Monday, October 28, 2013

Week in Photos

This child is dangerously close to ONE YEARS OLD! Please let time stand still!
We are making the most out of these bright autumn days.  Last weekend we skipped up to the Balloon Festival.  We only had a small window of time in the midst of a very busy week-end, so we missed the balloons altogether.  We more than made up for it with the delicious fair food however!
This still my heart!
Let's not forget that we have a big day coming up right after Eleanor's birthday! Alex and I will be married five years!

On Sunday evening my mom drove into town.
She can't make it for Eleanor's birthday so she came to celebrate a little early!
Eleanor enjoyed her time with Oma so much! My mom taught her all sorts of new tricks and babysat for us several times.  It was so nice to have the extra help and for Eleanor get to spend so much quality time with her Grandma.
While my mom was visiting we stayed very busy! We had lunch with my Aunt Linda and Cousin Heather. We did a little shopping.  We visited the pumpkin patch and worked on decorations and plans for Eleanor's birthday party.
While Eleanor was napping one afternoon I got to spend the afternoon with these beautiful girls.
Claire and Aubrey (and their mommy, Ashley) are part of our play group each week.  Ashley and I have become best friends since Aubrey and Eleanor were both born.  Aubrey is just two weeks older than Eleanor and it is so much fun to watch the girls together.  Our little play group just makes me so joyful.  Ashley, Brittney and Bekah are some of the best friends a girl could ask for!  And having daughters all so close in age is so nice!

The day I watched the girls, it was actually Aubrey's first birthday!  It was so fun to spend such a special day with her.  Right after the Pumpkin Run on Saturday we celebrated the special occasion with Ashley and her family.
To round out our busy Saturday we also squeezed in a trip to Patterson Farm with our friends Vanessa and Shawn and their sweet boy Garret.
The kiddos didn't know what to think about the chilly hay ride, but they sure loved playing with the pumpkins.
Did I mention we managed to also clean the entire house and put a pot of chili together in the crockpot during Eleanor's nap on Saturday? It was a very productive day.

After the pumpkin patch we grabbed the chili and joined our friends Brittney and Bekah and their family's for a bonfire and potluck.  It was the perfect end to the perfect day.  Needless to say we have been lazy all day today (Sunday)! 

I just love Fall so much! This year we created another Bucket List and so far have accomplished the following:
  • Pick Apples
  • Have a bonfire with friends
  • Host a game night
  • Enjoy a date night at the winebar 
  • Go camping
  • Visit a new brewery
  • Visit a festival
So many fun Fall activities! What have you been up to this Fall?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Pumpkin Run 8k 2013

It finally feels like fall around here.  This past week has been excitingly fun and very full.  It really seems the holiday season has begun.  I get nostalgic around this time of year.  We get to spend lots of time with friends and family, travel, and decorate.  So this week we kicked off all the seasonal fun with one of our favorite traditions: The Pumpkin Run 8k!
I was so excited when Jenna gave us this pumpkin costume.  Little known fact: I was a pumpkin for many, many Halloweens.  And my nickname is Pumpkin.  I shared this with Jenna last year, and she gave us Sierra's old costume.  It is perfect and I couldn't wait to dress Eleanor up in it for this year's race.

Alex and I woke up early on Saturday morning, unsure if we were even really going to participate.  I haven't run 5 miles since before I was pregnant with Eleanor, and neither of us have been running at all lately.  We decided we would at least get up and go to the event to cheer on the other runners.  So we headed out into the brisk fall morning.  I was after the hot coffee and yummy pastries I knew would be there and convinced I was not running in the cold weather.

As we arrived I began reminiscing about last year's race.  As Alex ran, I stood, nine months pregnant, cheering him on across the finish line.  I remembered being there and feeling so disappointed I couldn't participate.  So this year it didn't take long after arriving in the race atmosphere to change our minds and register to run.  I encouraged Alex to give it all he had and really race for a PR, while Eleanor and I would trudge through the 5 miles together with the stroller.

By the time we lined up at the start, the sky brightened into a beautiful, early-morning blue, and the sun shone through the clouds.  I was excited for the perfect running weather and Eleanor and I started out at an easy pace as we watched Alex race off ahead.

I quickly fell into pace with an older man who kept me company for the first mile and a half. We chatted about jobs and seminary and children.  After a terribly steep hill I let him run ahead of us while I stopped for water and a walk break.  I quickly picked the pace back up to a run and continued to move forward.  I was feeling pretty awesome and excited to finish the race with Eleanor.  

At the half-way mark Eleanor began to fuss.  I knew she was tired and would probably sleep through some of the 8k.  However, I forgot the pacifier, and her whines turned to cries and then into wails.  I felt terrible as I pushed my speed to try to get back faster.  It felt pointless though, we still had at least 25 minutes till the end.  

As we turned toward the back loop I spotted Alex and yelled out to him.  He was about a mile ahead of us and could at least get Eleanor back quicker.  So I passed the stroller off to him and made my turn while wishing him luck.  I felt bad and hoped I hadn't ruined his momentum.  Meanwhile I felt practically free without the stroller and really tried to push the second half of the race.

One mile ticked by and then another and I was heading down the home stretch.  Ahead of me I just barely made out Alex in his bright green shirt carrying a pumpkin in one arm and pushing a stroller with the other.  Immediately I was crushed.  I sprinted ahead to catch up as fast as I could.  I wondered how long he had been carrying Eleanor and wanted to give him a break.  He felt so bad for her crying in the stroller he decided to just walk and carry her instead!

I reached them and took over the baby-carrying (Alex had held her for over a mile!).  Together the three of us walked the last 1/2 mile to the finish line and crossed it together just shy of 56 minutes.  
Lesson learned: Carry a pacifier with you when attempting to run for more than just a few miles!
It wasn't exactly the race we planned...but actually we didn't plan to race at all so I can't complain!

Back inside we munched on muffins, bananas and coffee.  We checked our finishing times and discovered I placed 3rd (out of 3!) and Alex placed 2nd (out of 4!) in our age divisions.  Oh the joys of running in small events. 
While I'd selfishly love for this event to stay small so we can continue to place, I have to say how amazing this 8k really is.  The before and after snacks are great! Biscuitville biscuits and LaPatisserie muffins and coffee.  The door prizes are also excellent.  We won a gift card to Smoothie King and a t-shirt.  The race shirts are long-sleeved and this year they were tie-dyed! The course is beautiful, albeit a little hilly and the volunteers are excellent.  This is a wonderful event and we love running it every year!  I hope you will plan to join us next year!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Eleanor 11 Months

Y'all! This just gets better each and every day.  I feel like I don't have an original thought to write here because month after month, these updates all sound the same: "Life is sweet, Eleanor is sweet!" But in all honesty, it just couldn't be any sweeter.
I was asked recently what I attribute this baby's sweet personality to? Is it my awesome parenting skills? Is it something we've done? Well, yes. Of course! (Says with pride spilling over!) In all seriousness, I do think it has a lot to do with Alex and me.  We are good parents.  I say that unashamedly.  We love on her, we treat her well, we meet her needs.  She feels safe and loved and warm and fuzzy.  All these things attribute to a happy baby.
But it's also more than that.  We give her space.  We let her play.  She explores and discovers.  Whether it's with food or toys.  Life is her playground.  We provide safe and healthy boundaries, but we don't bear down on her.  I believe this freedom gives her room to discover and have fun.
And so my answer is yes.  Much of who Eleanor is, is a result of who we are as parents.  But then I also acknowledge that the majority of this happy, sweet girl is just built up in her own personality.  God has created Eleanor to be light and you can see joy flow right through her.  This is all her, nothing I could or would have done controls this.
Eleanor is independent and vibrant.  Full of life and love.  She plays for hours talking to her toys and learning new things.  She has figured out how one block fits into another and somehow learned all on her own to give high fives.
She claps her hands and shakes her toys.  And she roams around the house, always with one toy in each hand.
She has discovered the kitchen and can open cabinets now.  It is in these times I am thankful for our small little floor plan and that I can see her from every room in the house.  I am realizing just how baby friendly our home is.
She's big and strong.  She loves meal times and will eat just about anything I put in front of her.  Most baby updates you will hear which foods the baby loves.  Well Eleanor loves everything.  So I will just tell you what she doesn't love: eggs and tofu.  Anything else that hits her tray will go down the hatch.  But eggs and tofu, no way (although we try and try and try!).  She prefers breads over any other foods and will usually clear those off her tray first.  She makes giant messes and I clean them up with a smile, thankful for my good eater!
Eleanor is still not showing any signs of walking.  She pulls up on anything, including walls, and will walk around the coffee table and couch while holding on.  However, she makes no attempts to stand on her own.  I once thought she would be a very early walker since she began pulling up at just 7 months old! But now I assume it won't be before her first birthday (just two weeks away!)
Lately we have not been cloth diapering.  We invested in new (to me) diapers last month, stripped them and used them.  Immediately they caused a terrible diaper rash.  We didn't know if the cause was the diapers so we kept going back and forth for several weeks.  Yet every time we put them back on she would break out in a terrible rash.  For now we are taking a break.  I have stripped the diapers more times than I can remember.  We've had a few suggestions for trying diapers without microfiber and stripping with hotter water so maybe in a few more months we will try again.  For now we are in size 3 disposables (although busting out just a little).
Breastfeeding is still going great.  She nurses on average three times a day.  Just in the last few weeks I have noticed her nursing less and less and it seems like my supply may be dwindling as well.  My goal is to continue breastfeeding until she is at least two, but my fear is that we will naturally wean before.  I know I will be disappointed, but I have also decided if it happens naturally I will be very pleased.  I fear that when I leave town in January for three nights without her that it may happen then.  I am choosing to just cross that bridge when we get there. 
Fall is finally here and we have been soaking up every bit of these cool and sunny days.  From 10 to 11 months Eleanor spent many days at her babysitter's, Miss Jenny.  I was super busy with Girls on the Run registration and we made the most of those hours.  But now she is spending most days with me.  In fact, she hasn't been to a babysitter's during the day in several weeks.  It is difficult some days to get all my tasks done, but we are doing our best.  Eleanor will start going back to Jenny's regularly next week while I tackle planning the Girls on the Run 5k.  She loves her days with Miss Jenny and I'm sure she will be happy to go back next week!
But while I still have her with me we are going to continue to take advantage of these beautiful days together.  I'm thinking pumpkin patches, playgrounds, long walks and play dates with friends.
We are still getting fantastic sleep in our house.  She takes two naps a day and sometimes just one really long one.  We always eat dinner together as a family in the evening.  Usually around 5:30 or 6.  By 6:30pm she is in the tub and takes a long bath.  At 7pm we begin getting her dressed and ready, sometimes a little more play time in her room.  Then I nurse her and lay her down and she typically goes to bed with little fussing.
On the occasion when we are out of the house past bedtime and skip our typical routine, she is still a rockstar!  She can rally and stay up until 8 or even 9 and fall asleep in the car on the way home.  When we get home we change her diaper, put her in pajamas and nurse and she goes right back to sleep.  I credit her amazing sleep habits to just being a baby who likes to sleep.  There is nothing we do right or wrong.  This is just who she is.
Eleanor is so expressive.  She has the best facial expressions.  In the photo above, we call this one the "Turtle, turtle."  This next one is her devious look:
"What up duck?"
So excited!
Below is my favorite of her many expressions.  That's my baby girl!
And last:
Eleanor is also very talkative these days.  She is talking all day long.  Talking to us, talking to her toys, talking to the wall and the mirror and the dresser.  Talk, talk, talkin'.  There are no specific words yet.  She can say mama and dada but so far we haven't really noticed her using them in context much.  When we say words or phrases she tries to repeat.  And she will go off on long conversations and really expect you to talk with her.  It's amazing and funny!
I also think she tries to sing.  When music is playing and she hears singing she will chime right in.  At church she raises her hands in the air and really jams out.  Of course I am convinced she is praising and worshiping in her beautiful, innocent ways!
After eleven (and a half) way-too-short months, I am in shock and disbelief that my baby girl is turning one so very soon.  I do not have a fantastic memory, but when I look back on this time last year, I can remember these last few weeks vividly.  Recently we went apple picking in the same location we went last year and I could remember every last detail: from where we parked, to what we bought and how steep the hills were and where we took photos.  It was so amazing to relive all those memories with Eleanor with us.  It is wonderful to think back on that tiny little baby in my belly and see the little girl she is growing into.  I had absolutely no idea how blessed our lives were about to become.  I didn't know how sweet it is to love and be loved by your very own child.  Eleanor has rocked our world this year.  I couldn't ask for anything more!
Each new day I watch as she learns and grows into a different person than she was the day before.  I am in awe.  God is majestic!  He has created this child.  He has chosen her.  And He has great and wonderful plans for her.  She is loved and He is mighty.  I am so incredibly thankful I get to spend every day with her and watch as God molds and shapes us into this beautiful family together, one that is a reflection of Him and His greatness! 
Thank you baby Eleanor for spending these eleven months with us!  I'm not sure I could love you more!
And to give you just a little better taste of who this child is:

Click here to view video on youtube.