Thursday, September 22, 2016

Jane's actual birthday

On Jane's actual birthday, Chris had to work most of the day and evening. He ended up coming home for an hour in the afternoon to celebrate this girl so we could have her open her presents and have cake. That morning, though, we ended up going to the park with some friends who also were free that day. The park turned out to be much more of an adventure than we had initially planned. There is a playground area there but we decided to take a nature walk together on some trails behind the playground. There was a big, wide path that we started out on, and we had gone down it a little ways when we decided to head back on a slightly narrower trail that looked like it curved back toward the playground. We kept walking and the trail kept winding but at this point, the older kids were running far ahead and having a great time so we weren't too concerned. After about a mile or more, we started realizing that all the winding was clearly not taking us back toward the playground, which began the first of many deliberations about whether we should push on forward "because it has to be a loop and we can't be far from the end" or whether we should turn around and head back the way we came, which would be a guaranteed long walk, but at least we knew it would only be one or one and a half miles. By the time we had gone probably around two miles, I started the Map My Ride app on my phone because it shows me trails while biking and I thought I might be able to pick up what trail we were on. It didn't have any of the trails in this park mapped (that I could see), so a bit later down the trail, someone else started looking up trail maps for the park on their phone. She found a park map, but then thought we were on a different trail than the one we ended up being on. We continued to forge ahead and finally found a trail marker figuring out which trail and what point on the trail we actually were on. At this point we had walked well over 2 miles and the older kids were getting tired. We figured out on the trail map which trails we had to connect to to get back onto the trail that led to the playground, so we successfully navigated back out of the woods, but not without a stretch of the three moms carrying all five children between us. All in all it went fairly well...all of the kids were a bit on edge by the end, though.

That afternoon, Eleanor absolutely insisted that Jane get her own birthday string so she could "show her" how to follow it and open her presents. What ended up happening is that Eleanor opened all of Jane's presents and Jane couldn't have cared less. The second picture shows Jane playing in the background while Eleanor and her friend check to see what Jane got :)

Jane got to take another pass at her cake as she wasn't really into it at our small group party. This time she really liked it.

Happy birthday, Jane!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Jane's first birthday (and our small group party!)

For Jane's birthday this year, we decided not to do a big separate party because we were already hosting our Small Group's kick off party for the fall that same week. We decided we would have Jane's birthday cake as dessert for our Small Group party and just have it double as a little birthday party for her. One of the couples in our group this past year is moving and this was their last weekend here in Virginia. We are so thankful for this crew and love doing life with these people. We will miss our friends who are moving but are excited to see what this year brings. Our Small Group (2015 - 2016):

We made dinner for the group and set up the tables inside (because of the lingering heat). It was chaotic with 8 children 3 years old and under, but we all had a fantastic time. 

And the kids...8 of them...all girls!

Everyone sang Happy Birthday to Jane before we broke out dessert.

I made Jane a blueberry-lemon cake with blueberry frosting (and made her a mini-cake).

She was definitely not as into cake as Eleanor was at her first birthday, but gave it a decent show.

Happy FIRST birthday, sweet Jane!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Jane is one year old!

Jane is one year old! Where did this year go? Jane's first year went by so much faster than Eleanor's! She weighs about 23 pounds and we will be checking the rest of her stats at her doctor's appointment next week.

Jane is pulling up on everything and constantly seems to want to be on her feet. She is cruising slowly around furniture and loves to walk using her walker. She is not standing unassisted though, or taking any steps yet. She is on the move though and crawls much faster than her sister ever did. She also has recently decided that she hates swings. This poor girl used to love them, but now as soon as you put her on one (even if she is in my lap), her entire body tenses, she starts shaking, and then the tears and screaming start. I have no idea how this happened. Jane is starting to babble more. She regularly says, "mama," "dada," and "ah-nah" which I really think might be "Eleanor." Her favorite thing to do (still) is dance - this girl will groove to anything, be it a song, a commercial, or a jingle in the middle of the grocery store. She loves prayer time with Eleanor in her crib just before she goes to bed - they both bounce and dive around and giggle a lot. Jane loves to laugh, especially when you kiss her belly or tickle her. Perhaps the thing she loves most of all though is food. Jane out eats Eleanor every night at dinner, putting away at least twice what her big sister eats and at least twice as fast.

Jane's hair is getting longer and thicker, and has a bit of a curl to it. This is shocking to me as Eleanor's was always stick straight. She still only has two teeth but I can see her top four central teeth beneath the gums and as we've had two bloody mouth incidents in the last couple days, I'm guessing they'll be in any day. She is napping once or twice a day depending on what we have going on that day and sleeps from about 7:30 pm to just after 6:30 am each night.

Eleanor at twelve months for comparison:

Jane at onetwothreefourfive, sixseveneightnineten, and eleven months old.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Last Water Country visit this year

Water Country ended up staying open for one additional weekend past Labor Day so this last weekend, we headed over there to enjoy our last pool time this year. It was kind of overcast that morning, but it really worked to our favor because we got to ride everything we wanted without waiting.

We all had a pretty great time and we are all looking forward to next summer when Jane is walking and we'll be able to go on all of these rides as a family.

Eleanor and Jane spent a lot of time in one of the kid pools just going down slides and playing bumper boats.

As for now, we are washing and putting away our bathing suits until next summer...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Labor Day

This year we didn't have any plans for Labor Day because I generally pick that day as my summer holiday to work. We were all very pleasantly surprised though when I called in that morning and they said they didn't need me! I was on call in the morning and then free for the rest of the day. We decided to use the day to go to Busch Gardens one last time for the official end of the season since Chris and Eleanor's passes expired on Labor Day. It was probably the most crowded day I've been this entire summer, but we went with friends and had fun.

We got Eleanor measured on the way in and I don't know whether it was a generous measurement or a different pair of shoes, but they measured her as tall enough to ride Grover's Alpine Express - the kid roller coaster that we have snuck onto once before and since been kicked off of every other time this summer. She was thrilled.

We also watched the Sesame show in Sesame Forest where I learned that sweet Jane is terrified of the characters. I wasn't even watching for the tears because Eleanor has never had that issue, but our girl was shaking and crying while standing and watching in the stroller. A lady in front of me actually tapped me on the shoulder to tell me she was upset because I couldn't see her face and I just assumed she was enjoying it. She did watch the rest of the show from my arms and didn't seem to mind from that vantage point.

Later that night, we realized everyone in our small group was free so we got together and had pizza at our neighborhood park together. I think we would have planned something a little more elaborate for Labor Day with a bit more advance notice but I thought I was going to be working so this was a bonus day for me!

Happy Labor Day and hello fall!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

York River State Park

One Saturday morning in August we didn't have anything planned and we decided to check out a local park that we hadn't been to before. We decided on York River State Park and happened to go on Estuaries Day. They had tons of stuff for kids, such as coloring, painting, animals (including a few roaming turtles), archery, "fishing," kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, treasure hunting, hiking, and honestly the list goes on and on. Most of the activities were geared toward older kids because they had educational components (about estuaries!) that Eleanor was not able to grasp yet. She still painted a fish and looked at the animals, but wasn't able to understand the environmental concepts they were trying to convey.

She also "fished" with Chris using a real pole but fake fish, which were labeled with pictures for older kids to learn the types of fish that live in estuaries. Eleanor loved the "crappies."

She learned about boating safety from the coast guard's mascot "Coasty." (Creative name, I know.)

Then we were led around by a pirate (AmeriCorps volunteer) using fun GPS things (kind of like geocaching) to discover pirate treasure throughout the park and learn the history of the pirates that used to live in this area.

We ate some lunch near the York River.

Then we decided to head down a trail where we found a park employee who was going to give a seining demonstration. Since seining wasn't really our speed (involves cooperation), we just grabbed a net and searched for estuary animals. We didn't catch anything before Eleanor accidentally stepped on my foot underneath the mud, thought it was some kind of animal, and wanted to get out of the water. We watched from the shore while other kids caught some crabs and let Eleanor look at their catches. Jane, on the other hand, was all about it and kept trying to grab the pole connected to our net which made things a bit difficult.

We then just decided to hike the rest of Beaver Trail back around Woodstock Pond to where we had initially parked when we came in. Eleanor alternated between hiking and riding when she got tired.

We had a blast. We will definitely plan on heading back to this park at some point!