Saturday, October 26, 2013

milestones and observations (plus pumpkin pictures)

It is fascinating to watch babies grow, observe, and learn. 

A quick milestone:  Isabella's first tooth has finally come in.  She is exactly 11 months old in these two pictures.

A couple of weeks prior, these other picutres were taken.  Enjoy them while reading through these observations~

Isabella does the thing where she watches her hand - like Mercer did.
- it moves.
- it can wave (a little bit).
- it can pick things up.
- it can put things in her mouth.
- it can bang things together.

She also giggles when you rub her belly. She claps when you sing "if you're happy and you know it clap your hands." (And if she's in a seat, she'll wiggle her legs when you get to the next part about "stomp your feet.") She actually claps and smiles a huge grin on cue when you say the word "yay" or "good job."

She likes to put one hand up in the air and say "eh" as if she's making a statement.
She loves seeing herself in the mirror.
She also play peek-a-boo on her own.

When riding in a stroller, she'll tuck her head behind the canopy and peek out. If we're holding her, she will put he hand over her eyes when you say "where's Isabella?" And she'll take her hand off of her eyes when you say "peek-a-boo!" It's pretty darn cute!

Sort of similarly, she is a big flirt.  She will smile then duck her head when she sees certain people (mostly men ~~ yikes!)

Todd claims that she said the word "da-da" first. True. She says it all the time (She says it when she's talking to Mercer. She says it when she's mad. She says it for EVERYTHING - not just for him.) Or... maybe her real first word could be "uh oh?" She's just started to say that when she drops something. 

Isabella is really messy -- much more than Mercer was. She goes through a lot more bibs and clothes than he did. Oh the laundry~~

One other thing that she does... when she crawls, she likes to carry things in one hand. Thud, clang, thud, clang, thud, clang. She's can move fast though even while carrying something.

Most importantly - she's a really very happy baby. And she makes us all really happy (including big brother).

It is really cool to see bigger kids grow, observe, and learn too.

Mercer has really picked up reading. When we're out running errands, he especially likes to sound out signs that he sees on the facade of stores. It's pretty cool!

Also impressive is watching Mercer's level of independence and confidence that he's gaining.

He has to make decisions at school. Some days he buys his lunch at school. He has to decide from 3-4 options what he wants to eat and he has to "pay" for it with a school account number. I've had lunch with him so far a couple of times. He shows me the ropes very authoritatively. 

He goes to the library almost every day and comes home with a new book that he's picked out on his own. He's pretty eager to read it at night. (More-so than doing his homework that he comes home with every day~)

He even gets the opportunity to pick out what he wears on Fridays - when he doesn't have to wear school colors and khakis.

He gets to use a computer at school and sometimes even uses an I-pad. He can do some class work on the computer at home. He says - as if he knows everything - you type "WWW" to get to the homework (uh - yeah got that - but what else?!) Thankfully there are papers that come home with websites and passwords that we are to use.

He has a great memory regarding where he's supposed to be on certain days: PE, Art, or Music class during school.... And he's able to keep track of where he's supposed to go at the end of his day: go to after school or ride the bus home...

It's a lot of responsibility - but he's really getting it. It's quite impressive!

I've gone into his classroom a couple of times now - once to read a book to the class and once to do a painting project with all of the kids. It's amazing all of the things that go on at once. The teacher has to completely multi-task while teaching a lesson and keeping some of the kids in line. I have a pretty big appreciation for the job that she's doing this formative year.

I also picked up some valuable information from another kindergartner: "the girls like to chase Mercer." (I did notice when I went in one day that a little girl had her head on his shoulder while everyone was watching a video.  WHAT?!)

We entered Mercer into an art contest at his school for some photographs that he had taken near the square of an art exhibit / art museum.  He won 2nd place for his age group, received recognition at a reception at school, and a red 2nd place ribbon.  The real prize for having entered the contest was an extra recess because he was not thrilled with his ribbon.  He said he wanted a toy instead!

It will be interesting to see the person that Mercer becomes by the end of the year!

Most importantly - he is a great kid (I try to tell him this often) and he really loves his little sister which melts our hearts!!


Love these two!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

We took a quick, little trip

Mercer had a couple of days off from school + Todd and I needed a break from reality.  We used the opportunity to take a long weekend away in the north Georgia mountains.

We rented a house on Fightington Creek (ironically it was located - less than 1/2 a mile from a house on the same creek that we made an offer on well before the kids were in the picture).  It's a pretty secluded spot - however - it's close enough to town that you're not too far from amenities or services should you need them.  

This house was set high up away from the creek, but had a great view of the mountain ridge beyond.  You could hear the creek from the different levels of decks and walk down a narrow winding path to get down to the creek.

Todd and Mercer went fishing in the creek a couple of times.  They caught a fish on their first cast!

Our first day there, we took a train ride from Blue Ridge GA to McCaysville, GA / Copperhill, TN.  It's the same town - only split by the GA / TN state line!

There was some time to explore the town.  After wandering all of the shops in this small town, Mercer got to try his hand at "panning" for semi-precious rocks.  It was a unique experience and he seemed to enjoy it~

Isabella slept through part of the ride, of course, but when she was awake, she did enjoy looking out of the window AND eating brother's nose!

The highlight of the trip was in a unique journey we had the following day. There had been some pretty torrential rain that passed through the area overnight.  The massive amounts of rain made for some VERY muddy roads and trails. 

We knew our destination was a little off the beaten path due to the instructions on how to get there.  But... we didn't realize that parts of the journey were going to be absolutely impassible!   After travelling on many bumpy and muddy forest service roads (some marked // some unmarked), turning around, retracing steps, etc... we had to stop the car and continue the journey on foot.  Thankfully we did not continue driving, for there were giant muddy swaths that Todd's SUV would've gotten stuck in for sure! 

About half an hour later, we heard the sound of rushing water and found the trail down towards the water. We found the swinging bridge over the Toccoa River!  VICTORY!

Mercer was fearless running across the shaky bridge. (Actually, I was OK with it too, but not everyone on this journey was totally comfortable on the back-and-forth across.)  : - )

Here are some more shots of the bridge....  photos of us under the bridge....  and even a little water fall that Mercer spotted in the thicket near one side of the bridge.

We definitely made some memories on this trip!!

(there are more photos to add from our return trip home when we stopped at a pumpkin farm, but those will be saved for another time~)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

End of September update

I updated the post about Todd's dad with a photo of the plaid jacket mentioned.  It's a classic!  Be sure to check it out~

This blog post contains some info from a post I started writing before Bob passed.  It doesn't necessarily seem like that big of a deal in the whole scheme of things, but here is some info on the kids + some photos to peruse.
We went to the aquarium earlier in the month.  This time, Isabella interacted more with the fish as she did her first trip here.  She definitely enjoyed herself!

We went up to the Chattanooga aquarium with our friends Mike & Sara and their two boys.  Mercer definitely seems to enjoy himself more when other kids are around.  We try to do a lot of stuff with the 4 of us, but I think - for him - it's a huge bonus if there are other little boys there.  (He's very social!) 

We prepped our friends to bring water shoes because of the outdoor plaza with a water feature that kids ultimately end up in.  The boys had a fantastic time getting absolutely soaking wet!  Luckily, everyone also brought extra clothes too~

Love this photo of Isabella at the aquarium.  I showed this photo to a doctor recently to have a discussion about an eye issue.  Since Isabella has been a few weeks old, we've noticed that her eyes don't necessarily align.  The pediatrician said to wait  to do anything about it -- if she had a weak eye muscle it would get stronger as she got older.  After her 6 month appointment, we decided to go ahead and call a pediatric ophthalmologist.  

He was not at all concerned about her eye alignment. He said that she has something called Pseudostrabismus (where a child's eyes may appear to be crossed, but they are found to actually be straight -- an "optical illusion" is generally created by an infant's facial structures. There is "extra skin" on the sides of the nasal bridge that cover the whites of the eyes and give the appearance that the eyes are misaligned. Typically, as children grow they mature into the facial features and pseudostrabismus becomes less noticeable. This appearance is frequently noted mainly in pictures, because pictures are usually taken slightly off center, which can exacerbate the appearance of a misalignment.) Just as this photo from the aquarium (at left) shows!

One thing he noticed, however, is that she does seem to be near-sighted.  He said that babies her age should actually be a little bit far-sighted as their vision draws in as they get older.   He wants to see her again in a year and check her again to observe any changes.  He suggested that she may need glasses when she's entering school.  Interesting to know this ahead of time instead of having her struggle & us try to figure out why!

On a similar note - Mercer had a dentist appointment recently. They suggested that he will need braces in the future because he has a small mouth and his bigger / permanent teeth are coming in.   Guess we have to plan ahead for both of the kids!  (BTW - Mercer lost a 2nd tooth days after he lost the first.  This pic was taken in early September.)

Also early in September, we celebrated the 5 year anniversary of Mercer's Adoption Day.  He said (after Isabella's adoption finalization party) that he wanted to have a party for his adoption. 

Of course he didn't remember the giant party we threw for him 5 years prior because he was too young!  But - we threw him a party at a local restaurant on the square / invited some friends / and had pizza, cupcakes, and balloons.  Hopefully he knows how absolutely special he is to us (if we throw him a party or not!) 

Here's a shot of him plus all of his friends that were invited.  Of course, he's not happy because we asked him to look up at the camera, but it's the only shot we have with all of the kids~

We also had a little something for him to open when he got home to round out the evening.

Isabella's favorite part of the evening:  she loved the balloons.

September also brought us a trip to Blue Ridge for apple picking at Mercier Orchards as well as hiking at one of our favorite spots, Sweetwater Creek. 

Mercer is no longer gathering apples from up on Todd's shoulders, as he's too big now. 

Isabella slept through much of the picking, but she was able to participate in eating freshly made apple sauce at the restaurant on site!

(Notice how much of the apple sauce Isabella is wearing.... she is a much messier baby than Mercer was!  She goes through a lot of bibs and clothing changes compared to him.)

We love hiking where there's water and ruins.  (Apparently other people love it too as there were props and electrical wires laid out throughout the woods for setting up a scene for filming of the next Hunger Games movie.) 

Here are some photos of our hike to round out this blog post: