Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Isabella is 15 months old and officially walking + we had MORE snow and ice!

She's been on the verge of walking for over a month, but this past week - she's given up crawling 99% of the time and travels primarily on 2 feet now.  She has even been spotted RUNNING from Mercer for the first time too!  Won't be the last, I'm sure~

Isabella was 15 months old on the 13th.  Here are some photos of her with the little doll that Mercer gave to Isabella on the day we brought her home.  She loves dolls... squeezes them and smiles.  (Same thing with little stuffed animals too.)
She seems to instinctively nurture and take care of them.  

But, she also likes Mercer's cars and bulldozer!  Hmmm.   Wonder if she'll be a girly-girl or a tom-boy?!

Here's a cute close-up shot of her eating a heart-shaped cookie that Mercer and I made during one of our many cooking adventures this past week.  

Isabella is going through a very clingy stage right now.  She wants to be held and because of that - it's hard to get her photo right now. Unfortunately there aren't the giant beaming smiles in this 15 month old series because of it.  
Here are some "professional" 15 month old shots of her.  There was a diaper picture of Mercer that I love where he's grabbing his toes.  I wanted to get a similar picture of Isabella, but I may have waited too late.  She's a bit older now than Mercer was when that shot was taken.  She would not do the cute "grabbing for her toes" shot that he did, so we dressed her up with some extra accessories:  an adorable knit hat and booties.  
(We won these accessories because of YOUR votes in an online contest that we participated in.  The one where Todd had photoshopped Mercer into a scene chasing a gazelle.  Remember that photo?  Thank you for your votes... these adorable diaper shots of Isabella are the voters "reward!")

The photo studio was also running a Valentine's Day special... so of course, we had to get some Valentine shots too while there.  This photo reminds me of a famous Einstein photo.  (No pressure, Isabella!)  

 Look.... 4 teeth.
Here is a clingy "I can't believe you dressed me up & are not going to hold me" shot!

Valentine's day came, but was overshadowed by the snow.  We were stuck inside for 4 MORE DAYS!  School was cancelled again and so was the kids' valentine's party.  (9 days missed so far this year.)  

Here are some shots of Mercer looking outside his window to the back yard. There's a difference here:  the ice and snow that's on the tree.  It was predicted that there would be major power outages because of the ice on the trees.  Happy to say that there weren't as many wide-spread power outages as predicted + we were spared an outage at our house.  whew!  He did a little bit of stuff outside, but this was a different kind of snow.  (Little ice pellets mostly with a layer of snow on top.)  Once it was possible to finally go outside to play, it started to melt.  We found some more kids + a new sledding hill that was still frozen enough to go down over and over again.  He got in a little bit of snow play in.  
Mostly, it was 4 days straight of indoor activities (including watching the Olympics, episodes of Jake & the Neverland Pirates, UNO card games, "climbing the walls," and fort-building.)

Mercer has graced us with at least 2 dozen pieces of paper valentine's cards.  He's also transforming other things like broken down cardboard boxes into artwork.  

He has "crafted" more this past week than I think he's ever done in 2013. He and I also baked or cooked something together each day. 

He's even been taking some photos himself - including this up close shot of a jam-covered heart and his snake cookie.  

Many of our cooking adventures start out with "I have a good idea.  We should make... (insert baked good here)"  He pulls a recipe + photograph out of one of his kid's magazines.  He's been using a head lamp to read at night and this is when he finds the next day's activities.  

We also had time to work on a volunteer Science Fair project for his school.  We did an experiment on melting snow.  

It's been a lot of work juggling Mercer, Isabella, and looking for a job.... but I really have enjoyed the artwork / cooking / experimenting with M.  

I'm glad I've had the opportunity to do so many of these things with him lately.

We celebrated Valentine's Day with Isabella's former daycare teacher. (She asked us to come... such a sweet lady & although it's only been a few weeks since Isabella's been there, Ms. Angela misses her dearly and just hugged on her the whole time we were there.  
She tried to get as many hugs from Mercer as she could too b/c she watched him for about a year when he was 3 months old to almost 1 1/2 years old.  Mercer played hard to get.  Ms. Angela is always commenting on how big he's grown.  

She also gave both kids candy and begged me to let Isabella try it;  she knows we don't give candy to Isabella & that we rarely let Mercer have any either.  So - here it is:  Isabella trying a few licks of a lollipop.  (She loved it by the way)

We celebrated Valentine's Day as a family on the 15th.  Todd made an elaborate dinner which was followed by fondue + fruit for dipping.  The kids enjoyed going through the cards that they received from their grandparents. Mercer and Isabella enjoyed her new hair clip!

Mercer and his classmates will celebrate Valentine's day in a couple of weeks - at the end of February, so the celebration of love and caring will continue on for awhile longer~

May the season linger in your homes and hearts as well.  From our family to yours~

Monday, February 3, 2014

We survived Soup Night and the Snowpocalypse

We had a small crowd the first Soup Night.  Seemed like that happened last time too.  More people came the following three, but there wasn't any one night that was too crazy thankfully.  I think the most we had was around 30 people.  Of course, this was the night the dishwasher broke, but we survived!  Mercer seemed pretty happy the last 3 Soup Nights because there were kids there.  Hard to say if he even ate soup!  Isabella has been going through a clingy stage, however, by the last couple of Soup Nights -- she's been loosening up a little... letting others hold her.  She's also been walking more and more.  A couple of Saturdays ago, she took 18 or 19 steps out of the blue minutes before people started to arrive for soup.  Throughout the evening, she would take 4-5 steps at most before falling down. 

Her balance and confidence have grown tremendously over the past couple of weeks.  She can ace the 18-19 steps while even carrying something in her hands.  She gets a couple of feet from whoever she's walking to and she lunges the last little bit.  You have to catch her or else she would certainly face plant!  She is choosing to walk the majority of the time now, but still falls a lot and crawls a bit. 

She is waving bye bye again; she had stopped for awhile.  She blows kisses and makes a "mwah" sound when she moves her hand from her mouth.  She leans in to kiss too - sort of planting a kiss on your face making the same sound.  It's adorable~ 

Isabella is donning a cute hat and sweater here.  She got dressed up to go to a preschool open house at our church.  It's a really cute school with some great enrichment activities there.  I really liked it, but realize it's not set up for those with two working parents.  (At her age it's only 2 days a week for 3 hours each day.)

Isabella is officially no longer going to daycare.  I especially like the woman in the baby room (who was SO SAD on Isabella's last day of daycare).... but.... it's expensive.  Without a job - we just can't justify sending her there.  We'll have to see where I am after the summer to know for sure if she can go to the preschool or if she'll be back in an all-day daycare 3 - 5 days a week.   

Here's Mercer wearing a hat too:  his 100th day of school hat.  He wasn't mad about wearing it - rather for some reason he didn't want me to take his photo. Day 103 should have been cancelled.  Mercer's school was not called off here where we live during Atlanta's "Snow Jam" or "Snowpocalypse" as others call it.  After lunch on Tuesday the 28th - it started to become obvious that we should be getting the kids out of school - but at that point, it was too late. 

One of our neighbors left at 12:30 to get check her girls out early from school.  2 1/2 hours later, she had only gone 1 mile.  The roads were gridlocked.  She pulled off the side of the road, parked her car, and walked to the school to check them out (pretty much on time... 3:15).  Cell phone service wasn't working so well.  We communicated between texts and voice mails (because we could never connect).. she was going to check Mercer out too so that I didn't have to get Isabella out in this mess & get stuck too.

I thought that Mercer would ride the bus home.  Certainly that would be safer -- much heavier than me driving my Prius out in the snow with a baby?  But when I called the school to check on the possibility of our neighbor getting Mercer... they said the buses had not arrived.  They were running way behind & if I had someone to take him home - do that instead.  As it turns out, the bus service was cancelled.  (This was a smart move as it turns out because in other counties, there were buses that never made it to their destinations.... the kids and drivers had to stay on the bus overnight!  UNBELIEVABLE!  At Mercer's elementary school, there were kids that didn't make it home 'til about midnight.  Some kids in other schools in our city had to spend the night.  At least they had heat & bathrooms, but I'm sure it was still scary for the kids and parents.) 

Mercer walked home 2 miles in the snow.  (we got 3-4 inches as shown in this picture of our back yard)  It sounded like Mercer was being stoic the whole way home according to our neighbor. But - when my neighbor's sister walked Mercer down to our house & he saw me, he lost it. 

He immediately started bawling "my hands hurt.  they hurt they hurt!"  "My feet hurt.  Mommy make it stop!"  It was traumatic for Isabella - she started bawling; honestly I had a hard time keeping it together too.  I looked up things online on how to warm him up without scalding his hands and toes.  After about 20 minutes later, 3 snacks later and a cartoon streaming on TV... his sobbing stopped.  Whew.  He was pretty much back to normal! 

Todd called about that same time.  His call actually made it through.  He and I were connecting via voice mails too.  At this point, he had been on the road for a couple of hours, however, he had not made it too far.  He just started his new job the day before.  Thankfully, this office is a little closer to home.  It cut hours off of his commute that evening.  (Here's a shot of his new office - with yellow door.)  He finally made it home around 7:30 pm -- took him approximately 5 1/2 hours to go 6 or 7 miles.  He also walked the last 2 miles of his journey because the sun had set and the snowy slushy roads turned to ice.  People in front of him were sliding around and getting stuck.  He tried helping some stranded motorists too on his way home.  We were SO GLAD to see him and be reunited as a family! 

As mentioned - the kids stuck on the bus overnight was just hard to believe.  (in my opinion - the biggest travesty of the whole day but there were tons of other people who spent the night in their cars as well.  Some people that we know didn't make it home 'til the next day (sleeping on cots in hotel ball rooms or crashing at friends-of-friends houses). 

This definitely made national news as a giant "fail" for the city of Atlanta.  Here's a shot from one of the news channels of abandoned cars at one of the exits between downtown and where we live.  I am sure that Mercer (with his cold feet and hands) and Todd (with his 5 1/2 hour commute) will never forget that day!  Thousands of others will not forget it either.  One thing that was positive that came out of this.... that there were a lot of good Samaritans that came out of the woodwork.  Strangers helping others.  Those stories are heartwarming and continue to be revealing themselves days later.

The next day - with all of us together - was MUCH better.  Isabella got to play in her first snow.  She seemed to enjoy it.  Mercer really enjoyed sledding, making snow angels and having snowball fights (he could dish it out, however, he wasn't so good at "taking" it). 

Todd sledded down the big hill on our street with Isabella in his lap.  She had a HUGE smile on her face each time they went down.

We walked the neighborhood.  Mercer found a group of kids to play with.  His enjoyment level went wayyyy up (except when some slightly older kids included him in their snowball fight).

Later, we also enjoyed eating snow ice cream (4 cu snow, 1 cu cream - left over from soup night, 1/4 cu sugar, tsp of vanilla). Mercer added sprinkles to his.

And - before the snow melted, Mercer and I made a little snow man.  (He's hiding another snowball behind his back here~)

It was a beautiful snow fall.

All-in-all, we had a good time (of course - after everyone safely made it home). 

PS - don't foget about the blog post that was uploaded 2 days ago.  (should have been uploaded a couple of weeks ago, but somehow never did)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Some more January happenings -- oops. Never posted this!

Forgot to mention that Mercer had his first sleep over on New Year's.  We went to a friend's house who we met them through Mercer's t-ball team last fall & have been doing some things with their family for over a year now.  We have a lot in common with the parents (they also went to SCAD -- the mom even got a degree in Architecture too). 

We tried to get the boys to go to sleep around 10:00.  They were awake until almost midnight.  We went into their room just before 12 so they could ring in the new year, but they had actually fallen asleep.  We stayed up 'til 3, but then decided not to wake Isabella and Mercer in the middle of the night... we would just crash there and go home the next morning.  

Mercer had a GREAT time and he's looking forward to having his own sleep over at some time soon. 

Isabella has been taking more and more steps.  For a few days, she took 4-5 steps at a time.  Earlier this week, she took 18 or 19 steps in one shot!  But, as of now, she's still a crawler 95% of the time.  (This was written the second week of January)

She is becoming a voracious eater, though!  Isabella has crossed over the threshold of wanting to eat big-people food.  We still have a little stock of baby food, but she turns it away.  I remember keeping Mercer on baby food for a little longer than is probably normal.  (it's so easy and fairly nutritious)  Here are some photos of her devouring a piece of spinach pizza.  In general, her food is pretty much all over her face, the table, her shirt, and the floor.  But - we suppose this is progress??!! 

Mercer is playing basketball in this last photo.  He's playing in the same league he played in last year at a local church. Todd and I were discussing after this scrimmage that he really does have a lot of natural ability.  He did take a small step backwards regarding dribbling.  (Pretty much all of the kids grab the ball and run.  Mercer does it too this year - although he used to dribble last year.)  But - he really knows how to defend the goal, block, and it seems that instinct just kicked in when he stole a ball from the opposite team and ran down the court.  (My cell phone camera is pretty bad - have to take my word that this is Mercer running by.)

There's another blog post coming soon.  Found that this one was not uploaded when working on the other one.  Stay tuned~