Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lining Up

Jackson has been developing a new skill of organizing objects. Generally the objects end up in some kind of line. However they end up I'm thrilled they're not in a big messy pile, and it's so fun to watch his brain make connections between objects.

Notice the diversity of objects, locations and ways in which Jackson has utilized this skill.

Setting the table. [He's as enthusiastic about it as I am!]

Placing baking ingredients on the couch.

Vertical towers. [Jackson placed all the blocks successfully, with only boosting help from Mom]

And group play.

Do notice the animals are gathered around the 15 year old boom box. And did you check out the upside down pink ostrich. Mad skill.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winter Magic

Christmas trees have had a rough start in our little family. It's not that we don't love them, it's more that they're expensive, they take up a lot of room, and we generally travel for the holidays.

Our holiday tree history has been mostly documented in pictures. Let me take you on the tour.

Our first was a small green plant that I barely managed to keep alive in our little basement apartment. I cleverly figured out if I set in on the counter, I could put the presents "under the tree"--it was a bit of a long shot as far as trees go, but at least it was green.

Our second Christmas had me making a tree out of material, ribbon, staples, and straight pins. Definitely the most creative by far. We had a large blank wall we had never filled, and it was just the artwork that we needed to complete the house. I was very sad when I took that tree apart, but impressed it was created con no sewing machine.

Last year (no pic), I put some dead branches in a vase and hung ornaments from them. It was very homely, and Charlie Brownish, but it worked for us.

This year... we thought we'd go all out:

We decided since Jackson was getting older, we could at least splurge on a little tree that would fit on the end table. Luckily, my wonderful Aunt Mitzi sent us home with such a tree free of charge at thanksgiving! The ornaments were all from our wedding (and are all on the upper half to avoid Jackson's ever looming hand), and the colored X-mas lights--though not my favorite-were salvaged off of a neighbors pre-lit fake Christmas tree this summer. They only work partially, but that's the beauty of a small tree!

As ghetto as it looks, I have been thrilled by its effect. Jackson is enamored by the lights. He asks for them every morning, and seems to get such a thrill out of their simple radiant beauty. After they're plugged in, he can stare at them for upwards of 5 min. (In his life, that's quite a bit of time.) I've also been impressed with the warm feeling they give the house on a crisp night. Totally magical.

Along with the magic of the lights comes the magic of Disney. I periodically make up my own aerobics moves to an old Disney mix CD from high school. It's absolutely energizing to be my own instructor and just dance for fun and exercise. The other day when I whipped it out and stuck it in my 15 year old boom box (yes Middle School), Jackson's eyes became alive with excitement. He joined me for the entire 30 min dance-a-thon, and since then, a few times a day he goes over to push play on that old boom box, hoping Belle and the French towns people will start singing from the speakers. "Prince Ali" from Alladin is likely his favorite as he jumps and twirls like crazy as soon as Robin Williams starts the song.

Too bad every video I took of him dancing has him eying the camera, and suddenly stopping and leaning into the couch for a pose. One of these days!

The last item of magic has been hats. Jackson has quite a collection this year, and we have made a trade off. I don't force a coat on him, if he's willing to wear a hat. I feel as long as his head is warm... he's in decent shape.

Love the look of Kelsi's cute vest and plaid shirt she gave us last year! If only I dressed as cute as my son. Thanks aunt Kelsi :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Joyful Journey

Some days I can hardly believe how much joy Jackson and I experience. I love watching him run--as his little feet kick out to the side, and his arms find inefficient positions to tag along with his feet. The acquisition of words is especially joyful as he figures out how to say the right consonant at the correct time (almost all words sounding like ba and da). He finds incredible joy in practicing his jumps, pointing out all the body parts he knows and reading his favorite books. The other day, on the way home from the park, both of us found great pleasure in just sitting on the side of the road eating an apple together. Total Joy.

Of course there are other days where the journey may seem more... frustrating. With many unplanned bumps that detract a bit from the joy.

On Tuesday, after making waffles together, Jackson managed to get the cooking oil into the living room, and unscrew the top. I found it 5 hours later, and was grateful he did not purposefully dump the oil out. The bottle was merely knocked over, with half of its contents gone. Lovely.

After realizing my futile attempts to wipe it up were only making oily foot prints from the kitchen and back, I googled home remedies for the oil spill. It's hard to believe how much comfort I felt after reading accounts of victims of other toddler oil spills.

Most of the advice said to put some sort of liquid sucking stuff on top, let it sit and vacuum it up. My choices seemed to be: kitty litter, paper towels or baking soda. Since baking soda is all of 50 cents a box, I went with that one. The instructions said to leave it for 24 hours. So I dutifully placed the couch over the spill spot and left it for a while.

On Wed I began the cleanup excavation. I found vacuums don't handle oily baking soda very well, making for a very arduous cleaning project (as I now had a vacuum and a carpet to clean). Two hours after starting, I decided to move all the furniture, and take the carpet (which is just a gigantic rug) to the basement--to see if a lot of hot water in the laundry sink might do a better job.

Like the gulf oil spill, it will take time to find out the actual damage to the rug. Hot water seemed to help, but it is really too soon to tell for sure.

But, it is not too soon to realize how enjoyable it was watching Jackson discover all the new corners of the living room that popped up with all the furniture moved. He was unusually pleasant and independent during the entire cleanup process. AND, our Provo plaid couch is quite festive without the oily couch cover.

Additionally, I found the floors don't look as horrendous as I imagined without the carpet. In fact, the oil spot (partway under the couch), actually makes the wood floors look good! Maybe we'll have a larger scale oil spill and pull up more of the rugs.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Comfort Objects

I've never been a huge fan of stuffed animals. I don't mind them, I just find them cluttery and difficult to sleep with. There are a few random ones lying about the house (an alligator, a singing
dog and a globe), but Jackson seems to be fine with his one comfort object: the Bink.

Pacifiers are nice comfort items because they also serve as noise stoppers in public places, and they're easily replaceable. But recently, he's become especially attached to it, and I'm starting to think it's about time to get rid of it.

Thankfully Jackson's picked up some other comfort objects from around the house or porch. Perhaps we can substitute one of these awesome new finds for the piece of laytex that is so comforting to him.

There's the mini-rake that now (thanks to Jackson) resides in the bathroom. Apparently it's extremely important to have rakes close by while taking care of business. Jackson throws a fit if it's not there.

He's also become well attached to a 1x2 wooden board. The board was left by some workers who fixed our moldy closet last weekend. Jackson found it, and started dragging it around the house similar to Linus and his Blanky. We had to leave to do errands, and yes. The board came with us.

Thankfully, Jackson was ok with leaving it in the car, as long as it's next to his seat for easy comforting.

Today, he became attached to the grill scraper.

When we went inside for a nap, it was an exhaustive struggle to force him to leave it on the porch. I decided to put my foot down on what could be brought to bed. Carcinogenic filled iron wool with a nice metal scraper just didn't sound safe to bring to bed.

Maybe stuffed animals don't sounds so bad after all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ya, No, What?

My video capturing abilities this week were trumped by a sick baby who wanted to cuddle for once, and as such there is but one physical example of the most adorable words that escape Jackson's mouth multiple times a day. I will attempt to describe the various non-captured situations with great detail.


Jackson waddles around. We ask him some sort of question "Jackson, should we go get your shoes on?" Without skipping a beat or looking at us, he immediately answers with a nonchalant "ya" and continues walking. "Jackson, would you like brussel sprouts for dinner?" "ya." "How about we call dad" "ya." Ya, it's way too cute.

No--or I guess I should say Nyo.

There are times when he has a very passionate opinion, and is not as willing to just say ya. Transitioning from outside to inside, is a bit difficult. "It's time to go inside Jackson, come on over." Pause. Eyebrows begin scrunching, he sticks out his lips slowly and with great deliberation, a firm "nyo" comes out between the still puckered lips. "Jackson, it's time to go inside." Lips in all likelihood haven't moved from their puckered spot, but he says with more fervor, "Nyooo" followed by complete stiffening of his body. In most cases, his face slowly evolves into a tortured frown, that leads to a yell, and eventual laying on the floor (mostly from a lack of being able to support his body in such a contorted position). Although it is a huge pain, it's hilarious and it takes a lot of effort to not laugh at the scene.


I guess I never realized how often I used that word until I noticed Jackson saying it all day long. He now starts most of his self-started conversations. "What didoda" "What widawoda" "What disdidoba" It was very difficult to capture this on the camera, because as soon as he sees a video taking device he stops what he was previously doing. Hence this video's opening shot of the kitchen wall. I was also trying to get him to say "ya" in answer to a question, but... to no avail.

Did you like the nervous laugh he threw in during the silent moments. Fantastic. Hope keeps that skill, and loses the nyo tantrums.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Best of times, Worst of times

Our days now consist of extreme highs and lows.

Need I say more?

Eating is by far one of our big stresses. I am grateful we have a relative abundance of food, but I am always at a loss to find something Jackson will eat on a particular day. One day he'll love it, the next he won't touch it. This is insanely frustrating when hunger is causing grumpiness, because I have no idea what to feed him. Generally my mantra is that he'll come home wagging his tail behind him, i.e. something's bound to be attractive enough to fill hunger. It's just hard to remember than in the moment of stress.

Without fail, he loves anything he helps make. Good old investment. Here are some sugar free (meaning really no sugar) whole wheat pancakes we made last Saturday. Mark wouldn't touch them with a stick, I wasn't terribly impressed with them, but Jackson ate 3.

And here starts the real fun. We're thrilled his drawing skills increase exponentially each day. Unfortunately he is very creative in finding new canvases all around the house. All markers and pens are now on a high shelf.

Honestly, his first wall drawing was exciting. It meant I got to begin logical consequences to try and teach him not to do it again. Too bad he thought the consequence was as fun as the crime--probably not the most effective deterrent.

Logical consequences are lovely and all, but what in the world is a logical consequence for hair pulling at age 18 mo? This kid is totally attracted to hair, especially when he's frustrated. I can deal with it being mine, but he's probably yanked on 10 little kids' hair this week. That's a problem. So logical consequences. I certainly could pull his hair--which makes sense, except he's usually pulling hair during a heightened emotional state. I'm not sure making him more mad is the best idea. This last week we started time outs with the hair pulling. So far it hasn't really helped, but at least I feel like he's not being rewarded for pulling hair. He usually sits out until he's calm, and then we go back and tell the little kid sorry. He had to do it 3 times yesterday, and 3 times today. Advice???

Back to the best of times, he'd gotten really good at throwing things (this can also be a worst of times category). Footballs were the star of the week, following his awesome friend Bodi's amazing 2 year old football themed birthday party. We got to take home a fabulous blow up football, and Jackson has thoroughly enjoyed using it, and I'm thrilled it's a blowup.

Our neighbors threw a real football into our yard a couple of weeks ago. That stays outside. Of course it was a nice distraction while I was taking pictures for my Mom's birthday card (idea stolen from my amazing friend Kristen). With everything else in the yard, it was SO hard to capture a moment these fast paced distracted little boy!

And here were most of the pictures:

Blurry, with no visual on the sign or face

Or me carefully putting the sign somewhere conducive to the distraction

A few of them were decent

Talk about cheese.. and a bent sign.

But then this one came around, and I nearly died. Our little studly model.
(Imagine it in black and white)

I did not take a picture of the end product of the card, but I told my mom to save it because Jackson had a really hard time giving it away. He LOVED it! I guess he was invested again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

548 Days Old (18 mo)

In Mormon-land, when a child reaches 18 months, parents either cringe or throw their hands up and shout "hallelujah!". We are definitely in the hallelujah group. 18-month to 3-year-old children head to Nursery during the Sunday School portion of our services, which happily means church is enjoyable again (for everyone). The cringing parents generally have the sweet kids that don't want to let mom or dad go, and require a long transition into nursery.

Thankfully the lure of toys and older children had Jackson literally running down the hallway toward the Nursery door. The report came back with no tears (from his end) and only one or two hair pullings. When Mark picked Jackson up after Nursery, Mark felt he was 10 years older when Jackson handed him this:

I agree. Hard to imagine we're old enough to take home our child's art work. (If you notice the top/right red scribble is definitely a teacher trying to encourage Jackson to use the crayons on the paper and not just throw them all on the floor.)

Jackson had his "well" Doctor's visit today. I love those visits because, 1. we're not sick and 2. you learn the funny things your kid is doing are actual developmental mile stones. I was relieved and amused to find that developmentally he seems to be on track--
Does He:
Follow simple directions?
Use utensils?
Say 4-6 words?
Point to a body part?
Bring you objects for show?
Hug and kiss?

Check, check and check. My favorite are the hugs and kisses--sometimes I feel a little silly because I ask for them all day long. But the most surprising mile stone was the "bring you objects for show"--I feel like that's all he wants to do all day. Bring all his shoes to me one by one. All the diapers. All the pens. All the pots. Mark wondered why there was a jar of spices on our bed last night. All objects for show. All very messy, but all so cute.

My favorite new word(s) is "ah bah" which translates to "a book." I thought it was really advanced (with the two word thing going on) until I realized that's what we call it. It's never just "book" by itself, it's always "a book." Wild. The other seemingly impressive words of late are "up" and "down." Impressive, until I thought of all the toddlers who say that all day wanting to be picked up and put down. Still nice to go beyond nouns.

He acquired "down" through listening to his favorite book (which I love because it's a board book AND only 4 pages long). It is now a highly involved participatory book, and we love it.

(back view)

(with facial expressions)

And finally, to initiate him into the realm of 18-month old children, we decided to let him try root beer. He even did it a second time so we could capture it!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dragons That Go Poo in the Night

Here is our cute little dragon. He had the waddle (click for 20 sec video) and was patient enough to actually keep his little hood on.

Though we were not coordinated, we all managed to join Jackson in costuming ourselves for some great Halloween fun. Apparently I was the good witch of the South, and you should be able to tell what Mark creatively made (without a color printer I might add).

(Definitely worth clicking on this pic to see who commented on his wall)

Since Halloween was on Mark's class night, we were thrilled to be involved in our church's party on Saturday. The event was more than I could have dreamed possible with a ward party, and it a was a stunning success--with a band, decorations and a flash mob thriller dance to prove it:

(These awesome pictures were stolen from my good friend who's a real photographer)

(and yes I sounded as scary as I look in this picture--woops missed the key change!)

(Love how someone's flash lit up the top half of this scene)

Jackson's favorite part of the evening was all the people and the balloons! He confidently strode through the church building religiously toting a balloon to give us some clue of where he was (totally reminded me of mario cart).

On the actual Halloween night, we went to our friends' house to help pass out candy. They typically get 500 kids for Halloween. After being grateful for the 2 kids we normally get at our house, we went to trick or treat our cute neighbors. When the door opened, Jackson refused the treat and marched straight into their living space to show off all his tricks. He made himself right at home and had a great time cooking in their play kitchen and throwing balls at cute little S (the same gal who gave him kisses on her birthday).

Bonus gross story in honor of Halloween: This little dragon went poo in the toilet last week. No, I am not trying to potty train him at a ridiculous age. He was sitting in the tub when I heard his signature grunting, stood him up and caught the first log in a bowl, and then proceeded to plop him on the toilet for the second. All I could say was sick. But thrilled I didn't have to do any fishing. Bathwater was whistle clean.