Sunday, December 28, 2008

Cheeky Monkey

Caleb's had this little patch of troublesome skin on his right cheek pretty much since he was born. It flares up every now and again, sometimes appearing as a dry patch, other times looking almost rash-like, and after a couple of weeks of home treatment with lots of Aveeno lotion and nail trimmings, the patch eventually goes away.

So when his little patch flared up around Thanksgiving time, I didn't think much of it. You can see it in this picture when he was feeding himself chili for the first time. Pardon the mess.
However, here we are nearly five weeks later, and the patch is still giving us problems. I recently took him to the doctor because I'm concerned that it's not healing and that it could potentially cause an infection (or worse, scarring! My baby's sweet little scoop-of-vanilla-ice-cream cheeks should not be marred by early scars!)

The doctor seems to think it's just a patch of eczema that Caleb won't allow to heal because he keeps picking at it. And it's true, he does a fair amount of picking. I trim his fingernails at least once a week, continue to moisturize it, and since our appointment, I've been slathering on Bactroban (a prescription strength Neosporin-type goo) anywhere from 3-6 times a day.

Lately we've taken to putting a band aid on it. As soon as it looks like it's starting to heal, Caleb will pick the crap out of it. I've turned around more than once to find his cheek covered in blood. He's ruined all of his crib sheets with little spots of blood from his picking. So we cover it with a band aid and the Bactroban as much as possible, but he picks that off, too. We keep trying, though, hoping to get this thing to take a vacation for a while.

In the mean time, we took him to the Fun2Play by our house this week. It's an indoor play zone for kids. They have an infant zone, toddler zone, and big kid zone. Caleb had a blast. He came home and napped like a zombie. Here's some pics from the day. This is Caleb taking a rid in a Royal Mail truck.

Here he is trying to pull a ball out from the ball pit. He got pretty frustrated that he couldn't fit it through the net. He was far more interested in the balls and the doors to the big play house than just about anything else. I keep telling my husband we should have just bought him balls and doors for Christmas. He would have loved it.

Caleb also loved driving the Step 2 giant camper. Although the playhouse you can see behind the camper was probably a bigger hit with Caleb, I loved the camper because we got some really cute shots in it. Also, it's hilarious to see a tiny person in a tiny camper.

He's such a good driver already! Looking behind him before he backs up. Any good driving skills he inherited are probably from his dad's side. Or at least that's what my husband will tell you.

But this is my favorite shot from the day. He looks so happy, so content. It's as if he's actually cruising the open roads. Can't you see it in his face? Gazing across the highways of America, going where the road takes him, stopping occasionally to get pictures with quaint local landmarks.

And then there's that stupid band aid. Nuts. Oh well, I still love this shot. And I love that boy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays

Well, Happy Boxing Day! We did not celebrate Boxing Day by hitting up the sales in the High Street shops. Instead we had friends of ours over for a lunch of hoers devours. (Ohh, don't forget to spell check, Kelly.) We had mini barbecue chicken sandwiches on Hawaiian sweet rolls, veggies and dip, chips and salsa, and crackers with cheese from the Bury market. I love snacky meals!

Caleb had a ton of fun with Kristy's kids. I wish I snapped some pictures! He's totally conked out right now. They played with Caleb's toys, watched bits and pieces of the Chipmunks movie, and we all bundled up to go down to the park by our house. He loved it.

I didn't get any pics of Caleb with the kiddos, but here's the aftermath.

This picture kills me. Just kills me.

Christmas Eve was quiet. We went to the Christmas Eve service at the base chapel, but Caleb's not really at a good age for that kind of thing. For normal church services, Caleb goes to nursery (and loves it!) But for this family service, Caleb was much more interested in walking up the isle to check out the pastor. We finally had to leave because he was getting more and more irritated that we wouldn't let him walk up the isle. At least he looked good! ;)

We had a nice Christmas. I woke up and baked Pioneer Woman's Delicious Orange Muffins. They were SO good. There are still good today, but something about eating them fresh out of the oven when the brown sugar glaze has just sunk into the muffins is just short of heavenly. Mmm!

Caleb really didn't get into opening present this year. He just didn't understand the concept.

But he was very excited about his gifts! I now have the Chipmunks "Christmas Song" playing over and over again in my head, thanks to my brother and his wife Kim who sent the Chipmunks movie. Caleb loved it.

He was also really keen on the DOG book my Aunt Pat sent him. Upon opening it, he announced "oof!" to us to let us know it was a dog book. ("Woof" or "Ruff" apparently is too hard at 14 months old.)

My Aunts are really great. They always send really cool gifts, whether it's gift cards or plush animal stackable rings (from FAO Schwartz, no less)...

...or this adorable little cow. If you squeeze his tail, he opens his mouth to reveal a flash light! Also, he moos at the same time. Seriously cute.

He also got some really cute clothes, which is always a ton of fun for me! And I'm ordering him some super cute shoes from Old Navy and his first ever puzzle from Toys R Us using the gift cards he received.

I received a few things, including a DayRunner day planner that's really cute. Maybe I'll be more organized this year! The problem is, I'm trying to cram all the stuff from my wallet into the day planner so it doesn't take up any more room in my diaper bag than necessary. Unfortunately, it appears I carry a ton of crap in my wallet. I don't have room in my planner for my library cards (yes, cards), my stamps, or my ration card (which you have to use on base from time to time for specific purchases) among other items. This will take some creative thinking to cram it all in.

Christmas night we had dinner with our friends, which was, of course, delicious. Nick made brussel sprouts, which I was less than excited about. But they were actually good! I don't know what magic he worked to make that happen, but I actually enjoyed brussel sprouts. Weird.

It's been a very nice few days. I've missed our families a ton, but it's been nice to be surrounded by friends who help fill the void.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oh, Corner Tree

We have a small English living room, or lounge as they call it here. It doesn't have enough room for our furniture, let alone a Christmas tree. So when we celebrated our first Christmas in England last year, I finally conceded to my husband's pressure of getting a fake Christmas tree. It was my first fake Christmas in my then-28-year-old-life.

Although the act of conceding was previously unthinkable, it became an option when I encountered the Tesco corner tree. The corner tree was invented for tiny English lounges like ours. It's not a full tree. It's slightly more than 25% of a regular tree. A little wedge of a tree, a pie slice if you will, that is meant to look much fuller then it is. I saw the practicality of such an object in our lives and allowed this tree that had never seen soil or light to enter our home last year.

Let me say this of my tiny corner tree: it fulfills its duties of taking up as little space as possible. It requires me to only store one piece of furniture in the garage, and for that I thank Tesco.

Another great thing about having a tiny tree in a tiny space is that it takes a very small amount of gifts to make it look full. In these times of economic hardship, perhaps all families should invest in a corner tree!

On the other hand, it is still a corner tree. A sad imitation of the real thing. Not sad because it's a fake tree. Certainly there are very nice fake trees that fool many visitors into thinking their needles are real. I've seen such trees. A corner tree does not belong in the same category with such trees.

The thing is, a corner tree has no illusions of grandeur. It knows it has no chance of fooling anyone into thinking it once knew the smell of fresh air and the taste of rain. It doesn't expect visitors to gasp and awe at its green glory. It won't hope to hear children singing, "Oh Christmas Tree" as it is adorned with ornaments and garland and lights.

I think, though, that the corner tree is okay with its fate. Despite the fact that it will never star in a Christmas commercial or movie, I think the corner tree is grateful for a home for the holidays. Even though it may not share the glory of a tree in the front window, it still serves proudly under the weight of sentimental ornaments. It stands tall (or tries to) over the coveted gifts wrapped beautifully beneath it. And it folds its arms thankfully after New Years Day as it's returned to it's narrow box for safe keeping until the next year.

And you know what? I'm okay with that, too. No, I may not have the most glorious tree on my block this year. It may pale in comparison to our previous real Christmas trees. But by golly, I love my small English corner tree, and I look forward to spending this and two more Christmases with it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

As Promised...

Pics of my husband meeting President Bush earlier this week.

In other news, I can't seem to stop baking. It's like a crazy addiction. Right now I'm attempting sugar cut out cookies for the first time in my life. I remember my friend Lindy's mom made these freakin' awesome sugar cut out cookies one Christmas when I lived in Italy. I think of them (and Lindy's mom) fondly. (Seriously, Lindy's mom was cool. I'm sure she still is!)

Anyway, I'm trying this recipe from Pioneer Woman. Pioneer Woman is my Jackpot Find of the Week. I'm kind of addicted to blogs, and hers is probably one of the coolest blogs I've ever read. I love it. I found her through a Flickr contact of mine. I'm hoping her cookie dough will live up to my memories of Lindy's mom's dough.

Another blog I love is Culinary in the Desert. I nick a handful of their recipes from time to time, including a delicious Buffalo Chicken Soup, Peanut Butter Chocolate Pudding, and a Mexi-Cali Hamburger Casserole that's become a regular in our house. You'll probably go into a diabetic coma just by looking at all the delicious Christmas goodies Joe's been preparing over the last week or so. Seriously, you'll need to brush your teeth afterwards.

There are quite a few other blogs I frequent, but since this is primarily about Presidential visits and food preparation, I'll stick to pimping out those two for now. Besides, I think my dough is done chilling, so it's time to roll it out and break out the cookie cutters!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rockin' My Domestic Diva

I'm not a very good housewife. I'd like to think I'm a pretty good stay-at-home mom, but I make a rather mediocre housewife.

I do try and have dinner cooking and near ready when my husband gets home most nights. But there are plenty of fend-for-your-self nights when we just have pizza rolls or cereal. And I do try and pick up my messes, but I'm not really big on cleaning. I hate it, actually. I do it because I hate to live in filth and squalor, but there are seasons where I'm on top of cleaning and seasons where it falls to the back burner. I get it done eventually, but only after it gets to a point where I can't take it any more.

So when the mood strikes, I have to run with it. Today it's struck. My house is nearly clean. (Can't vacuum till Caleb wakes up from his nap. Even then, it's tricky, since he's terrified of the vacuum still.) I'm working on the third and fourth load of laundry. And darnit if I don't want to do some more baking, but I'm out of flour. Perhaps a quick trip to Tesco is in order when Caleb wakes up. I found a recipe for sugar cookies that I really want to try.

I baked some cookies for my brother-in-law Eddie who is deployed down range this year. He's Army, so he's doing one of those hardcore 12-15 month deployments, which I'm sure feels like there's no end in sight. I have a box of cookies I'm going to mail out tomorrow, but I feel like there's a couple batches of baking still left in me, so he may get two boxes.

I'm not normally this Betty Crocker-ish. It's bizarre. I think it's my way of celebrating being between classes. I've ordered the text books for my next class, but since they aren't here yet I can't get ahead on my reading. I should work on these FEMA course I need to do that will count towards my internship, but I can't seem to find the "umph" in me to get started on that. Maybe tomorrow.

In other news, I got my car MOT'd. An MOT is a vehicle inspection you have to do here in England every year to make sure your car is road worthy. The inspection itself isn't all that expensive, but the repairs you might have to do to ensure that your car passes inspection can add up, especially when you have a 9 year old car.

We spent and arm and leg this year making sure my car passed. That didn't even fix my drivers side window that makes horrible, gut-wrentching sounds every time I try to roll it down. (Why would you roll your car window down in the winter? you ask. Because every time I go on base, I have to hand the guard my ID card. Right now I only roll it down a few inches because I'm terrified it won't come back up one of these days.) Tommy's car is at the shop now getting MOT'd, because both of ours come up right around the same time. Joy.

Ugh. I hate cars. Why don't my feet have built-in-wheels and motors to get me around?

Okay, I better get back to finishing up the house before Caleb wakes up.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Craft Envy and Unexpected Presidential Encounters

It's almost Christmas. I haven't even purchases Christmas cards, let alone addressed them or mailed them out. I'm still shopping for Christmas gifts. I have no idea what I want for myself, which really isn't a big deal. I don't really need much.

I'm never really one of those super organized, ahead-of-the-game holiday people, but this year I am further behind than ever. I'll blame it on that Stats class and the squadron kid's Christmas party I helped to plan and organize on Saturday. (By the way, got an A in Stats! Crazy!) (And the Christmas party was great! Lots of fun, if not lots of food. Caleb had a blast!)

Have I ever mentioned that I have craft envy? I do. One of the spouses I know in the squadron is like the epitome of all things crafty. I get overwhelmed just seeing her supplies! And then I get jealous. I wants neat little doo dads that can create gorgeous invitations and cards and scrapbooking pages! I know I have a creative crafter in me, I just have to figure out how to release her.

So in that vein, I've been trying to get a little crafty lately. Caleb and I have been coloring (which is to say, Caleb is trying to eat the crayons, and I am spelling Caleb's name for him.) We also tried finger painting, which was fun, even if he didn't really understand what we were doing. And I have been trying to do a hand and footprint reindeer (as explained by Tina, the craft goddess), using Caleb's footprint as the reindeer face and his hand prints as the antlers. That project isn't going so well for reasons I won't bore you with.

Recently a friend mentioned she was doing tortilla snowflakes, which I instantly googled. Then while making breakfast burritos for dinner tonight (yum!), I made a snowflake tortilla for Caleb. This is how it turned out.

We didn't actually eat it tonight (again, for reasons I won't bore you with), but it looks pretty yummy, and it was ridiculous easy to make. I don't know if that makes me crafty, but it makes me happy. We'll try it tomorrow.

I have to say, I kind of wish I had been watching this season of X Factor (England's version of American Idol.) To be fair, I've never seen a single episode of X Factor and haven't really been interested in it before this year, even though I am an American Idol fan. (Albeit a young American Idol fan, I've only watched two seasons.) But I keep hearing the radio DJs talking about these amazing performances and I feel like I'm missing out. Maybe next season.

I've realized today that I've been in England a long time. This epiphany was brought on by the fact that I heard a new song on the radio this afternoon and I knew it was the Sugarbabes. I struck me that I could tell the difference between the Sugarbabes and Girls Aloud based strictly on the vocals, and at that moment, I thought, "Man, I have been here a while!"

In other news, my husband met the President today! We weren't expecting a visit from George W., but Air Force One stopped by our base to refuel. President Bush got off the plane for a bit and my husband got to shake his hand and get a picture with him! Crazy. He had no idea when he woke up this morning that he'd meet the President of the United States today! (By the way, President Bush asked my husband where he was from, and my husband responded by telling him South Carolina. To which President Bush responded, "Yee haw!" That, of course, is my favorite part of this story.)

We don't have the pictures to prove it yet, but as soon as Public Affairs sends them our way, I'll throw it up!

Man, this blog ended up being a lot longer than I expected. On that note, I'm going to bed!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I Did Survive!

First I was afraid.
I was petrified.
Kept thinking I could never pass
without a miracle.
But I spent oh so many nights
studying central tendencies and Z scores,
and I learned more.
I learned how to solve chi squared!

Yep, it's true. As Robin reminded me today, I did survive HR 5023 (Research in Human Relations.) It was largely a math class which focused on statistics for evaluating behavioral research. And I'm so not mathy. I took one college math course, and that was Intermediate Algebra - nothing hard core.

However, I will say this of my undergraduate math experience. It was largely self-taught. The University of Nebraska (at the time) had the intro math course designed so that at any given class time you could choose from three different instructors depending on your own personal preference or you could choose to spend your class time in a math lab. After falling asleep consistently in the instructor-led classes often enough to do really poorly on my first test, I chose the math lab option. So three days a week, I read the chapter that the instructors were teaching from and did the assignments myself. There was always a facilitator available for assistance if I got totally lost. But for the most part, I managed to teach myself algebra, which I am still quite proud of! And I must have done a halfway decent job, because I managed to recover from my abysmal first test and finish the class with a B+.

But enough nerd talk. Research in HR is one of the core classes for the program I'm doing through the University of Oklahoma's Outreach program (which caters to military members and dependents.) It is by far one of the hardest classes I've taken yet, and made even more difficult by the intense framework for the class. (The actual classroom instruction is only 6 days long. Everything else is completed before class or during our out of class time during the week of instruction.)

There were so many times I felt completely fried this week. It was total information overload, and I wasn't confident I would complete everything on time. But I managed! Not really sure how I did yet, but should now by the middle of the week.

The weird thing is, I really feel like I learned a few things, and I wasn't expecting that, too be honest. There were a few light bulb moments this week where I thought, "Ah ha! I know how to solve that!" Now if you asked me the same question a week from now, I don't know that I could do it, but for this week, I am pretty sure I could solve a confidence interval if given the appropriate data! And I could probably find a critical value for you, if absolutely necessary.

Take that and rewind it back!

Anyway, the important thing is it's over. I'm done. I've survived. I'm confident I've at least passed, although I may not have the A I wanted. At this point: meh. Three more classes to go and my comprehensive exams before I'm done. Crazy how fast it's gone. I should be done this upcoming summer!

In other news, Caleb is on his way to walking! He even occasionally walks from one point to another without any encouragement at all! How about that?!

And, just for fun, here's a picture of Tommy and I at his squadron Christmas party. I couldn't attend most of the party because I was in class till 9:30, but I enjoyed the hour and a half I did attend! If there's a dance floor and some music, I'm generally a happy girl. (As long as it's not country music! I just can't dance to that! How does one shake one's tail feathers to country?!)

And with that, I bid you good-night. I'm going to go read a book that is not required for anything except my own enjoyment!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


This was our first official Thanksgiving together as a family, since Tommy was in Iraq last year. We spent it with some military family friends of ours. It was nice and laid back. Plenty of good food. My two favorite things were the pecan pie the Pam brought and hearing Alicia's stories of her recent trip to the US where she got to ride Air Force One and meet the President. (Seriously!) Her stories blew my freakin' mind. Whatever your opinion of the current president, I still can't fathom hanging out with him in his office on Air Force freakin' One!

Anyway, I am thankful we are nearing a complete year deployment free (the first one of our marriage!) I'm thankful for my hilariously adorable son that is getting closer to walking every day. I'm thankful for a husband who is committed to his family and is working so hard on his education. I'm thankful for all of my family back home, who I miss dearly. I'm thankful for my friends here who are a great substitute family when I miss the real ones. And I'm thankful for my friends back home (all over the US) and for the ability to keep up with them online.

Here's a shot of Jason and Paul checking on the turkey, which was delicious.

Here's a family portrait that captures Caleb going in for a post-meal snack.

And just for comparison, here's Caleb and I on Thanksgiving day last year.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Snow and Cookies

Well, we're in the midst of our first snow for the season! Snow in England is nothing like snow in Nebraska. Here, if you get an inch, you're doing good. So without the threat of serious snow and the need for a snow blower, it's actually fun when the white stuff makes an appearance!

Man, snow is an amazing thing. Even our normally abysmal backyard full of gravel and dog poo looks great under a blanket of snow!

Caleb is a little under the weather, so we bundled him up real good before taking him outside for a few minutes. He reminded me of Randy Parker in A Christmas Story.

Here is Caleb venturing out into the backyard. This isn't technically his first snow. It snowed earlier this year, and I actually took a couple of pictures of him bundled up and sitting in his Bumbo seat in the backyard, but I accidentally deleted them from the memory card before I had downloaded them off the camera.

He's still not walking, but he stands really well unsupported. He shows occasional mild interest in walking, but nothing serious yet.

Our squadron had a spouses cookie exchange yesterday, which was a lot of fun. I brought home a TON of delicious cookies, in case anyone wants to stop by! Tina, one our spouses who is the queen of all things crafty and creative, made up little recipe books for everyone to take home with the recipes of all the cookies that were brought.

Here's the table of cookies that people brought in to snack on. I made Iced Pumpkin Cookies (the ones on the middle plate), which were really freakin' good, in my humble opinion! ;) It was my first time making them, and they were so soft and yummy!

And here are the cookies people brought in to send to our troops down range. We have a few teams deployed right now and will be sending two dozen of each kind of cookie brought in to our guys to let them know we're thinking about them this holiday season. We had 16 people come, so that's nearly 400 cookies we're mailing out!

And here I am with my favorite cookie monster!

The combination of snow, Thanksgiving on the immediate horizon, and lots of Christmas cookies has put me in the holiday spirit. My husband played Christmas music this morning, and I'm seriously considering bringing out our awesome Tesco corner tree today. We'll see. The sun is out now, so I don't suspect the snow will stick around much longer. Tomorrow the squadron is hosting a Thanksgiving meal, so I better get started making my pumpkin pie for that!

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Third Dog

For a while now I've been worried that the majority of Caleb's socialization is coming from the dogs. Caleb loves Zeus and Zoey and tries to keep up with them like a younger sibling might with an older brother and sister. He thinks they are the funniest creatures and loves looking around for them if he hears them walking by.

When Caleb started digging in the trash, I asked him, "Who do you think you are? Zeus?"

Even if Caleb has a full belly and has turned down his own meal, he'll come crawling up with eager eyes for a bite of your own meal. Also very Zeus-like. I could feed Zeus a small truck's worth of dog food, and he'll always have room for what's on my plate.

Caleb recently leraned to say Zoey. He gets better and better at saying it. He announces Zoey's presence even if he's only heard her shake her collar on another floor in the house. For a few days he called me and Tommy "Zoey."

Perhaps that's why Caleb isn't interested in walking. He'd rather be on all fours with his best friends.

But when I turned around from my desk tonight to find this, I realized Caleb is truly becoming the third dog in this house.

Oh well. At least this one wears a diaper.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Clever Climber

Nothing is safe in this house.

Caleb has begun climbing on anything and everything. He climbs up on the couch using the Little Tikes bulldozer his Uncle Steve and Aunt Kim gave him for his birthday. He tries to climb up on my desk by opening the drawers to the small filing cabinet next to it and climbing up on that. And as you can see here, he likes to use the V Tech Alphabet Train my mom and dad gave him to access the Sky box. This morning I had actually gone to the kitchen for a moment and purposely moved all large toys to the middle of the living room so he couldn't climb on anything. But as you can see I came back to this. He's far too clever.

Here's a shot from the other day when Caleb took a nap with his daddy and the doggies on the futon in my office. I'm telling you, there's no greater nap than a futon nap.
And finally, here's some little piggies on their way to the market. I can't seem to keep socks or shoes on him, as you'll remember from our little Harrod's adventure.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

And In Unrelated News...

Here's a collection of random things I need to get off my chest.

1.) I hate the Sugarbabe's new song "Girls." In case you don't listen to BBC Radio 1 all day, the Sugarbabes are a British girl band that churn out mediocre pop and dance songs from time to time. Nothing terribly repulsive, but nothing really great either (except for that one song, "About You Now ". THAT is a great pop song!)

Their latest single is a cover/rip off of Ernie K Doe's "Here Come the Girls," which I have referenced before in my blog as a fantastic song used in Boots ads. I love the original. And by "love it," I mean that I love the little snippet of it I hear on various Boots ads. However, this version of the song is complete crap! The idea to cover a very popular song used in an English ad is clever, how it was done is not. It's just bad pop music. It had the potential to be a really fun, pseudo-empowering female anthem, and it ended up just being a bad dance song that doesn't even emphasize the horns that really make the original a great song. On top of that, the video is so freaking boring! Girls dancing in a club. That's it. Please! I'll go out if I want to see that. The fact that I'm blogging about this is both sad and lame, I know.

2. In that same vein of thinking, I find it amazing how popular girl and boy bands still are in the UK! From Girls Aloud to Sugarbabes to Take That to Boyzone, single-gendered pop groups are still pretty big here! And did you hear that Boyzone is back?! Yeah! Of course, I never knew they existed, let alone had left the scene. But still, exciting, right? I guess. :) I have to admit, their new single "Love You Anyway" is really stinking catchy. Although I wish I could figure out of McFly counts as a boy band or just a regular pop rock band. I think they play their own instruments, which might qualify them as something slightly more substantial than a boy band. Man, I think about this too much.

3.) One of the only kids shows on TV I can actually stand to sit and watch with Caleb is My Friends Tigger and Pooh, a new version of Whinnie the Pooh with all the same characters, with one notable exception. There's no Christoper Robin! In Christopher Robin's place is a little girl named Darby. Now I don't have a problem with this Darby character at all. She's a cute enough cartoon kid - not too precocious or too syrupy sweet. But why the heck replace Christopher Robin at all?! He is one of my favorite characters from childhood. He embodies childhood innocence and creativity and belief. I don't get that they kept everyone from Rabbit to Eyore to Piglet, but 86'd Christopher Robin! It's just odd.

4.) I'm so totally stoked to have found the Colbert Report and Conan O'Brien on my English satellite TV! And I'm really glad we have a DVR so I don't have to stay up late to watch either. Now I can enjoy them with my Golden Grahams in the morning! Hooray!

5.) So the other day, I was searching for something mindless to watch while enjoying a mid-afternoon snack, and I came across an episode of Blossom. Seriously. BLOSSOM. It was huh-freakin-larious. What made it ten times more pricelss was the guest appearance of David Schwimmer as Six's boyfriend. Oh, man. I wish I could share it with you right now. You'd squeal with laughter.

6.) And just for fun, here's a pic of Caleb shakin' what his mama gave him!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Reinventing Bed Time

I don't know who this child is. Certainly he's not the baby who went down for bed time in his own crib without a fight since he was two months old. Certainly he's not the infant who has slept through the night for months with only occasional midnight wake ups during teething bouts.

No, this is not my baby.
This is my toddler.

In the last month or so, Caleb has completely abandoned the idea of being my little champion sleeper, and now exhibits a preference for ignoring his bed time, fighting fatigue, and waking in the middle of the night for a 3 am play session.

3 am Kelly misses 11 month old Caleb.

Surely this is a phase, right? Just something he'll pass through on the way to becoming a big boy. A big boy that goes to bed on time and sleeps through the night again. Just a phase. Right?!

Or perhaps it's a growth spurt. Maybe he's about to shoot up three inches (his father would be so proud!) Or a development spurt. Perhaps all this fussiness and change is a precursor to walking. That's not unheard of, right? A weird bout of unexplained fussiness just before a big developmental change? I've heard that happens in some babies!

I guess it could be the introduction of separation anxiety, which I've ready can strike at about this age. Perhaps he's realized that bed time means he won't see Mommy and Daddy for a long time. Maybe occasional wakings during the night are much scarier now that he's aware that he's by himself in his room.

Or maybe it's teething. That's it. We'll use the generic catch-all excuse for infantile crabbiness. "He's teething." Sure he is. Just try and prove me wrong! Certainly we can chalk many things up to teething as he'll have teeth coming in for many more months to come.

The fact of the matter is, I don't know why Caleb's suddenly decided to boycott bed time. My husband came down at about 4 am the other morning when Caleb had already been awake for a good two hours and was screaming and fighting sleep. "What's wrong?" Tommy innocently asked. To which my exhausted self screamed, "I DON'T KNOW!" If I knew, he wouldn't be crying any more! If I knew, I'd fix it! My poor husband was trying to help, but my sleep deprived brain couldn't handle the interrogation in the face of a sleepless child.

Whatever the cause, it seems clear that the easy days of simple bed time routines are least for the time being. Gone are the days of 8:30 baths, 8:45 bottles, and 9:00 bed times without a fight. Now we try everything from baths to story time to snack time to rocking and singing. But usually we just have to wait until he's played himself exhausted and just falls asleep on the floor.

But our fingers are crossed that this is all just a phase. I guess only time will tell...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Reminders for the Future

I read an older blog the other day and was reminded that Caleb didn't like peaches at first. It was the first baby food he turned his head from. I was pretty persistent, though, and now he eats little Dole cups of peaches on a regular basis.

I had forgotten, though, until I read that blog that Caleb didn't like peaches right away. And I thought, "Thanks, blog! You sure are handy for helping me remember a few of the millions of details that slip away!"

So in that vein of thought, here are a few of my favorite things that Caleb is up to these days.

1. Finger-pushing. As an avid crawler, Caleb spends a lot of time with his hands on the floor. So he finds a lot of things to push. Anything from toys to dog dishes to pieces of trash. But he pushes them all with just his index finger. Whatever it is, he'll slowly push that booger along for ages just with his little pointy finger. So cute!

2. The Gorilla Lunge. If Caleb is sitting up on the floor and decides he's ready to crawl, he indicates so by launching himself into the crawling position. This involves quickly bringing his hands up above his head and thrusting them out in front of him so his body weight follows and then landing on his hands. It's hard to describe and even harder to catch on video, but it's so funny. He really looks like a little Gorilla.

3. Waving. I know, I know. All kids do this. But Caleb's so selective about when he'll wave. He'll go days without waiving and then have a fit of waving. On the way out of his 1 year baby vaccination appointment during which he was stuck with a needle four times and spent the whole time howling, he left with tears in his eyes and waving at everyone we met in the hallway. Or perhaps he was trying to get their attention to say, "See what this lady does to me?! Save me!"

4. Dropping. This is not my favorite thing, because Caleb drops everything, especially food, and especially if the dogs are around. He loves to feed the dogs. But it cracks me up to see him perched at the baby gate at the top of the stairs dropping his blocks, one by one, down the stairs. This won't be so funny when I trip on one and crack my head open. But it's fun to watch.

5. Opera hand. This is something he's been doing for months. I think it was a precursor to pointing. He raises one hand up in the air very theatrically for an unexplained reason. It's so dramatic and priceless! Lately it means he's looking at a light or a ceiling fan. Initially I have no idea what it meant.

6. Dancing. Ohhhh, I've been waiting for this day ever since I felt him kick while listening to Beyonce. I knew my son had a little boogie in him. Just recently he started responding to music just by bouncing up and down or, if he's on his hands and knees, pushing back and forth. It's subtle, but it's oh so cool.

7. Clapping. This is nothing new, but it kills me when he claps along with a TV audience. It reminds me of when the dogs bark at dogs on TV. Caleb particularly loves the English version of Deal or No Deal. (I like it, too, to be honest! It's so different than the American version. Very no-frills. And the presenter is so endearing!)

8. "Didi." Didi is what Caleb says for "doggy." Anytime Zeus and Zoey come in the room, Caleb gives a very emphatic, "Didi!" While my parents were in town we were wandering around a town called Ely and a lady passed by with a black lab. Caleb promptly pointed out "Didi!" which, of course, indicates he's a little genius! :) Since then "Didi" has also come to mean "ducky" and "birdy." I love that he's recognizing things and trying to label them!

9. Trying to walk. Caleb isn't all that interested in walking, although he made five very unsteady but purposeful steps tonight. Go Caleb! Usually, though, when we release his hands to encourage him to walk, he tries to do so not by moving his feet, but by leaning forward, hoping his feet will catch up with his head. They don't, so we have to be there to catch him, which he thinks is great fun.

He's such a fun little booger, and it seems like he gets more and more fun as time goes by. I can't wait to see what this year holds for him!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Grand Reunion

We had a tragic loss in our family on Saturday.

We lost a brand new Nike tennis-shoe that my in-laws had sent Caleb for his birthday. He hadn't even owned the shoes a full 24 hours when one of them went AWOL in London.

My mother and I spotted a lonely sock just before we were getting ready to get on the tube to go back home. Mom promptly went back up the stairs to search back to Starbucks and in the general vicinity for the lost footwear. She returned empty handed.

With tears in my eyes, I back tracked the same territory and a little further, around the outside of Harrods. Harrods is a gigantic, upscale department store in downtown London. I've been asked if it's comparable to Macy's. Having never been to a Macy's, I can't say. The only comparison I can make is to a posh Midwestern department store. So for my Omaha friends, imagine Von Maur. But probably about five times bigger. And five times posher. Selling diamonds the size of my eyeballs. And children's jackets that cost about $500.

Anyway, a lengthy search outside the store did not turn up the lost shoe. I would have gone back in Harrods, but that would have taken hours. Even with a store map, mom and I had gotten lost numerous times while we were in there. So I returned to the Knightsbridge tube station broken hearted.

This wasn't just a shoe. It was a very generous gift from my mother- and father-in-law. Now I wouldn't necessarily call Ed and Linda "name brand people." There are things that are important in life, and for Ed and Linda name brands just aren't as important as loving people and making great sweet tea. But they knew their son. Tommy had infected his younger brother and sister with an affinity for name brands. Tommy was the first name brand snob in his family, and it was contagious. Ed and Linda's gift was also a gesture. It was their way of infecting our son early to make sure we'd have to go through years of "But I HAVE to have it"s to make up for the damage Tommy did to his brother and sister.

And now that gift was gone. Or so I thought.

I contacted Harrods the next day on the off chance that someone had found it. Lo and behold, the lost Nike was in possession of the Lost Property department! After a little finagling, they agreed to mail the shoe back to us.

Today we received not only the lost shoe, but a lovely hand-written note from Suresh who had mailed the shoe and an adorable miniature teddy bear for Caleb. It was a grand reunion between the shoes! I'm so happy to have that shoe back, I can't begin to tell you.

Welcome back, shoe!

Friday, October 03, 2008

This Time Last Year...

This time last year, I had just been admited to the base hospital to be induced into labor. I was so nervous and scared and so very, very glad that my mom was with me since my husband was still in Iraq.

Tonight, we'll celebrate Caleb's first birthday a day early with some friends and my mom and dad, who flew in from the states last week. I expected to be sentimental and emotional today, but I supposed I'm too busy making sure I remember to bring everything for his party.

My baby's not a baby anymore. He's a near-walking, babbling, laughing, playing little guy with no time for naps and no patience for eating.
Happy Birthday, baby boy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Incredible Baby

Dude. My brother is awesome. But do me a favor, and don't tell him that. He'll just get a big head.

This is Stephen's Hulk rendition of Caleb getting his hair cut. I love it!

Caleb's First Haircut

My husband has been trying to talk me into getting Caleb's hair cut for a little while now. I finally felt ready to part with those sweet, curling baby locks today. So we went down to the base barber to get Caleb's first hair cut.

Here's a picture of him before. His hair isn't attrociously long. It wasn't in his eyes yet. It was just getting really shaggy around the ears and the collar. I guess I just wanted to clean it up before his birthday.

Here he is settling into the barber's chair and trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

This is my favorite picture from the day. I think he's trying to channel his inner Hulk so he can explode with righteous rage and jump out of the chair to take us all on. If I was good with Photoshop, I would turn him green just to make me laugh.

This is the moment he realized what was going on and began to have a full meltdown. I had just put a Gerber Yogurt Melt in his mouth, which is what is showing here. No amount of singing, clapping or bribery with baby snacks could convince him that this was a good idea.

And here he is after his traumatic experience, enjoying Burger King for lunch, complete with a drop of apple juice on his chin. I actually have tried all day to get a better picture of him post-haircut, but in a move that clearly cries, "Stick it to 'em!" he's avoided my camera all day. Sly dude.

It's shorter than I imagined it would be, which is a lesson to take him off base next time. Military barbers cut military hair, regardless of client, I guess! :) There are also a few spots that are a bit shorter than others, but considering how much he was fussing and squirming, I'm just glad he didn't lose an ear. All in all, I'm pleased with the haircut and can't beleive how much older it makes him look!