3 Month Pictures & Daddy's Mini-Me

We got Charlie's three month pictures taken a couple weeks ago at the Jewel Box in Forest Park by the same photographer who took Jack's two year pictures, Joel Marion.  We're happy with how they turned out.  Here's a sample:

Grandma Clayton found some old pictures of Jason and scanned them in to compare with this photo shoot of Charlie.  It confirms what everyone who meets Charlie has been saying....he's a spitting image of his Daddy!


Frosty & Holiday Parties

Jack has always had a thing for Frosty the Snowman, starting with his love for the stuffed singing Frosty at Grandma and Grandpa's house that he loved during his first winter.  He has played the song on that toy so many times that Grandpa has repaired it once and they've bought a back-up Frosty to replace the original.  Now this year, Jack has also discovered the movie.  For the past few weeks, we've watched Frosty the Snowman at least 3-4 times/week, and he also watches it at Grandma & Grandpa's when he's there.  And the latest....requesting demanding that we listen to "Frosty song" in the car on the way to and from work.  Our drive takes 30 minutes on a very good day, and for the past week we have listened to Frosty on repeat.  Every day.  Both ways.  Uphill.  I like Frosty as much as the next guy, but wow that's a lot of Frosty!

He likes to sing along with the song, which is so cute.  His favorite part is the "Thumpety thump thump, thumpety thump thump, look at that Frosty go."  Depending on his mood, I'm either requested to "help me sing Mommy" or "Mommy no help me sing" (presumably if I'm more off-key than normal that day).  Occasionally, if I do really well, I get a "good job helping me sing Mommy."  Man, I love that kid!

Both of our boys had their holiday parties at school last week.  Until now, we've never gotten to attend any of Jack's parties because it seems they inevitably fall on his days off.  This year we got lucky and Charlie's party was Monday and Jack's was Friday.

Charlie's party was nice - I got to meet the other parents and babies.  He is by far the youngest in the class - there is a 14 month-old who is moving to a toddler classroom soon and the other five babies are 7-9 months old.  Charlie made us a plaster hand print ornament, so that was nice.
Jack's party was great too - Jason and I both got to go.  It was fun seeing him in his school environment interacting with all his buddies.  They had a buffet set up on one of the little tables so the kids were in heaven - food at their level to help themselves to!  Luckily, Jack was mostly focused on the blackberries, but he also discovered a new love for the fruit-flavored candy canes.  They were all chowing down on those when we got there.

They had a fun activity at their party - they got to decorate cookies.  Jack started out doing great and really concentrating on spreading the icing...
 Then he discovered that it was yummy...
Cooper, Jack, Helena, Grier, Luisa and Selby
 And there was no turning back...
 He liked pouring the sprinkles on his cookie too.
 Here's the aftermath of his cookie decorating/eating.
 Then each kid gave their parents a gift (a cute picture in a handmade frame)
And they each received gifts from their teacher Ms Lauren.  We've discovered over the past few weeks via our Christmas book tradition that Jack prefers to tear teeny pieces off a present when unwrapping it.  He pulls each little sliver of paper off and hands it to us saying "here go."  I think Christmas may be a marathon for us!
Jack and his friend Juliana opening their presents

Just a few pictures from the weekend. 
Charlie looking cute in his swing.
Charlie has been really gripping onto things and loves to put his hands together, especially when he's sleeping.  So I've started giving him a lovey to hold and he loves it!  Tonight he was rubbing it all over his face and dozed off with it covering his face.  (Don't worry, I was closely supervising and moving it away so he could breathe.)

It reminded me of when his big brother first started using his loveys:
Jack - January 2010
And finally, we've borrowed Grandma & Grandpa Clayton's dog kennel to help Maggie while Jason is working on our basement.  He's currently framing it out and all the loud startling nail gun noises were sending Maggie into a tizzy.  He'd come upstairs and find her trembling standing on top of the bathroom counter, for example.  He's found that locking her in a kennel while he's down there being noisy makes her feel more secure.  Of course, Jack is enjoying it as well, requesting that we lock him in there.



 You may remember from last year that Jack did not enjoy his visit with Santa.  In fact I have each year's picture framed and on display for the holidays, and Jack saw last year's the other day and said, "Mommy, why that boy crying?"  I had to laugh as I explained that "that boy" was him last year.

Tonight was our annual visit to the Bass Pro Shops Santa Claus.  The whole way there I was trying to get Jack pumped up.  I asked him what he wanted to ask Santa for and he responded "presents."  I asked what kind of presents and he said, "blue presents."  So there you have it, a 2-year-old's Christmas list: blue presents.

When we got in line, Jason held Jack and we watched all the other boys and girls calmly sit on Santa's lap.  We talked about how he would be a big boy and not cry and how after he sits on Santa's lap we'd go play with the choo choo they had on display.  Everything seemed fine until that moment of truth arrived....
Yep, verdict's in.  He's still not a fan of Santa.  Charlie was indifferent, but he did look at Jack as if to say "what's the problem??"

After the traumatic Santa experience, Jack got to operate the train display and ride on a carousel, so it wasn't a totally miserable night for our little guy.
Maybe next year....


Three Months Old

Charlie has now hit the 3-month mark.  He's still a perfect little angel - very laid-back and content most of the time.  He's babbling more and more and though he hasn't let out a full-fledged giggle just yet, he does "talk" excitedly sometimes so it almost sounds like a laugh.  He is always smiling and loves to sleep.

Love this face!
At three months Charlie sleeps about nine or ten hours at night - usually about 9:00pm to 6:30am and sleeps a lot during the day.  We're still not really on a schedule, but generally he takes at least one longer (2-3 hour) nap during the day at some point.  He eats about five times per day and right now I'm making his bottles at 6.5 ounces apiece.  During the week, I nurse him first thing in the morning and the last feeding at night and he takes three bottles at day care or Grandma & Grandpa' house.

He's starting to reach for things, like the toys hanging on his bouncy seat and will grip onto things when you place them in his hands.  My favorite is when he grabs onto my shirt as I'm feeding him.  Charlie loves to look at his big brother and turns to watch him and smile at him whenever he comes near.  The feeling is mutual...
Jack wanted in on the photo shoot
Charlie's officially in 6 months clothes.  He can still get by wearing some three month pants, but the three- month onesies are being packed away.  He's also solidly fitting in all the size two diapers now.
Here's a side-by-side comparison of the first three months:
Can't quite get this comparison exactly the same month after month, but you get the idea...
Here's another comparison I'm hoping to do quarterly-ish.  Same laundry basket, same baby.  Getting so big!!


O Christmas Tree

We've solved our enormous Christmas tree issue.  We considered moving our entire dining room set into our basement for the season and displaying the tree there (where the ceiling is vaulted).  In the end, Jason decided to do some minor trimming to make it fit in the play room.  You can see in the picture below just how much he cut off - almost as tall as Jack!
Daddy got all the lights put on during nap time Sunday and then I wanted Jack to help me decorate it before bed.  At first I started getting out all of his special ornaments from his personal ornament box* and Daddy offered a suggestion that we start with some basic ball ornaments "just in case."  I married a smart man - the very first ornament Jack attempted to hang went crashing to the floor and shattered.  Oops!  So, we got out the mini vacuum, cleaned up our mess and moved on.
My helper vacuuming
 For the next attempt I offered much more supervision and we had success.  This was the one and only ornament Jack helped with - I did the rest after he went to sleep.

Here is the finished product!
*More on the personal ornament box...my Uncle Jim & Aunt Ree gave each of our boys a personalized wooden box to hold the special ornaments they receive for the first 30 years (I think?) of their lives.  Each square in the box also holds a card to describe what was special that year.  LOVE this tradition and it's so fun each year to get it out and read each card and remember the previous years.


Back to Work

Well, I'm sad to say my maternity leave has come to an end.  It was a wonderful 12 weeks, but it had to end sometime.  Monday was my first day back to work, and Charlie's first day at my work's day care.  I managed to drop him off without tears, which surprised me (...and the director....and Jack's old teacher Ms Jill....and basically anyone who knows me).  To be fair, I was distracted by Jack's meltdown.  We took Charlie to his classroom first and when we got there Jack froze and then was hysterical and clinging to me.  I think he thought I was leaving him in the infant classroom.  He wouldn't calm down or listen to me, so I ended up leaving Charlie there and taking Jack to his classroom.  By the time I got back to Charlie's room, he was unpacked, they had read my instructions and Ms Mary was holding him.  SO, that made it easy for me to give him a quick kiss and dart out the door before the waterworks had a chance to start.  Success!

I went to visit him at lunch - I promised the teachers I wouldn't continue that everyday, but I had to this first day!!  When I got there he was happily lying on an activity mat looking at the toys dangling overhead.  I held him for five minutes and then went about my day.  I could get used to that!

He did really great all day and his teachers (and every teacher I passed on the way to get him) told me how cute and happy he was.  Jack freaked out again when we went to pick him up, refusing to set foot in Charlie's classroom.  Funny.  I guess from now on we'll be dropping Jack first in the morning and picking Charlie up first in the evening to avoid any confusion.

The only negative from Charlie's first day was that he didn't seem to get a lot of sleep.  His paper said he slept for 1 hour two different times and then a third nap for 45 minutes.  He's still not really on a schedule, but he generally takes at least one 2-3 hour solid nap during the day.  I'm sure the extra noise will take some getting used to.  It was clear he was pooped Monday night - he slept most of the night.

Luckily Charlie's teacher remembered to take some pictures of his first day because Mommy forgot!!  Thanks Ms Mary!

Tuesday was his first full day at Grandma & Grandpa Lang's, and Grandma has already dubbed him "Angel Baby II."  He slept most of the morning, woke up for a bottle around 11:45, was awake for an hour, then slept the REST of the day - perhaps making up for Monday.

As for me, I'm doing fine.  If I had a choice I'd be home with my babies every day, but there's no sense in dwelling on that.  This happens to be a decent week for me to return to work because my boss and the whole team that I support are in Chicago for a meeting, which is giving me time to ease back in and reacquaint myself with all my projects.  And in 2.5 short weeks, it'll be Christmas break, so surely I can make it that long! 

The highlight of my first day back (other than holding Charlie at lunch) was when I got a phone call from the security guard of my building saying I had received flowers.  Attached was the following note: "We love you Mom!  Mommy, Thank you for being so wonderful and taking such good care of us.  We appreciate everything you do for us.  Hope you have a great day.  Love, Jack & Charlie"  Isn't my husband the best??


Christmas Traditions

We've decided to start a few new Christmas traditions this year, now that Jack is old enough to understand more.  First, we're doing the Elf on the Shelf.  I think most are familiar with it, but for those who aren't, it's an elf that sits on your shelf (obviously) that watches your kids and goes back to report to Santa each night how they are behaving.  When the elf returns the next morning, he/she sits in a new spot.  Jack likes the elf and says "he's watching me" if you ask what the elf is doing, but isn't quite old enough to frantically search for the elf's new location as soon as he wakes up or any of that.  I think it'll be really fun in future years.  One task when you get your new elf is to give it a name, which we're struggling with.  Jack has decided the elf is a girl, but he won't offer any serious suggestions for names.  PaPaw suggested Petunia, which Jack thought was hilarious, but we haven't settled on anything.  I think she may remain nameless until next year when he can offer some suggestions other than Daddy and Maggie.

The other new tradition is the Christmas storybooks.  We've wrapped 24 Christmas storybooks, and each night before bed Jack gets to pick one present, open it and we read that story that night.  So far it's been fun.  The first night (December 1st) we had him open the elf (it comes with a book explaining what it does) and then each night since then he's picked out a book.  I'm loving this tradition and think it will be a good one to continue.  I figure it was a one-time investment because we'll use the same books each year, aside from switching out a couple each year to be more age-appropriate as the boys get older.  Fun!

 Another tradition that we started a few years ago that we've continued this year is cutting down our Christmas tree. The tree farm we've gone to in the past, Pumpkins and Pines, closed down after last year, so we found a new online that's not too far from home.  We got there and were a little unsure - it was much more rustic than the other place.  We were literally stomping through a sparse wooded area seeking out an acceptable tree.  Jack liked it, despite continually getting caught on the thorny branches coming up from the ground.  We picked a tree that would be pretty great once Jason trimmed and shaped it.
Helping Daddy find the perfect tree
This is it!
Actually, after we took these pictures, we realized this wasn't the one we had decided on (it was between two)
So THIS is it!
Watching Daddy cut it down
Kinda heavy
Such a big helper!
Family photo with our tree
Of course they say you should take a tape measure when you're cutting a tree down because they look much smaller in the woods than they do in your living room.  We should have heeded that advice...

Yes, our tree is almost as wide as the room in which we were planning to display it, and yes, it's about 2 feet taller than the ceiling in said room.  I'm a little ashamed to admit we've actually made the same mistake once before.  The first year we were in our new house (2007), we cut down a tree that only fit in the tallest part of our vaulted living room and required some rearranging of furniture - I'd say it was about 11 feet tall.  Sadly, I can't locate any photos of that behemoth, so you'll have to take my word for it.  Lesson learned?  Apparently not.

 Our other fun Christmas tradition is putting up our train.  Jack received the train from Grandpa & Grandma Clayton for his first Christmas, and we put it up for the first time last year.  I think this is when Jack's obsession with choo choos really took off, and as you know it hasn't dulled.  So of course, he is loving playing with the train every waking moment he has, including blowing the horn for minutes at a time.  Not too quiet at our house these days.
 After he first played with it for awhile, he went over to his train table and got his "boose" and put it on top of the train's caboose.
 Then he did the same with his coal car and his engine.  He's a bright one, that boy!!
Later in the evening, Jack decided Charlie would make a good train conductor.  Then he thought Charlie might want to see how he looked in the hat, so he ran and got the hand mirror out of my vanity to show him.  Too cute.