Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Days with Dad

This past week contained quite a lot of bonding time for Chris and Eleanor. First, daycare was closed on Veteran's Day (thank you, veterans, for your service to our country, particularly my family: my dad John, Chris' dad Bob, sister Erika, grandparents, uncles, and cousins). Then, on Thursday, Eleanor was sick so she had to stay home. On Saturday, I had a baby shower for a friend to attend, so they had another half day together then. It was a busy week for them!

They took walks outside...

...raked leaves...

...learned how to climb the cabinets...

...built a fort...

...and on Saturday they had a group daddy and daughter Chick-fil-a date!

Chris sent me pictures throughout the days so I could pretend I was there with them! I love that they had so much time together this week.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Gmom and Uncle Rob visit!

Last weekend, Chris' mom and brother came down to visit! They both brought their bikes, AND they brought down the bike we got Chris for his birthday back in September. The frame of Chris' new bike is too big for us to fit in our sedan-style cars, so we weren't able to get it down any sooner. Saturday morning we headed out on the bike's inaugural ride around Jamestown Island and out to Black Point.

That afternoon/evening we tailgated and went to the W&M football game. Eleanor particularly enjoyed all the attention of people holding her.

We relaxed around the house that evening and the next morning before church. Eleanor even got to play bubbles inside with Gmom. We went to church together Sunday morning.

Then we hit the open road again, this time heading to the Chickahominy River.

Thank you for coming down Gmom and Uncle Rob!! We still have more visitors next week before the official beginning of the holiday season...I LOVE when people come to visit! I also can't believe we will be heading to visit family for Thanksgiving in less than two weeks...

Friday, November 14, 2014


I've had several people ask me about "baby" sign language, so I wanted to elaborate a bit. Yes, we started teaching Eleanor some signs - I actually started signing with Eleanor when she was just a couple months old. I'm not actually sure if the signs are different between "baby" sign language, or if it's just standard ASL that you use with your baby.  (All signs were learned by googling the ASL sign and watching a youtube video on how to sign it.)

At the beginning, we only used the signs I thought she'd think were important: milk, more, all done, and bath.

Eleanor started signing back at us between 10-11 months and it has been pretty incredible how much easier communication became with her at that point and how much less frustrated she seemed. We've since taught her more signs (sleep, thank you, please, phone, ball). I use other signs with her that she does not sign back but understands (pain/hurt, book, change, diaper, cracker, light, mom, dad). Daycare taught her some signs that we didn't catch on were signs until I realized how frustrated she was getting. She kept repeating the same motions at me (clean up, my turn) - these signs I had to google the action to see if they were, in fact, signs, and what they meant. She has also made up some of her own signs (dance, pacifier, the end). With the ones she makes up, they generally reflect the concept she's trying to convey. For example, her sign for "the end" is very similar to "all done" but with a lot less waving. Her sign for "pacifier" is the sign for "milk" and then tapping her mouth afterward. There are also signs that we sign to her (help, bless you) that she knows, but has made up her own sign that somewhat mirrors the actual sign, but the sign itself seems too complicated for her. All together, Eleanor probably signs about 20 different things, and understands about 30. It is certainly an imperfect process, but has been very helpful overall in her being able to get her point across.

So here is a video of Eleanor using her made up sign for "dance" which really means "play some music" (open palms facing forward, waving arms). She signs this any time there is a screen out (phone, ipad, computer) because she knows they play music. You can see how she gets increasingly emphatic with her signs when she feels they go unnoticed early.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Petting Zoo

A couple weeks ago, there was a petting zoo on campus in the sunken garden. We took Eleanor over there in the early afternoon to check it out. She decorated a pumpkin, played in a moon bounce, and then was able to pet goats, chickens, ducks, and ponies.

They apparently have this set up every year during midterms for students so they can "de-stress" but it is also open to the public. There were several other kids there exploring and it was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Hike It Baby

I heard of this challenge called Hike It Baby 30 through a friend of a friend (via social media). The challenge is to hike/walk 30 miles in 30 days (the month of November) with your baby. The real challenge is to get your baby outdoors for 30 miles, so I technically don't have to do all the miles myself, Eleanor just has to go. Anyway, I decided that Eleanor was going to participate, so we kicked off the challenge with an easy stroller-walk on a trail near our house. We invited a new mom who participated with her 5 week old baby, which was a fun opportunity to get to know someone new. I've figured out that Eleanor and I have to average about 2 miles a day on the days I'm home from work in order to complete the challenge during November. There is also the holiday and us being out of town for part of the month, so I'm unsure if we'll actually complete it, but we are going to give it a shot!

As of today, we've gone 9.78 miles (6.04 on wooded trails and 3.02 with Eleanor in the carrier, not the stroller). Hope we make it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

October wrap-up

October is the last month before the holidays kick in. Right after Halloween, I started thinking about my work schedule for November/December, when we would visit family for each holiday, what kind of gifts we'd like to give this year, what kind of traditions we'd like to encourage for our own (small) family, etc. October was full, but I think November might be more full. 

Speaking of Halloween, Eleanor made some holiday-themed art at school this past month. I think she's either got a ways to go or perhaps she's the next Picasso. 

We've been starting to have play dates with a friend at a park on Mondays, and last week Eleanor took a face plant off a small slide. She didn't seem to mind it too much, but she was so dirty she ended up needing a bath.

Eleanor has started eating apples this month. She seems to enjoy the challenge and it keeps her distracted when I am trying to do something like make dinner.

I used to be able to help Eleanor down the steps in the garage and then run back into the house to grab some things before we hit the outdoors, but she has recently discovered the recycling which sits right next to the door. I have come out to find her with some interesting items. Thankfully, we rinse everything before we throw it out there.

We've done lots and lots of playing this the park, in the backyard, with and without friends. She is particularly enjoying digging in things (like mulch).

Eleanor continues to nap whenever she gets tired wherever she is. I would prefer her to always sleep in the crib, but we raised her to be flexible with her naps, and flexible she has become.

We attempted some tennis this month. The racquet is still a bit big.

Grocery shopping is a little more fun when Eleanor gets to ride in a car instead of the cart. They have these grocery baskets at the store nearest our house.

My tomatoes are weirdly still growing. We're starting to get frost at night so I think that might be the official end, but this past month, Eleanor has started picking the tomatoes (which we then give her to eat with dinner. 

I also started trying to give Eleanor non-covered containers. I gave her a cup of cheerios the other day and she tried so hard to eat them with one hand while holding the container with the other, but as you can see they ended up spilling on the floor. Then she decided to take the container to the face to eat. Very entertaining.

We had friends come into town, and it was the first time we lined up all our kids together. How adorable, right? It was good to see them.

Eleanor is gearing up for basketball season! Chris took her to open practice the other day where she hung out with a bunch of the girls we end up sitting with during the season. The older girls still call her "baby Eleanor," and I guess they probably will until there is a new baby sitting in our section.

Maynard (the cabbage patch doll) is still a huge hit in our house. Eleanor takes him everywhere, including outside. The other day I found her in her room putting Maynard into her laundry basket. Then she said "shh shh" so I think she was trying to put him in his "crib." It was adorable. 

On days I'm home, we continue to explore the area by bike. I believe Eleanor and I put approximately 140 miles in on the bike together in the month of October. We take company when we can get it, and ride by ourselves when we can't. We have found lots of interesting roads, neighborhoods, creeks, and rivers. I am sure our biking will decrease significantly as it gets colder, but I am hoping we can keep going out as longs as the weather is somewhat decent.

We also finally switched Eleanor into a new carseat. I found a great deal on one (the same brand I have for Eleanor's other stuff) awhile ago, so we've had it for months and just haven't needed it yet. She had plenty of wiggle room on the weight restriction, but she was borderline too tall for her infant seat. She's now in a bigger one and so far doesn't seem to notice a difference - it's just way less easy for us! Oh well.

I have tons and tons more pictures from the past month, but neither the time nor energy to post them all. This is a good glimpse of what we've been up to though! On to November.