Thursday, December 23, 2010

11 Months Old

I can't believe Caleb turned 11 months old yesterday. Where has the last year gone? I remember last year, being hugely pregnant and trying to enjoy the holidays, while trying not to worry about Caleb's impending arrival and health until he arrived.
He's such a happy little joy. We are in the midst of a bout of the stomach flu right now and thankfully he has stayed healthy. On Monday we were out and about and at one of our stops a middle-aged black man talked and smiled at Caleb for 10 minutes. He was so enamoured with Caleb and it made my day when he said, "He's just so JOYFUL!"
At 11 months Caleb loves to eat and nurse. He isn't much into baby food (especially not fruits), but loves to have pieces of meat, veggies, banana, avocado, and oatmeal on his high chair tray to pick up and put into his own mouth.
He still only has the bottom two teeth, but I'm pretty sure one of his top ones is going to come through within a week or two. He loves to be acknowledged for anything and claps when we clap. He likes to play peek-a-boo and gives high fives. He waves hello and goodbye. He is busy, busy, busy. I don't think I can say he's much of a cuddler unless he's nursing and sleepy, but he is starting to recognize the comfort that comes from relaxing against me or Paul.
We thought he would be walking by his first birthday, but now I'm starting to wonder. He walks along furniture and climbs up to anything and everything. He loves to stand up to the bookcase and pull all the board books off the shelf and drop them in a pile. He puts everything in his mouth. Just last week in the church nursery, I pulled out a piece of wood and a piece of cement, though not at the same time.

He's starting to point to things which is one of the cutest things babies learn to do. He also says "dis" when he points. He loves to stand up to the dishwasher and "help" load or unload. He's started to stick his butt up in the air when he sleeps. He also lays on his tummy in the bathtub which is adorable.
Merry Christmas! May you be blessed by celebrating the birth of Jesus and all that means!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Letter and Photos

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! What a blessed year this was for our family and we hope for yours too. We were most blessed this year by the arrival of Caleb Isaac on January 22, 2010. He was 7lbs. 14oz. and 19.5 inches long. Although he had to spend the first few days of his life in the NICU due to hyperbilirubinemia, he has been healthy since. He is now 10 months old and very active. He's been crawling for over two months and is now pulling himself to standing and walking along furniture. He is a happy guy who loves eating things off the floor, trying to sneak into the bathrooms, and laying on his tummy in the bath. He has auburn hair which we hope stayes that way. While Caleb could never replace Felicity, his presence inour family has helped us with the healing process. We thank God for bringing him into the world and into our family.

Elijah is 4 and growing by leaps and bounds. While he is not officially in school yet, he joins us for part of our homeschooling day. He is learning to write his letters and identify their sounds. Just recently he has become self-motivated to do addition and subtraction problems. He loves to talk when he should be eating and eat when it's not mealtime (snacks!). He is currently wearing most of the clothes Ethan wore a year ago and if things continue this way, he may soon surpass Ethan in weight. He enjoys crafty things as well as being active. He is doing a gym class and a cooking class through our home school co-op.

Ethan is 8 and in third grade. He is learning multiplication and cursive this year. While he doesn't always enjoy writing, he is really good at it and started a blog as a way to learn computer skills and improve his writing. Check it out here. He loves to go biking, play the wii and attend AWANA. His sense of humor is blossoming and he's always making plays on words in the attempt to be funny. He is a big helper with Caleb, though Caleb is getting quite heavy for him to carry.
Paul continues on at Honeywell and has done a bit of traveling this year although nothing out of the country. We attended the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators conference in Rochester in the spring, which was a nice getaway with just the baby. In July, we spent a few days vacationing in Duluth as a family. In August, after helping with a church nursery remodel, I was spurned on to begin painting our house. I had been wanting some color in the house and the walls were in a sorry state since we never painted before moving in. We painted most of the upstairs level as well as the downstairs bathroom. It was quite the project with all our vaulted ceilings and with a baby in the house. I plan on painting our bedroom in the spring and possibly using the leftover red paint on the chicken coop with the help of a certain hard-working eight year old. I continue to lead La Leche League meetings, volunteer as nursery coordinator at church, and blog. We had a very bountiful garden harvest this year, especially with tomatoes, so I was able to freeze many quarts of spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce. Paul was recently voted in as a trustees at church, so he looks forward to using his time and talents in that capacity.
We have many goals for the coming year, especially in the areas of becoming more self-sufficient. We're looking at getting more chickens (ours disappeared this year, probably the victims of a local coyote gang), starting some bee hives, possibly getting a milk cow, and who knows what else! We're very blessed to have the space and land to accomplish many of these goals if we put forth the time and effort. If you're ever in the area, we'd love to have you stop by! May God bless and keep you and your family in the coming year!
Love from Paul, Rachel, Ethan, Elijah, and Caleb

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Year in Status Updates

I think you can click on this to make it larger. Kind of a fun "summary" of facebook status updates.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Few of our Favorite Things: Christmas Gift Edition

I thought I'd share some of our favorite toys/games/stuff. I'm always in need of gift ideas and I figure some of you may too. 'Tis the season! Rush Hour has provided hours of fun at our home (and fighting over who gets to play next!). While the original Rush Hour (the car version) says it's for ages 8 and up, Elijah was playing some of the easiest scenarios before he turned four. The object is to get the red vehicle out of the traffic jam by moving the vehicles around. Paul has mastered the car one, so I got him the Railroad Rush Hour, which is harder. These are available in game stores as well as through Amazon.
Jonathan Park audio adventures are great for teaching kids how to defend creationism from a young earth standpoint, all while listening to exciting stories. These are available from Vision Forum.
The String Along Lacing Kit is great for boys and girls. Elijah got it for his 4th birthday and has been happily creating pictures ever since. Instead of your traditional lacing kits, where you lace through holes, this lacing kit has a plastic "pen" you put your string into and then the board pinches the string as you move it from spot to spot. Then to undo the picture, you just pull on the string. It comes with many different colored strings and patterns.
These computers were purchased 1-2 years ago. We found the first for Ethan for Christmas 2008. It was the only non-brand name one we could find. The leapfrog ones are expensive and when you compare them, you're really paying for the brand name. It turned out to be a great intro for using a real computer and our boys have learned so much. We searched endlessly for another one to no avail until last Christmas. That's when we found a bilingual one. It's a little different, but still good. For only $20, these are totally worth it. AND we've yet to replace any batteries in them!
This book is an INDESTRUCTIBLE. They are for babies (0-toddler). They are non-toxic and feel like heavy duty paper. Babies can chew, bend, and suck on them and they don't get ruined. They don't have any words, but very colorful pictures. At about $5 each on amazon, they are awesome!
I hope these give you some ideas for Christmas or birthdays! I'm not getting any compensation for endorsing these products, they're just that great! Happy shopping!