Saturday, December 22, 2012


The holiday season is in full swing, and I actually ended up with a break the weekend before Christmas, since family isn't coming in until Sunday.

 We've had some fun times this season so far - the first weekend in December, my mom, sister, and one of my brothers came around and helped us all set up the tree and decorations. Levi got to pet a doggie (rottweiler puppy) while we picked up our tree, and also kept edging toward the golf carts, seemingly with the intent to drive away with one...

The second weekend in December my other brother came down from NY to visit us, and we had a blast with some local burrito eating, watching The King's Speech, and of course, How I Met Your Mother.

The following weekend, Tim and I had a night out with my wonderful coworkers at a fancy work party...which we got no pictures of. But the night was memorable for the funny stories, and to be honest, the incredible cheesecake that I got to eat two of (sometimes I benefit from Tim's allergies, what can I say?)

A couple of nights later we headed to our annual Life Group Christmas party, with tons of delicious, completely healthy food, and took home a lovely autographed photo of our friends and some candy/dog treats from our famous White Elephant gift exchange.

Mmm... Cornbread batter.
In Levi news, it feels like he's hit an explosion of words. It's really only just a few more than before, but he's been gradually adding words and signs for the past 9 months or so, and in the past couple of weeks he's been very good at repeating us and starting to use several words regularly: banana, Momma, Dada  cheese, cracker, dog, cow, moo, duck, and so on.

Probably tied to the words, he's become slightly obsessed with books about animals, particularly farm animals. There's a book my parents got us called Good Night Farm, and we read that every day, along with books about the zoo, monkeys, bunnies, and so on. Oh, and Sandra Boynton out the wazoo - I think hippo might be his next word :)

He's also starting to want to help us do things, or do things himself more. Cooking with daddy, dishes with mommy - even dipping the bubble wand himself before letting one of us blow the bubbles.

Levi is also getting very good at cleaning up - sometimes after himself, sometimes after us :) If he makes a mess during dinner, it's his job to pick up things that fell on the floor, and if he spills his milk by tipping his cup sideways, he has to wipe it up. He can spill all of his toys out of his toybox...but he has to pick them up after. And he's regularly coming around behind us (read: Tim) and closing cabinet doors, the fridge, the drawer with the trash in it....yes. Next up: folding laundry at 20 months :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Are you still there smiley?

We're working on more sign language, since Levi is starting to use the few he knows regularly. He uses more, all done, please, and now thank you pretty often (sometimes it takes prompting). Also: touchdown. We're working on "help" next. And we're also working on using our words - mainly to say "mama" if he needs something, rather than whining or yelling.

We're also still working on identifying body parts. So far he's pretty good at eyes, nose, and occasionally ears. And of course - his belly. If you ask for his belly he'll lift up his shirt like a good little streaker for you.

Levi has fully entered the gaping, confused look photo stage. He still smiles regularly, but the moment the camera is turned on him bam. slack jawed, vacant eyes, wondering where exactly he is and what exactly he's doing.

He'll spend hours (well, OK, minutes, but he's only a year and a half old, so minutes are kind of like hours) playing with a piggy bank. Putting the coins in one by one, then taking out the rubber plug and starting all over again. Thanks Nannan and Papa for the England present.

We got Levi his own monster slippers for Christmas (Tim's family did Christmas the day after Thanksgiving this year), because he's constantly taking ours off our feet to play with. He loves them :)
 Best we could do for a semi-smiling photo. Thanks for the super cute vest, Auntie Kara and Uncle Matt!

You can't see it in the photo, but Levi's three older (boy) cousins are all playing in the leaves in front of him. He loves to play and hang out, but when he's first getting used to people, he'll just stand and stare for awhile. Like so.

Remember when most of your time as an older sibling was spent keeping the younger kids OUT of your PERFECTLY CONSTRUCTED Legos? No? Just me then? Or - if you're more like Tim, remember when your days consisted entirely of food, cartoons, and Legos, with the occasional short trip to school as an interruption? Anyway, Levi discovered Legos over the holiday weekend. Or rather - when you hit them, they fall apart. He dutifully said "uh-oh" every time, however, that does not translate to actually being sorry.

Playing with Papa and Nannan's brilliant present (more below). He opened that one first....and was pretty content to play with just that one for the rest of the gift opening :)

A toy which entirely involves opening and closing doors after you figure out how to unlock them? Maybe Levi will have a career as a safe cracker and be in a future Italian Job movie!

Reading his new noisy book with Nannan! Levi actually picks out his own book every night and sits quietly in my or Tim's lap to read it.

Maybe on the way to a smile? Maybe?

Levi likes to do all things mommy and daddy do - including dishes, cooking, putting things away, brushing his teeth, etc. I may have had to use three towels to soak up the water on the floor after this last bout of washing the dishes.

Photo bomb by chef Timmy at the end!

Thanks to Auntie Krista for taking marvelous photos in general.

Monday, November 12, 2012


We thought we'd share with you a few new things for Levi that Tim and I find particularly hilarious :)

First - we've been teaching Levi to fist-bump. It takes him awhile to grab on to new skills, but once he gets it, he uses it non-stop. He waves hello, goodbye, thank you, good to see you, etc. waving = most forms of communication for Levi. He high-fives at least three times every time you ask him, and sometimes just starts hitting your hand when you didn't realize it was high-five time. He also signs "please" regularly now, almost every time he signs "more." Manners matter :)

He also tries to wear our shoes nowadays. Not all of our shoes, only certain pairs. He'll go grab them from where they are, put them on the floor, and then circle them, researching the best plan of attack for putting his foot in. Occasionally he can actually walk in the shoes. Or - maybe just one.

Levi can also play on part of our local playground by himself. He climbs up the four steps to the kiddie slide, switches his legs around, and pushes himself down! He even scootches forward to get off the slide onto the mulch below by himself. I forgot the camera today to get pictures of that, but we'll grab some soon.

Right now he has taken everything out of the three kitchen drawers he can reach - tupperware lids, measuring spoons/baking utensils, and plastic bags. And he's mad he can't get to the fourth, and only drawer missing from his schemes. Our kitchen floor is covered. And he's walking around chucking all of the above to decorate it more fully :)

Levi has also discovered stickers - he's been on top of coloring with markers for awhile, but we had some in a Halloween thing, and he started sticking them all over me. He also likes to stick the tape and labels on the Christmas presents I've been wrapping. He's a good little sticker-man.

I should say that Levi is good at coloring on paper...and on people. We make sure he's not going to town on the walls/floors/carpet/furniture/toys, (though I did find chalk randomly on the wall by our backdoor yesterday), and he's usually pretty good about it. I figured skin is fine, so long as he asks permission first (I can see his daycare teachers now with green marker on their faces...). And what is the best body part to color on, you ask? Why, his belly, of course! And mommy's too, shouldaseenthatcoming.

We had some fun family events in the past couple of weeks - Halloween and trick-or-treating, picking out our Christmas tree, and a visit from the fabulous (and favorite) Katie!

He's also slowly figuring out how things like doorknobs, some of his put the right shape in the right hole toys, and other such problem-solving things work. If a door handle is lever-style, he's got it figured out. He knows our old-school doorknobs turn, but he can't figure out quite how they work. (good. hasn't reached adult-level intelligence quite yet, at 18-months old).

Sunday, October 28, 2012

And the beat goes on...

Well, we're battening down the hatches in preparation for our favorite Category 1 Hurricane Sandy who's coming to visit. The rain started at about 4 p.m. today, and the trees around our house are looking more bare by the hour as the wind has kicked up.  We'll see how it goes as the next 72 hours unfold.

But back to the important things: Our cute little boy. Who really is a true little boy - I know I've blogged about that before, but when I was stepping into the elevator at daycare the other day, I smelled his little blonde, curly head, and Levi has officially lost that soft baby smell. He (thankfully) has not reached full-on boy smell, which I'm afraid to say I suspect smells like sweat, dirt, and other less-savory things. Right now we're in the yogurt, bananas, and hot dog smell phase :)

We had the last swimming lesson of the fall on Saturday, working on kicking, jumping in the pool, blowing bubbles, and being OK on his back in the water. We practice some of his skills in the bathtub (where the water is much, much warmer), blowing bubbles, lying on our tummies and kicking, etc. Sometimes, if the water's low in the tub, we make waves. but not too often:)

Its crazy how much Levi keeps learning things and growing up. I remember thinking a few weeks back that it seems to be going slower than it was the first year of his life -- but he's still packing so much information in and learning every day. I think I read somewhere that kids learn the most in the first five years of their life, and Levi's well on his way there. Since he can understand us pretty well now, we're working on listening to mommy, daddy, and his teachers. Levi does things like wiping his face, and putting his toys away (usually) on command. He uses a spoon instead of his hands most of the time, and even brushes his teeth pretty well. We're going for thoughtful and civilized as wee\ raise him, though we still embrace getting dirty and wrestling :)

His language also seems to be developing - though we still hardly know what he's saying most of the time. He now says "yay!" when he's clapping, usually congratulating himself on completing some basic task. He sounds like he's trying to repeat what we say, so we're trying to teach him basic names of the things he interacts with every day. And also, fun words like "shenanigans." Because why not?

He takes the talking to himself pretty far - most nights, he goes to bed without crazy scream fests, and for awhile after he goes to bed, we can hear him in his room chatting with himself, his blanket, and his pillows. Not sure what they're discussing in the dark, but he seems to find it entertaining, because about half of the chatting involves laughing like crazytown :) maybe he's got imaginary friends???
Most of the photos on this post are from our recent four-day vacation down to Virginia Beach. We'd never been there before, and weren't sure about how a family vacation with an 18-month-old would go, but it actually was very, very nice. We spent the first day at the aquarium, as it was raining in the morning. Saturday, we filled our time with just about everything beachy you could imaging: Swimming in the heated pool, lounging on the beach, playing in the ocean, going for a bike ride up and down the boardwalk, and dinner out on a beautiful porch with fresh seafood. It was actually kind of nice to have to work with Levi's nap schedule and early bedtime - I got to go to the gym, we rested and read books and sat out on our balcony in sight of the ocean, and enjoyed the jetted-tub in our suite. We spent Sunday walking the boardwalk and visiting a super awesome brand-new playground before heading back home. We took the more scenic route, crossing a 13-mile bridge.tunnel, and then driving up Route 1 along the coast of Maryland and Delaware. A lovely little vacation in the midst of a busy fall!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Woah woah woah. woah.

 Levi has begun his verbal word collection with the rather quirky "uh-oh." Granted, he uses this not entirely appropriately, generally after chucking something across the room or taking his shoes off on purpose. He thinks he fools us....but we know better (that's truly entering parenthood, no? When your child spends his life thinking he pulled a fast one, but you're miles ahead of them. My mom literally knew what every single one of her children were going to do before they did it. 24 hours a day.)

So far other semi-recognizable words include "ca-kro" (or, cracker, for the visual learner), "ah-Day" for Daddy, and my personal favorite "Woah woah woah." I taught him that last one. Its what I say when I'm chatting with him/playing/changing his diaper/entertaining him on car rides, and can mean anything from "stop what you are doing and put your hands up!" to "that made me laugh" to "I'm stronger than you, and you know it." Its the intonation of such a tiny person saying things in exactly my tone of voice.

We're also trying to teach him rather grand vocabulary -- starting with "incontinent." Early potty-training here. 

We also have moved both forward and backward on the food front. I think I mentioned before that he's good on peanuts, and eats graham crackers with peanut butter just about every day. But we've narrowed down a slight reaction he had one time to Mott's cinnamon applesauce. And since he eats both apples and water all the time, he might be allergic to either high fructose corn syrup, or cinnamon, the only other ingredients. (mom, that's what the rash on his face was that night you were here). So we're going to experiment...on our one-year-old. Healthy family life, right? And talk to his doctor, don't worry.

Little engineer, hard at work
Levi had a lovely visit with my mom, or Grandma, about a week ago. We played in the park, ate lots of food, and Levi napped :)Then then next day we went to the science museum in Harrisburg, which was pretty small but incredibly interactive. I've decided I would like to be a Foley artist. When I retire. They add sound effects to movies - I practiced adding them to a scene in Julia and Julie. It was so exciting that yes, I had to tell you about it on a blog about my son :) Levi had a grand old time, both in the section specially for under 5s (how awesome is that??!) and in the regular area for kids and adults too - many buttons to push, chairs to sit on, etc.

Simulated hurricane at the science museum.

And we can't close this blog without a friendly trans-Atlantic wave to Grammy, Grandad, and the rest of the Besant contingent. We are with you in spirit, particularly the spirit of Levi's new red galoshes (Thanks Auntie Krista!).

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Little Pumpkin

There are many reasons to have children: getting other people to take care of your home and yard for you, giving someone the responsibility to care for you in your old age, and the most important: entertainment.

Levi is constantly entertaining us. Yesterday while we were sitting on the front porch, Levi kept walking around and around in a circle, essentially running laps, and cracking up every time he rounded another...corner of our porch. Somehow, it's hilarious. One day he very carefully put the pieces of bacon we gave him for dinner on top of a dishcloth, which was on top of his sippy cup. When we handed him the bacon again to eat, he delicately put it back on the cloth....yes. He seems to have such intensive reasoning processes and conversations in his unknown language, and it's so funny :)

Helping Daddy cook
Recently, we turned Levi's carseat around to face forward. Safety standards recommend to face backward until kids turn two, so we were aiming to keep him that way as long as possible, but we're pretty sure he gets carsick. He's randomly thrown up three times (aside from when he actually had a tummy virus) in the car. The good news? Tim and I can clean up Levi, area of the incident, and be back to business in only a few minutes now. The bad news? That's not a skill we really want to have.

Yay for hugs!
Oh - but why I was explaining that originally was to tell you Levi's new habit of straining as high as he can to see out of the windshield. Tim calls it Levi's "peeking" face. I never had a mirror that worked in my car to see him while I drove, so this is pretty exciting. I turn around at red lights all the time to say hi. He either has his peeking face on or his "zoning because I'm in a car and now I'm super tired" face. Both equally funny.

Related to that, Levi has been sick to his stomach pretty often over the past few weeks. Once he actually had a little virus, but he's been throwing up pretty regularly at night - just once each night, two or three nights a week. He's not fussy, he's fine during the day, nothing at all seems to be wrong. So we're thinking it could be one of two things: either acid reflux, or celiac (inability to process wheat products). We've been tracking what he eats, and eliminated carbs for dinner in case its the former. He actually hasn't thrown up since we eliminated carbs and made sure he eats at least an hour before bed, so we'll see how it goes. We'll chat with his doctor about it at his next appointment, or sooner if it seems to be worsening. He's already got some seasonal and environmental allergies from my side of the family; we were hoping to avoid the food issues from Tim's.

What's the deal with that, anyway? I thought your kids were supposed to get the best qualities you have. Levi has: my stinky feet, the habit I have of making noises to narrate everything I'm doing; Tim's (previous) tendency to eat and eat until he's a little sick to his stomach, and more that I can't think of right now Not that he also doesn't have good qualities, but couldn't we just remove the not-so-great qualities of genetics when we reproduce?

Levi's newest love is markers. Sometimes drawing with them. Other times just putting the caps on and off, which he can't really do by himself, so he brings them over to us to do that. He also prefers to color on papers that are already colored on, rather than a new piece of construction paper.

We had our first swimming lessons with Levi today, which he of course loved. For the first time in his life, he seemed to stop kicking though, which was ironic I guess. he did like the jumping off of the side part and playing with the kickboard. Aaaaand got rowdy when we were trying to leave, of course.

Fall is my favorite time of year - it makes me SO energized and happy. I keep thinking of fall activities we can do, and fall decorations. Last weekend we went apple picking with friends, and Levi LOVED it. he picked some of the apples himself, and also ate an apple for the first time - usually he doesn't eat them cut up, but he was all over chomping on a whole apple for a couple of hours. I made two pies for a work party, which were delicious of course, and we brought some extras home to snack on - Ida Reds, very tasty.