Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cullen James the THREE-Year-Old

Cullen is a fiercely independent 3-year-old, in all senses of the word. He can dress himself, brushes his own teeth, gets a stool and climbs up to fetch whatever he needs, cleans up after himself, gets his own snacks, follows quite complicated directions, loads his clothes into the washer, listens carefully and watches to learn. He's also fiercely stubborn and thinks he should be able to cook eggs all by himself, 'text his managers' with my phone (AKA send garbled emails and change all my settings), wear his clothes every which way and apply his own make-up. >>>>> Ha!

Cullen is my biggest helper and has an amazing memory and attention span. He loves to tell stories (with surprisingly accurate detail) and usually has no fear talking to anyone and everyone that will listen. He LOVES to chew gum is the kind of guy that would offer up his very last piece of his most favorite gum without hesitation. 

He enjoys getting wild and crazy with Avery but also needs down time to play quietly alone - he is usually aware enough to know what it is he needs when. He loves to drive his 'dune buggy' Power Wheels even though he rarely keeps his eyes on the road in front of him. He's a pro on his balance bike "monster truck/dirt bike" and is slowly becoming more confident on his pedal bike (though he knows he's faster on the balance bike, so usually chooses it)

Cullen is a host of ups and downs - the sweetest boy you can imagine and the sauciest little threenager too, all within an hour's time. He has a quick temper and unfortunately knows many more negative behaviors than his brother did at this age (thanks to said brother's influence no doubtHis go-to insult is 'dummy' (or something to the effect of: 'dummy-summy-wummy-dumb-dumb') When he gets tired, he loses his sense of play vs. reality and plays the 'bad guy' a little too well. (AKA, stay out of his path)
Cullen is such a mama's boy and loves to help me out with whatever task I'm working on. Cooking, folding laundry, gardening, unloading groceries. He's also usually up for trying his hand at whatever project I set my mind on (We've grown to call these projects 'experiments' due to their often lackluster results, ha!) He's a bit of a clean freak and loves to grab a handful of baby wipes and tackle a section of the house with them. He is
also surprisingly responsible about cleaning up his own messes.

He knows the words to every Moana song and could tell you the entire story from memory. He LOVES his li'l sis and his face always lights up when she's around. Despite the fact that their days are filled with little spats and power struggles, he and Avery's bond continues to be strong and grows every day.

Cullen shares a room with Avery! He sleeps on the bottom bunk and Avery sleeps on the top. Cullen goes to bed first and after he falls asleep, Avery sneaks in. Cullen's bedtime routine includes PJs, brushing teeth, a story, having 3 songs sung to him (ABCs, You Are My Sunshine, and "My Oh-maze" (Amazing Grace) - in that order) while having his back rubbed under his shirt, a blown kiss and a thumbs up before closing the door, and turning on his monitor music.

About two months ago, Cullen completely potty trained himself!  He found some little underwear in a box while moving into his new room with Avery, decided he was going to wear them and we've never looked back, he even soemtimes gets up all on his own at night to go! After it happened, I realized he probably would've trained earlier, I just didn't even think to encourage him. Oops! In the end, it was SO much easier and happened SO much faster because he was self-motivated. 

My favorite of Cullen's current traits is that he randomly tells us 'I love you' at frequent times throughout the day. It tends to happen at the times I need it most, helping to keep us all in the present.  Kiddos are so good for that, and Cullen is one in a million. Sweetest boy ever.

On Cullen's birthday, we started the day off with some Moana cereal (!) and a little Look-and-Find for the birthday boy (his favorite!) Then we spent the rest of the day at the Children's Museum in Indianapolis with grandma and grandpa :) Such a fun time celebrating our big three-year-old!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Ariya is 8 Months Old!

Ariya continues to learn and grow so much faster than I can keep up with. She is an absolute ray of sunshine in our days, 8 months in and I still can't get over what an happy, agreeable baby she is.

Every week I pull my camera out to take her weekly photo, she just poses and smiles her sweetest smile. The whole ordeal takes less than 5 minutes and somehow I still have the hardest time choosing just one photo - they're ALL so cute!

This month:  
Ariya earned her 2 bottom teeth! Her first popped through on Jan. 10 and the second showed up not long after. In true Ariya form, she cut those teeth without batting a sweet little eyelash (although many drools were certainly drooled!)

Ariya has her own room! At the end of January, Cullen decided he wanted to try sleeping in Avery's room (again) BUT this time, Avery decided he was ready to sleep on the top bunk. Apparently the stars aligned and this new arrangement finally took hold - which means Ariya moved into Cullen's old room and claimed it as her own.

She's grown out of her sleep-all-night-every-night routine a bit and often won't fall asleep until she's nursed and rocked about 3-4 times. Even then, she will get up at least once or twice a night, sometimes for extended periods of thinking it's morning when it's not. Despite losing her rockstar sleeper medal, she still wins the award for happiest morning baby- I really look forward to peering over her crib at her ecstatic little face in the morning! 

She either takes 2 shorter naps, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon, OR she takes one monster nap in the middle of the day. Every day is a little different and, being baby #3, her naps are often interrupted or taken on-the-go. Naturally, she is A-OK with wherever the day takes her, as long as she has us around she's happy.

Ariya EATS! She will gobble up 1-3 baby bullet servings for breakfast, lunch and dinner along with a bunch of finger foods. She loves to eat and is so good at feeding herself. Her current favorites are kale, apples, mango, sweet potatoes and avacado/pear. She tried some cheese for lunch today and pretty much thought it was the greatest thing ever -  a true Wisconsinite at heart :)  

The love Ariya has for her brothers is so strong and so obvious, she ADORES them and all of the loud and crazy games they play. The boys are so, so sweet- always making silly faces, kissing, singing or tickling her and she repays them by giving them nothing but smiles and giggles.

As long as I am nearby, Ariya is generally happy and oh-so-smiley with everyone she comes across. I love to watch her smiles light up everyone around her- her brothers, our friends, or perfect strangers at the grocery store. Her happy energy is contagious and makes my day - every day.

Ariya is a strong girl and her circle of destruction is growing larger by the day as she inches closer and closer to crawling. It will be a bittersweet day for all of us when she becomes fully mobile. Keeping her away from choking hazards is going to become my full-time job and although the boys try all day to get her to crawl, I don't think they truly grasp what this means. They love little sis like crazy, but they love her on their terms. We will see how well they adjust to her being all up in their business all day. Ariya, my dear, you're welcome to stay put just as long as you'd like :)

Ariya loves to play games that get a reaction out of us, this one was especially funny this day - that belly laugh!! :) 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ariya @ 6 months old!!

Ariya continues to be a dream baby. The kind of baby I've heard stories about but didn't believe actually existed. She couldn't be more easy-going and happy, constantly smiling and content. She sleeps, eats, is healthy, and loves everyone. Walking into a room and watching her face light up to see me is probably one of the greatest joys of my life. These babies... what a power they have over sappy mamas like me!

At her 6 month well-baby checkup, Ariya weighed in at 18.5 pounds and 28" long, in the 90/95 percentile. She wears a few 9-month outfits but is onto mostly 12 month clothing. (skinny pants for infants are sort of a joke...right?)  

Her first tooth (on the lower left) popped through yesterday (Jan 9) and she's been chewing on everything in sight. Although she will tolerate being on her tummy for short periods, it's not her favorite so she's mastered sitting and crawling isn't even on her radar yet. (Which is just fine with me, I've been working on hiding away the small jewels, Legos and coins that I find but somehow new ones keep appearing.)

Ariya loves to eat! On top of being a very efficient nurser, she got her first puree on Thanksgiving day and has worked up to eating twice a day- at breakfast and dinner. She's tried: oatmeal, peas, apples, mango, sweet potato, avacado, green beans and carrots. She loves them all (mango is her favorite) and gets very excited to eat when she gets in her high chair!
About a month ago, Ariya moved from sleeping in a cradle in our room to sharing a room with Avery and sleeping in a crib! After numerous failed attempts at getting Avery and Cullen to share a room, it just made sense to put our best sleeper (Ariya) in with our oldest sleeper (Avery). So far, it's working out great and Avery is so proud to share a room with his li'l sis.

We spent our holidays at home this year and Ariya enjoyed every bit of her first Christmas. She is at THE perfect age for it - old enough to get joy from all the little things like wrapping paper and lights but young enough to stay where I put her and not EAT said wrapping paper and lights :)  

Avery and Cullen continue to love love LOVE Ariya. For as much as they bicker with each other, they are nothing but sweet, kind, and gentle with li'l sis. This little girl is so loved, by so many. She's brought so much joy to our life, I can't imagine what we would do without her!

I took so many photos this month that were meant to make their way to Instagram and well... didn't. Here are some of my favorites of my girl

And a few of my favorite videos!

2016 was so, so good to us. 

We are excited to welcome 2017 and all the adventures that await!