Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nicholas at 28 months

Weight: 34 lbs
Height: Almost 3 ft!!

At 28 months, Nicholas is quite the catch. He enjoys bubble baths, long walks outside, cooking, holding hands in the parking lot, and snuggling after naps. He is an outdoors man and owns his own red convertible. He has great muscles and isn't afraid to flex them for the ladies. (He hears that chicks dig it.) He is an animal lover. He also loves his Mama and treats her right.

  • He can count to 15. (We make him count to 15 if he wants to get out of time out, so he gets lots of practice. It also is a little self esteem boost at the end of time out, because we always tell him how well he did at counting.)
  • He can now recognize all the numbers from 1 to 10 about 80% of the time.
  • He has become a great TV watcher. I love this new found talent. Joseph has been on his surgery rotation so it has been great because it gives me about an hour break in the morning and at night so I can actually get something done. He LOVES Mickey Mouse club house. Half our conversations are interrupted by him telling me, "I need to watch Mickey." I just respond by saying, "Yeah, you like Mickey." Then I just keep on going with our conversation.
  • He has become really good at putting both hands on the side of the car while I unload Lexi. He gets lots of praises for this!!
  • He loves singing time during nursery, and he loves to sing all the songs he learns. He knows The Itsy Bitsy Spider, The Wiseman Built His House Upon a Rock, Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree, Patty Cake, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to name a few.

Other fun things about Nicholas:
He is my exercise coach. I try to load the kids up in the jogging stroller every morning when the weather is decent. I will start running and I'll hear him say, "Good job Mom for going super fast." When we get within sight of the park, he will celebrate and say, "Yeah! We did it. We are at the park."

At the park there is a very specific order when it comes to taking turns going down the slide. First, Steve the red car gets sent down. Second, Mom has to go down. I have to pretend I get stuck at the top of the slide, and Nicholas helps push me down. Finally, Nicholas goes down the slide.

Joseph taught Nicholas to thank me every time I make some food for him. He will exclaim, "Thank you very much for making this yummy food Mom." I always act EXTREMELY happy when he tells me this and tell him the best way to say thank you is also by eating your food. I think it is also cute when he tells me, "I need some [insert random food item] to put in my mouth."

Nicholas has always LOVED dips. Right now he is obsessed with ketchup and french fries. The funny part is that he will dip all his food in the dips we give him. Tonight, he dipped all his grapes in ketchup. When we went out to eat at Five Guys Burgers, he dipped his peanuts in the ketchup. Sometimes I will look over and his dip will be gone before he has even touched the item the dip was meant for. The other night we had stromboli and dipped it in spaghetti sauce. Nicholas just requested a spoon and ate the spaghetti sauce as if it was tomato soup.

Nicholas will suddenly decide he is done eating and get this panicky look on his face like he is claustrophobic and the walls are closing in around him. We are working on saying, "May I please be excused from the table." Right now all he can muster is, "I'm stuck. I'm stuck. I'm stuck. GET ME OUT OF HERE. GET ME OUT OF HERE."

Nicholas still uses a binkie during nap time and bed time. Sometimes I let him have it when we read a story before bed. When he talks with the binkie in his mouth it gets the binkie wet with spit. This upsets Nicholas and he will give me his binkie to wipe off.

I went to a Relief Society meeting and took Nicholas because there was going to be child care. I told Nicholas we were going to a hot chocolate party, because the activity was a game night with a hot chocolate bar. Now he ALWAYS wants to have a hot chocolate party.

Favorite Books:
  • Thomas the Train
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Puppy Present
  • Hungry Caterpillar
  • Mama Bear, Mama Bear. What do you see?

Grandfather Muhlestein and Nicholas at Five Guys Burgers enjoying Nicholas' favorite foods.

Nicholas spent 20 minutes giving this duck drinks, hugs, and a bath.

Nicholas' gingerbread house. It had a few more decorations on it, but Nicholas thought they could be put to better use in his mouth.

Nicholas working on his gingerbread house. He ate a whole dish full of gumdrops.

I took this picture before Nicholas and I headed down this huge slide at The Ark. I almost love going down the slide as much as Nicholas. I can get going REALLY fast on it!!

Nicholas loves wearing our shoes around the house.

Nicholas at the Bob the Builder exhibit at the Museum.

Nicholas' imagination turned this pipe into his "shooter." He is pure boy.

Nicholas' first rootbeer (aka root juice) float.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nicholas at 27 months

Weight: 33 lbs

Favorite Activities:
  • Looking for bugs (We watched A Bugs Life and we have a bug catcher and net that he loves to carry around at the park.)
  • Throwing rocks in piddles (aka puddles)
  • Running "super" fast
  • Drawing circles
  • Coloring
  • Playing in a bubble bath
  • Playing hide and seek
  • Playing with the ipad
Favorite Books:
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Santa's Stuck
  • The Hungry Caterpiller

Nicholas Makes Me Laugh:
The other day he was drawing a picture and he proudly told me, "It's lookin' good like Mr. Incredible." I asked him, "Is Mr. Incredible really good looking?" Nicholas enthusiastically replied, "OH YEAH, Mom!!!"

We have been trying to teach Nicholas to be careful and not to break other people's things because it hurts their feelings and sometimes we can't fix everything we break. We were at the park examining a huge ant hill and going over how ants bite when Nicholas reached down and picked a little plant in the middle of the ant hill and a stream of ants started coming out of the hill. I told him, "Ants are so sad when you break their house. Look they are all coming out of their house. Careful they are so sad they might bite you." He looked down closely at the ants and said, "Yeah, Mom. Sometimes I break our house and Mamma so sad that she cries."

Nicholas has been doing really well sleeping in his big boy bed. Some nights he will come out a couple of times. The first time he gets out of bed, we ask him, "Did you forget it is bedtime? Do you need some help going back to sleep?" Usually, we let him pick one of his toys to take back to bed with him. If he comes out a second time, we make him go to time out. A couple of nights ago when he popped out of his room for the second time, he said, "I don't want to go to time out. I want to be happy." He was spared the time out chair because I was laughing so hard.

Nicholas' favorite delay tactic for going to sleep is he will tell me he needs certain toys before he goes to bed. For example, he might need his turkey baster, flute, or a certain remote. The other night he ran out of ideas of what else he could request. He started saying, "I need, I need, I need, I need..." I leaned in closer to hear what it was he needed. He took that opportunity to grab my nose and laugh hysterically.

Nicholas likes to talk on his cell phone. This was a conversation he had the other day, "I'm calling Mama. Mama what are you doing? You are having so much fun with me. Yeah. Okay. Love you. See you later." After he hung up he decided to call Grandma and Grandpa, "Grandma and Grandpa, what are you doing? You want to play games with me. Okay. Love you. See you later. Come and visit me. Happy New Year."

The other day we were at the park with one of his friends. She is about a year and a half and she loved to mother and touch Nicholas. Nicholas found this very upsetting. He would tell her, "Stop pushing me." He also had to keep reminding himself that he was a "nice boy" and that he shouldn't push her back. Finally he resorted to running from her. It was hilarious to watch him run from this little girl that was half his size. He was so upset as he ran away that he tripped and I couldn't help laughing.

Looking at ants.

Nicholas with Bark.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Counter Strike

When we first saw our house, one of our first thoughts was, "what's up with those funky countertops?" Soon after moving in, we realized that they were hexagonal tiles which had been painted over by a peachish-beige. Soon after that, we realized that the paint job was more of a quick fix than actual solution, as it soon began to flake off and reveal patches of the underlying tile. Needless to say, this was not one of our favorite features of the house.

We have wanted to do something about this for a long time, but realized our options were limited by time and budget. Replacing them with laminate would have been in the thousands of dollars range. Repainting them as before seemed like it would just get us back into the same boat we were already in. Maren did quite a bit of research into what options we had, and this Christmas break we decided to go ahead and try what seemed like the best one.

We first spent several weekends sanding down the old paint. We were worried that painting on top of poorly adhered paint would just perpetuate our problem. When that was done and the break started, we began to paint. First we used a special chemical to clean the surface and let it dry. Thent we put a coat of primer down on the counter and backsplash. Then we did a coat of "silky" black. We found some paint chips used for texturing, and after running them through the food processor, we liked the size they were. We got an old spice bottle and applied it salt and pepper style while the paint was still wet. Once this dried, we began putting a polyurethane coat over it. We thought that 3-4 would be sufficient, but I guess our paint chips were thicker than we expected, because we ended up doing 10 before we were satisfied with how smooth it was. The polyurethane goes on totally clear, and gives it a nice shine. It's probably not as nice as brand new counter tops, but we did the whole project for about $150 dollars including tools/supplies, and have been pleased with how it turned out. We are also satisfied it will be much more durable than the previous single coat had been with the all of the super durable coating layers we added and the careful surface preparation. Please tell us what you think!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Teaching the Joy of Giving

This Christmas we worked really hard to teach Nicholas about the joy of giving gifts, and we were marginally successful. Our first step was to have him help pick out gifts for the neighbors. He loved picking out wrapping paper to give them and tying the card on it. He even picked out a special doggy toy and treat for our next door neighbor's dog Ozzie. He worked really hard at making a very colorful Christmas card for Ozzie and was so excited. However, things didn't go as smoothly when it came to giving the gifts to the neighbors.

At the first neighbor's house, Nicholas broke down in tears when he handed her the wrapping paper. He was a little better giving the second neighbor her gift, mostly because he was distracted by her dog Toy. At the third neighbor's house, we gave the wrapping paper to them and Nicholas gave the gift for Ozzie. He was so upset that Ozzie didn't come to the door that he had a second breakdown.

Later that month, we took Nicholas to Dollar Tree and had him buy a gift for Papa, Mama, and Lexi. Papa helped him shop for me. Nicholas decided that I really needed a spatula and a turkey baster. Papa also helped Nicholas shop for Lexi. Nicholas insisted that Lexi needed a princess. He looked through all the Barbie dolls and found the perfect one for her. It was really sweet. Then I took him to shop for Papa. He bought Papa two badminton racquets and a bug catcher. When we got home, he helped wrap by being in charge of the tape. He also made cards for each of the presents.

On Christmas, he was very excited for us all to open our gifts. However, he didn't really get the concept that he had purchased and wrapped the gifts for us. He was only excited for us to open our gifts so he could adopt the presents back. It seems like Nicholas learned to enjoy the shopping and wrapping part of gift giving but not the actual giving part. Oh, well. We have something to work on for next year:)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Christmas Fun

Here are some of our favorite memories from this Christmas:
  1. Our all time favorite Christmas tradition down here in Texas is visiting Bethlehem Revisited in Waxahachie. A local church in this little town recreates Bethlehem at the time of Christ. You can follow Mary and Joseph through Bethlehem to the manger. You can follow the wisemen who have real camels as they visit Herod and the Christ child. You can even see the shepherds with real sheep as they are visited by an angel. There are tons of actors that all stay in character and have fabulous costumes. Nicholas especially loved the Roman soldiers with their sword and shield and King Herod's dancers' skirts. Nicholas also loved petting all the chickens, goats, and sheep that were running around. When we visited the tax collector's hut, he gave Nicholas a tiny coin which Nicholas treasured until he lost it. My favorite part was tasting the hummus and bread balls dipped in honey that they cooked on an open fire. Joseph's favorite part this year was the synagogue. They had a Rabbi in there teaching some of the young Jewish students and interacting with the crowd. Joseph had a lot of fun testing the Rabbi's knowledge. The Rabbi loved their debate so much that he gave Joseph a little yamaka to wear.
  2. This was our first Christmas not in Utah. It helped a lot though that we had some of Joseph's brothers and sisters come down and visit. Nicholas had the best time with all the attention he received. We took all the aunts and uncles down to the Stockyards in Fort Worth and tried out a new BBQ place called The Railhead. (We give it the reward for the best sausage we have had in TX so far.)

  3. Almost every Sunday in December, we spent the night driving around and seeing Christmas lights. It worked out well because Nicholas would be so tired from missing his nap due to church being at 1 that he would pass out on the drive to the lights and then wake up and see all the Christmas lights. He LOVED looking at the lights. Our favorite place to go see lights was up in Deerfield near Plano.
  4. This was our second year going to the Nativity Festival in Carrollton. They gather tons of nativities from around the community and put them on display. It is fabulous. They also had a bell choir and Nicholas' attention was completely captivated by their performance. We were so grateful that Nicholas was strapped into his stroller so he couldn't break anything. Nicholas' favorite nativity was the one made of puppies.
  5. We went to lots of Christmas parties. Nicholas would get so excited when I would tell him we were going to go to a party. All day long he would tell me, "Lets go to the party now and eat lots of food and play lots of games."
  6. Joseph and Nicholas went to the train display at Gaylord Texas. Even more than the trains Nicholas enjoyed the fountain.
  7. Nicholas loved doing his advent calender. He also loved eating candy canes and drinking/making hot chocolate.