(First off – I did some back-posting to catch you all up on our Halloween and our November. Enjoy!)
Another year gone by, another holiday season under our too-tight belts.
We started off the month celebrating our darling Lloyd who turned FOUR YEARS OLD. In so many ways he seems much older than that (he’s so very smart, and so very large), but then he also seems like my little baby and the tantrums and whining sessions remind me he’s still got some growing-up to do : )
Lloyd with cake-face
Then we went off on an exciting one-night weekend trip to Chicago! It was a TOO AMAZING present from Grace and Jerry. We all went on the train where the boys ran all over the place. Then it was to the hotel to drop off our bags, lunch with Nic (an old friend), then the aquarium and dinner and finally to bed. It was our first night sleeping in a hotel room as a family, and everything went fine. The next day we woke up and played; after breakfast Grace and Jerry took the boys swimming and to a Children’s Museum by Navy Pier. Meanwhile, Greg and I went shopping on Michigan Ave, out to lunch, and then saw Book of Mormon (an irreverent and HILARIOUS musical). We all met back up at the hotel to grab our bags and catch a cab to Union Station. The boys were awake for less than two hours on the night-train, and slept soundly all the way back home. It was an amazing time.
Henry on the train with Grandma
Lloyd is doing better and better at school, learning to socialize a bit more with his fellow students. He’s definitely opened up to his teachers, telling them stories and making them laugh. At his parent-teacher conference his main teacher commented on how advanced his verbal skills were and how smart he is.
One trick Lloyd does now is to manipulate language to try and skirt around restrictions. For example, if he really wants me to play with him but I’m not available because I’m working, Greg will tell Lloyd I’m busy and he’d play with him. Lloyd will start specifying, “No I really need a WOMAN to help me play” knowing full well I’m the only woman in the house. He does this in a variety of ways and it’s pretty funny to watch him hunt for the words that would lead with only one resolution (whatever it is he’s hoping to single out).
Henry continues to be the little light of our household. Even on difficult days he can stop us all in our tracks with a bright smile, a little dance, and the surprise introduction of a new word. Henry LOVES stickers and coloring (on walls and floors, especially). He loves being told the species name of whatever dinosaur he’s holding or pointing to. Even without words you can tell he’s upset when you get the name wrong or admit you don’t know! Henry also continues to be a bit of a brute, wailing on Lloyd especially. We’re still working on that, and its interesting watch Lloyd oscillate between wanting Henry to stop and to get comfort from us and from hating listening to other kids get in trouble. To tattle or not to tattle… it’s one of the main sibling questions.
And of course this month had Christmas! We had a blast watching the boys as they were spoiled rotten by Santa, us, and of course our wonderful families. All of the Pittsburgh relatives were able to be in town for the holidays, and Caitlin and Kylie made it from Wisconsin!
There was a bit of a shadow over the holidays, as there were those whose absences were felt deeply. We certainly miss Pa, and Helen, and Kevin, who all passed in the second half of 2012. My Uncle Bill, a very sweet man who had early-onset Alzheimer’s, passed away the Friday before Christmas. The funeral was held on the 26th.
Although we keep warm memories close to our hearts, we try and focus our eyes on the future. Henry, especially, has such a tremendous year ahead: this will be the year – one can assume – he will learn to really talk! And Baby, we are listening.
Name: Lloyd Brand
Weight: 47 lbs
Likes: Lions and all animals, long books
Dislikes: Playing alone, loud children
Favorite foods: Jelly Bellys, suckers, all fruit, hummus, tortilla chips
Favorite toys: Safari trucks and animals
Friends: Libby, Logan, Henry, and his favorite kids at school are Alex P. and Samantha.
This was the month Lloyd really made some big changes in how he plays and makes up stories. He started spending more time with small action-figure type toys (mostly jungle animals) and making up intricate tales of battles and friendship and families. They’ve often paralleled the themes and plot-points of the Lion King, but many times Lloyd will take a story into a totally new direction. One of my favorite overheard bits went like, “and the VERY ONE WOMAN who was NOT to be on the mountain…. WAS ON THE MOUNTAIN!!!!! So the Lion said, ‘ABSOLUTELY NOT! NO THANK YOU!’
A couple other great Lloyd quotes:
Lloyd: I want to be President when I grow up… WAIT. NO. I want to be a mailman!
Lloyd: “some kids at school drew pictures of their families, but I drew a cash register full of super hot hot water.”
Henry is still a man of few words (but many grunts), however he is still learning new tricks. For one, he is super duper into jumping and has been working on his technique as documented in this clip. He also is able to recognize many more animals and objects (you say the noun, he points to the picture) and he can follow more elaborate verbal instructions. He also picks his nose and eats what he excavates.
We had a very nice Thanksgiving filled with wonderful family and good food and are anxiously awaiting Lloyd’s 4th birthday celebrations! xoxo
I’m catching up a bit on our blog, so the next couple of posts may be a bit more abbreviated in tone.
We had an absolutely FABULOUS Halloween this year… TWO Halloweens in fact! For the actual holiday we all dressed up in our costumes and went out trick-or-treating. At the first couple of houses, Lloyd was a little scared and shy. Then he started getting into really into the process and soon he was sprinting from house to house yelling “Trick or treat!” all on his own!
Lloyd: “MOM, HOW ARE YOU DOING? I’M A LITTLE TIRED BUT I WANT MORE CANDY SO LET’S GO TO THAT HOUSE. THEY WERE NICE. WHAT WAS HIS NAME? WHY DID HE HAVE CURLY HAIR? LOOK OVER THERE ANOTHER HOUSE! LET’S DO THIS ALL THE TIME AND EVERY DAY.”
He was absolutely exhausted by the time we came back to our house, but he had a full treat basket and a big smile.
Then a couple of days later we went to Pittsburgh to see Matt and Erica’s new home, and of course to visit with all our Pittsburgh family! Alison had such great places picked out for us to visit. It was a short stay, but we had a blast touring the conservatory that had a special model train exhibit going on (picture a gigantic room filled with a miniature village and zooming trains chugging all about), as well as cool waterfalls and a fun kids area. We also went to the museum of natural history and saw TONS of dinosaur fossils and animal exhibits. As a bonus, due to a delay from Hurricane Sandy, we were actually in Pittsburgh for their rescheduled trick-or-treating night. TWO TRICK-OR-TREATING NIGHTS! Lloyd was pretty much as serious about the candy-getting as he was his first time around.
Anyone should be able to view more photos by clicking HERE, but here are a couple of my favorites:
Safari guy and cheetah
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox
Pittsburgh Natural History Museum
Needless to say, our boys went into a two week sugar rage that we all barely survived. However, there was this delightful exchange within it all:
“Lloyd: I would like to eat a cat tail.
Me: … like the water plant?
Lloyd: … What? No. The brown sticks.
Me: … What?
Lloyd: … Huh? They have chocolate on them?
Me: … Do you mean a Kit Kat?
Lloyd: YES. I would like a Kit Kat Tail.”
Happy Halloween : )
It’s been a while since I posted on the family blog! Time for an update.
September started off with an adventure – Greg and my first vacation WITHOUT the kiddos! Lloyd and Henry stayed with Grace and Jerry while Greg and I went off to Traverse City for a weekend, celebrating our five year wedding and ten year togetherness anniversary. We had a nice time, although it was strange being away from our little men.
Lloyd started back up at regular preschool. He goes Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and is doing better with participating and playing other children.
Henry has slowly introduced a couple more words into his vocabulary – the most prevalent being NANA – which means “Banana.” The kid would eat endless bananas. : ) He’s also quite the helper around the house! After he’s done with his food or his drink, he’ll overhand toss his dishes into the sink. He’s also happy to throw away his trash and to put his diaper into the Diaper Genie. It’s amazing how much he can comprehend – especially considering how little he says. He’s also really mastered puzzles and is very dexterous.
Saying "Chheeee!" (Cheese)
However, it’s not all so cute! : ) Henry has turned into even more of a brute than he was previously. He’s a hitter, and a wrestler, and a thrower. We’ve been working out our parenting muscles teaching Henry how to make good choices, and how to help Lloyd cope when he’s being terrorized. There are lots of discussions about sharing and taking turn going on in this house, as Henry wants nothing more than to do exactly what Lloyd’s doing. Henry can definitely tell when he’s being left out.
Even though there are plenty of battles, the whole brother relationship is getting more friendly than antagonistic. Lloyd talks to Henry a lot more often, even though Henry doesn’t say anything back. They cuddle and wrestle and enjoy making each other laugh. The two have made cuddling each other a mandatory part of their go-to-sleep process and it’s very nice.
Lloyd has come up with a couple of new ways to help him deal with his anxieties. One is by asking Greg or I to tell him about when WE were kids in the exact same situation in which he was currently experiencing. For example, “Dad, would you tell me about when YOU were a student and didn’t like the loud kids?” “Mom, would you tell me about when YOU didn’t feel like going to the store?” Lloyd has also started saying “OR WHAT?!” As in – “Are we going to play on the deck, OR WHAT?!” It’s a little sassy, but it makes me smile.
We’ve been keeping plenty busy around here! We have a family swim class we do on Tuesdays. We’ve had a couple of new friends over for playmates, and recently Greg and Jerry took the dudes to Yost to see the UofM Alumni Hockey Game! Making memories : )
We’ll do a separate post about Halloween after we enjoy the festivities. Have a spooktacular holiday!