an interest in her and has figured out she is furry, barks, and growls. They also both like toys that squeak and rattle. (More of an update on Kira to come).

Beginning of the month

End of the month

Zach will roll both directions now from his back to stomach, and sometimes from stomach onto his back. He can hold a rattle well and likes sitting up in our laps or the couch. He is learning to use his body to communicate what he wants.

He’s not always happy after a nap

He lifts up his arms to say he wants to be picked up, tightens his core if he wants to sit up, and arches his back if he wants out of a lap or  or even his car seat.

He’ll take all the attention he can get, talk up a storm, and even sit still for a book and try to turn the pages.

 

Zachary has learned the baby signs symbol for “milk”. He does this symbol not only when he is hungry but also when he wants mom or when he sees us eating. On that note,Zach will mimic our mouth movements while we eat, start drooling, and try to grab our plates or bowls. By the next month update he will probably have tried some rice cereal.

He likes being able to face out in our carriers while we explore Costco and on his property walks with dad.  Now that the sun is going down sooner; he’s been going to bed earlier, and is wearing 3-6 month PJ’s at night.

In 3-6 Month PJs

 

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