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Friday, November 16, 2012

Photo Dump : Pumpkin Patch 2012

In October, Chris took a day off work and the three of us went to the pumpkin patch.  I hadn't been to this particular pumpkin patch in ages (Vala's, if you're wondering), and I was beyond excited to go with Carys.  Vala's isn't so much a pumpkin patch as it is a little Halloween city.  It's big and really well known in the area, but it's also got this wonderful dive quality to it. Everything is just a little bit falling apart and a lot dusty.

(Most of these pics I took with my 'good' camera; a few are from Chris's phone.)

This really shows the dive quality of the place - there are little vignettes like this all over the place. This was where the pig races took place.  Random junk as decor? Sure!

In particular, there's this Storybook Village area that is billed as being for the little ones, with nothing scary. Let me tell you: it was the scariest area of the whole damn place.

This is not my picture - stolen off the internet - but WHAT THE EVERLOVING EFF IS WRONG WITH SLEEPING BEAUTY? Does she have a NECK BRACE?

Other than that, she loved the pig races (which last about 30 seconds each - way too short!) and all the animals (tons of goats, a camel, a cow) and just taking in everything there was to see.

Oh, and strangely, she loved the haunted house. I actually remember them being a little scary and having people jump out when I was in grade school, and I don't know if I'm just combining multiple haunted houses in my mind or if they changed it...but this time, it was all just displays and lame animatronics. Lame for me, but AWESOME for Carys. The outside of the haunted house had a vampire dude that popped out of a window. It startled her at first, but then she laughed hysterically, so I thought I'd take her through just to see what she thought of the whole thing. She was obviously too little to know that she should be scared of the zombie laboratory or aliens, so she thought they were funny and laughed her way through the whole thing. There was also a "squeeze" hallway where you literally squeeze your way through two giant air pillow things - a bit claustrophobic for me, to be honest, but it was hands down her favorite part. She wanted to do it over and over and over.


Rabbit City - very excited about this!

Checking out the animals

Feeding the camel an ice cream cone full of camel feed

We took a very dusty hayrack ride to the pumpkins, which she thought were great for climbing on, but not so much for posing with. So much for my grand idea of doing a fall photoshooot!  Also, this particular pumpkin patch was....kind of ugly? Sparse and brown. Maybe they are all like that or maybe we went too late in the season; I don't know.


I love these next two - this was as she was looking around and let out this big excited squeal.

She was FILTHY by the time we started going back. White tights - not such a great idea.

Seriously, things like this are why having a kid is so great. You can go to places like this and not be one of those weird adults hanging out at places designed for kids. Right?

I mean, there's poop and whining and extra laundry, but then, there's THIS. So worth the trade.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Letters to Carrots : Month Sixteen

October 7 - November 7, 2012
My sweet Cary Jo:

We don't actually call you Cary Jo. Well, sometimes, but not often. When we named you Carys Josephine, it was with the hope that the nickname "Jo" might take off in some way, but as of yet, it hasn't.  To my chagrin, "Care-bear" is the most likely one to slip out of my mouth. How completely cheesy.


Physically, this month hasn't held a lot of changes. I'm sure you've probably grown, of course (you fill out the feet in your 18-month PJs). Some days you look like a full on KID, not even a toddler. Your hair is just a tad longer (but still sparse at your temples, so still no pigtails) and you get longer and thinner every day. You run, and you're tying hard to figure out jumping. You march and clap to a rhythm and sing into the microphone of your keyboard.

Mentally, however, you've grown leaps and bounds. You know thirteen body parts: hair, eyes, nose, mouth, ears (you turn my head and pull back my hair to point to each one), arms, hands, fingers, tummy, belly button, legs, feet, and toes.  You know what a snake says ("ssssssss"), what a monkey says ("oo oo ee ee"), what an elephant says ("brrrrr" with your arm held up to your nose) and about six things that "rawr."  Of course, your favorites are still "quack,""meow," and "boof!" When you figure out your Ws and start saying "woof" instead of "boof" it will be a sad day indeed. You love to point out fish and bears wherever we see them (which is a surprising number of places).   Instead of "mama" and "dada," you now very clearly enunciate "Mommy!" and "Daddy!" (written with exclamation points because that's how you say it, every time).  I can't wait until you can talk more, though, because the "eh, eh, eh" all day gets real old, real fast.

If I had to pick your favorite thing this month, it'd be shoes. You have a short, staccato way of saying "shoes!" and "socks!" and you will put them on and pull them off 100 times in an hour. You love to wear my shoes or your dad's shoes or the shoes of random kids at Gymboree or any shoes that you find. In fact, it's rare that I can actually find a PAIR of your shoes, because you love to run off with them so much.

Amend that to shoes and coloring, actually. You want to color all the time. To your Aunt Kimber's great delight, you say "ca-ca" instead of "color." You see a pen, pencil, marker, stylus, or anything that could be construed as a writing implement and you want to color with it. You know your crayons and paper are all in the play area in the basement and you'll stand at the top of the stairs and call out "ca-ca! ca-ca!" while signing "more" and "please."

And clementines. Those little mini oranges? Add those to the list of favorite things. You at five in a row one day. And still wanted more. I have to hide the bag from you, because otherwise you'll ask for them each time we pass it.

You've started belly flopping in the tub (literally going up on your knees and free falling forward with your arms outreached so your face goes in the water and you make a huge splash), and you've started floating on your back in the tub. You think the back float is hilarious, as is trying to get OUT of the back float, since the only way you can do it is by rolling over, which puts you mostly under water.  Despite this, though, we had a setback at swim class. You never used to be scared of anything, but the last two times you've sobbed your way through the hoop exercise, where you glide underwater for a moment through a hoop, from your teacher to me. It's baffling to me, because during the rest of swim, you are fine going underwater, and you do it purposefully in the bathtub, and there are other times during class where the teacher handles you with no problem. I'm sure there's some developmental reason for it, but I don't know what it is and I hate seeing you sad during class. Hopefully it's just a passing phase, because other than that, swim class is one of your favorite things - in fact, if you see my swimsuit out, you'll try to get me to put it on and say, "Car! Car!" because you want to go to class!

There have been other challenges this month. Hitting and biting. I knew these phases were coming. You bit Charlotte! You've bitten me. I can usually tell when it's going to happen and am able to re-direct, and I try to avoid letting you get into that state in the first place. Key ingredients: a tired or over-excited/over-stimulated baby. Not that toddlers have great self-control, but if you're tired or over-excited, biting is definitely more likely to happen. I'm also really really really really really trying to stop play-biting you, because duh. You see me bite you and it's okay, but you can't bite me? You don't understand bite pressure and all that jazz yet. However, have you SEEN your cheeks? They are SO bitable! How am I supposed to resist nibbling on them? But for your sake, SIGH, I'm trying. The sacrifices we make as mothers. Hitting is much the same - when you get tired or over-excited you get frustrated, which leads to flailing arms and hitting. If you bite, I set you away from me, gently touch your mouth, say, "Ow! You hurt mommy with your teeth. No biting. Kisses instead!", and will give myself a kiss (if possible) on the wounded area to demonstrate. The hitting discipline is similar, only instead of touching your mouth, I'll hold your hands and demonstrate a soft touch. Usually that's all you need, and if it doesn't work, it's 99.9% probable that it's bedtime or naptime.  I know that this is a phase - I just hope it's a short-lived one.

Oh! One funny discipline story that shows how much I'm likely going to have my hands full during those terrible twos is this: I told you not to put something in your mouth, so you looked me right in the eye, set down the offending item (I think it was a pen), and - without breaking eye contact with me -  picked up the pants that were sitting right next to you, and very deliberately bit those instead. I didn't know whether to praise you for your resourceful thinking or to laugh or to tell you not to bite pants either.

By far the best part of the month was Halloween.  To prepare, your dad and I took you to Vala's here in Omaha earlier in the month.  Between the pig races and the pumpkins to climb on and the people to watch, you were in heaven. (There are enough pics from the pumpkin patch to warrant their own post!)

Dubuque does a big Halloween parade the Monday before Halloween, so Aunt Kimber and I drove to Dubuque with you to watch the parade. Seeing Nana was wonderful, as always, and we went hiking and checked out a museum and went to a little pumpkin patch, and then capped off the trip with the parade. It was loads of fun, and I hope we're able to go each year as long as Nana lives in Dubuque. You loved the lights and costumes, and really loved all the attention you got dressed as a little sock monkey! Your Oompa Loompa costume wouldn't have been warm enough for the parade, so the sock monkey made an appearance.

Dubuque photo dump warning!

At the pumpkin patch

At the Mines of Spain Nature Center

Hiking around Dubuque

At the Mines of Spain in Dubuque

Getting into Nana's winter clothes

Then, of course, there was Halloween itself, which I already gushed about. I won't repeat it all, but again: you loved it. You loved your costume, you loved the other kids, you loved the adults handing out candy. You loved your pumpkin bucket and you loved your jack o'lantern and you loved the one sucker I let you take a few licks of before stashing all of your candy for myself.

We hit the jackpot with you, kiddo. I'm not going to lie: it makes me nervous to think about expanding our family someday. Surely we can't get this lucky twice?

Love you for infinity,
Mama (now "Mommy!")