Sunday, July 20, 2008

Time to watch what we do

Quick story. The other day, Sarah was cleaning up and threw one of Vanessa's pieces of clothing near the hamper. Vanessa who has a strict "we only throw balls" rule immediately said "Mommy no. Balls." So Mommy had to put herself in a 60 second timeout which Vanessa was very happy to help count off. ;)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A few more big steps

Elizabeth has been making the cutest little cooing noises lately. Those smiles and coos just melt my heart, but I think Vanessa's been enjoying them even more than I have. A recent smile from Elizabeth sent Vanessa into an impromptu jig! Elizabeth's also been doing a fantastic job lifting her head, playing the "sooooo big!" sit-up game that we used to play with Vanessa, and following toys with her eyes. I'd say, more than just being soft and cuddly and adorable, she's entering that stage of babyhood that's really a lot of fun!

Vanessa on the other hand has made a few discoveries about herself, such as when she puts her fingers in her ears she can hear her own heart beat, and that the wrinkles on her knuckles go away when she bends her fingers. One thing about having Vanessa is that it reminds me not to take such remarkable phenomena for granted!

During last post I remarked on a few instances where as an adult I failed to correctly interpret Vanessa's view of the world. Here's one more: The other day, Vanessa was playing with her teapot and said, "Milk?" "Do you want to pour some milk, Vanessa?" I asked, surprised at her usual deviation from pouring imaginary water or apple juice when playing with her teapot. But no, she meant that the teapot wanted to nurse -- she put it up her shirt!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Uncle Zak and some smiles

Uncle Zak visited us this week! He noticed how much Vanessa is really becoming a big girl. (Speaking of which, Vanessa chose to sleep in her big bed instead of the crib tonight!). Now that Vanessa is talking and interacting so much it's easier to perform such important duties of being an uncle as playing ridiculous games and being silly. Here he attacks Vanessa's ball of blue Play-doh with a green dinosaur.

Here they practice their letters. Vanessa has been singing the alphabet song over and over for the past few days. She misses K, L, and N, but she usually manages to sing all of the other letters in order. She likes to sing other songs too, especially "C is for Cookie."

We went to Lake Accotink with Zak. Vanessa talked big about wanting to go for a ride on the horses on the carousel, but this time she opted for one of the animals that didn't go up and down.

Even Elizabeth went for a ride on the carousel, but Zak thinks she didn't like it so well. It did go around pretty fast.

Elizabeth has started smiling! Her first smile was at Vanessa. I guess Elizabeth loves her sister just as much as Vanessa loves her!
Why is it that as a mom I find it so tempting to try to capture such an elusive thing as a one month-old's smile on camera? So she's not exactly smiling in this picture, but she is looking pretty adorable.

There's a smile! (Well, sort of.)

James's post about our garden progress is just below this one. It's wonderful to watch our veggies get ripe and I'm really getting excited about harvesting them. (And I'm going to have to personally chase off that rabbit if he doesn't stay away from those cucumbers...)

Vegetable update

Since things have grown a bit since last update, I thought I'd post some more pictures.

Vanessa loves Beets. I have no idea if they're done yet, so I'm going to excavate the large one this week to see how big it is.

So once you harvest the main head of broccoli, you get all these side sprouts going. Some of them I'm too late in cutting off because they're already flowering, which means it's going to seed.

I was about ready to pull all the other broccoli plants when all of a sudden four more of them sprouted heads. Weirdness.

These are Brussel Sprouts. Like the Cauliflower (which are both in the cabbage family), it hasn't done anything other than get big. We'll see if it does anything in the coming weeks.

These carrots I believe are almost ready to be picked. Since I'm not sure, I may excavate one to see how big it is.

You can see how tall the corn has gotten. This is about my shoulder height, so about 5 ft tall.

The beginnings of a corn.

You can see from this picture that many of the cucumber flowers have started to fruit.

This cucumber is about 8 inches now. I'll probably cut it off in a day or two. Hopefully some of the spikes on it will fall off soon or I'll have to scrub them off.

The eggplant is getting bigger. Still not sure where the fruit is going to come from, but I guess I'll wait and see.

These green pepper buds were shot about a week ago.

Since then some of them have started to flower, always a good sign.

The Big Max pumpkins have sprouted. I'll probably give them a week or so and thin it down to the healthiest looking plant.

Same with the acorn squash.

You can see that the Black Beauty Zucchini Squash has flowered underneath the corn.

Even the sunflower has sprouted. I need to get it a nice support soon though.

Here are some sweet potatoes I planted. They've grown a bit, though I have no idea where the potatoes are going to appear. I definitely need to read up on these.

So this is a Beeksteak tomato. It is from a seedling I started. Right now this is the only Beefsteak that has grown on that plant.

This is a Brandywine tomato. This is from one of Johnny's seedlings.

This is a Cherry tomato plant. This is from a seedling I started.

This is a Golden Girl tomato. It may not be the most prolific from a fruit standpoint, but its the largest of all the tomato plants I've planted. This one and the rest of the tomatoes depicted from here on out are from Johnny's seedlings.

This is a Mini Orange tomato plant. This is by far the most prolific of all the tomato plants for whatever reason.

This is a Mini Yellow tomato plant. Aren't they cute?

This if what a Roma tomato plant looks like. I have two of these going because I really like Roma tomatoes.

This is a Jubilee Watermelon sprout. I'm not sure I planted it in an area with enough room or sun, hence it's kinda stunted.

It appears to me though that the Moon and Stars Watermelon is doing better. It still doesn't get as much light as I'd like, so I'll probably be ruthless in removing weak fruit to maximize production on a good one if it ever gets there.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Our late June and early July have been packed with visitors and outings, thus the rather lengthy post! We're glad that Elizabeth has been getting lots of attention from friends and family, because if Vanessa had it her way, that attention would be all Vanessa's!

A little side note about Vanessa and Elizabeth that I hope will remain true always: Vanessa LOVES Elizabeth. In the morning, Vanessa's first thoughts are of Elizabeth. She wants to see where she is and that she's doing OK. When Vanessa comes home from a trip with Daddy, even before I get a hug she wants to hug and kiss Elizabeth. There is no stronger draw for Vanessa than a crying Elizabeth, and Vanessa will come as fast as she can from wherever she is to help. Vanessa wants nothing more than to soothe her sister by giving her a hug or gently rubbing her head. Vanessa loves to hold Elizabeth's hand or count her toes. It is so very sweet.

Joanna made a special trip to meet Elizabeth for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Uncle Brian saw Elizabeth while she was still in the hospital, so during this trip he got to see how quickly Elizabeth has grown! Elizabeth has increased her weight by about 50% since birth 5 weeks ago.

I was so happy to see my friend Lisa whom I hadn't had a chance to see in almost a year. It was good for me to talk a little bit about teaching with her -- I sometimes like to remember that I have other areas of interest besides motherhood! Lisa is actually an Elizabeth herself, so this is a picture of two Elizabeths!

Vanessa's newest trick with her lego blocks is sorting and stacking them according to color. She has really been focusing on sorting objects. Today she piled a bunch of blue objects on the table and then asked me for "more blue things?" She also points out when things match according to more abstract properties, such as whether they float in water or if they are silly.

Elizabeth and Vanessa had a real treat in seeing their great-grandparents Lou and Phil. Elizabeth seemed more comfortable on Grandma Lou or Grandpa Phil's lap than even on mine, I have to say. And Vanessa was a little shy around her great-grandparents when visiting with them, but she includes them now when we ask her to list her family members or the people who love her, and she asks about them often.

Grandpa Phil had to be a little insistent to pry Elizabeth away from Grandma Lou, but he got a few good Elizabeth hugs.

Vanessa sitting in a basket, eating a graham cracker, and reading a book. Just a few of the treats she enjoyed when visiting her Nana and Grampa's house!

Here are the great-grandparents and Daddy and his two girls at Nana and Grampa's house.

I went with friends to Frying Pan Farm Park. It was Elizabeth's first trip to a farm, but she pretty much slept through it. Although this was Vanessa's second trip to a farm, I think her first trip was too long ago to remember. So she was very excited to finally see what all those books and songs have been talking about when they mention a farm! Here she is on a tractor ride at the farm. She saw cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, and even a peacock. And she talks about farms now every day!

Here are my friends Taylor (with daughter Prestley) and Kim (with daughter Grace) on the tractor ride.

Vanessa especially enjoyed driving the small mock-up tractors that the park had for children to play on.

For a little while there, Vanessa hadn't been terribly interested in drawing (which was kind of a shame, because drawing is such a quiet activity, and one that can motivate kids to stay in their high chairs long enough for their parents to finish eating). But Vanessa has really been excited about tracing lately. In this picture, I'm tracing her whole body, but she loves having her hands and feet traced, or insisting that Daddy's or my feet or hands are traced. Now she tries to trace her own hands. Yesterday she put her head face down on the paper and tried to trace her nose with a marker. Unfortunately I didn't capture that with the camera though!

A side benefit of tracing is that it allows her to be excited about being still, and that carries over a little bit when I try to get her to sit still to trim her fingernails or change her diaper.

Vanessa's full name is written above her outline because we've been trying to teach Vanessa her full name lately. She's had some success pronouncing Maxted, but not Chloe as of yet. A funny story about names -- the other day I asked her if she wanted to give her bear a name. I'd been meaning to name the bear but I couldn't think of a good name to give it. Vanessa thought for a minute, then ran to get her special wooden block with "Vanessa" etched on it and gave it to the bear, placing it as best as she could in the bear's hand.

Here's a picture of Elizabeth pushing herself up and lifting her head. She's a strong one, this Elizabeth. Her legs are especially strong. Sometimes she supports her whole body standing on her legs, needing my help only for balance.

James has been so wonderful about giving me time to relax at home with Elizabeth on the weekends. Over the long 4th of July weekend, he took her to Dinosaur Land and to the Air and Space Museum in Chantilly.
The giant shark at Dinosaur Land made quite an impression on Vanessa. As soon as she got home, with wide eyes and outstretched arms, she told me about the amazingly big shark she saw there. Apparently she didn't want to go inside the shark through the door behind its gills, though.

Here's Vanessa climbing the hill to Dinosaur Land.

And here she's going under the bridge made by the giant octupus's arms.

I guess Vanessa was very good at pointing out all the dinosaurs to her Daddy! Here she points out a stegosaurus.

And here she points out the apatosaurus and T-Rex. (Actually, since Dinosaur Land has been around for a while with few major updates, it's probably a brontosaurus and a T-Rex!)

Vanessa, you're signing "hug." What's that you say, Vanessa, the dinosaurs need a hug? Does the apatosaurus have a boo-boo?

No, Daddy, they are giving each other a hug! See how they are nuzzling together? (Never mind the blood streaming down.)

After a few minutes of explanation, Vanessa managed to help her daddy understand what she meant. It's funny though, how different the world seems through the eyes of a not-quite-two-year-old!

Speaking of hugs, another funny story: the other day Vanessa fell down and signed "hug." When asked if she needed a hug, she replied that no, she was hugging all by herself and didn't need Mommy's help!

Vanessa imitates a flying dinosaur. Vanessa the pterodactyl!

Vanessa seems to rather arbitrarily assign genders to creatures of all kinds. The larger dinosaur in this picture was apparently a daddy dinosaur, the smaller one being his baby, but certain other dinosaurs or animals are mommies according to her. Just the other day, Vanessa informed me that one greeting card that we had gotten in the mail was a mommy, and it was giving a smaller baby greeting card a hug.

Vanessa touches the Triceratops's horn. The triceratops was always my favorite dinosaur. If I hadn't been so content resting at home, I might have felt a little envious of Vanessa getting so close to a life-size model of one!

Back at home, Vanessa shows Daddy what to do when the baby is crying. See Daddy, babies need milk!

I figured since Vanessa has been understanding a little better what it means to hold still, and because her hair was starting to get in her eyes, it was time for her very first hair cut. I started cutting, but Daddy did most of it. He did a really great job. Why does it always take me so long to cut hair and I'm never quite happy with it while James can cut a squirmy toddler's hair in minutes and it looks fabulous? Ah, well, the magic of a daddy, I suppose.

Vanessa enjoyed running around in the hangar at the Air and Space Museum. And boy did she like seeing all of those planes! She's been talking about airplanes for days. Here she's in front of an F-4.

Vanessa gets an up-close view of a helicopter.

Vanessa is taking a break in front of an F-14.

The Air and Space Museum has finished reconstructing the enormous Enterprise Space Shuttle inside the hangar. Vanessa gets her first glimpse of it here.

Time to go home, Vanessa, wave bye-bye!
Our friends Eleanor and Andrew stopped by for a brief visit. I'm always amazed at how much energy they have, even on their way back home after a long trip. Just wait until you guys have kids -- then you might feel ready for a nap from time to time!

Just one last commentary on parenthood: only a parent, when confronted with a piece of French toast that apparently looks like an elephant, would consider hugging it upon request.