Sunday, July 27, 2014

Weekend with the Grandparents

Lucas's Baba and Amma (his names for my parents) came to town this past weekend! We had a blast hanging out; he loves having double the audience to show off for and Brandon and I enjoy having a little respite from the Hurricane. Plus, I have tons of adorable photos to show off!

The plan was to present Lucas with his first Brio train set as a "Congratulations! You're a big brother!" gift closer to the release of The Kraken, but Baba and Amma were too excited so he got it this weekend instead. Needless to say, the "choo track" was a huge hit and a good portion of the weekend was spent playing with it. His favorite part is the tunnel that makes noises as the train cars go through it.

On Friday morning, we dressed Lucas up in an adorable Frodo Baggins costume put together/sewn by Amma and headed downtown to the convention center to people watch at Comic Con. When we could convince Lucas to wear his cloak, everyone immediately recognized him and he got a lot of attention, which he of course loved. I think his favorite part was riding the trolley there and back again, though. 

After circling around the convention center and taking in the sights for a while, we made our way down to the nearby tourist trap shopping center, where they have an old wooden carousel, Lucas's favorite thing ever. Then after lunch, we took the trolley back home. This was a bit more exciting than anticipated, as the trolley hit a car partway there, delaying us significantly and leading to a "Mom pushed nap time too late" hysterical meltdown in the trolley car by the Hurricane. I eventually managed to get him to fall asleep on my shoulder, and all was well. 

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future

 The rest of the weekend was more relaxed and toddler-centric. We all took him swimming at the YMCA on Saturday morning, and had a great time grilling dinner and hanging out in the backyard on Saturday afternoon and evening. Weekends like this always make me wish we had family in town! Luckily, Amma and Baba will be back soon for another visit in early September.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Lucas's New Room

We planned from the beginning to move Lucas over to his new room as soon as possible before The Kraken was born so he'd have lots of time to adjust to a toddler bed and new space, and so it wouldn't seem as much like he'd been kicked out of his room to make space for the baby.

The theme was obviously going to be vehicles of some kind, and ended up being mostly construction trucks. Lucas has been sleeping in the new room for the past three nights and it's been going very well. Last night was the first time he put himself to sleep alone in his room, and today he even fell asleep on his own for nap time, which is highly unusual for him! I'm glad we'll have plenty of time for this to become the new normal before the baby arrives in October.

Without further ado, here is the new room!

The prints on the wall are actually a decal set I purchased on Amazon, set into some super cheap frames from IKEA. I stole the idea from our church's children's ministry. It's great and toddler-friendly because the frames are completely plastic. Lucas loved the decals and likes to point out which ones are the dump, digger, or mixer. Rumor has it that a train set will soon be coming from his Amma and Baba that will take up residence on the coffee table under the window. The blackout curtains on the window are very necessary since this side of the house gets a lot of sun in the afternoon. They've worked well, although his room is still the warmest in the house. 

We'll be using these Target storage cubes as a makeshift dresser for a little while until we're able to get a proper dresser to fit into his closet sometime in the next six months. He'll also share space in the large dresser in the nursery. Once he has his own dresser, we'll use the storage boxes for toys, shoes, and other miscellaneous items.

The bottom three shelves of the bookshelf are specifically Lucas's books, plus a few toys. The top three shelves are my children's and YA literature collection, books that I hope he might read as he gets older. I've got Charlotte's Web and Harry Potter at the ready as soon as he can handle them! I also have one more decoration with his name to have framed that will be hung over the bed soon.

I was particularly excited to get this road play rug for his room. He really enjoys "rooming" his cars all over it. 

Bonus picture of the Biggest Boy out on a walk today. He kept requesting that we play with "More dirt!" What a boy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Books for May and June

I confess that I forgot about these a little bit with all the summer fun we've been having around here. I'm still plugging along at a steady three books per month pace, though!

13. Prodigy by Marie Lu: The sequel to last month's Legend, I enjoyed this one about as much as the first, I'm sorry to say. Something about the plot lines just doesn't really grab me for some reason and I am the opposite of invested in the main romance. I may pick up the third one down the road if I find myself at a loss for what to read next, but I'm not chomping at the bit to see how it all ends by any means.

14. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: I picked this up on a whim on my way out of the library one day after having seen the movie trailer a million times that week on television. I assumed it would be exhausting teenage romantic angst, and in some ways it was. But I'll fully admit that I really enjoyed this one also. I can never quite get invested in teen romance as True Love but the relationship between Hazel and Gus was sufficiently adorable and tragic. More than the romance part of the plot, I appreciated the roles that the parents played in the book (as I put myself more in the parents' shoes these days than the teenagers) and the look into the daily realities of living with a terminal cancer diagnosis. One idea that has stuck with me in particular is the idea that a life doesn't have to be Big and Meaningful to be important. Lives lived small and quietly are just as significant, even if only a few people are likely to remember you once you're gone. I have many thoughts on this idea, but I'll leave it there for now.

15. From Scratch: Inside the Food Network by Allen Salkin: Brandon and I love watching the Food Network, so I read this in hopes of getting some good dirt on our favorite celebrity chefs. Sadly, about half this book was taken up with droning on about market shares and the technical aspects of developing and marketing a television network. Total snoozer. The parts that did contain the dirt were quite enjoyable, however, so the book wasn't a total loss.

16. Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Kurcinka: My mom picked this one up for me after a particularly trying day of tantrums from Lucas. I found it very enlightening in giving me insight into my child's personality, who fit almost every single aspect of the "spirited child' as described in the book. I really appreciated the new framing and vocabulary the book provided me with to describe my child as opposed to calling him "strong willed" or "bratty." Understanding the motivations behind Lucas's overwhelmed tantrums (as opposed to his defiance tantrums) has really helped me in avoiding them and minimizing them when they do occur. This was a lifesaver in Florida, where he was overwhelmed for a good portion of every day. This is definitely one I'll keep to refer to again as Lucas gets older.

17. Wool by Hugh Howey: Goodness gracious, it took me such a long time to get through this book! I started it in mid-April and it took me almost two months to finish because I kept stopping to read other books in between. It wasn't that this book wasn't well-written and interesting, because it definitely was. The problem was that I found the post-apocalyptic setting to be so unrelentingly bleak that I could only read so much of it before I had to take a break. The concept was fascinating and the characters very well-developed, but despite that I don't think I'll be picking up the next two books in the trilogy any time soon. Life is too short for a book to be this depressing.

18. Fortune's Fool by Mercedes Lackey: This paperback came into my possession via Paperback Swap. This website is great in theory: you ship your unwanted paperbacks to other users who request them, and in turn earn credits so people will ship paperbacks that you want to read back to you. The problem is that none of the books I really want to read are ever available for swapping, and having to go to the post office (my least favorite errand of all time) all the time and pay to mail people my unwanted books was exhausting and ultimately not worth it. I still have a few credits left as well as a wish list, and occasionally books still get sent my way. Anyway, this book was terrible. Lackey is an author whose early works I really enjoyed as a teenager, but I'm afraid anything she's written in the last decade has been completely phoned in. I think it's time for me to break up with her as an author and move on.

There is the list for now! This month I've been rereading a couple old favorites in anticipation of a new book being released next week, so next month's list will be pretty one-note as it will likely include only a single trilogy.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Florida Trip!

Summer is moving along at such a fast pace! We just returned from our weeklong trip to visit Brandon's family in Orlando for a week. Although there was a good amount of work getting it scheduled and set up, it all worked out for the whole family to be in one place at the same time, which rarely happens. We got to meet our new niece (born in late February) and Lucas got to spend some quality time with his three-year-old cousin. Brandon and I enjoyed some quality pool time at the resort we stayed at while we were there, although the Florida heat/humidity combination just about killed this desert-dwelling Southern California girl.

We were extremely anxious about the plane trip there and back, given how horribly Lucas handled his previous airplane trip up to San Jose and back in April. I guess we were much better prepared this time around, because for the most part, Lucas did beautifully! We had lots of videos ready to go, a few new toys to hold his attention (Matchbox cars/trucks are a huge hit right now), and lots of treats to distract him from the fact that he can't move around or run for five hours straight. It was an exhausting day in both directions, but we survived and may even get on an airplane again someday, although not for a very long time.

It was fun watching Lucas interact with his cousins. He was mostly indifferent to the baby, although would come up and gently touch her shoulder or give her kisses occasionally. Mostly we noticed an uptick in his "showing off" behavior when people paid attention to her, which makes sense. I liked getting a sneak preview of how he may behave once baby brother arrives on the scene this fall. He loved shadowing his three-and-a-half year old boy cousin, although I'm afraid the novelty of a two-year-old shadow wore off for the older boy about halfway through the week. For the most part they played very nicely together, taking into account the vast divide of social skills that are contained in 18 months of toddlerhood.

Hanging out with the baby

Doing everything the older boy does (only louder!)
The highlight of the trip for me was getting to take Lucas to Disney World for the first time! We stuck to a single day at the Magic Kingdom park, given the heat and crowds this time of year. We arrived right when the park opened and were able to stay until around 4pm, even though the heat and crowds prevented Lucas from being able to take any type of nap which we were there.

It was definitely a different type of Disney experience for me given the addition of a toddler. We started our day with a couple turns around the park in the Disneyland steam railroad. Given Lucas's love of "choos" right now, it was the perfect choice, especially given the extremely short line.

Family picture on the Choo!

He had this slightly confused/concentrating face all day
We exited the railroad at Fantasyland and spent some time goofing around at their mini-splash pad before hopping on a few rides: Ariel's Under the Sea, It's a Small World, and the Carousel. He definitely loved the carousel the best. I wish we'd gone back to ride it a second time sometime during the day. His face was just one big grin the entire time.

I'd chosen the Tomorrowland Speedway as one of our Fast Passes, which in retrospect was not the greatest choice. He was excited to ride in the cars, but too little to operate the gas pedal or steering wheel properly. We had to go really slowly in order to keep him from being thrown around and getting scared, and I think the ride on the whole was more overwhelming than fun. In a year or so I think it will be a much bigger hit! After this we found an out of the way area of Frontierland to try and get Lucas to sleep/give him a break from the crowds but it didn't work out that well. After realizing that a nap was not a realistic option, we headed for Pirates of the Caribbean instead because the line was indoors and air conditioned. The ride seemed to scare him a bit, or else he was just really exhausted because he snuggled into my chest for almost the whole time. I think if we'd gone around a second time he probably would have fallen asleep right there in the boat.

As Lucas's mood headed downhill in the afternoon, we hopped back on the railroad for a bit and got back off at Fantasyland for our final ride, Dumbo. I misunderstood how Fast Passes work at Disney World and missed our window for the shorter line (at Disneyland they are less strict!) but the regular line was short enough that we went for it. Sadly we sacrificed Brandon's phone for the opportunity, as Lucas dropped it on the cement and smashed the screen while watching a video to distract him from the wait, but on the bright side, he really loved it and it was a great final ride to end our day!  We stopped off for a quick lunch in Tomorrowland before heading back on the ferry to our car. Despite the heat and crowds, it was a great first Disney experience with a kid. My next goal is to get him to Cars Land at California Adventure before his third birthday! Hopefully we can recruit my parents to help us juggle the baby and go next year in late winter.

We spent the rest of our week relaxing at the pool and hanging out with family. Lucas enjoyed his first s'more on Fourth of July! He slept relatively well while we were away, but it was obvious he was growing homesick as the week went on and spent the last couple days continuously asking me "Car? Home?" and being pretty bummed out when I couldn't comply. He's happy as a clam to be back in his element and Brandon and I are glad of a couple quiet days at home to regroup before getting back to our regular routine.