Sunday, October 24, 2010

2/3 of a Year!

On Sunday, Charly turned 8 months. 2/3 of a year!

Daycare is proving to be a great experience. No matter how hard it is for Kelli to drop her off each day! Mel, our daycare provider just loves Charly, and she's not the only one. Everyday, adorable Kiera (4 years old) meets Kelli at the door after school and gives her an update on Charly's day. She even gets Charly's carseat ready. On most days when Kelli arrives after school, Charly can be found in the arms of Mel's junior high daughter Haley, navigating Facebook, helping with Haley's homework, or being shown off to friends. And best of all, Charly's first friend Violet. Each morning, Violet squeals and squeals and crawls as fast as she can to Charly's carseat, as if to say "Get outta there! We got playin' to do!" Charly's little face lights up as soon as she gets over the shock of Violet's squeals and becomes equally as excited. Violet is the daughter of a fellow teacher at my school. She is one year old. As the two get older, Mel may have her hands full!

Two things happened this month, causing us to see Charly in a new light. Sadly, she no longer feels like a baby. First, she's gone mobile! She speed crawls everywhere. She follows us into every room, including the bathroom, she chases Elliot, and she pulls herself up to a standing position near our couch, entertainment center, chairs, laundry baskets, inside her crib, and up our legs. She doesn't stand on her own quite yet (although we have seen glimpses of it), but any day, we swear, she's gonna take off walking. We had to lower her crib for the first time because of this!

Second, her baby cousin Cruz was born. Charly is only 8 months old, but it feels like forever ago that she was Cruz's size. He seems so tiny comparatively. Our little girl is no longer the littlest of the family. While visiting Cruz in the hospital we also discovered that Charly can be a little territorial. Kelli was holding the little guy while Ashley played with Charly. Charly appeared to be in good spirits until she spotted the tiny creature in her mommy's arms. She stared at the people in the room and stared dumbfounded at Cruz. Then she started whining and grunting and holding out her arms and kicking away from Ashley. We all laughed hysterically while Kelli handed Cruz off to Beau and took Charly. Charly immediately whipped herself around in Kelli's lap, found Cruz, and grinned triumphantly. What can we say? She knows her mommy and daddy and loves us very much!

Last Wednesday, Charly was scheduled for 8-month photos. We were to meet our photographer at 4:30. Kelli and I don't get out of school until 4:05 so Grandpa Merle and Grandma Dolores were going to help out and pick up Charly from daycare (for the third time). They were going to have her changed and ready to go for us when we got home. Instead, we had to cancel pictures. Charly had an uncharacteristically whiny day at daycare and never really settled for my grandparents. Opened their eyes to a whole new Charly! Charly is rarely fussy so we knew something was amiss. Her bottom gums looked swollen and white so we chalked it up to teething. It wasn't until Friday, when Kelli was tipping Charly upside down tickling her that we noticed not one, not two, but THREE teeth poking through in her upper gums! No wonder the poor thing was out of sorts. Since then, we've even spotted a FOURTH up there!

Other 8 month highlights include:
  • Traveling to her third state.
  • Witnessing the Twins collapse vs. the Yankees in her first ever MLB Playoff experience.
  • Experiencing the best October in recent memory and playing in the leaves. (Although she was more interested in eating the leaves!)
  • Waving "bye-bye" to Kelli. Just once.
  • Eating breakfast at Great Grandma Gail's.
  • Staying overnight at her counsin's in Des Moines and cheering on her mommy while she raced a 5k.
  • Shotguning juice out of a sippy cup.
  • Beginning to turn pages in books and even gave herself her first papercut!
  • Perfecting the art of making fish lips!
  • Changing her hairstyle. Her hair is too long and hangs in her eyes so we're now forced to tie it up in a long ponytail on top of her head. It's actually pretty cute!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Wife, The Runner

Ever since Charly was born, Kelli has been determined to become a runner. She renewed our rec center passes. She even routinely used the rec for a while. I had good intentions too, but eventually, balancing school and Charly and everything else was just too much. Running and exercising were not high on either of our lists of priorities. But still, Kelli wanted to run.

One day Jodi called and told Kelli that part of the Des Moines Marathon was a 5K Road Race. She had signed the two of them up! Now Kelli had no choice. She was going to run.

5K equates to about 3.1 miles. The weeks leading up to the race, Kelli started running at the rec center again. Then baby Cruz came along and threw off her routine a little. She knew she could run 3 miles, but she never wanted to go into the race cold. Before we knew it, race weekend was here and she had never really trained the way she wanted to. But it didn't matter. Her and Jodi's goal was to finish in under 35 minutes. And they did. By 1 minute! And they didn't stop running once!

Charly was a trooper. The race began at 8:30 last Sunday morning and it was chilly. But she didn't peep throughout. Blaine and I, Charly and her cousins Cooper and Brooks walked to where we thought the halfway point would be to cheer them on. We saw one of my 5th graders from Lincoln and cheered for him too. Little did we know at the time, the he went on to finish 41st overall out of 800 runners. It wasn't before long, the boys spotted Kelli and Jodi coming down the road. The boys started screaming and I think the encounter boosted the girls' spirits! We hurried back in the direction of the finish line and made it in plenty of time to see them cross. They did awesome! We were all very proud.

Nearly 800 runners raced in the 5K. Nearly 4,000 ran in the half marathon and just over 1,600 athletes ran in the full marathon. The atmosphere in Des Moines was incredible. If being there didn't inspire you to run, I don't know what could! Kelli and Jodi are determined to run the half-marathon next year while Blaine and I decided we could do the 5K dressed as Mario and Luigi!

Good job girls!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin

Every year Kelli and I road trip to Prairie du Chien with her parents in search of apples, cheese, wine, and leaves. Last year Charly was in Kelli's belly. This year she was out and ready to take in her third state in seven months!

We always start the trip by stopping just past the Mississippi at a little fish and cheese market called Valley Fish & Cheese. The man who owns this place is an expert on smoking fish. The market is actually a smokehouse and the smell of hickory fills the place. The smoked salmon here is incredible and the price of cheese is tough to beat. We tried bragging this place up to my parents and Ashley and Beau but they just weren't impressed. Or maybe we oversold it. Either way, it's the highlight of the trip for me and I always leave happy.

From there, we drive to an apple orchard just outside of Prairie du Chien, Shihata Orchards. 5-6 years ago when we stopped at this place, we swear it wasn't much other than a tin shed with a few arts and crafts inside. This place has grown so much in the last few years. Now there's a pumpkin patch and a petting zoo and hay rides! If it wasn't for the apple donuts at Gays Mills Sunrise Orchards, there would be no reason to drive any further than this place.

But one of Kelli and her mom's highlights each year is visiting the little old lady selling pumpkins in the bank parking lot in Gays Mills. So drive on we did. Last year we were late and stuck with scraps. We still scored some nice pumpkins but this year, we arrived plenty early and got the pick of the litter. I sat in the car and ate cheese curds with a sleeping Charly while the rest of the family shopped.

We couldn't have chosen a better day to visit. The trees hadn't quite changed yet (some had) but the drive was still scenic, nonetheless. Kelli looks forward to this trip every year and this year, it was made extra special by being able to bring Charly along. It was fun to watch her soak in her surroundings. Hopefully it becomes a place she loves to visit too.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Updating Our Kitchen

Some old news . . .

About a month ago, we decided to give our kitchen a makeover. Our kitchen is small, but bright. We get nice natural sunlight and the white cabinets give it a clean look. After putting our own personal touches in every room of the house, the kitchen still remained untouched three years after we had moved in. We decided it was a little stark and in need of some pop.

First up, new countertop and sink. The countertop I could not do myself and the sink I could enlist dad's help with. We went through Nichols Home Improvement in Evansdale and they did great work. I was a little nervous at times, but decided next time I hire work to be done in our house, I need to butt out and trust the professionals.

The day the countertop installers were working a City of Cedar Falls truck pulled into our driveway. The city employee didn't even knock on the door. He walked right into the kitchen and asked to speak with the countertop guys. He asked them who was doing the plumbing. They pointed to me. He stared me up and down and asked if I was the homeowner. He was totally unconvinced, even though I was holding Charly. After explaining to me why he had invited himself into my home (as if I was a 12-year-old) he told me that it was my right as a homeowner to do my own plumbing, just that I needed to pull a permit from the city to do so. He said he'd stop back sometime and make sure I had no leaks.

I said "So let me get this straight . . . I need to pay the city of Cedar Falls money to unhook my kitchen sink and once the countertops are installed, hook a new one right back up? Even using the exact same plumbing?" He just smiled and nodded and left my house. One countertop guy said "That sucks." The other told me not to do it. So I didn't. And no one from the city has been back to check since! I told Kelli that the guy reminded me of a state trooper who pulls someone over hoping to book an OWI but instead finds a completely sober driver and slaps on a minor speeding ticket. The man saw a home improvement truck outside our house and was probably a little embarrassed to discover we were perfectly legit!

After the countertop and sink were finished, I installed the new backsplash. We found glass tiles at Home Depot that matched the colors already in our kitchen and since we loved the color, it saved us from painting. I kind of underestimated how much work was involved in scraping off the old "white heart" tile, putting the new on, and cutting tiny pieces for corners and trim. It was a three-four day process but Kelli was patient and most of the work was done before Ashley's baby shower. I didn't lose any fingers (came close a few times) and I've yet to make the finishing touches but we'll get there . . . maybe next year.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

And So It Begins . . .

We filled 52 bags last year . . . only 49 to go!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Down on the Farm

Last weekend we made a short trip to Ames to visit the Center Grove Orchard. Last year Chad, Megan, and the boys met Jodi, Blaine, and the boys here while we were in Minnesota. They had a lot of fun and we couldn't wait until this summer when we could go along with our little one, and maybe start a new family tradition.

Center Grove is primarily an apple orchard, but to describe it as such, would be an understatement. It's almost like an Adventureland for farm kids! Kelli and I thought the $8 admission was a little steep upon paying it, but later realized it was totally worth it. There's so much for kids to do. The nephews had a blast. And Charly, well she just enjoyed watching all the kids have fun . . . and the goats licking licking her tiny little hands!

There was a large corn pool, water pump rubber duck races, a farm animal petting zoo, multiple playhouses, a pedal tractor obstacle course, a jumping "pillow" trampoline, a corn maze and a hay maze, a super slide, an apple slingshot target range, tractor hayrides, and a pumpkin patch. Cooper was so excited and happy that all his cousins were together. Sweet and reserved Brooks could have gone down the super slide all day long. Jackson wandered from activity to activity losing track of his family on a number of occasions. And Griffin . . . he ate everything in sight!

Maneuvering Charly's stroller and bag throughout the farm proved tricky at times. Kelli had to improvise when feeding her and changing her in the "Potty Barn" was interesting. But Charly loves any opportunity she gets to be around her rowdy Doerrfeld and Henning cousins. We couldn't have asked for a better day with better boys!