29 April 2008

Keeping Busy

We just don't stop these days! The weather is improving, and we are really starting to enjoy it up here. Gabriel is sooooo glad to be getting outside more, and he's finally getting to play with kids his own age. I've joined Stroller Strides, which is a Mommy and Baby exercise group. We meet at Baker Park to jog and exercise while pushing our prams, then the kiddoes get to play at the playground afterward. It's great for both of us! They also host little outings, and we are looking forward to a trip to a petting zoo next week. Gabriel looooves animals (but especially dogs and ducks), so that should be a perfect fit!

He's learning loads of new tricks these days. Today he helped me to load the dishwasher, then he closed the door, I locked it, and he turned it on! I guess we've found his second chore. His first is sweeping the floor, although Jake and I do a *bit* of touching up afterward... he kinda just moves the dirt around all over the place. It's amazing that I can ask him to do something and he does it. He also loves to help me put things on the table for a meal or a snack, so I'll hand him yogurt, silverware, plastic bowls and plates, etc., and most of them end up where they're supposed to be. He really thinks he is one of us, and is frustrated that he can't always do what we do. It's really frustrating that he can't see what I'm doing when I'm cooking or cleaning, so sometimes I let him stand on a stool and help me "chop" veggies or "clean" the counter with a paper towel. He likes to use his silverware properly (and he wants silverware like we have, not kid stuff), drink from a glass, and sit at the table. It is a lot of fun for us -- although a bit messy at times -- and he's learning, so we indulge him as often as we can. He's such a great little person!

Another little trick he learned today was how to take off his pants. Uh-oh... what do we have to look forward to??? He was happily typing on the laptop. I glanced at Jake, and when I looked back, Gabriel was stepping out of his pants, then carefully piling thim on the computer. He turned to us as pleased as pie! What a silly-willy! We got to giggling, and he followed suit. He's learned to throw his head back and laugh like we do, so it only makes us laugh more. What fun!

We try and create an environment that is conducive to learning and creativity, and we think it's really important that he is exposed to different languages. Luckily, we live next door to a family from Colombia!!! Laura is in Junior High, and she's coming over every week to give G Spanish lessons. He loves her and has totally accepted her as a member of the family. Not only does he happily give her kisses and cuddles, but he fully expects me to give her hugs and kisses as well! If we don't, he'll take our hands and pull us together. If we still don't, it's meltdown time. Needless to say, I am happy to give her a hug as well!

We've also started a little potted plant garden. Gabriel has really gotten into it, and his favorite job is watering the plants. We have carrots, artichokes, chives, lavender, and a few different flowers coming up, so we'll cross our fingers that we should have a pretty little crop of plants in a few weeks. Unfortunately, he also loves to play in the mud that is created from his watering, so it's a messy job! On occasion a bit of that mud ends up in his mouth, which he doesn't like, so he'll point the water hose at his mouth to take a drink. He's gotten really good at it, but he's usually a sopping mess before it's all over! After a particularly messy and muddy session, we came in to clean him up. As I ran over to grab some towels to clean him up, he reached up on the table and grabbed a huge cup of water and decided to take a drink. He's not used to full cups of water and ended up dumping the whole cup of water on his face! He was momentarily surprised, then very proud to have accomplished his task of cleaning up and getting a drink. I didn't even know he could reach that far on the table, so we will have to be more careful in the future!!!

Sorry for yet another week without posting. Gabriel was a little sick (and waking up constantly), now he's teething, and then Jake got sick, so I'd rather sleep than type these days! Thanks for your patience!!! We're all better now, and we are back in business.

It's rather late, so I'll leave off with a few recent pictures of our cutie.

His bear and new best friend from the Boones -- he's named Rillo (pronounced rijo) after Amarillo!

Gabriel and Nana at Mien Yu in Georgetown on her Birthday

"ME LOVE COOKIES" --Cookie Monster

"Baby Baby" by Amy Grant... we listen to this musical card over and over and over and over and over.....

He loooooves eggs!

A close relative of the Easter Bunny

Our first Easter in Frederick

Even practices the drums in his sleep!

Mr. Cool in his new sunglasses

G and his little sandcastle set that we take everywhere

Beside the YMCA's gorgeous dogwood tree

This is the bike we have to ride every day, rain or shine!!!

13 April 2008

Our Big Boy

It's very late, but I just couldn't go to bed without a little post. I won't add pictures tonight, but maybe in the next day or two.

Gabriel is growing in leaps and bounds. When we moved to Frederick, he could run around everywhere, including under the kitchen table. The other day, he was running around chasing his Spiderman soccer ball (or football for you Brits), and it rolled right under the table. He ran after it and BUMP! The table hit him smack in the middle of the forehead. It surprised Gabriel almost as much as it surprised me. I hadn't realized how much taller Gabriel had grown in just a couple months! I knew he had grown, as we had to buy new jeans and slacks for him, but I didn't think it was quite that much!

AND THEN, today he learned a new trick with Daddy. We have more stairs than I've ever had before in a house. Since we have three stories and are uphill from the parking lot, Gabriel has had to learn to negotiate stairs. He is great at climbing them, but has had a few difficulties coming down. He wants to walk down like Mommy and Daddy, but he doesn't quite understand the whole gravity thing (he gets that from me...). Jake has really worked to help him learn to bump down on his little bum, but he gets impatient and wants to go go go! Today G made it from the top floor to the bottom by himself! Jake only had to assist a couple times, but the rest was all Gabriel, mostly sliding on his bottom, with a few backward crawls. I am so proud of him!

He has also mastered using a grown-up fork (toddler ones just will not do, apparently), and can often properly use a spoon in the last few weeks. It doubles as a sword or drumstick, so we do have to watch our fingers. If we are eating with utensils, the G-Man has to have his own! And if I want to give him a bite of whatever I have, he usually wants to take the fork from me and feed it to himself. What a big kid he's getting to be.

These days, Gabriel wants to be outside 24/7, regardless of time of day or weather. It's been so nice that I have been able to indulge him, but today was yucky. It was torture for him to stay inside all day, but we raced around on his bike and that made things better. He still ended up banging his head against the front door a few times and trying to use a spatula to manipulate the doorknob throughout the day. Thankfully tomorrow is supposed to be lovely! We'll be sure to go to the park and do some major climbing and sliding. He really loves all the other kids, and makes sure to point out all of their noses. So far, they have all been sweet and obliging!

As for other small achievements, he uses the word Mama constantly, and Daddy is usually "Da" or "Da-Da," but occasionally "Ga." His favorite words are still "duck," "dog," "cat," "mama," "ack," and "da," but "light" and "eye" are currently slightly out of favor. He loves to play with saucepans and lids, and the new thing is filling them up and putting the lid on. He is excited to find his treasures still in there when the lid comes off! He loves rocks, and carries them everywhere, and really loves dirt. We walk the sidewalks searching for dogs and motorcycles, and he gets very excited about planes, helicopters and ice cream trucks. He is great at piling up blocks, but now he is able to help me put them away as well. At the grocery store, he gets to pick out produce and put them in the bag for me. He actually cries when we leave the produce section! Can you believe that he can help out already? I didn't expect that from a 14 month old! He also loves to do Mommy and Baby Yoga with me, and his favorite move is downward dog -- he especially likes to peek through is legs and see Mama and Daddy upside-down!

I think that is everything of note. We still have a few boxes to unpack, but our momentum has way dropped! Someday we'll be all unpacked. We're getting closer!!! We still haven't decided on a church, but we also have a few we want to visit. That is such a difficult decision. I'm trying to decide if I should join MOPS or the MOMS Club here, so let me know if anyone has any advice.

I have really had Eldorado, Texas on my heart lately. As Christians, we think polygamy is wrong (much less somewhat illegal), and the situation with the young girls being forced to marry is deplorable. But I just can't imagine what those families are going through right now. Many of the women have never left the compound and think that the rest of the world is evil -- how terrifying for them to have to leave their home and their husbands and be in such an insecure situation. I feel even worse for the kids. I'm sure they don't understand what's going on, and no matter how it ends up, their safety and security is compromised. I just can't imagine Gabriel being away from Jake for so long. It makes me so thankful to be married to such a loving, supportive and strong Christian man, and I am so humbled to be so loved by our little baby. It literally makes my heart ache to think of anything happening to Gabriel, or to imagine him growing up without his Mama or Daddy. We are blessed with many friends and family members that love and support us, and we are so thankful for everything we have!

P.S. If you haven't tried a Magic Eraser, you have to. It's magical!!! Scuffs, rust, crayon, and stains are no match. Just be careful, as it can take the paint off your walls if you scrub too hard. I also love Chlorox Bleach Pens for little spots on white fabrics or surfaces -- one of the best inventions ever!