Friday, June 29, 2012

A Growing Boy

Since Cruz was born, I've kept a quick log of new discoveries, milestones, and memories on my computer screen, compiling his growth each month in a blog post.  These blog posts are some of my most favorite to look back on, as they give such insight into what we were thinking and going through as parents at that time, not to mention, help us remember those little things that are so easy to forget.  Babies change so fast, and with each new change brings excitement, a little apprehension, and so much happiness.  These posts are found under the 'Cruz Month to Month' tab below the blog header.   

I've often wondered, however, just how long I can keep up with these posts, and when it's a good time to stop documenting those month to month milestones.  It's like when do stop communicating your child's age in 'months' and just settle on 'one and a half,' or 'two'?  After all, will I still be recording Cruz's 'month' post when he's 92 months old???  

So, when we returned home from Mexico the day before Cruz's 20 month 'birthday,' I decided to skip the milestone post and instead focus on unpacking, laundry, and reconnecting with the little man I missed so much.  And now, as irony would have it, I think Cruz has changed and grown more this month than most in the past.  I swear we left a baby at Beau's parents on June 6th, and returned home to a toddler!  I'm blown away every day at his level of skill, mobility, and smarts, and can really see a clear glimpse of who he's going to be as a young boy.  It's so amazing to watch toddlers at work (and a little frustrating at times), and I feel honored to get to provide him with new territory to explore and new learning to discover every single day.  It's exhausting work, but the most rewarding I've ever encountered ;)

So, quite possibly for the last time (we'll see), my Cruz Man at 20 months... 

1.  You are talking so much more than a month ago.  I swear in two weeks' time, you understand every thing we say to you and try your hardest to tell us what it is you want to say.  You answer every question we ask with a causal 'yea,' or a 'no,' and nod your head when we are spot on at figuring you out.  Some of your favorite words are book, bug, elmo, it's broken, bus, birds (as in Angry Birds), banana, pizza, truck, shoes, a hat, night-night, and applegate (we still aren't sure what you mean, but you say this all the time).

2.  You are a pro at animal sounds, and make us laugh with your deep-pitched lion roar, and your very realistic chicken cluck.  You beat your hands against your chest and chant when we request a monkey, and you even slither like a snake.  

3.  You count, but seem to go from one, to two, to three, to nine!  It's pretty adorable, especially when you hold up the corresponding fingers when you're about ready to 'jump' from your anywhere chair.

4.  One of my absolute favorite new 'things' you do is play pretend.  Where kids pick this up is beyond me, but you have these cute little sound effects when you play that are just so 'boy.'  The other day, I caught you filling up the gas tank on one of your play cars, and you were making the 'ssss' sound for the gas.  I was always good at pretending when I was little and sure hope you exercise that imagination, too.

5.  You are a water rat!  We've been to the pool four times this summer, and soon you'll be diving off that board!  You watch the big kids and think you can imitate everything they do, from putting your face in the water, to wanting to go down that crazy slide!  You have a few years until that, but in the meantime, I'm sure you'll keep this mama on her toes chasing you around!

My beach bum...

6.  You've taken to eating again --- like a piggie!  You try lots of new foods, and eat adult-sized portions of the foods you love.  You've stolen your father's heart with your love of the meat group, but haven't impressed him with your love of ketchup and hot dogs!  You would dip anything in ketchup if we gave you that option!  

7.  You are a big 'helper' and like to be a part of EVERYTHING.  Brushing your teeth is a big hit, and you even like to help me put lotion on my legs!  You help me water the flowers every night (making sound effects for the hose sound), and love to copy your daddy, whether he's grilling on the Big Green Egg, or fixing or putting something together.

Helping in the garden... 

8.  You are a music man, and have been since you were a baby.  Your favorite toys are your drums and new kitty piano, and we're amazed at the rhythm you seem to have.  You cock your head to the side like Stevie Wonder when you're really feeling the music, and stick your tongue out when you concentrate (Beau says this is a Jorgensen trait).  Our weekly dance parties in the living room to a music station on TV are so much fun!

I love this picture below so much because it looks like you are reading music.  We went to feed Grandma and Grandpa Hoodjer's kitties on Friday, and you immediately went to work on the keys.  You did this all on your own --- opened up a church hymnal and started to play, keeping your eyes on the music at all times.

9.  You fake wimper and search for 'owies' on your arm just so you can have your boo-boo bunny and get a kiss from mom.  We play this game a few times each week.  

10.  You LOVE to read your books, and have especially developed a love for How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends.

11.  You have officially learned the word 'mine' and say it a little too frequently sometimes.  You definitely DEFINITELY know what you want, and when it's something you can't have (like a candy cane you found before dinner), you throw a pretty good fit!  You no longer want to sit in the front of the cart at Target, and absolutely hate to wear your cute brown flip flops.  You are, however, pretty easy to redirect and distract, and it's a constant game we play ;) 

12.  My favorite phrases you say are 'ohhhhhh, man!' and 'it's broken.'

13.  You continue to charm your way through life and get quite a lot of attention out in public.  We call you 'the mayor' because you're always reaching out to the crowd, waving, and offering a confident 'hi' to them.  

14.  You're a dare-devil, especially when you dive-bomb off the top of your anywhere chair or dive head-first into your baby pool in the backyard!

15.  You continue to be in love with all things Elmo.

Eggs and Elmo on a Saturday morning...

16.  You're working on your two-year molars, evidenced by your usual signs...

17.  You not only dance, but you're proving to be quite the singer, too.  When I ask what songs you want to sing, you always say, 'ummm???' and then put your index finger to your mouth signalling the 'shh' sound for the last verse in The Wheels on the Bus.  Thanks to daycare, you know all the actions to that one, This Little Light of Mine, The B-I-B-L-E, and Row Row Row Your Boat. 

18.  I can finally say you've become a bit of a mommy's boy.  Lately, when I'm in another room, I hear you chirp, 'mom,' throughout the house, and your eyes light up when you see me.  This, of course, makes me want to melt (and rub it in a little since you've been quite the daddy's boy before ;).  And sometimes, out of nowhere, you cup your little hands around my face or wrap your arms around my neck and shower me with's precious.

19.  You snore --- well, kind of.  The other night as Dad was putting you to sleep, he told you to go 'night night.'  Seconds later, you were laying there with your eyes closed, pretending to be asleep by a loud, recognizable snore.  We laughed, of course, and you proceeded to 'snore' for the next half hour!  You definitely learned this trick from Daddy ;)

20.  Speaking of sleeping, it's been a little tricky to get you to sleep lately.  I think it's time for a new room, a new bed, and a new start :)

Happy 20 months, Cruz, better late than never, I guess! 


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Picture Sneak Peek and Giveaway Winner

Last Thursday night, Beau, Cruz, and I reconnected with Darcy from At Play Photo to take some pictures of our family.  Darcy was our go-to photographer throughout Cruz's first year, and I fell in love with her creative style and natural eye.  While many may wonder why I get professional photos taken when I take so many myself, I love getting to see someone else at work, and love getting some pictures of the three of us together.  Most of all, I love that Darcy usually has something up her sleeve that would be pretty hard to recreate myself (not to mention she's a master in the golden light ;).  

Thursday night was the perfect example.  Our scheduled shoot happened to fall during Cedar Falls' Sturgis Falls celebration, which comes complete with an entire street filled with carnival games, rides, and sugary food.  This became the perfect backdrop to document our family at this stage, which at times, feels like a circus!  So, we walked through the carnival, spent way too much money on games, lemonade, cotton candy, and a carrousel ride in hopes to get a smile from Cruz, and mostly chased him around and tried to get him to hold still for two seconds.  I'd say Darcy definitely earned her money after the workout he gave her :)

I love the colors, the amazing light, and the real-life that seems to peer through these images.  Visit here to see our a sneak peek of our images.

Last but not least, a winner of my Amazon Book Hop Giveaway (drum roll, please)...

Congrats to Tamar W., who wrote:
"I recently read Dream New Dreams by Jai Pausch; it was a sad story from the widow of Randy Pausch of the Last Lecture. Certainly not the page turner you were thinking about, but it was sad... "
I will be contacting you shortly with your prize :)

Thanks so much to all who entered.  I LOVED reading all of the titles of the page-turners you are reading, and even added a few to my list.  My mom, a librarian at a public library, was especially grateful :)

Have a great day!

This weekend...

...we watched a live episode of Axe Men.  My husband in a hard hat, fighting over a chainsaw with my dad, who lost a tree in their front yard after a wind storm last week.  

...Cruz even got in on the action!  He loved picking up the heavy branches and handing them to his dad and papa, but wasn't too fond of riding in the back of the tailgate!

...took a long, Sunday afternoon nap.  To the Cubs game, of course ;)

...shared a chocolate shake at the Butler Co. Fair.  I think I got the short end of the stick on that deal...

...worked on our tan at the pool.  Cruz took a 'swim' twice, and did surprisingly well.  A little coughing, some feverish rubbing of the eyes, but no tears!

...I bought a package of Oreos...double stuffed.  And ate them in bed with an extra large glass of freshly brewed sun tea.  

...we replaced our toilet seat - third time in three months...

...we went to church, Wal-Mart, Pancheros, and Sam's Club - oh, and had ice cream for dinner (again).


...I washed the sheets on our bed and dried them on our clothesline.  Let's just say I'm excited to crawl in bed tonight.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Last Call --- Summer Giveaway Hop!

This is the last call to enter my giveaway for a gift card to Amazon!  The giveaway is featured through 'I'm a Reader, Not a Writer,' and focuses on connecting readers and bloggers and promoting new authors and great books!  You have until midnight Tuesday, June 26th to enter.  For direction on how to get qualified, visit here.

I will draw the winner of the giveaway on Wednesday!  

Good Luck and Happy Reading!     

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cruz School - Seeing RED

It could be because my mom taught preschool for years, or the fact that one of my favorite parts of being a teacher was developing new, creative curriculum to engage and empower kids.  It could be because I value learning through discovery, or because Pinterest and its colorful, fun ideas are just so darn addicting.  It could be because Cruz is used to wonderful learning activities at daycare throughout the school year that I feel it's important to continue the engagement in the summer, or maybe it's simply out of sheer boredom, but this summer, Cruz and I have started 'school.'  I'm channeling my secret desire to become a preschool teacher, and introducing Cruz to a different 'theme' each week through a number of simple, fun, and stimulating activities to pull at his senses and add some flair to our summer days.  We started last week, and the two of us had so much fun!    

Each week, I introduce a new theme to Cruz through a discovery box.  I'm starting with colors, as I think they're easier to understand than numbers or letters.  Last week, we kicked off our week with the color red, and we had fun incorporating a number of 'red' activities into our week.

1.  We start with a discovery box.  A box filled with a number of random objects that correspond with the color red.  Most of the them I found lying around the house, and as we know, the less 'toy' it was, the more it seemed to attract Cruz's engagement!

I included a container of Ritz Bits, a red car, a red Elmo phone, a red balloon, an apple, a stuffed crab, a piece of ribbon, a small fuzzy pom pom, a red Solo cup, a ladybug crown Cruz made at daycare, and Cruz's favorite - his very first sucker... a cherry red Dum Dum.

I later caught Cruz in the living room watching Elmo and munching his way through his red apple!  I think he enjoyed it as much as his sucker!

I gave this to Cruz shortly after breakfast Monday morning.  Together, we went through each object at a time and talked about what each was used for, and what they had in common.  Most importantly, I watched Cruz play and gave him room to create using the object provided.  We blew up the balloon and played catch, threw the pom pom into the cup, tried on the crown, and of course, got a taste of that delicious red sucker.  It's amazing how much more engaged Cruz was by the simple fact that I made this box 'different' for him; something out of the norm of his toys, even though each were items already laying around the house.  He played for a long time, and it was fun to see the wheels turning!

2.  The next new adventure we began in honor of red week was Muffin Tin Mondy.  I first discovered this concept on Pinterest as a fun, unique, and creative way to explore a theme, and introduce your kids to new and exciting foods.  Just take out your six-cup muffin tin, find and prepare six different 'finger foods' that correspond with your theme, and let the littles eat their lunch.
For red week, Cruz had a smorgasbord of pepperoni and raspberries, hot dogs with ketchup and spaghettios, watermelon, and red jello for dessert.  We ate outside and pointed out all the red foods as we ate.  Cruz's favorite were the pepperoni and hot dogs (he loves ketchup!).

3.  We had lots of red activities sprinkled throughout the week.  Here is what we did...
Make Something Monday:  With red finger paint in hand, we went out to backyard and made ladybugs about of paper plates.  Cut out some spots with black construction paper, add a couple of eyes (from Hobby Lobby), use pipe cleaners for legs, and attach a wooden dowel to make a fun ladybug craft that works as a fan, a mask, and a paddle for our red balloon!

Read About It Tuesday:  We snuck away to Barnes and Noble for a morning to scour the shelves for a couple of new red books.  We chose some classics: Ferdinand, Corduroy, Olivia, and Clifford the Big Red Dog.  

What's Cookin' Wednesday:  Strawberry Lime Zoku pops!  I even let Cruz sit on the kitchen table to watch 'em freeze!

Be Thoughtful Thursday: We made a Zoku pop for Daddy when he got home from work. 

Go Somewhere Friday: I took Cruz to my hometown to scope out the Butler County Fair.  We had pork burgers and 'red' cherry pie at the Band Stand, walked through the barns to see the bunnies and chickens, and even saw a magic show.  My favorite part of the day was watching Cruz in the petting zoo.  One big fenced in area just full of all kinds of animals---goats, chickens, donkeys, bunnies, ducks, baby llamas, and even a pig---and Cruz, in the middle of it all, casually petting the goats and talking to the llamas!  He was completely outnumbered in the pen, but it didn't seem to phase him!  He never seizes to amaze me, and I could have watched him in there all day long.  

All week, I did my best to point out the world of red to Cruz - red cars on the road, red objects in his books... it's amazing what you see when you set your lens to see it!  This week, we're focusing on the color green, and I've had so much fun turning the tables and thinking of ideas to involve and entertain Cruz.  I've got a bug hunt, garden picnic, and certain Dr. Seuss inspired breakfast in the works... stay tuned!

I'd love to hear your ideas for fun activities, recipes, books, crafts, etc. that incorporate colors, letters, or themes :) 


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