Learning Tower

Testing it's sturdiness

Testing it’s sturdiness

Early this summer I found myself in a predicament. It seemed like every time I was in the kitchen preparing food Gabe would get frustrated at me for doing so. He would proceed to push himself between me and the cabinet while whining at me. Not cool. Especially when I’m chopping or have something on the range. If I picked him up and showed him what I was doing his mood would immediately change. He was interested and was happy to have a taste if he could. He didn’t mind being told that the pan was hot and was happy if I let him hold the spatula, letting him move the stuff around the pan. Upon putting him back down, more often than not he would resume his frustration with me. If I was lucky I could get him distracted with something in the living room and resume what I was doing. He generally exhibited this behavior in the afternoons and was greatly exacerbated by skipped naps. Ohh the power of skipped naps.

So why not pull up a chair? Well, in the past the chair did work. But once he became more confident on his feet it didn’t quite work so well. He didn’t stay in one spot and didn’t quite realize he could easily fall off. I was concerned enough that I didn’t feel safe putting him on the chair anymore. What’s a mom to do?

Gabe's got this

Gabe’s got this

Build a learning tower! I had found the plans from Ana White for it a while back but I was still scoffing at the “silliness” of a learning tower and had not learned the error or my thoughts. Buying a learning tower was sooooooo out of the question, but building it? That we could do. I REALLY wanted to do this on my own but I knew I wouldn’t be able to pull it off in any timely manner and I kind of needed it now! I’m knowledgeable and somewhat skillful but don’t have enough hands on experience to pull this off on top of being a stay at home mom with no help. So I told Will that we were doing this project and moved it up to the top of the priority list.

A really cool thing about this project is that it is a good scrap wood project. If you don’t have scrap wood, it’s an astonishingly cheap $30 in materials project. It turned out that we didn’t need to buy a single thing. We already had everything!

Assembling side piece. Drill the pilot hole then screw together.

Assembling side piece. Drill the pilot hole then screw together.

Not including paint, it took us about 3 days to build. Which included some dry time for glueing. Painting ended up spanning a full week because of dry time, number of coats, and life. I think the hardest part was cutting the arcs with the jig saw.

While it is far from perfect, I am quite proud of the end result.

The Good
Gabe loves loves loves his learning tower. I don’t know if I’ll ever see him so excited to “do dishes.” He watches me clean up after every meal and now he could do what mama does. He loves being engaged with what I’m doing. Using the food processor? Let me help! Cutting veggies? Here let me sort the measuring spoons and stick my fingers in the salt bowl.

Gabe learned really fast how to climb in and out of it. I think it was instrumental in pushing him to learn how to climb off things backwards. Watching him climb off backwards made it pretty clear that the hard straight edge of the platform was digging into him. So we removed the platform and routed the edge. Problem solved.

Time to do disihes

Time to do disihes

The Not So Good
Oh the not so good.

He quickly learned how to push it around the kitchen. We intentionally glued felt pads to the bottom of it so it wouldn’t scratch the wood floors. Protects the floor but makes it easy to move. Gabe figured this out fast. He then started moving it around the kitchen. And then he started moving it around without us being in the kitchen. He suddenly had a way to grab dishes out of the dish rack and the chef’s knife sitting in said dish rack. The once safe spots were no longer safe!

So we removed the tower from the kitchen and put it in the farthest area of the dining room. He still moved it into the kitchen. I can’t blame him for his curiosity and enthusiasm to help out and learn. But argh! Thankfully he has backed off from pushing it into the kitchen by himself.

And then there is the moving of what feels like all the things when he is “helping.” It can become frustrating day in and day out. And don’t think for a minute you can set him at the counter a safe distance away. Nope, he gets down and pushes his way back over to where the action is. He better be ready for becoming a sous chef if he keeps this up!

Moving things right along

Moving things right along

So Worth It
Despite the frustrations it can bring, I love it. It is an incredible learning tool. Having him on the same level as me changes everything for him. It’s much safer than a chair and it will grow with him. Even more so than the water table, I’m really glad we built this.

It’s a continual lesson in learning. Some afternoons I just need close off the kitchen. Some days I need to be more mindful than others, slow myself down and let him engage.

Water/Sensory Table

watertable-5

This was a fun little project that we were able to pull together in about a day. At the beginning of summer I started seeing various water/sand/sensory tables across the internet as activities for kids. While I am still not quite ready to deal with sand or rice I did like the idea of water. Gabe is a huge fan of baths and the idea of him splashing in water seemed like something he would love. I also really liked the idea of having something unique for him to play with when we couldn’t get out of the house or I desperately needed something to keep him from bouncing off the walls. And the best part? We got to build it.

watertable-3

We took inspiration from two projects. We followed the basic structure and materials list from this one and took inspiration for the top piece from here. We were able to find all the materials at Home Depot, even the storage container. We opted for a pvc pipe cutter instead of a saw for cutting the pipe and considered it a good to have in the garage type items.

watertable-1

The one trouble we ran into was not being able to find ¾ inch 3-way side outlet elbow at Home Depot. They had ½ inch but not ¾! Ran into the same thing at Ace. The internet says they exist but these two stores? Nope. We hemmed and hawed and didn’t want this turn into a wild goose chase. Because let’s face it, road blocks like these turn into a goose chase. So we found a janky solution, an elbow with a ½ inch threaded side outlet and a threaded ¾ inch adapter.

watertable-4

Cutting and assembly was easy. I quickly realized how easy it is to work with pvc! Especially when don’t have to glue it. With the cuts there was a bit of accounting for how much the pipe would go into the fittings. But other than that. It was together in no time.

We bought some extra fittings to play around with what we could do on top. While what we came up with worked, we decided that to do the really cool stuff you really need a bigger table. Despite, I’m quite please with the end result. And I think Gabe is too.

watertable-2

watertable-7

watertable-6

One Month Later
I would like to say that we have used it on a regular basis but we haven’t. But it isn’t due to lack of interest. It has simply been a very grey and cold summer on the coastside this year. I’ve learned we get much more breeze/wind protection on the back deck than the front so I’ve moved it back there.

Overall I’m really happy with the project. I like that we built it and didn’t buy it. Even though summer is winding down, we will look for opportunities to fill it up and splash about. For now I am leaving it assembled. But when it is time to break it down for the winter? Best part! It all fits inside itself! Huzza!

watertable-8

He loves it!

He loves it!

Checking in with Gabe #17 & 18

Striking a pose.

Striking a pose.

I know how we got here but somehow August is staring us in the face. It has been a fun adventure filled summer thus far. While we haven’t taken any trips or done any bucket list type items, we have certainly been doing our best to enjoy the opportunities around us. A big part of this shift has been Gabe’s age. He is simply able to do more, enjoy more, and experience more. The awe and wonder of this age is great.

Adventure

At the beginning of June we headed to Elkus Ranch for their Sheep to Shawl day. While I knew Gabe would be a bit young for this I still wanted to see the ranch and was confident there would be some fun for Gabe. And there was. From grinding corn to feed the animals, to petting the goats, playing with wool, and chasing chickens we had a wonderful time exploring and taking in the ranch. It was so nice to see some of the south coast. I’m looking forward to more activities at Elkus as Gabe gets older.

Grinding corn the old fashioned way.

Grinding corn the old fashioned way.

That same day we decided to do lunch at the beach. We continued south looking for a less crowded beach. And boy did we find one. A normally closed off beach was open and we took advantage of it. It was so pristine and perfect. We quickly set up our beach tent (Ohmygoodness! These things are awesome!) and ate lunch on an almost private beach. It couldn’t have been a better day with warm sunny weather. We took Gabe down to the water. He lit up with excitement as the waves crashed against his legs. It was COLD but he didn’t care. He squealed in delight. The sand in his toes, the movement of the water. He is 100% sold on the beach. He loved it. And he has loved each trip to the beach since. He is happy to play with his sand toys, digging and dumping. Or trying to run head first into the cold water. It’s just so much fun.

Oceanside family lunch. Beach tent FTW!

Oceanside family lunch. Beach tent FTW!

In contrast to the beach we’ve also done a few trips to a kid pool over the hill. We were introduced to one in Palo Alto during a MOPS playdate and loved it. It is a nice break from our foggy cold summer. Gabe loves it but man, it is quite a bit of work keeping up with him. He is not the kid the stays in one place, nope, he wants to explore ALL of the pool and it is a big one. It’s still fun to go for several hours and head home. Great energy expenditure!

Pool day!

Pool day!

We were delighted to see the whales returned to the harbor for quite the feast this year. After seeing them feasting for a week we decided to stop and take it in. Gabe didn’t quite see the whales but he was certainly interested in all the birds flying around! We also had lots of playdates, park trips, and everyday life excursions to fill out our days. He held up to several long days of furniture shopping. He got to experience having another kid his age come over and play with his toys. So many wonderful things to take in.

Celebrations

Happy Fathers Day!

Happy Fathers Day!

Lots of wonderful things to celebrate this summer. We celebrated Father’s day and summer solstice together this year. We surprised Will with balloons, movie theatre candy, and handmade movie tickets for Star Wars later that evening. But really the best part was the lightsaber card I made for him. Then that afternoon we went over to friends to celebrate summer solstice. We did the entire meal in an outdoor woodburning oven! Everything from pizza to roast beef and potatoes. And of course the watermelon and blueberries that the kids ate their weight in. I can haz clay oven??? Gabe got to meet Melanie’s chickens and feed them mealworms. I basically spent the whole day chasing him around the yard. Of all the days Gabe could choose to be super active this was it.

Ready for the parade!

Ready for the parade!

The 4th of July was spectacular! We donned our best red white and blue, decorated the stroller, and walked in our local 4th of July parade. Our local mothers club always takes part in the parade and since I am a member we get to take part. We ended up running into people we didn’t expect and had an absolute blast. We waved, strolled, and walked down main street. At the end we pulled off to the side and watched the rest of the parade. This is also where Will showed Gabe where the shutter button is on the camera. Afterwards we grabbed some food and headed home. At this stage it was really nice to take part in something that didn’t last for hours and hours. It was just enough to feel like we took part in something, celebrated with others and then headed home for some good eats. Something I am very much looking forward to making a tradition.

Shutter button discovery.

Shutter button discovery.

To round out the celebrations we had friends over for Will’s birthday. It was a feast per usual. Gabe did an amazing job of being the center of attention. He basically sat at the table for the whole lunch and ate, and ate and ate. We had to cut him off from aioli. Good thing it was a bath night. It warms my heart to see people so smitten with him. He totally fed off it too. It was a wonderful time had by all.

Growing up

It’s amazing to say just how much I’ve watched him transition into toddlerhood in these last two months. There has only been one time before where I have noted such a drastic transition. It’s crazy and amazing all in the same. I can’t say it was one thing inparticular. It’s as if he has shaken off more pieces of his younger self and is fully embracing toddlerhood.

Because some times you just need to get yourself stuck on the push cart.

Because some times you just need to get yourself stuck on the push cart.

Life without a cast on is great. It is amazing to me how once you are out of a particular situation you don’t look back. And we certainly didn’t. It took a good month or so for his leg to strengthen back up and for his gate to return to normal. I think everything healed up nicely and we have not looked back. No more broken bones, please.

Sooo not happy.

Sooo not happy.

He had his first haircut in June. While I was completely smitten with his long hair, I couldn’t deny the fact that he kind of looked like Doc Brown. Especially when he rubbed his messy hands in his hair. It was hard to see him as this clean cut little boy but he soooo needed to have everything cut to one length. He did pretty good for his first cut. He sat in Will’s lap and cried while Brian cut his hair. No thrashing or fighting. Just a cry of protest. He was of course all smiles afterwards. I did indeed keep a lock of his hair.

He’s still eating all the food. We’ve kind of gone wild for berries this summer. I’ve started going back to the farmers market which has contributed to our berry problem. He’s making friends with the farmers… flirting really. There is one who we buy from regularly who loves to give him not just a piece but a whole fruit! We transitioned off the bottle and onto a straw sippy cup. I wish that meant I didn’t still have to prepare bottles but I do. To this day, this kid does not like cold milk.

Can't even eat a strawberry without giving a look.

Can’t even eat a strawberry without giving a look.

I’ve stopped counting the number of teeth he has. In the last three months so many have pushed through and continue to push through. He’s been a trooper through all of it. He can now walk on his tip toes. He can climb up on the couch on his own… no more leaving one cushion off. The climbing also includes climbing up on the hearth as well as up onto our bed via the chest that sits in front of it. He is sliding backwards off things. Walks up the stairs using the handrail. Sliding down the stairs in every which way. We’ve had a few falls and a ton of bruises but at the same time there is such an increase in confidence and stability.

And one of my more favorite things, holding my hand as we walk.

So now, with August here, we head off to enjoy what the rest of summer has for us.

PS: I really abhor what Jetpack is doing to my photos. I’ll add finding a solution to my long list of things that need attention. Until then, here are some good quality pictures that have been compressed and squished to make me look like I don’t know what I’m doing with a camera.

Checking in with Gabe #16

He knows where the lens cap goes.

He knows where the lens cap goes.

I am happy to start this post with the news that Gabe’s leg healed perfectly and he is out of his cast!!! On top of being 16 months old.

Life with the cast

Life with a cast wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Limiting at times, yes. But very workable in part to Gabe’s determination. As I mentioned last month, he found his inability to walk very frustrating. It took him a bit to accept the fact that he had to go back to crawling. But once he did that, he was all over the place. It took about a week and a half for him to start walking on it. He gained back a whole new sense of freedom. We couldn’t help but call him “peg leg” from how he walked. But it didn’t stop him from doing anything. He did everything as he would have. We ended up putting a sock over the cast to a) keep him from messing with it, b) keep it clean, and c) add a little grip for walking on the wood floors. It ended up working really well. I also had to buy a few more pairs of wide leg pants so that it would fit over the cast. No jeans and snug fit jammies for the month!

No cast will keep him from climbing in a basket.

No cast will keep him from climbing in a basket.

One of my initial concerns was the cast setting him back developmentally but thankfully it didn’t seem to have too much of an impact there. I felt a bit limited though in my ability to get him out to play. Adventuring like we had been was kind of off the table. I also didn’t feel as comfortable just setting him down anywhere to walk, even with the sock on. So there was a bit more time in the stroller and a few extra shopping trips. The unfortunate side effect of this was a couple of weeks of bad naps. He simply wasn’t burning the energy he needed and I paid for it.

Cast removal.

Cast removal.

It wasn’t until the week before the cast removal did I start counting down. I was ready to be done with this! I was ready to give him a normal bath… goodness, he was not a fan of being wiped down. May 26th finally arrived. The removal of the cast was actually pretty quick. They used a depth set dremel like tool with a vacuum attached to it. He cried a bit but not because of the noise, loud noises don’t bother him. He wasn’t a fan of being held still. I don’t think it took more than a minute for it to come off. His poor leg was so dry! We were then whisked off for a quick x-ray. Gabe was not a fan at all. Being held down and this big scary thing looming overhead is not his idea of fun. Lots of tears. And of course the tech messed up the first image. Back into the doctor’s office to examine the x-ray. Everything looked great. You could easily see a whole new layer of bone growth. He was given the green light to resume life on his leg… with a few cautions. It is going to take him a couple of weeks to get his gate back. Between muscle stiffness and a little atrophy it will take a bit to get it back up to where his other leg is at. Because of this he will walk as if he still has the cast on. She also warned to not do anything to injure the leg like go down a slide together. Oh darn.

Joy!

Joy!

As soon as we got home he was walking like nobody’s business! Stiff? Yes. A couple days of pain? Yes. A sense of joy and freedom? Absolutely. I’m not sure who is happier to have the cast off, me or him! We celebrated that evening with a super long bath. Oh how he has missed his baths. I don’t think I’ve heard that many squeals of delight and splashes coming from the bathroom.

We were blessed to have the best experience you could for such an unfortunate incident. Now, to not repeat a similar incident.

Development

Every month Gabe is able to amaze me at what he is learning to do. Its funny, you “know” kids develop at such a rapid rate but to watch your own child do it before your eyes is something else. His strength amazes me. He is officially lifting weights now. He can lift 3lb weights from the floor to the hearth and back down no problem. While in a cast. He’s going to end up being more motivation to keep my butt moving than anything. I’ve also seen a real increase in his fine motor skills, specifically in his dexterity. He will grab up numerous blueberries in one hand and is able to turn knobs and clicky things very well now.

Weight lifter.

Weight lifter.

Gabe has picked up a couple of new hobbies; stacking and sending things over the baby gate. One day he just decided he wanted to pile all the things on top of his activity cube. And now he spends at least 20 minutes a day filling any basket/trash can/vessel that can hold things with all the things… blocks, balls, socks, vacuum cleaner attachments. Then he dumps it out and repeats or fills another vessel with items from the already filled thing. As for his other activity… I really hope it doesn’t become a thing. So he has long since enjoyed sending his 3 wooden balls through the baby gate and down the stairs. Sometimes he will send a few other things but not often. Well the other day he decided to send ALL the things over the baby gate. We shall see if and how this progresses. I’m not too keen on the idea of cleaning up the stairs every day.

Stacking.

Stacking.

I am feeling a bit of caution to see him start moving through the more challenging stages of development. He has certainly taken a few steps in that direction this month. As he is learning to express himself and learning that he has a bit of autonomy we now have situations where he doesn’t want to give things to me. Sometimes taking things, say a tube of healing balm or something he shouldn’t have, away from him results in a small fit that includes tears. Thankfully with a bit of redirection I can usually get him over it pretty quick. I know it is inevitable to go through these things, I just want to do my best to find ways of helping him work through these challenges.

Food

I have seen a big shift in eating patterns this month. Milk isn’t holding him over as long it has used to so I’ve had to adjust mealtimes. It hasn’t been too big of an adjustment but has certainly changed the order of the day and how fast we can get out the door. He is still eating well and a lot so nothing new there. He has taken to tossing food off his tray when he is done with it. :/ needless to say, we are working on teaching him that you don’t do that. It’s a slow process. :) He is also finding great amusement in poking his food now. Especially when it is soft and gooey like brie cheese.

Carrot mash.

Carrot mash.

I finally started the process of weaning him from the bottle. I tried to do it a couple months ago using the sippy cups we had. He had no problem drinking from them it’s just that they weren’t very efficient. He wanted his milk and he wanted it now. And then I got distracted and never followed up with research on sippy cups (oh my goodness there are so many!!!!). But now I’ve found one that mostly works and he is doing okay on. I’ve ordered a couple more so we should have this figured out pretty soon. I’m tired of washing bottles! Though the complexity of the parts to some of these sippy cups are just as bad, if not worse, than the Dr. Brown bottles we use. I am thankful though that he really didn’t have any problem giving up the bottle. It’s just finding the right cup for him.

Friends

Not a whole lot of adventure this month but we did have some good times with friends. My best friend and her husband came up for a short visit. We went and explored Pier 39 with them and Gabe got to watch the harbor seals up close and personal. And then we spent Memorial day with some of our local friends. Kids running around, stopping Gabe from stealing wine bottles, amazing food and wine. I truly love gathering with these people. We also welcomed new friends as new neighbors! And to top it off we had several great playdates with a new friend.

Warming up just as they were to leave.

Warming up just as they were to leave.

Summer is officially here. Not that that really means anything for us. Though I’m hoping to bring the beach into heavy rotation for activities.

A Few Steps from Square One

I really was hoping to be able to do more updates about going back to square one. It’s not surprising that I haven’t been able to. I thought I had gained some time and turned out that I didn’t. This whole “time” thing is an ongoing thing that sometimes leaves me a bit frustrated. Ah well. The important thing is that I have most definitely gained some momentum.

I’ve been at this about 4 weeks now: moving, stretching, lifting, and lots of little things that I hope will one day add up to some big changes. The good kind of sore is making a come back and am seeing some small gains. So here is a little of what I’ve been up to.

Yoga
The core of my movement has been getting back into yoga. Yoga feels like one of the kindest things I can do for my body right now. It is challenging and restorative at the same time. And it really works on a lot of areas that don’t get much love. I’ve tightened up way too much in the last year and this seems like one of the best ways to help my muscles release into flexibility. I found an amazing Youtube channel, Yoga with Adriene, that has helped me get back into some kind of practice.

Will and I were trying to do this together in the mornings before work but after about 2 weeks it fell apart… for multiple reasons. As much as I love getting things done, working out first thing really doesn’t jive with me. I try and try and sometimes I can force myself, other times I can’t. The other component is sleep. When I have highly increased physical activity I simply need more sleep and more sleep can be hard to get. So increased physical activity + not enough sleep + difficulty working out first thing = hard to get out of bed. I don’t know what the solution is but I’m continuing to try and work this into my day somewhere.

I believe in the practice and the benefit it adds to my life. It needs to be part of taking care of myself.

Strength
One of the simpler things to pull off has been returning to the strength training routines I did with Daniella two years ago. I have a book full of all the workouts we did together. It’s a treasure trove of good stuff that works. There is something very motivating knowing I don’t have to think about what I’m going to do each week. It is also very motivating that it doesn’t require me to go anywhere so I can fit it anywhere into my day. And I can do it with Gabe running around… for the most part. I might loose a little bit of the cardio effect in having to stop and deal with whatever he is up to but I think that is an acceptable interruption right now. So far I’ve been able to meet my goal of strength training 3 days a week.

Pyramid sets

Pyramid sets

Moving
Getting higher heart rate workouts are a bit more challenging. Mostly I’ve been relying on walking the local trails. My goal started at 3 days a week and went down to 2 and 1 at a very minimum. It’s great because Gabe enjoys it (we are sure to stop and let him go run around) and so do I. The trails I have access to are incredible and vary in difficulty. I’ve added Quarry park into the mix along with Devils slide. Two trails that will make you feel like you are going to die by the time you get to the top. But I’ve been able to do one less stop at quarry park so I’m going to call that an increased stamina win! The challenging part is weather and life. I can’t always get out. So I need to find a good at home solution for days when life happens and getting a walk in isn’t going to happen. It is going to have to be inline with my strength training in that I don’t need to think about figuring it out… yes, I’ve considered tabata’s. Beach Body has been alluring… specifically Focus T25 but it kind of feels like “selling out.” The infomercial nature of makes me shy back. But I’m not quite sure what I’m selling out. And I’m not sure how it will jive with my strength training. We shall see.

Food
Overall I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what I eat. We’ve made so many lifestyle changes with our diet over the last couple of year and they have actually stuck. That doesn’t mean I don’t slack off in some areas or find myself in some food ruts due to their simplicity. I’m surprised Will doesn’t complain about the amount of roasted veggies we do on a regular basis.

That said, this is the area I really need to crack down on in the next 4 weeks (arbitrary number… realistically when the next update will be.) I know nutrition is key if I want to reach some of my goals. While I don’t want to be as dogmatic about what I eat, such as adding back in some legumes and rice, there are a couple areas I want to focus on. Mainly increasing vegetables and nixing sugar.

More veggies… basically veggies need to be prominent at every meal. Balanced with some fat and protein, my body tends to be pretty happy with those choices leaving me feeling like I am fueled properly.

Turmeric tahini scramble

Turmeric tahini scramble

And less sugar. I’m not going to lie, It has totally crept in. Chocolate anyone? If I want to deal with this baby pooch and drop a few more pounds then the sugar has to go. There is no question about it. Even though I still enjoy/crave sugar it has been interesting to note the effect sugar has on my body. Yes, I had cake over the weekend and you know what? It left me feeling pretty icky. Did it stop me from getting into a leftover cake layer last night? Nope and I felt like crap afterward to. So much so that I made a comment to Will about how I really didn’t need cake but I ate it anyway. Hmm seems more like I need some brain reprogramming because it sure isn’t listening to what my body is saying!

I also need to work on making sure I have good food choices for the 3rd meal of the day (4 meal seem to be good for me) so I don’t sit there with a jar of cashew butter and chocolate chips till I’m full. I love the fat but I don’t need THAT much fat.

Accomplishing these goals really are going to come down to planning. I know the nutrition principles and I know how to cook. It’s the whole planning thing. Planning ahead, planning for extra meals, not just for dinner and relying on leftovers (though making extra is a key to leftover success!) If I plan, then I have a fridge full of wonderful things to cook with, then I cook because I can’t let it go to waste and as a result I end up properly nourished and the sugar cravings diminish. I know it works because I’ve done it before. The time investment to pull this off is a struggle. Necessary and important but still a struggle.

Supplements

Supplements

Other things
Lots of other little things being shifted and moved around. Added Vitamin D and fermented cod liver oil/butter back in. Been working with a chiropractor for the last month and am finally finding some relief from the chronic low back pain I’ve had since Gabe’s birth. Made homemade cashew butter. Goodness… current fav nut butter! Gabe is a big fan too.

Nap time is just about over so I’m going to call this update done. I’m going to keep trekking forward and do my best to keep trekking forward. I’m really starting to learn the importance of effort and simply doing no matter how much things go off track or aren’t the optimal choice. There is no one right way to do this and no perfection to truly be gained but a better self from the physical/mental/emotional journey along the way.

This post is brought to you by 3 naps. The time it took me to write, edit, format & add pics.

Checking in with Gabe #15

Explorer Gabe

Explorer Gabe


Goodbye April, hello May and 15 months old. April turned out to be a big month of development. I’ve been noticing a shift in the way he plays and a big effort on his part to really start communicating with us. And growth… Mr. Long Arms is really good at stealing the mouse from the desktop if I don’t push it way back. So many new things are fair game for him! Not to be outdone by all the awesome development this month we ended things with an unexpected bang.

So, play.

I love how play and developmental growth is linked together. That so much is learned through laughter and fun. From how to interact with others to critical thinking to motor skills, building confidence, and the list goes on.

Morning squash laps

Morning squash laps

I find it most interesting how much Gabe enjoys pushing things around. While he still loves and uses his push cart but he has definitely upped his game. If it has slide ability, he pushes it. Chairs are obvious. All of them are fair game. Laundry basket? Sure why not. But then there are the not so obvious like the basket of squash in the kitchen. One morning while I was making breakfast he goes and pushes it from the kitchen into the dining room and back. And then there is the small tool kit we keep upstairs. It slides so he pushes it. How about the base tray to his high chair. Yep, that one made it all the way into the living room! He is not afraid to test things to see if they will slide either. Though he isn’t a big fan when things don’t switch from hardwood to carpet. :)

Leading the way

Leading the way

We returned to our walks this month. I had taken a break from walking in effort to tire him out more by taking him to the park. Through a series of interactions at the park with toys that appeared and disappeared I realized just how much Gabe actually does enjoy being pushed in the stroller. I feel a bit bad though if he doesn’t get any outside play while we are outside. Then it dawned on me that instead of focusing so much on time/distance/intensity that we could stop and play a bit. And you know what? He loved it! He fell in the weeds, picked the weeds, rubbed his hands in the dirt, walked the path with me, pushed the stroller, picked things up off the ground, fell on some more plants, watched the birds. Hands down best play decision. He had so much fun running free. Definitely something I’m working on making a part of our week. It’s too good for both of us to not do it.

Long arms!

Long arms!

Last month I mentioned him starting to take bigger steps. Mostly with how he would go up and down the stairs at the park. He is now all about walking down our stairs. Forget crawling/sliding down, now we must walk down them. He gets so excited when I open the baby gate and tell him to hold my hand. And down we go. Step by step. Now if we could get him to watch where he is stepping. shakes head

He is starting to clap a bunch more. It’s kind of funny how clapping has taken a bit to catch on with him. Maybe we just haven’t done enough of it around him. But he knows now that when he puts a block in the wheel or something of accomplishment, he smiles big and claps several times. Same with waving. It’s cute, he does this whole arm move back and forth two times thing. It’s like he gets it but isn’t bothered to really do it. I’ve also seen him really make an effort to hold two balls in one hand. He does that all the time now… and then proceeds to push them through the baby gate and down the stairs with delight. Oh and one of the best things this month! He’s starting to put things away. So now when he takes everything out he truly does his best to try and put it back!

Reading on his own

Reading on his own

Much to my surprise I noticed him doing a lot more solo play which is a nice break for me. I’ll be doing something and then notice he is off playing with his toys or chasing the cat or generally getting into things he shouldn’t. But it is really nice to see him start developing that ability to play alone. It’s often not when I need him to do it the most but ehh, I’ll take what I can get. I’ve also noticed him grabbing a book in his reading corner and “reading” for a short time. He will open up the book, sometimes stare intently, sometimes make noises at it or point. Sometimes he tosses the book aside as quickly as he picks it up and picks up another book. Sometimes I’ll stop what I am doing and go over there and attempt to read to him. Sometimes he is interested. Most the time he isn’t and is moving on to another book or picking up and leaving. It’s all good though, he is only 15 months. Besides, I have a captive audience while he drinks his milk so he gets a good reading to every day.

In communication

Da da da da da da da da da. Dadadada. Maaa ma. Ma ma ma ma. Ah da. And all the variations. He has though added to his vocabulary. He has now taken to saying, “all done” or at least his version of it. And he knows what it means. On top of that he has started signing “more.” The two very important questions he is asked at every meal. “Do you want more?” And “All done?” While we are far away from precision, seeing him grasp the concepts and start communicating his desires is pretty awesome. And then there is the pointing. He points at Kitty, birds, airplanes, and just about anything that catches his attention.

"It fell down!"

“It fell down!”

I shall eat ALL the carrots.

Gabe has never really been a fan of me spending time in the kitchen. More often than not (that is, unless he is off playing with something) when he sees me in there he will come in and try to get between me and the cabinet. It’s super annoying and often ends up with him crying from falling over or hitting his head on the lower cabinets. I think it has to do with the fact that he can’t see what I am doing. He knows I’m doing something (not giving him attention!) and wants to know what it is. So I’ve started pulling up a chair and letting him stand next to the counter top. Usually he spends more time playing with the jar of measuring spoons and mini scrapers but he totally digs it. He loves getting a taste of whatever I’m cutting up or making. And usually it is enough time for me to get the task done. Then I put him down and he does his best to push the chair back to where it goes. It’s pretty cool to having him “helping” alongside me. I initially wanted to make a Learning Tower but have yet to find the time for a project like that. While the safety aspect sounds great, they didn’t have learning towers when I was growing up. So with lack of time and the fact that Gabe is pretty stable and cautious, the chair it is. I think I should be more concerned about teeth marks in my silicone spatulas and the slat jar being knocked over.

"You eat carrots too, mama!"

“You eat carrots too, mama!”

He has started drinking from a glass. Like a real glass, not a plastic cup. Often, as a treat he will get some coconut water with dinner. He gets super excited for it too. For a while now we’ve been serving it to him in the shot glasses we have for espresso. It’s the perfect 1 oz cup for him. He now does a pretty good job of picking up the glass with both hands and drinking from it. He still has to work on the tipping it immediately before getting it to his mouth but other than that he drinks from it like he knows what he is doing. Can’t say the same for using utensils but I’m not rushing that. ;)

And then like that, when we are done with dinner and I take him out of the high chair, I set him down and he runs off into the other room. And you know? It’s really nice to have him leave the kitchen so I can clean up. It’s kind of impossible to load the dishwasher with him around! His belly is full and he is happy. Time to play. Oh the little things.

Deviled egg filling didn't even have a chance

Deviled egg filling didn’t even have a chance

Not too many new foods this month. He has grown into a love of fruit. Blackberries are currently his jam. He can eat whole roasted carrots without me cutting them up. And he has become a fan of little cheese wheels. And while this should technically be on the 16 month update, I made some homemade cashew butter… Homeboy is kind of nuts over it.

Fracture

So we did this thing. We were at the park getting a little bit of play in before lunch. We were having a great time. Gabe was climbing the play structures really well. Once at the top I asked him if he wanted to go down the slide. I got in position, set him on my lap, as we normally do and down we went. Except that when we got to the bottom he wasn’t happy. I notice his left leg was bent back. No, he was crying. Crying really hard. The “I’m really not okay” cry. I knew something bad just happened and as much as I wanted this to be a sprain, I knew it wasn’t. I took him home, got him calmed down, and gave him some lunch. And then the test… could he put weight on it? No… no he couldn’t. A quick google search, found a pediatric urgent care, made an appointment. This all happened just hours before picking Will up from the airport. So we picked up Will, Gabe napped in the car and we drove straight to urgent care.

Full leg splint

Full leg splint

A few x-rays later (and a whole lot of tears) and as I suspected, a hairline fracture of his left tibia. Apparently this is a very common young child injury! No one was really surprised at the accident. We were sent home with a full leg splint and a next day appointment to get a cast. We had to wait for the splint to dry before putting him in the car seat (and evening commute traffic) so we went and grabbed some dinner before heading home. Then due to the stress of the injury and the visit to urgent care, Gabe threw up on the way home. I was so thankful to be sitting in the back seat with him. Trying to catch throw-up and undo the carseat straps so I could lean him over to make sure he didn’t choke on it is quite a task!! Apparently when there is some kind of trauma to the body, often the body shuts down certain systems to direct resources to the injury. It was an exhausting day and Gabe basically passed out once he got in his crib. We, on the other hand, stayed up cleaning the car seat because you know, we needed it first thing in the morning!

The finished product

The finished product

Getting the cast was pretty uneventful. So so so thankful he is in a walking cast. Meaning he can walk on it when he is ready. The doctor we saw said it was the best break we could have done. No bones were moved and that this will heal 100%. It was interesting watching them put the cast on, I’ve never seen it done before. Gabe wasn’t a fan but I know the stability of the cast immediately made things feel better (same as what the splint did). The doctor was pretty convinced that he would only need 4 weeks in the cast. She isn’t a fan of doing two casts. We have an appointment on May 26th to have it removed. Meanwhile we have been adjusting to life with a cast. Within 8 hours of getting the cast, Gabe was crawling. Frustrated at the inability to walk though. Now, a week into this? The cast isn’t stopping him from doing anything! He still isn’t walking on it but he is standing on it. One step at a time, healing as we go.

Play

Play

Lots of things happened this month. Much more than I anticipated. Now to see what life will be like with a cast.

Square One

I am back to making changes in my life. Changes in exercise, diet, and nutrition. And hopefully along the way a whole new mindset. These are changes that I have done before and have been mostly successful at. They carried through my pregnancy with Gabe but then he came and everything kind of went KABOOM! Not everything was thrown to the wind but in some ways it was. I was able to lose the baby weight and keep some movement in my life but not consistently. I stopped seeing Daniella which actually really sucks and had an obvious impact. Even though it was my choice to stop seeing her… exhaustion, pumping, logistical challenges, and oh yeah buying a house, it was both what I needed and didn’t need at the same time. Anyways, I simply didn’t have the support to really make a great postpartum comeback. The first year is something else. I was tired and felt like I had bigger fish to fry than getting back into shape. Thankfully I never strayed too far from the principles Daniella taught me. She fundamentally changed my view on nutrition, food, and exercise and I am forever grateful to her for that. Throw in some person struggles and I ended up right where I am. In real need of shaping up.

So I am starting at square one.

While I’ve needed to make changes months ago it has only been in the last month or so that things have been shifting. I’ve since started working on realigning many areas of my life and this is one of them. So I’m adjusting this, adjusting that. Doing this and that. Changing this and that. All of which I want to be momentum building in a forward direction. This time around, I really have experience to pull from. I know myself better. I know my body. I know how and what. And for the things I don’t I can go in search for the answer.

And for some crazy reason I kind of want to blog about it. I want to talk about what I’m doing. Things that are working for me. Things that are NOT working. I don’t even want to try and define all the areas I want to cover over time. And I want to talk about failing… Lord knows I do that quite often. I don’t know where the time will come for this either. Doing one thing means not doing another. But if it is quick, in the moment, and not too well thought out I might just able to pull it off. It is a whole lot easier to write about yourself than story tell for a recipe! It may be the accountability I need. Or not. I might just fall flat on my face after two posts and not bring it up again for another six months.

I’m not sure what is compelling me to do this so I’m giving it a go.

First Birthday Shoot

I wanted to have some fun and do a shoot of my own for Gabe’s birthday. I made a second cake and set the scene. While these photos are far from great, we had fun taking them. Littles have no interest in staying in one place for long and these photos show that. While I love taking pictures of my child I have no interest in ever photographing other people’s children! I’ll leave that to the professionals.