Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Adventures in Parenting: 18 Months In

Just...ignore the fact that I didn't do a 17 month post. See?  You didn't even notice until I said something.  Possibly because my 16 month post was so late.  It's been busy.  Y'all understand. I've been momming and stuff.

Weight: 28.1 lbs (75th percentile)
Height: 33.5 inches (<75% percentile)

So this little guy is in LOOOOOOOOOVE with stairs.  He REALLY wants to master them. Both going up and down.  Which is awesome and a little terrifying at the same time.  He's figured out that if he holds our hand, he can go up while standing fairly well (so long as the steps aren't too tall). Or he can just crawl up them super fast. Going downstairs is a crap shoot.  He might turn around and "reverse crawl" down the stairs...or he may try to butt-scoot down them while not holding on to anything, which is terrifying.  OR, he may just get frustrated and cry until we pick him up.
At least if he falls, his head will be well cushioned...

He's also learned to kick a ball, which is awesome...because I accidentally lied to our doc at his 15 month visit and said that he could.  So now I feel better about myself. :)

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A FIRST WORD.  And it's not "mama" or "dada".  It's "Uh-Oh".  Thanks, kid.  Hoping that's not a sign he'll be as accident-prone as his mother.  This was quickly followed by "bah" (ball), "dah" (dog) and "ayyeeeee" (hi or bye, depending on context). He *will* say "mama" or "dada", but it takes some prodding. Depending on context, "dah" can also mean "door", and "bah" can mean "bird".  He also likes to say "ahhhh duh" (all done) in a sing-songy rhythm when he's ready to get out of his high chair.  

He's solid on 3 baby signs ("milk/want", "more", and "all done") in multiple contexts (i.e. "I'm all done with this bath, Mom" and "please quit changing my diaper"). He will nod or shake his head for "yes" and "no".  There's also been a lot more parroting of syllables--for example, at his 18 month appointment, he pointed at his pediatrician, so I said, "doctor".  To which he responded "da ta", much to his pediatrician's delight.

There are also times when we KNOW he's trying to tell us something, because he looks very serious, and repeats a certain bit of jibberish multiple times.  It has to be frustrating to speak a language that only you understand.

At his 18 month appointment, they went through the MChat questionnaire, which is designed to look for signs of autism. Thankfully, everything was negative.  Our little man is very social and loves to interact with everyone...including frogs in the backyard.

Eating:  He will actually get a little mad if I don't give him a utensil to eat with.  Granted--he may only use it half the time, and be holding it in one hand while shoveling food into his piehole with the other hand, but he has to HAVE it.  He also wants to take spoons/forks from me, instead of me feeding him. And we are getting a LOT better about not throwing our cup on the floor.

Second Haircut:
Auntie T came back into town in March from Ohio, so he was finally able to get another haircut.  Really a good thing, since his mop has started to develop its own concept of style (particularly if put to bed with wet hair).
(Before: Not from the wind.  That's just how he woke up.)
His first haircut back at Christmas went Easy-Breezy-Beautiful-Cover Boy.  But this one...not so smoothly.  Auntie T thinks her shears were a little dull and pulled his hair, which upset him.  He was already past due for a nap anyway, so that didn't help.  But we got through it, and now he's a proper handsome lil' dude.

Parenting:  I'm really grateful for my Hubs. I probably don't say that enough.  But we've got a pretty good routine down and it makes for a good flow.  Most mornings, I take Lil' Man to day care, so Daddy wakes him up & gets him ready for the day while I'm making/eating breakfast, then I'll feed the kiddo while Hubs finishes his morning routine.  An example evening routine goes like this:
6:00p - Mom makes dinner while Dad plays with kiddo
6:30-7p - Mom feeds kiddo, Dad cleans up kitchen & loads dishwasher
7:00p - Mom plays with kiddo while Dad pays bills/misc from computer, then he joins in the playtime when done.
7:30p - Mom gives kid bath & brushes teeth while Dad folds laundry & cleans up the toy explosion
8:00p - Dad puts kid in PJs & finishes bedtime routine while Mom puts laundry away
8:15p - Mom & Dad kick back with a beer on the couch and watch DVR'd TV shows.

It works pretty well for us, and I'm glad to have a partner in this whole parenting/adulting thing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pinterest Project: Basement Bar

So, we recently did a little DIY/Pinterest project in the basement of our new house. More "DIY" than Pinterest, since we really just used Pinterest more as a "pinspiration" than anything.  Yes...typing that word made me gag a little.  But anywho...I really love how it turned out.
So our new house, which I love, came with this weird alcove in the basement. I'm 90% sure that the previous owner had a bunch of bookshelves tucked into it, but I forget from when we did the walk-through.
The basement already has tons of storage (the doors to the right in this photo are our game closet), so using it for a closet didn't seem to make sense.  Reading nook was a possibility, but it's really dark right there, so that would require adding in some lighting.  It was too shallow for a play area (plus, as the kid gets bigger, I'm sure the whole downstairs living area will become his play area).

So, what to do with it?  Currently, the downstairs living area is our "movie room" (though we haven't made much use of it yet).  So it struck us to turn the alcove into a small "dry" bar (no plumbing in this area of the basement) for drinks and snacks.  This freed up some space in our dining room upstairs (which is where our wine rack used to be, but since our new dining room is a little smaller, there isn't really space).

So...where to start?

With a fridge, of course!  We found a black mini fridge on the FB Marketplace for about $40.  Therefore it seemed to make sense to focus our build around this.  I visualized the fridge, a wine rack, and a cabinet or two for closed storage that would potentially be lockable.  Then a countertop and some shelves above.

My initial sketch. Please ignore typos.

We priced cabinets at the big box home improvement stores, but everything was higher than we really wanted to spend, or was too tall/short.  So I would periodically visit the thrift stores near my office to see if there were any end tables that might work.  I finally hit paydirt-- $7 for this fiberboard laminated TV stand.  It was in rough shape and needed some love, but overall it was sturdy, and the doors were in decent condition.
The top and the casters made it considerably taller than the mini-fridge, so we just removed those.

Then, there was the wine rack issue.  Our existing wine rack was just about right as far as height, but the wrought iron detailing along the sides wouldn't allow it to fit in the space we had left.  I searched FB Marketplace and Craigslist, but could never find anything that would work (or that hadn't already been snatched up, or the lister wouldn't respond, etc.).
Mid-process pic.  You can see how the current wine rack just isn't going to work.

I saw some pics on Pinterest showing wine racks made out of wooden crates, and had a "Eureka" moment.  We could find a crate that would work, and then use some plywood that we already had on hand to make an "X" shaped divider.  Brilliant!  Now...all I have to do is find a crate that fits the space!

...whiiiiiich was harder to accomplish than originally thought.  Everything seemed to either be too narrow or too short--but if it was too short, stacking two would make it too tall. *sigh*  So, I went to DIY Project Mecca:  Hobby Lobby.  After much searching through the store with my tape measure in hand, I found a large crate that measured 14 inches wide by 29 inches tall.  It was a little short for what we needed, but I knew we could work with that.

Meanwhile, the Hubs took care of finding the countertop and the shelves.  We recently got a Menards, and they were running Grand Opening sales, so we got some great deals on white-laminated MDF, measuring 8 feet wide--just a bit wider than the alcove's opening.  The countertop had to be notched to fit, but I think the Hubs did an amazing job.

So then...we had a dark brown laminate cabinet, a black fridge, and a light brown crate.  Guess it's time to paint!

The interwebz told me I should probably sand the laminate cabinet and then prime it.  But I am lazy.  So instead, I found black satin spray paint that would adhere to laminate.  The project took about 3 cans, which were $5 each.
We waited for some beautiful weather, and then spread out a drop cloth in the back yard, weighted it down with rocks, and I went to town. (I also painted some of our outdoor fixtures while I was at it.)
Overall, it took 2-3 coats. And I probably SHOULD have scrubbed the laminate at least a bit before starting--I think the previous owner had used some sort of oil-based polish on it at some point, so the paint didn't adhere great to the doors or front edges, but the rest looked pretty good.  In order to save on paint, I only painted the surfaces that would show--there was no point to do the sides that are hidden in the alcove. So I just wrapped onto the sides a bit.  And I only did part of the shelves as well, so that I could put down patterned contact paper instead for some fun detailing.
We used some pieces of 2"x4" to shim up the difference in height between the cabinet and the wine rack, and painted those black as well.
Once everything was coated evenly and was dry, we put it all into place, and then added the counter and shelves.  I decorated them with things that had been on our old wine rack and other miscellaneous bits and bobs. 
We also added a glass rack to the lowest shelf so we could hang wine glasses out of the reach of our little one.  Finally, we bought 6 puck lights at Home Depot to add some light, since this corner is really dark.  
All in all, really happy with the result.  It works perfectly for what we need, adds a little "wow" to the basement, and just seems like a smart use for the space.  Also--we don't spend a ton of time in the basement right now, so I kinda like that I have to earn my calories for a beer/soda/glass of wine by  going up and down the stairs. It also keeps the sodas a little more out of reach, so they're not just there to grab in our kitchen fridge.

Overall cost:
Fridge: $40
Cabinet: $7
Wine Rack: $30 (originally $49.99, with 40% off coupon)
Paint: $15
Counter: $17
Shelves: $2
Brackets: $18
Glass Rack: $12
Lights: 22

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Boudin King Cake - Happy Mardi Gras!

As you know, I get to travel to Louisiana about 4 times a year for work.  And I generally try to schedule the first quarter visit so that it overlaps with my favorite Mardi Gras parade--the Scott parade, which rolls past my friends Bonnie & Paul's house, so they always host a big shindig and it's a great chance to see all my old friends.  

But this year, I couldn't make it happen. I had to schedule my trip much earlier in the year, and missed Mardi Gras season altogether.  And was very, very sad.

So sad, that I convinced my coworkers to let me host a Mardi Gras potluck at our office, on Mardi Gras day!  (This really didn't take a lot of convincing.  My coworkers are generally down for anything that involves food and chit-chatting over lunch.)
My colleagues were up for the challenge. Our CFO made gumbo, the compliance team brought red beans & rice, our social media manager (whose wife's family is from Abbeville, LA) made crawfish macque choux...one of my teammates made shrimp cornbread, and a senior scientist (who also lived in Lafayette for a spell) helped me put together a shrimp boil, with jumbo skrimps fresh from the Gulf. We even had bread pudding with bourbon sauce.  Everything was AMAZING.
And me...well, I was so inspired by all the tales I heard of Twin's Bakery making boudin king cakes, I thought I'd give it a whirl.
Now, if I ever make this again, I think I'll use the sheets of crescent roll dough from the refrigerated section.  I tried using pre-made pizza dough with this version and it ended up a little doughy.  But overall, it tasted amazing.  And it was relatively easy to put together!

INGREDIENTS: (makes about 12 servings)
2 rolls of pre-made dough sheets (again, I'd recommend trying crescent roll dough)
1 package boudin (I was able to find Richard's at my local market, which hails from Church Point, LA) - 2 links, casings removed
1 egg
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (you could opt for pork cracklins instead, like the Twin's original)
1/4 cup pecan halves, toasted in butter for about 5 minutes

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, then roll out one of the dough sheets. Place one of the links down the center of the sheet, and then using a knife, cut slits along the sides, and then braid the slits together (over/under).  Leave the first two and last two unbraided, so you can use these to "tie" the two sides together.

Now roll out the second sheet and do the same, with the link curving toward the first braid.  Once braided, curve the two sides together until they meet (you may have to break the boudin link) and then use the unbraided ends to combine the two sides.  Mine ended up a little wonky where the two halves met, but it still baked up just fine.
Heat the oven to 350, and then bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and drizzle with the Steen's syrup, and sprinkle on the bacon and pecans.  Cut into about 12 pieces and serve while warm!
So while I didn't get to spend Mardi Gras season with my LA peeps, we still got to have a great time, eat some great food, listen to some good Louisiana music...
...and enjoy each other's company.  Because Missouri Yanks can pass a good time at work, even while the entire state of Louisiana enjoys their day off. :)  Happy Mardi Gras y'all!  

Monday, February 27, 2017

Adventures in Parenting: "Don't You Want Another?"

Disclaimer: This post may come off a little ranty. I'm not apologizing--just giving you fair warning.  Here's an adorable old photo of our kid to make up for it.
It seems like no sooner was Lil' Man on the outside of my body instead of inside that the questions/demands started.  They vary slightly, but the same underlying base is there.

"So when are you going to have another?"

"He needs a sibling!"

"When does he get a little sister?"

"You're getting rid of your baby stuff?  Why aren't you saving it for the next one?"

"Don't you want another?"

There are some instances when this last question is appropriate.  Do you want another glass of wine?  Yes please.  Do you want another cupcake?  Sure.  Do I want an extra day off from work?  Definitely.  Do I want another layer because it's cold outside?  Good idea.

But the answer to whether we want another kid is not so simple.  Technically, the answer to any of those questions is not simple.  First off--I'm not psychic.  Even if I was pregnant RIGHT NOW (which I'm not), I wouldn't know the answer to "when" that baby will be born. Or whether it would be a boy or a girl. Or, whether my body would actually carry it all the way to its birthday.  Because that's a heartbreaking reality that happens to hopeful parents every day (approximately 2500 times a day in the U.S).  OR--let's say we were actually TRYING to get pregnant (again, we're not), but it wasn't happening.  That's what happened with Lil' Man--it took almost 2 years of trying to get our miracle baby. Every time someone asked us "when we were going to have a kid", it was like they'd just stabbed me in my seemingly dysfunctional reproductive system.  It's a simple question that stirs up too many sensitive possibilities.   So let's just all agree to stop asking "when". Mmmkay?

Back to the title of this post.  "Don't you WANT another?"  For some couples, I'm sure this is an easy answer: "Yes, we do" or "Nope, I'm good with one."

We are not one of those couples.

First--let's address the inadequacies of the question itself.  There is no "you".  Baby-making is a two-person job.  One partner can want another baby all day long--but if both parties aren't on board, that baby ain't happening (except through potentially nefarious means, which is definitely NOT a healthy relationship goal).  So... "do WE want another?"

There is no short answer to this question for us.  If I'm dealing with someone that I don't want to get too deep into a conversation with, we'll just smile and laugh.  Or possibly joke, "not until I forget how rough those first few months are!"
P.U.R.P.L.E. crying.

Because we haven't forgotten.  Yes, our lil' guy now sleeps through the night most of the time, but those hazy, crazy, sleep-deprived days of the first year are still very fresh in our memories.  Everyone says "you'll forget eventually.  There's some sort of amnesia that happens."  Well, it hasn't happened yet. I JUST started getting to sleep through the night again (most nights). 
So. Tired.

I'm JUST getting back to a point where I can focus at work when I'm at work and not worry about my kiddo.  And I'm ENJOYING that.  That first year was pandemonium--why would you purposefully rush back into that?  Yes, babies are cute and tiny and adorable and smell like heaven and are so much lighter to pick up...but they don't give me any of those ovarian gut-punches. I will gladly hold your wee one for you while he snoozes peacefully in my arms, in exchange for you following my toddler around and making sure he doesn't fall down the stairs, eat a crayon, or throw the remote in the dog's water bowl.

Had you asked me before I had my son, I would have said, "yup, two kids.  That's the goal."  Because I was an only child, and I hated it.  I had no one to share chores with, no one to blame things on, no one to have fights with, but also no one to be my first and forever best friend.  With that personal experience in my life, I don't want my kid to have the same sense of missing out.  But does it have to mean a birth-sibling?  Maybe fostering or adoption is in our future.  Or maybe he becomes extra close to his cousins and school friends, like I did, and "adopts" siblings of his own.
With my "adopted" sister (actually cousin, but we lived down the street from each other and both wanted a sister, so we just started calling each other "sister" when we were kids).

Then there's logistics:  Right now, it's pretty easy for the three of us to pack up and go somewhere.  Restaurants, the park, weekend trip to Grandma's, whatever.  And there's two of us to keep an eye on him.  You start upping that ratio, and things seem to get zany.  I see our friends with young multiples, and sometimes it just seems like pure chaos.  If Lil' Man gets sick, we can take turns staying home from work, or back each other up when things get rough (read: when he barfs and has the butt-squirts all at the same time at 2am).  If he throws a tantrum or has a really fussy night, we can give each other a break when the other starts to hit their Toddler Screaming Wall.  But if you've got two (or more) kids?  Seems like a free-for-all, divide and conquer type scenario.

Also in the Logistics Department, Let's lay out some True Facts:
- I am currently about 37 years old.
- My husband and I will qualify for senior citizen discounts when our son graduates high school.
- The projected cost of a 4-year degree at a public college for a kid enrolling in 2033 is almost $100,000.
- The risks of having a child with a chromosomal abnormality, or other birth defect, increase progressively as the age of the mother increases, with the chances being around 1 in 200 at age 38 (it was 1 in 350 when I had Lil' Man at age 35).
- Risks to the mom also increase, such as miscarriage, premature delivery, need for C-section, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and just general lack of being able to keep up with a young kid. Mom's got bad knees, son--so no, we can't go up and down the stairs 20 times just because you think it's super-fun.

So...when do the risks outweigh the reward?  Or would it simply be safer/easier to adopt/foster a child who's already a little older (bypassing that whole horrible first year)?  That process, of course, comes with its own set of risks and challenges, both physical and emotional.  Are we up for it?  We really don't know yet.  At this point, we struggle to figure out who will stay home if our one child is sick.  If we had two?  It's a different environment altogether.

All this to say:  We really just don't know.  Life isn't that simple.  Maybe it is for some people, but it isn't for us.
Our little family unit.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Adventures in Parenting: Month 16 - Down with the Sickness

We'll keep this short. Life has been hectic.  It's winter, and we have a day care toddler, which means: we've all been sick.  Lil' Man has had a runny nose off and on since about Christmas.  Every time he seems to get better, he suddenly get fussy, has a low grade fever, and his nose turns into a spigot for mucus.  This past week was particularly horrible: he got a cold or some other kind of viral infection and had to stay home for a day (during which he got gagged on his own mucus twice and threw up all over our kitchen).  Then the vomiting went away...or well...actually, it just started coming out the other end (viral gastroenteritis was the doc's best guess).  Which resulted in six...maybe seven...#2 diapers in a 24 hour period. If you're not a parent--that's not normal, FYI. At least not for a toddler.  THEN he was apparently dehydrated because the following day he was essentially dry ALL day (again, not normal).  
Then on Thursday night, suddenly I didn't feel so good.  Thanks kid. I was out of commission all day Friday.  Meanwhile, even though he was no longer running a fever, poor thing had a horrible attitude all week, no appetite, and was just generally REALLY hard to deal with and try to make happy.  We finally took him to the doc on Friday, where she diagnosed him with an ear infection, gave us some amoxicillin (and a bag of Goldfish crackers, which seemed to make up for the hour of scream-crying he'd been doing thoughout his visit), and sent us home, where I promptly crashed, having used up my energy reserve.  I was still run down the whole weekend, which just sucked.  Luckily, the Hubs seemed to only get a mild case of it and wasn't nearly as wiped out as I had gotten.

Apparently the antibiotics worked, and now we have our happy-go-lucky little guy back, who just wants to explore and play and climb, and go outside.
So, this is a thing.  He definitely understands the word "no", and this is what we get in response.  We're trying to work on the sign for "please" with him, to accompany his "want" (which in his toddler brain, he expresses via pointing and using the sign for "milk" at the same time).  Because at home, mostly what he "wants" is either to go downstairs where he can play with his super cool new climber, and then climb back up the stairs (stairs are VERY cool).  Or he wants to go outside, to walk around in the front yard or explore our back deck...and potentially throw stuff over the edge.
We're cool with doing either of these since the weather is getting nicer, but we really just want him to learn to ask nicely for the things he wants.  It's an uphill battle.  Trying to teach a toddler anything mid-scream-cry is next to impossible. And we may be kidding ourselves. I really don't know when a tiny human is capable of understanding "please". So maybe it's an exercise in futility.

Still very few words and lots of babbling.  But he's using his signs ("milk/want", "more", and "all done") pretty regularly.   He's also learned to nod his head "yes" if we guess the thing he wants correctly, and he smiles at us, proud that he has broken through the language barrier.  

Music is fun, and we like to dance and shake our head to it in the car.  So I've busted out a VeggieTunes CD that I had from way back in the day.  We jam on the way to and home from day care. ...and then Mom turns on her podcast or audiobook as soon as he's out of the car. :)

Slides are awesome.  And now we have one in our basement, which he thinks is the greatest thing.
Well...the next greatest thing to his wagon, anyway.
He's getting better about wanting to be down walking, but still wants to be carried most of the time. We're working through that.
He still cares very little about screen time or TVs in general, despite his absolute infatuation with remote controls.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Tater Tot Poutine: Because WE CAN.

Poutine.  POOOOOOO-TEEEEEN.  It's just a really fun word.

And a delicious dish.  I mean, our friends up north have really nailed the comfort food arena.  Tim Horton's, beaver tails, Nanaimo bars, and POUTINE.  No wonder everyone is trying to move up there...I mean, that's the REAL reason, right folks?  Nothing to do with who El Presidente is.  Put on your best holier-than-thou act all you want---you REALLY just want to have unlimited access to Timbits and a double double from T-Ho's.  AND POUTINE.  Which, if you're not hip to it, is french fries, covered in fresh cheese curds, and then doused in rich brown gravy.  Go on, tell me you're not salivating.


I was perusing the cheese case at my local wine purveyor's the other day and found a package of jalapeno cheese curds from Edgewood Creamery in Purdy, Missouri.  They were marked down for quick sale, and I was happy to oblige.
What shall I do with these cheese curds? The only honest, respectable thing one can do with cheese curds-- serve them over potatoes with brown gravy.  It's every cheese curd's dream to go out like that.  
BUT...I didn't have fries at home. And I didn't want to MAKE fries.  But what I did have?


So, like a good Midwestern non-Canadian gal, I baked up some crispy, delicious tots...
...and got to work.

INGREDIENTS: (Makes 2-3 servings)
Approximately 2 handfuls of tater tots (or more. I won't judge.)
4 ounces cheese curds
1 cup prepared brown gravy (I use Tony Chacheres)
1/4 cup thinly sliced onions (you could easily add or do mushrooms instead--I had some sliced onions I needed to use up and they went really well in this dish.)

Bake the tater tots according to package directions until brown and crisp on the outside (generally about 20 minutes).

While that's going, prepare your gravy.  Add the cool water, gravy mix, and onions to a small pan, and heat to boiling, while whisking.  Let boil for at least a minute, then decrease the temperature and simmer until it reaches your desired consistency (I like the gravy to be slightly thick, and to cling to the back of a spoon.)

Once the tots are done, transfer them into small bowls, then add the cheese curds, and top with onion gravy.  
Pairs well with Dark Star black kolsch from Bur Oak Brewing in CoMo.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Adventures in Parenting: 15 Months In, and 2017 Mom Resolutions

Time for another update! 
Weight: ~27 lbs (meaning he weighs roughly the same as his 3.5 year old cousin)
Teeth: still loading, at approximately 80%

The Kid:
He's been walking for over a month now, and is getting better at it, though he still trips a lot.  He's also getting better at handing his sippy cup back to us or setting it down on his high chair, rather than throwing it.  I mean...he does still throw it, but less frequently.  He's also starting to pick up a few more baby signs at day care and use them...but in his mind, the sign for "milk" is essentially the same as "want" for ANYTHING.  So we see the sign for "milk" accompanied by pointing a LOT.  Still not a lot of words, but plenty of babbling, and he also sometimes "sings" along with songs (not words, just the tune), and likes to bop along with music. He's still generally a smiley, happy kid (until he's not, and then it's time for a nap or bed).
I'm not sure this kid will ever sleep under a blanket. He's too busy flopping back and forth, apparently trying to figure out which corner of the crib his head fits best in.

He's also starting to understand how things work. If given a phone (or anything remotely phone shaped...like a remote), he'll hold it up to his ear.  The other day he held our infrared thermometer up to his forehead to "check his own temp".  Aaaaand there's the trash can.  Things go into the trash can A LOT.  ...on the plus side, it forces us to wash his toys more often?

He's been moved up to the toddler room at day care, which means napping on a cot and trying [again] to get him weaned off the bottle.  Hopefully this round will be more successful.  They tell me he's an excellent eater--he's the only kid in his class who will sit at the table & keep eating until he's finished all his food.  I'm hoping he doesn't start picking up bad habits from the other kids. :)  His use of utensils is improving, but if he's having trouble scooping or stabbing his food to get it into his mouth, he'll generally just chuck the fork/spoon and start using his hands.

Rather than using push-along toys, he wants to sit/ride on toys, or go for rides in his new wagon. 
Riding the Gator with his cousin while Gma supervises.

Unfortunately, it's a bit cold most of the time for wagon-riding outside, so we've been doing a lot of indoor wagon-ing.  But that's fine. I give him a bag of old Mardi Gras beads and suddenly it's a one-float parade!  (...where the rider puts on all the beads and doesn't throw them to anyone. Still gotta work on that.)
Waiting patiently for a ride, in his Abita onesie.

He also got his first haircut.  We waited until Christmas so his aunt (who is a hairdresser) could do it for him.  Buh-bye, baby mullet!

There's also this kinda cool new development, where he wants to sit in our laps while we're sitting on the floor, and then play with his toys while sitting there.  It doesn't always last long--he'll get up, go play with something else, and then come back.  Since I don't get as much snuggle time as I did when he was a baby, I kinda really love it.  He'll plop down in my lap, and then I pull his Mega Blocks table in front of us, so that we can both play (read: I build something cool, and then he destroys it.)

The Mom:
With 2017 starting, I've had a chance to look back & reflect on 2016.  I think the best word to describe 2016 for me is 'transition'.  I've transitioned from a mom who Googles every time her kid got a runny nose or fever, to a mom who doesn't freak out, but can focus on soothing her kid (usually with lots of snuggles, which is just awesome) and helping him feel better.  
(<3 me some baby snuggles)

Because kids get sick. It happens....a lot. And it's generally not doctor or Google-worthy.  You just give snuggles and hugs and extra sleep and plenty of fluids and a little medicine if needed.  I've also transitioned from a scatterbrained working mom who can barely hold it together to...well, a less scatterbrained working mom who can better focus on work at work, and kid at home.  

I still don't find time to cook as much as I'd like, but it's getting better.  Things are constantly changing....and that's okay.  Things never really get easier, they just change.  You get better at dealing with the challenges in front of you, and then the challenges change, so you adjust, too.

The Holidays:
Christmas was fun.  We got to spend time with family--well, Lil' Man spent a lot of time with family.  My nieces & nephews used to get really excited about seeing me...but now they just get excited about seeing the kid.  I've essentially been replaced by a younger, cuter, more fun version of myself.  

At least the littlest one  (age 3.5) still wants to play with me.  I think she harbors some resentment against Baby J for no longer being the baby that gets all the attention.  At one meal, I heard her say, "Daddy, make him stop looking at me."  

Lil' Man doesn't still get the whole "unwrapping presents" thing.  He'd get distracted and play with the wrapping paper, or just get bored and go play with a toy that was already unwrapped.  
I'm sure next year he'll be more into it. Now that he's mobile, a lot of time was spent just trying to keep an eye on him and making sure he didn't get into anything he wasn't supposed to have.  Easier at my in-laws, because there were 6 adults and 4 kids sharing the responsibility.  Lil' Man loves his family and getting all the attention. And he now has more toys than he needs, so it looks like it's time to cycle some out and pass them along or put them in a consignment sale later this year.
(This is just the living room.  There are plenty more in his room and downstairs.)

We also got to have a Christmas gathering with our old trivia friends.  We haven't gotten to play trivia...well...I think at all in 2016!  That's really sad, now that I think about it.  Everyone's having kids and such & just a lot of life changes.  But this was the first time we all got together with the kids, and it was REALLY fun.  It's nice to see how our group of friends has evolved, and to watch our little "2nd Gen" kiddos run around and play together.  I like the idea of watching them all grow up together.

The Resolutions:
New year, new year's resolutions, of course.  There are so many things I COULD say: drink more water, walk more, lose weight, go to the gym, be a good mom/wife, etc.  But let's keep it simple.

1) I got a 5 year One Line A Day journal for Christmas, so the plan is to write in it each day. I can manage a couple sentences.
2) Eat More Breakfast.  This was inspired by an episode of The Sporkful.  I'm a notorious breakfast skipper. So far, so good. I'm planning to use Instagram to help me track my progress.
3) Actually unsubscribe from the junk mail I get, instead of just deleting it daily.  This one is nice, because in theory, it should only require a concentrated effort at the beginning of the year--when everyone's will is still strong.  That effort will decrease the amount of mail later in the year.  It's really the ideal resolution.
4) Find time for self-care at least once a quarter.  Four times a year.  That's all.  Whether it be an outing with friends, coffee by myself with a book, or a trip to the salon... just something other than a solo trip to the grocery store (which I do still appreciate, but it doesn't quite count as self-care).  I tend to be the type of person who doesn't get another pedicure until all the polish from the LAST pedicure has disappeared from my toes. And haircuts...well...if I get one a year, that counts, right?  And while I love a great massage...if I don't make an appointment for another before I leave the spa...it's not going to happen for at least another year. It's not that I don't enjoy pampering--I'm human, after all, I LOVE pampering. I just don't make time for it.  And I need to work on that.
5) Keep the kid alive.  This is probably a given, but still a good goal.

If you'd like to share your resolutions, I'm all ears!  Happy New Year, y'all!