I found these pictures on Derek’s cell phone camera roll and just couldn’t resist posting.
Blake is amassing quite a bag of tricks.
He’s walking better every day.
And climbs on anything and everything. This boy has made my heart skip beats so many times!
Thankfully, he has developed a sense of gravity and mostly understands that he has to go backwards to go down. I’m impressed how well he made it all the way down the stairs.
Derek and I just returned from a long weekend in Maine celebrating our 10th anniversary. It was a few months delayed due to scheduling but came at a great time.
Our goals for the trip were some place with cool temperatures, we’d never been before, could see some neat things but also have plenty of opportunity to relax and enjoy some quiet. This was the perfect trip that met all these goals. A huge thanks to Pops and Nana for staying home with the boys so we could make this trip alone.
If you want the Reader’s Digest version of the trip: We read, talked without interruption, I sewed, Derek tinkered, and we simply relished having some quiet time with no schedules.
If you want more details, feel free to read on. This is my personal documentation just as much as it is to share with family and friends, thus the length.
Thursday afternoon we flew from Dallas to Portland, ME. We arrived late in the evening so spent the night near the airport. Friday morning we visited the Portland Head Light. It is an iconic (and oldest) lighthouse on the grounds of Fort Willis Park. We had a chance to take in our first bit of the ocean and strolled around.
For lunch we went into Old Port and enjoyed some tasty pub fare at Gritty’s. We walked up and down Commerce Street along Casco Bay and then went in search of a Catholic Church. There were 2 nearby and we happened upon the Cathedral in the middle of Mass for the Feast of the Assumption. The mosaic stations of the cross in this nearly 200 church were beautiful and impressive. On our way back towards the shopping district we found the church we had actually been looking for: St. Peter’s. St. Peter’s was much smaller than the cathedral and older.
By that time our legs were tired so we walked back to the car and started heading north along the coast. After a brief stop in the small college town of Brunswick we found the Phippsburg Peninsula and our Bed & Breakfast. We’ve never stayed at a B&B before and were a little nervous about the different dynamic from a hotel, but this particular one came highly recommended from our friends who visited a year ago. We’re so glad we took their advice and gave it a try.
Upon our arrival at the 1774 Inn, the proprietors John and Jackie greeted us and gave us a tour of the historic home (yes, it was built in 1774 and is just as amazing as you might envision). We did, thankfully, have the heads up to book a room with a private bathroom, as not all of the rooms have private baths. After getting settled in our room, we found two chairs outside and let the relaxing begin!
That evening we drove to the other side of the peninsula for dinner at Anna’s on the Waterfront.
I realized when I woke up Saturday morning we forgot to ask the all important question of "what time is breakfast?" We didn’t want to miss it so made it downstairs before 9. It was worth not missing as the hot breakfast was baked blueberry french toast topped with blueberries.
After breakfast we drove to the southern tip of the coast where we explored Popham Fort and Popham Beach. The fort was a 2 story Civil War Era fort protecting the bottom of the Kennebec River.
We walked along the beach then found a place to sit and read and have lunch.
Following lunch we drove to a few other parts of the peninsula we hadn’t seen yet and then returned back to our room for a nap and sitting out by the water. We made the short drive north to Bath and walked around some shops on the main street before getting some dinner. Our dining experiences would have been much more noteworthy had either of us liked seafood. I realize it’s nearly a crime to go to Maine and not eat seafood. The other menu choices were fine but nothing exceptional. We did discover it’s hard to find fresh brewed ice tea and fresh (or at least real) lemonade.
Sunday morning we woke to a ‘proper’ English breakfast that was absolutely delicious! The proprietors are English; they just spend 6 months each year in Maine running this B&B. Doesn’t that sound fabulous!? Our first B&B experience was a total success. We were so sad to leave this quiet place and would love to return sometime.
Sunday we slowly made our way back to Portland, first stopping in Bath at the Maine Maritime Museum. It’s built on the site of an old shipyard and next to a modern shipyard where the USS Zumwald (a Navy destroyer) is currently under construction. There was a pirate ship and over-sized lobster trap that the boys could have spent hours playing in!
We drove a little further south to Freeport and had lunch. We really didn’t want to go back into the big city yet; we weren’t finished taking in the peacefulness we’d been enjoying. So we found Wolfe’s Snare state park where we hiked, sat on rocks by the shore, hiked some more and then happened upon a covered picnic area just as a light rain shower began. It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.
We spent the night back in Portland and caught an early flight out Monday morning. Real life awaits. We signed a contract to sell our current house while enroute to Portland on Thursday (that took a huge load off to have that done). I guess I should add that a few weeks ago we put a contract on a new house to purchase which is 2 miles away from our current home.
Coming home means:
Andrew starts school in 1 week
Pack up the house
Both Andrew and Connor start soccer
Connor and Blake will start preschool /MDO
Mudpie will arrive
Then the holidays
All that to say, Derek and I are so thankful for these few days away. We are rested and refreshed. Now it’s Go Time!
Thanks to the time change, we were all up early again Saturday morning. After breakfast we drove downtown to the bay to check out the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. Andrew and Connor have been particularly interested in planes and aircraft carriers since the Planes movie. In fact, I am frequently informed that various pieces of furniture are the aircraft carrier and planes are strategically lined up on them. So, they were excited to go on a real aircraft carrier.
Most of the ship is open to tour and roam but the Captain’s Deck and Control tower require guided tours. We started with these tours while there wasn’t a line. Pete, Andrew, Connor and I took the first turn. Blake could not go because we had to climb extremely narrow stairways that they don’t allow anyone to be carried up. Connor was barely tall enough and it was a challenging climb for him (and my prego self) but worthwhile.
Hanging out in the control tower. It was strange to realize how this was it’s own miniature functioning airport. I’m still fascinated by how they land and have to hook on to the cable to stop.
Steering the boat.
While Derek and Gramma took their turn on the Captain’s Deck, Andrew and Connor climbed in and around planes.
Connor was most excited to see “a bunch of Skippers” (named after the WWII plane in the movie).
Andrew decided he would be a red-jacket, handling the bombs and missiles.
I thought this was fascinating to see the quantities of food they made, considering there were 3,000 people onboard the ship.
There were many volunteers around the ship who once served on the ship. It was really neat to talk to them and they all had specific things they wanted to make sure and tell us. One of them was in the kitchen and had served as the head chef. He was very proud of his job and wanted to make it clear that they fed all of the personnel very well and four times per day. It was interesting to learn that the officers have to pay for their own food.
We spent a solid 3 hours roaming the ship and could have spent longer but some little legs were getting tired and Blake was tired of being carried. As you might imagine, the ship is not at all stroller friendly so he was in the Ergo or being carried the entire time.
Notice the statue in the background.
The USS Midway ended up being the overall favorite part of the trip for everyone! Mike and Cindy (and Derek) love history and military things so this was right up their alley, in addition to being fascinating for the little boys.
We grabbed some fast food lunch and went back to the hotel for lunch and rests before heading to the beach. Derek and Pete made a quick trip to Target to grab a few sand toys.
The entire day had been overcast with a slightly cool breeze. We were thankful for this when on the deck of the ship but weren’t sure how it would work out at the beach. I was afraid we might freeze at the beach but we gave it a try anyway.
We went to a beach not too far from our hotel at Torrey Pines State Park.
All Andrew wanted to do was jump on the waves and let them crash into him. He spent the entire 2hrs we were there doing this. Thank you, God, for a water proof cast on that arm!
Connor warmed up to the water and giggled at the waves a bit but only while holding Daddy’s hand.
Our attempted family picture on the beach that didn’t turn out so well.
Even though we just spent a few hours, the boys will definitely remember their beach experience and enjoyed it. They would have loved to spent more time but Derek and I are just not big beach people. Sitting out in the hot sun and playing in the ocean are not our favorite things. Sitting in the shade on the sand and listening to the water while reading or sleeping…that’s a whole different thing! But not conducive to this trip.
Day 2 of sightseeing complete. Sunday we’re off to the zoo.
In mid-July, we took a 5 day family trip to San Diego. Why San Diego? why not? We wanted to go somewhere that was different and everyone would enjoy. The 5 of us were lucky enough to be joined by Pete and Gramma for this journey.
Our trip started off with a bang Thursday morning as we sat on the D/FW tarmac for 2.5 hours waiting for a huge thunderstorm to pass. That was my first experience with being stuck on a plane for an extended period of time. It wasn’t fun but also wasn’t near as bad as it could have been and at least there was an obvious reason for the delay. It had been a few years since Connor and Andrew last flew so it was pretty much a new experience for them. When we finally took off, Connor giggled and shrieked “this is awesome!!” Andrew was a little nervous because it was a bumpy takeoff due to the weather. It was funny to see their different reactions. We were supposed to have a 3 hour layover in Albuquerque but instead they held the plane for us and we walked right off of one plane and onto our next plane. It wasn’t ideal, but better than spending hours in he airport waiting to get on another plane. We actually made it into San Diego right on time.
We arrived at our hotel around 3pm and spent the afternoon getting settled, burning some energy and the boys swam. The hotel served dinner that night so we decided it was easy enough just to eat what they had and not get back out after our day of traveling.
We started our touring off on Friday at Legoland. As we pulled into the parking lot Connor could see the entrance and from the back seat of the van hollered “ohh my gosh! Unbuckle me!!” He couldn’t get in the park fast enough. The park didn’t officially open until 10 but a few select rides and attractions were open earlier. We arrived about 9:30 and were able to get our bearings and start figuring things out before it got too crowded.
One of the rides open early was a little boat cruise. We passed the Statue of Liberty and Mt. Rushmore. These were, of course, made out of a ridiculous number of Legos.
Connor and I stopped to say hi to a friend.
The Kid Powered Tower required some work. In this case it was Gramma-powered.
While we waited in line and rode a few rides, Pete and Blake found a shady bench with some nearby music and napped. Pete zoned out and kept Blake slightly rocking in the stroller for over an hour – perfect for both of them!
We found Derek’s younger self in the Lego Factory.
And, for Sebastian, the Mariachi Band!
While Andrew and Connor played on a huge castle playground, Blake took a break from the stroller and practiced his walking.
You never know what creatures you’ll come up on in the park.
[The waist bags (I can’t bring myself to call them the typical name after finding out what that means in Irish) are courtesy of Pete. He gave them to the boys the morning we left for the airport and they loved having their own little pouch to keep toys and snacks in.]
Andrew was tall enough for nearly all of the rides but by the afternoon many of them had long lines and we’re pretty sure he would have been frightened even though he thought they looked fun. We found this airplane ride that went around in a narrow oval but spun around really fast as it turned the corners. It gave the boys just the amount of thrill they were needing and was the favorite ride of the day. Take a look at those expressions!
We got to see part of the original set of the Lego Movie. The basement where the little boy and his dad build Legos was all set up and we got to walk all around it. I need to watch the movie again so I fully appreciate what we saw.
Blake played for a bit in Duplo village where they had several covered pavilions of the soft blocks.
We ended our day by shaking Emmet’s hand and making a final potty stop before heading back to the hotel.
We spent the late afternoon and evening lounging at the hotel and fixed dinner in the little kitchen in our room. I had a bit of a panic when Blake broke out in hives after eating absolutely nothing abnormal or new or containing peanuts. We now know that it was most likely due to the Mac & Cheese because he has a moderate milk allergy. I was already on edge about the food allergies since we were eating out so much but this just accentuated that anxiety. Thankfully it was the only reaction he had on the trip.
Next up: Saturday at the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier
Here’s the evidence.
Mark this day in history as the day Blake took his first steps. 2 steps to be exact at the age of 13.5 months.
[Post delayed by 3+ weeks but we just got his 1yr portraits back; thus my excuse for not getting this post up earlier.]
Stats: 20lbs, 10oz (38%) 29.5in (34%)
Blake is happy boy but quite the seeker of trouble. He loves getting into places he does not belong and climbing on any and everything. He did recently learn to properly dismount the ottoman, much to my relief. The kid-sized chairs in the playroom had to be removed because he would stand on them and then climb onto the table. These climbing skills have helped him reach one of his current favorite places: Connor’s bed. He uses the step stool by the bed and is very proud of himself as he stands and crawls from one end of the bed to the other, over and over. Sometimes Connor is happy to share is bed, other times he moves the stool to prevent Blake’s access.
Climbing the stairs causes bounds of giggles!
Blake has nearly crawled out of the deep master bathtub. He’s totally capable, but I don’t think his landing would be very safe and I’m trying really hard to prevent him from learning this trick yet. The bathtub is my “safe place” for him while I’m getting ready in the morning.
He is not yet walking but cruises well and stands still steadily without support. He crawls at lightening speed so I anticipate he’ll continue to crawl for a while even once he takes his first steps.
Blake is eating about 90% table food. If it’s a familiar and favored food he does a great job at feeding himself. For less familiar food, we spoon feed him so it doesn’t all end up on the floor. He has been completely weaned for several weeks. I am very thankful it was a much easier process than I feared it might be. I think it helped that I waited so late and didn’t try to start too early. I was most worried about dropping the naptime feeding but it only took about 3 days to adjust and even those days weren’t too bad. He has taken after his brothers in no loving whole milk. He eats lots of cheese and yogurt is a favorite food so he’s getting everything he needs. Other favorite foods: sweet potato, hot dog, animal crackers, blueberries, sunbutter sandwich and grapes. So far we haven’t found a green veggie he’ll willingly eat without disguise.
Why the Sunbutter (a peanut butter-like product made from sunflower seeds)? At the beginning of June we discovered that he is quite allergic to peanuts. If he touches a peanut product or anything that has come in contact with peanuts, he breaks out into hives. It took several weeks to wrap our brain around what this means and how to handle it. We’re still figuring it out but are getting more comfortable. We have to read labels like crazy and be very careful going out to eat. The big boys have adapted alright to the elimination of the peanut butter staple in the house. They do miss it (and so do I!). Thus far, Sunbutter has been an acceptable substitute for sandwiches. Thankfully we have several good friends who have children with peanut allergies and they have been great resources!
All three of the boys loves to wrestle together. Andrew does a really good job of being gentle with Blake. Connor hasn’t figured out that he can’t actually sit on top of Blake (like sits on Andrew) so his “wrestling” with Blake we usually adapt to be more like a hide and seek game with a blanket.
Andrew is patient with Blake and enjoys being silly to make him laugh or they have yelling matches (my favorite! ha!). Andrew and Blake absolutely adore each other. Andrew frequently calms Blake in the car by singing or being silly.
Both Andrew and Connor feel like big helpers when asked to help feed Blake. It’s amusing to watch Connor spoon feed yogurt to Blake and it makes quite a mess but it does keep both of them happy while I prepare the rest of the meal.
This age (12-18mo) is always really challenging for me, largely because of the lack of communication. We are working on sign languages with Blake and he will sometimes sign “more” and “all done”. More often, he screams for “more” because he’s not patient and he screams for “all done” because he seems to be a bottomless pit. In fact our babysitter recently commented that she’s always surprised at how much he eats. He regularly consumes more food at dinner than Connor.
Blake is also still quite attached to Mommy. Pulling up and yanking on my shorts, and thus immobilizing me as he holds on for support is a sure fire way to get some Mommy attention.
He loves to give hugs and has awesome cuddles, especially first thing in the morning.
We get about 11 hours of sleep at night. He takes a 30 minute on-the-go nap around 10am and then a 1.5-2hr nap in his bed about 1:30 in the afternoon. The summer has pushed this schedule around a little but the general routine has continued to work quite well. I can’t express how relived I am to not have to wake him up on a daily basis for school pick-up!
He’s not too interested in sitting a looking at books, except when we’re winding down at quiet time and bed time. Our favorite night night books are That’s not My Monkey (pictured below) and The Going to Bed Book.
Of course his favorite toy is whatever big brothers are playing with! Anything that he can dump out and make a mess with is enticing, as well as toys that bang together to make loud noises (ex: wood block on tile). Flying airplanes and making airplane noises is a favorite as well. The TV remote and XBox controller are awesome chew toys and drum sticks.
Blake knows how to play”Patty Cake” and knows when to raise his hands at the end but won’t do it on his own. Instead, he grabs my hands and raises them with his. He also likes to clap to music.
And, there you have it. Our 1 year old boy!
Do you think the new baby will be a boy or a girl?
These are the answers I got at breakfast this morning.
[The first part of Connor's video is cut off. He said, "I hear God's voice..."]
We celebrated this evening with Gramma, Cousin Tatum, Anna and Janice.
1 year ago today our sweet Blake entered this world. He has brought so much joy to all of us!! It is amazing to see how love really does multiply as our family grows.
Look for a 1 year progress/bragging report in the next week or two. For now, I’ll just leave you with party pics.