Wednesday, December 16, 2009

High-Speed Life

I’m beginning to see a trend in 75% of the photos I take of Charles: they’re out of focus.  The boy moves so fast that I can hardly get my camera to focus on him doing something.  Compounding this phenomenon is the fact that Charles thinks the camera is some kind of magical being stuck to my hand and he wants to eat it.  The instant he hears it click or sees a flash, he turns and toddler-waddles over to it, arms outstretched, ready to grab the machine from my hands.  I get a lot of photos like this:

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Also, like this:

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Part of the problem, of course, is that I have an auto-focus digital camera.  While they are a revolution in photo-taking, both inexpensive and easy-to-use, they are not instantaneous.  Someday I will spend the thousands it takes to get a large, awesome camera.  Until then, I will have a lot of in-motion, not-looking-at-you-anymore photos.

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Sometimes, though, I get gems.  Behold:

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Charles really wanted to help push his buddy Ethan on the scooter, so Ethan ended up the engine of the train.  Don’t tell DeAnna, but I think she’s the caboose.

They are cute, aren’t they?  Ethan is 3 months younger.

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The scooter is a big hit.  I think we might have to buy our own before we give this one back to the Landons.

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Tony was pretty proud of Charles’ Mohawk:

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Be Jolly

The lights are up and the Christmas tree is in place and we're ready! Charles found the Christmas tree to be a new treasure trove of playthings (though all the heavy/precious ornaments are hung high). His fascination began with the bells on the lower branches:

It's COOOOOLD here. Everything is frozen. Now, we're just waiting on the sn0w... Monday's the day, I hear.
Charles tried on Uncle Brandon's size 14s this week... a little large.
Also, this is something he does every morning after breakfast:
He goes to the cupboard and pulls out the bag of goldfish and snacks. He can be seen here watching the dog gallivant around the frozen backyard.

I hope that brought a bit of Christmas cheer to your life! We are sure starting to feel it around here...

Monday, November 30, 2009

More Coffee? Please?

Gaaaahhhh. You know what two things don't go well together? Buster and a hotel. There are simply too many things to smell and hear, and there is that small bundle of cuteness we call Charles that needs protecting. I think it might take this whole week to recover from our Thanksgiving trip.

It all started out well... we left fairly early on Wednesday, and only had stop-and-go traffic from Federal Way through Olympia, so that was a bonus. Charles only got really cranky about being stuck in the car at about South Bend, so that equalled only about 45 minutes of screaming for us. This, if you have never made a long car trip with a boisterous, ebullient, vocal toddler with lots of personality, is really not so bad. We have made that trip before when Charles was inconsolable the entire time. It is a common statement in our household that we don't know how we ended up with such an outgoing child (ha! You know, because Tony and I are so introverted). We know lots of kids, and all of them are wonderful and have "personality," but Charles is just so big in every way. I gather that most children have periods during the day when they are not going at top speed and are still awake. Charles, however, has two speeds: On and Off. He is either happy as can be, screeching and babbling and moving as fast as his chubby little legs will take him, hugging and slobbering over everything, careening around corners and chasing the dog, or he is crying, fussing, squirming and so cranky that he bites, bites, bites everything and everyone in his path in a red-faced rage until he is asleep. And then? Dead to the world for two hours or overnight. Buster in a hotel room barking at other guests as they walked the halls outside our room or above us? Charles didn't even stir.

So, with the coming of more teeth (it had better be a whole mouth full for what it has cost us in sanity this time), Charles has a cold and didn't sleep too well at Grandma's house, waking us up at 3 and staying awake for an hour or two all three nights. We figure this is as much from the teething pain as it is from waking up in unfamiliar surroundings. Normally, Charles puts himself back to sleep in the middle of the night (if he even wakes at all, which he rarely does anymore) with five minutes or less of crying. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, was a shriekfest of epic proportions.

Overall, though, we had great fun during the days, relaxing with our folks and the dogs and stuffing ourselves with good food. We even had a relatively nice drive to Sequim and then a wonderful day at Aunt Lynda's with the whole family, eating another fabulous meal. But then! Then, Buster had HAD IT by about 2:30 am in the hotel room. He paced and whined and paced and whined. He went out with us FIVE TIMES. We finally locked him in the car at 5 am, which, of course, coincided exactly with Charles waking up. And refusing to go back to sleep. At 6:30 we decided to head home, skipping breakfast with the family and making an early ferry. I am glad we did, as I slept on the way and Tony consumed large quantities of coffee and we made it home by 11 am. Tony crashed last night at 7 pm and I was able to stay awake and bathe Charles and put him to bed. We truly would not have made it home if we had left later.

So anyhow, there's our Thanksgiving saga. I truly hope you all had a wonderful long weekend and that you slept better than we did.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bits N Pieces*

All smiles around here... we're wrapping up work before heading out for Thanksgiving. Our plan is thus:
First, finish all perishable food in the fridge. This means leftovers and strange concoctions for dinner this week.
Second, drive to Ilwaco, preferably with a sleeping child. We'll leave Wednesday night.
Third, arrive at the Cook Castle and sleep until morning.
Fourth, go visit my parents, our dog (whom we will stash with my folks for the long weekend), their dog, and the small horse they will foster for a few days (Purdy).
Fifth, enjoy family and friends and dogs and a hefty meal and the beach and the rain and the relaxing.
Sixth, drive to Sequim on Saturday to indulge in ANOTHER Thanksgiving meal with Lynda & Loris's extended families, sleep in a hotel that accepts dogs, and enjoy family and friends in the rain shadow.
Seventh, drive home and begin the long process of bedecking our yard with thousands of tiny lights for Christmas!
Sound like a big plan? Yes, but a sound one, I think.

Snake Charmer (he charms everything):


Tony in a tree... the windstorm wasn't quite as violent in Mount Vernon as it was on the Peninsula, but we lost most of our Butterfly Tree and a big branch of this cherry tree:

Playin' in the mud with a cute hat:

"Why, yes, I am in the cupboard. But I know how to get out now, so it's fun again."
I do hope we'll get to see many of you over the holidays. I can hardly believe this time of year has arrived! I have been quite frantic lately. After he turned one year, Charles started going to daycare almost 30 hours a week. I have only created more work for myself at Goodwinds with the extra time. The house certainly isn't less of a wreck now, so my efforts must be going somewhere, right? Charles and I spend every Tuesday together, but I sometimes feel that he is bored of me by the time Tony gets home those evenings.
We continue to be proud of ourselves for the choices we have made in rearing this child, now that we can look back over a year and evaluate our decisions. Our daycare is amazing, and they work so hard to develop Charles and the other kids. He is learning English and Spanish and has an awesome schedule with great activities, and I have peace of mind, knowing that he is loved and taught every day. The director gave me the book that they use in designing their activities, along with benchmarks for development and a monthly schedule. Tony and I got to have a Thanksgiving lunch there last Thursday with Charles and all the kids and their parents. It was wonderful to see Charles in his element, exploring and learning and interacting. I am just so pleased that we made the step into a great daycare. Many daycares are just glorified playplaces, but not this one. Beyond that, I am glad we didn't just get a nanny or decide to have me stay home. As much as I love spending time with Charles, he is learning so much from people who are trained and educated in child development. I know this is giving him a great start. And all because Tony is the childcare's accountant did we know about them in the first place! I also continue to be happy that we switched to cloth diapers. Charles hasn't had one bit of diaper rash since we switched, and we have never since purchased diapers or wipes. They save us money, they are clean, and they're cute! Finally, in the "good decisions" category, I am so happy that we invested and continue to invest the time and energy into training Buster. He and Charles are the best of friends, and I love my dog.
We hope you have a happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for all of our friends and family, our good fortune, and our lives of many blessings!
*Like, of our lives. I did not mean this to be an innuendo. Get your mind out of the gutter, geez.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Profile of a One Year Old

Name: Charles DeHaven Cook

Nicknames: Charlie, Charley, Chuck, Chuckles, Monkey, Monkey-Pot-Pie, Punkin, Cranky-Pants, Scooter, Bug, Kidlet

Height: Between 30 and 31 inches

Weight: 28.2 lbs

Clothing Size: 24 months

Shoe Size: 5 1/2

Words: Daddy, Mama, Dog/Doggy
Favorite Foods: Spaghettios/Ravioli, banana, Goldfish, graham crackers, Cheerios, yogurt, cottage cheese, hard cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar), anything on mama's spoon or fork, ice cream, quesadillas, apples, mama's milk (Charles might nurse forever, but not if I have something to say about it).

Favorite Toys: Penguin blow-up boxing doll, penguin hand puppet, musical microphone, music table, blocks, balls, mom's phone

Favorite Beings (in order of preference): Buster, Daddy, Uncle Leland, Grandparents, Mama

Favorite Activities: Chasing mama or Buster around the house, being chased by mama or Buster around the house

Best Facial Feature: Raising one eyebrow in incredulity. This is why people say he looks like Leland.

Sleep Schedule: At least one nap per day, usually from 12 to 2 pm, sleeping through the night, mostly, but always up at 6 am-ish to get changed and nursed, then back to sleep for an hour or so. (Tony and I still don't get more than 7 hours per night, but it's sooooo much better than the past 12 months that we aren't complaining. Just eating away, slowly, at that sleep debt. It's like a mortgage. With a high interest rate.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's My Party, and I'll Cry If I Want to...

Loser: Chocolate Ice Cream. Charles thought it was okay, of course, but it was nothing compared to...

Winner: Wild Mountain Huckleberry Ice Cream (vanilla and berry, yum!), which was my ice cream, and Charles ate the whole cone. Each time I would swoop in for a lick, he would turn the cone away from me. I gave him my cone because he summarily dismissed his chocolate cone by tossing it on the floor. I long ago realized that I will likely never again have a full meal or full dessert all to myself.
It's for a good cause, though... Charles' smile is worth depriving my hips of more fat.
Winner: Hand Puppets from Costco. They're adorable. Charles especially loves the penguin.

Winner: Toy truck. "Hi, I'm Chuck. I'm a DUMP TRUCK."

Loser: Cake. Charles was not impressed by said delicacy.
Loser: Party with lots of people. Whether it was the stimulation, the noise, the coughing through sleep the night before, or the tooth we are pretty sure is coming in (or has it disappeared already? I call it jerk tooth.), Charles spent a lot of his party crying, a little bit sleeping, and some of it smiling. I hope next year is better.
Thank you for all the wonderful gifts. We have had lots of fun since the party playing and reading (in French!) and playing some more.

Friday, November 6, 2009

They Say It's Your Birthday...

Charles' birthday started out right, with a friend over to visit first thing in the morning (Ethan's dad plays ball with Tony on Tuesday and Friday mornings). The boys had fun, whilst I got to understand, if only for an hour, just how crazy life would be with twins:

Also this morning, Charles has had his first bit of birthday cupcake at the photography studio; those photos are bound to be amazing. When Charles was finally allowed to dive into the cupcake after it had served its purpose as a photography prop, he was delighted to find that it tasted good, contrary to most things he shoves two-fisted into his mouth (see: everything else he can get his grubby hands on). He first grabbed the "1" candle and dipped it in the frosting repeatedly. I took it away when he started gnawing on the wax ("gee, if the coating tastes so good, what does the middle taste like?") and that's when he burst into tears. Kid can throw a tantrum. The photographer was clicking the whole time, so I can't wait to see those pictures.
We have already had a big day, and the grandparents aren't even here yet! My folks roll into town tonight, and Tony's will get here tomorrow. This evening we plan on dinner and then a trip to the local ice cream parlor for Charles' first cone. Chocolate or vanilla, I wonder? I kinda think he would prefer a berry of some sort, so we'll see. Tomorrow is the official party with cake galore and friends all over the place. Photos to follow, of course. On Wednesday, we'll have the doctor visit, complete with weigh-in and immunizations. Wheee!
It's hard to believe it has been a year (allow me to be cliche for a bit). I was telling my friend DeAnna (Ethan's mom) that Charles' turning one feels like I am truly leaving my pregnancy behind. After all, up until 9:46 tonight, I will be able to say "one year ago, when I was X months pregnant..." But no more. In fact, at this time (3:10) last year, I was probably at the bank, having been resoundingly sent home by my coworkers for having swollen feet and a very flushed face. I stopped by the bank to deposit a check and heard horror stories about labor and delivery from two friends who worked there. I had probably been having contractions all day, but I only felt a few, about an hour or more apart, and they didn't hurt much - they just felt like menstrual cramps which, pleasedonthateme, I don't really get very often. It wasn't until I went home and put up my feet for awhile that I had noticeable contractions, and then those didn't even hurt until about 8 pm. Well, you know the rest of the story, my water broke at 8:45, we went to the hospital, they couldn't find a vein for an IV even, I was complete and yelling at the nurses that I had to push, I pushed for less than ten minutes, and out popped our adorable son.
I suppose every parent loves watching their child's personality develop. It is especially apparent that Charles is outgoing and has a happy temperament when he is around other children. He's not introspective and he is LOUD. He wants to move and be a part of things. He is not inquisitive in a passive way - while many of his baby/toddler friends study things, Charles wants to grab things and see what they do. I have no doubt that he will make himself the center of attention his whole life, and Tony and I will have our work cut out for us keeping up with him.

Happy birthday, Charles! Here's to many, many, many more...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Zombies, So Hot Right Now

So, what do a couple of zombies and a sexy sailor do on a Friday night? Party so hard the power goes out, that's what.

On Friday, we put our little monster to bed, gave the babysitter some ice cream and a PG-13 movie (which I'm not sure was okay, since she's only 14 and a real nice girl and her dad's a sheriff and her mom is in charge of the neighborhood watch program, but whatever, I think maybe I was meant to corrupt the youth. It's my calling, you know?) and headed out to the Skagit Casino, where we were the last three people to get into a packed costume party. The band was a pretty decent 80s cover band, and there were VERY FEW store-bought costumes in sight. Tony and I were zombies. Leland had such a good time he even danced with us. The winner of the costume contest dressed himself as one of those quarter-slot claw games where you maneuver a claw in the glass cage down to grab a toy so you can "win" it after spending at least four times the value of the toy. He had probably 70 stuffed animals stuck to him, a claw on top of his head, and a full joystick setup. My friend Sheran even asked him if she could touch his joystick. Which was strategically placed, if you catch my drift. The highlight of my night was having a seven-foot-tall transvestite want to take a photo with me.


Tony and Charles like to play this game in which they lean waaaay over to the side of the table. Then, they both try to disappear under the table, except Charles can't get under his tray, so he just closes his eyes and then Voila! Gone!

The following photos were taken to show how much fun we had carving pumpkins, but I think they do a better job of illustrating how much Charles likes to climb things. Anything he can climb, really. Including me.

This is a cake I baked for our church's Halloween party cake walk:
Pretty sweet, eh?
Charles took the dog for a walk:
Charles and I were farmers for Halloween:

I think Charles likes Halloween candy. *No, we did not let him actually eat any. Just play in the bag*

That's all for now, folks! Countdown to Charles birthday: 5 days!!! Big gifts he doesn't know about yet: getting his car seat turned around and an ice cream party with Mom, Dad, and whatever grandparents have blown into town by then. The big party with cake comes Saturday!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Carole: This One's for You

After several failed attempts to feed Charles some cheese chunks, and several dissected grilled cheese sandwiches, I finally deduced that the kid prefers melted cheese. So guess what I did?

Oh no, you didn't!

Yes, yes I did. I melted some cheese on a plate and fed it to him with his lunch. He loved it. He didn't even share with Buster. I guess it's a guy thing...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vampire/Zombie? Camera 1/Camera 2? Plus Some Random...

Vampires... Zombies... so hot right now.

Which is good, because Charles seems to alternate between personification of one of the other. He bites, and it hurts. But we've mostly broken him of that. He walks like the undead, arms out, with a wobbly gait that doesn't look all that stable (though the girls at daycare keep saying he is one of the most stable early-walkers they've seen). He also moves quickly, much like vampires supposedly do. Why, in a flash! he is down the hall and hanging on the gate trying to get down the stairs (thank goodness for the gates). He comes at you with mouth open, trying his level best to get some body part of yours in his mouth. So, is he one of the undead? Only time will tell. Personally, I am hoping he settles on zombie, as modern vampires are a bit too effeminate for my tastes. How did Vampires go from Vlad the Impaler to Twilight?

Charles tried peanut butter for the first time this week... I think he likes it:

"Yum! PBJ!"


He spends much of his time walking and crawling between various items of interest on the floor, including two music tables, a wooden spoon, a tambourine, a metal bowl, and the dog. Buster tolerates Charles crawling all over him. Probably because Charles lets Buster eat out of his hand at the dinner table. When we're not looking. They both know better, but Charles thinks is the best game ever.

My mom is one clever lady. Evidence: she sent up a pie with my dad, but included a note that reads: "Love is not enough. Add sugar."


I heard uproarious laughter coming from the bathtub last night, so I snuck over with the camera and captured it... Charles was laughing like this, harder even, for a solid three minutes. I think Tony's arms got tired of flapping the towel.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Biped and by golly...

So Charlie is very much a very mobile guy now. For the last several months, almost everyone who has offered their comment on our efforts to get him to walk sounded a warning. "Oh, just wait until he's walking...then you'll really be in trouble." Or something like that. Amelia and I both agree, his mobility is pretty awesome. He and Buster are able to play, which is great. That dog obviously loves his new little human.

On another front (and I hope I'm not horribly jinxing the family here), Charlie is almost sleeping completely through the night. Tuesday night, he actually slept from 8pm to 6am. I woke up at 5:55, double checked the clock was correct, went in to check on him, saw he was fine, went back to bed and pleasingly closed my eyes to hear him signal he was up...figures.

With this development, we have decided we can start to rebuild some semblance of social lives. On Friday, Amelia organized an outing to a local hockey game for her Rotary Club. We took a chartered bus down and back and had a great time. Last night, we went to the Opera/Symphony. There were a few excellent guest vocal soloists who performed with the Skagit Chorale and Symphony. They performed excerpts from several different operas and symphonies. Amelia wore her cape, which made her look very much like a debutante and I did my best to keep up.

Some pics to appease those non-militant types (P.S.- To militant types: We have no intention of appeasing you):

Charlie getting his second haircut
Bathtime fun

General tomfoolery (That is this character's name. I warned you militant types.)
And Charlie unable to escape the clutches of the tupperware cabinet.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

And Then This Happened...

Yeah, so now he's a walker. No more than a few steps at a time, but he's making progress every time he does it.

Also, we went to the pumpkin patch for the Festival of Family Farms and had fun. Well, Tony and I had fun. Charles was tired and couldn't figure out what the hubbub was all about. I've helpfully narrated the following photos for your edification.

"Yay! Where are we?"
"Ooof. You guys made me walk a loooong way from the car. I'm tired."

"Ooh! Camera!"
"What is this thing?"
"Geez, pumpkins, big orange gourds, I get it already. Can we go home and nap now?"

"I don't like this wagon thing one bit. Take me out."

"These are scary. They're too big and they look old and they're the wrong color."

"Don't put me down, mama!"
"Seriously, can we go home now? I think I hear Buster whining in the car."
So then we went home and Charles and I both had a nap and Tony did Leland's taxes and then we had dinner and put up Halloween lights and practiced walking and then went to bed. The end.
"Wheee! That was fun! Let's do it again..."