Pumpkins and Apples, Oh My

Now that autumn is really upon us, there are some fun seasonal activities to participate in. At the very least, it’s a great excuse to get out of the house on weekends.

Two weekends ago, we returned to the pumpkin patch that we visited last October, when I looked like this:

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Now that bump is these two giant babies:

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I totally had a vision for this photo–and I think I actually had it last year too, before these babies were even ‘real’: to stand the babies on either side of a big pumpkin. And voila, it worked! They were really distracted by the scenery (and the tractor wagon ride winding around the field), so I didn’t get the big smiles that I always want, but eh, what are you gonna do.

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One more comparison: Our family last year…

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and this year!

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Pretty crazy. 🙂

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After all the pictures, there wasn’t much to do. There are kid activities, but they’re all for bigger kids–a slide, a pile of haybales to climb on, pony ride, petting area, corn maze, etc. Next year we’ll return for more photos and to actually do some of that fun stuff. We did grab one pumpkin to take home with us. Who knows if we’ll get around to carving it, or if it will be left, ignored, outside our front door, like last year’s pumpkin. Heh.

This weekend we went apple picking in the Fruit Loop! There are a ton of farms and orchards in the Hood River Valley, near Mt Hood.  I’ve been looking forward to this excursion all year.

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It was a seriously gorgeous day (it’s been a gorgeous October in general), and we kept getting closer to the mountain and I kept oohing and aahing, but then we got to this. FOR PETE’S SAKE LOOK AT THAT.

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We decided to visit the Kiyakawa Family Orchard because they still had a good variety of apples to pick. There were a ton of people there, but once we got out to the trees, we got away from most of them.

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We picked a bunch of Mutsu apples, big green ones that are good for baking. (We learned about them on our first apple-picking excursion in the Berkshires two years ago.) We also found some Cameos and Fujis. At the farm stand, we grabbed some Honeycrisps and some pears. In the coming month, there will be a glut of apple baked goodies, as well as apple-based baby foods! Yum for all!

Then it was time for the photos. (Because really, at least half of my reason and excitement for these family outings is the pictures. At least until the babies can actually participate in the fun!)   DSC_0620-11 DSC_0609-10

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Hurray for autumn in the northwest!

The Daycare Question

Not “If”, but “Which one” and “How.”

Ugh.

I’m cool with daycare. I grew up with it, since both of my parents always worked. I have no problem with the idea of sending my babies to daycare. My job/hours are increasing (which is good news!), and though we have an amazing nanny three days a week, we now need childcare for the other two days a week (when our nanny works with another family). We could try to find another nanny…but then we’d have to wade into websites and interviews and judging who could be a good fit… The prospect of a baby-free house two days is actually intriguing. It would easier to get things done without baby distractions. Plus it’s cheaper. So we’ve decided to pursue the daycare option.

However, I have been dragging my feet because the reality and logistics of this are just…a pain in the ass.

First is the availability question. We need two spaces, which makes it a lot more difficult. Plus apparently Tuesdays and Thursdays are the busiest days of the week. Some centers have minimums (2 or 3 days a week) or only prefer/want to fill spots full-time. And of course most of the good places have wait lists that are months long.

Next is the affordability question. There are a lot of daycares in Portland, and many of them are….um….’fancy.’ With pricetags to match. And while that can be an option, even as a stretch, for a family with one child…with two babies and our income, that price point is not an option at all.

Then there’s location. Since both of us work mainly at home, it does seem silly to do the whole packing-up-babies-then-driving-and-unpacking-babies thing only to turn around and go home to work. It would make more sense to me if we were then continuing on to an office. But we don’t, so we obviously prefer to find a daycare as close to home as possible.

And now we get to likability! It’s no good to find a good place nearby if it doesn’t ‘feel’ right. There’s a lot to that too–the facility itself, the people working there…And on a tour you don’t exactly get a lot of time for anything more than, “here it is.”

So.

We actually went on a round of tours earlier this year, but none of them really fit what we wanted (namely budget and location), and we ended up adding a third nanny day instead of dealing with daycares. So in the last couple weeks we toured a new batch of childcare centers. We are not left with an easy decision.

Option 1 is really close–about ten minutes. The people seem nice. The price is on the high end of our budget, but we could afford it. However, the infant and early toddler rooms are actually in the same room with only a half wall separating them. We were in there for a few minutes and the noise almost drove me bananas. Also, the babies couldn’t start there until December.

Option 2 is at the far end of downtown, which means we’d have to fight rush hour freeway traffic. They have a nice playground on site. The infant room is TINY, but the toddler room is great. And the rooms are completely separate. The price is about $100 less than Option 1. However, again, the babies can’t go until December.

Option 3 is downtown, conveniently right across one of the bridges. Easy access, but still freeway traffic. The price is the same as Option 2. There are like five ‘classrooms’ but the entire space is open. Oh my god, the noise. They have an indoor ‘playground’ room, so kids always get to play, regardless of the weather. They do have openings right away.

Option 4 is another (new) branch of a daycare we saw earlier this year. It’s east of us in the next suburb, and it’s not at all one of the places that tries to be fancy. The price is nearly $200 below Options 2 and 3, which would be super great for our budget. Their rooms are all separate, with walls and doors and everything. 🙂 They have an outdoor playground. The infant room is spacious, and the toddler room is too, but doesn’t have a ton of climbable/play furniture. They have openings right away.

So it turns out that noise and timeline are our major factors. The noise of the shared spaces–or my reaction to it–kind of shocked me. That constant noise was just SO MUCH, and in our experience, one or both of our babies can and do get overwhelmed with places that are too noisy. Now, obviously babies must eventually learn to deal with that level of noise, and that’s probably a good thing. But…I don’t want my babies to have to get used to that, or at least not yet.

And that makes me feel like One of Those People who say, Oh no, Not My Child, My Child is Special! Which I hate–one of my major parenting goals is to never be that person.

But for now we can accommodate that without too much trouble. We have decided that we will go with Option 4. It has everything we are looking for, except ideal location (but ideal location is pretty much never gonna happen), and the price can’t be beat. So it’s a pretty easy decision. But now we have to actually make it happen, for real, like starting in the next week or two. That’s the intimidating part and I don’t know how it’s going to go, logistically or emotionally. We’re going to have to leave our babies in a different place, without us, for hours. I think it’s going to be tough for all of us. Wish us luck.

10 months!

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This has been a big month–you are learning and doing so much! Here’s what you did and learned as nine-month-olds:

Emmett, big news for you this month–you finished wearing your helmet!

Obviously the biggest thing for both of you is that within the space of a week, you learned to get up on all fours, push backward, and then CRAWL! Yes, you are now crawling babies! Oh boy. I think you love being able to move around and explore.

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You’re also really improving your standing. We got you one of those activity tables that makes lots of noise. After the first week of playing with it, you became so much stronger and more stable on your feet. (And you love playing with that stupidly loud table! It is by far the most annoying toy to date.)

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One weekend we noticed that both of you were sitting up in your cribs, and yikes, we didn’t want anyone falling out! So the next day we had to lower the crib mattresses to protect you from yourselves. Kind of a little milestone to have ‘big baby’ cribs now!

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This month you finally graduated from always wanting to chew on your books to actually turning pages! You turn the book to hold it correctly, and you get it right side up about half the time, and you use your little fingers to separate and turn the pages. Oh my goodness, babies, it is just the cutest, sweetest thing.

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(And after you page through the book a few times…then you try to eat the book. 🙂 Several times I have found chunks of paper in someone’s mouth, freshly bitten off a corner. Yuck. Books are for reading, not for eating! Silly babies!)

In general you seem to love books already. We keep all your books in a bin in the living room/play zone, and this month you started bouncing and/or crawling to the book bin, leaning up and over to grab a book, and start reading! I can’t tell you how much I love seeing you be little mini bookworms! You love being read to, and turning the pages for us. I am so excited for all the years of reading we’ll all get to do together. So many stories await you!

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Oh, and I also got you some musical toys this month. Since you enjoyed the piano mat, but it did that annoying baby toy thing where, when you press something, it makes a bunch of noise instead of just one note. Apparently most baby toys do that, even the baby pianos. I just wanted to let you play with an actual keyboard that, when you hit a key, played only that note. I guess that kind of simplicity is asking too much of the current baby toy scene! Anyway, this month I went to Value Village and found one of those little eight key plastic pianos and a bigger, electronic keyboard. Sweet! You were definitely intrigued by the noise you could make, though you seem to enjoy even more turning over the things and banging on the back. Strange.

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Your Grandma brought down her full-size keyboard and WHOA is that intense! You make a lot of noise pressing the keys and pressing all the buttons that change the type of sound. It can get pretty loud, but you really like it. Again, I can’t wait until you’re old enough to know a little more what you’re doing and can play around with music. So much fun we’re going to have! Daddy can play the piano and looks forward to playing with you guys.

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Malcolm, you learned to clap this month. You only did it briefly though. Emmett, you sort of learned to wave, but again, only did it briefly. I’m sure we’ll start seeing both of those skills again soon enough.

Lots of feeding-related growth this month. First, after several easy months of feeding you in your Bumbo and Super Seat, you started getting wiggly, so we put you back in your high chairs for feedings. We also moved up to three meals a day of solids (mostly purees). You are doing really well with food and eating!

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You are working on picking things up. Emmett, you are doing well with your pincer grasp, very deliberately picking up a puff with your thumb and forefinger, and bringing it to your mouth. Malcolm, you still kind of rake over a puff with your whole hand and stuff it toward your mouth. Not quite as effective as you want it to be, but I’m sure you’ll get there soon enough.

You are FINALLY able (and willing) to hold your own bottles! Hallelujah! This makes feeding time SO much easier. I love it. We also started decreasing (slightly) the amount of formula you’re getting, since you’re getting more solids. In a few months you’ll need to be eating a lot more real food! When we remember to give them to you, you’re doing well with your sippy cups. You are great at picking them up and holding them up, and you mostly hold them the right way. It’s great to have for you in the car seats, since we can just stick them in the cup holders and you can grab them.

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A random super cute thing you started doing is crawling into our laps. When one of us is on the playmat near you, you’ll get closer and sort of pull or push yourself up onto our legs or lap. It is so sweet! You’re not quite coming in to snuggle, but now I am so looking forward to that. God, I still love holding and snuggling with you babies so much! I can’t wait til it’s a little more two-sided. 🙂

This month was the big fall consignment sale season, so I got a few new big toys. One was a little toy horse that rolls and rocks too. It was cheap and I figured in a few months you might like it. Well. That same day I put you on the horse and oh my, you loved it! You figured out how to sit on it, and you quickly figured out how to hold on to the handles, and then you figured out you could push up and ‘stand’ on the footbed. It’s like you’re saying “Giddyup, horsey!” So cute!

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We had our first real family vacation, to the Oregon coast. You dipped your feet into the Pacific Ocean! Hopefully we will return every summer at least once.

It is really fun to watch you learn and develop so much. I know there’s so much going on in your little brains, figuring out your bodies and the world around you. I’m always here to help and to snuggle you. 🙂

love love love,

mama

Milestones: Crawling!

On September 1, this happened: IMG_1244

Both babies were up on all all fours. Within a day or two they figured out how to push backward on their hands, and would back up around the living room/play area. Occasionally one of them would end up under a table. Silly babies. They also got really good at going from all fours to backing up to sitting on their bums.

One week later, Emmett did this:

The following day, Malcolm did this:

Aren’t these the cutest little halting crawls you’ve ever seen? I just couldn’t believe that they were actually crawling! And of course I had to entice them with things they love to grab: my water bottle and my big camera.

Two days later, they were getting a little more coordinated:

Oh, and by now Malcolm had found the stairs.

One week later they were practically pros:

It’s been a month and geez, they motor all over the place.

It’s adorable. It’s also insanely quick. We’ve slowly worked on making the living area safer, but man, they do find their way into everything!

It was really nice for these last few months, when they could sit up and stay in one place, happily playing and hanging out. Now that they are mobile, and increasingly fast, they require a quicker eye and ear. But it is nice that they can explore different toys and things. They still like to be near each other, and will frequently follow each other to a different part of the room. I swear they were playing follow the leader in the kitchen the other day. Of course, this also means that when one finds a fun toy, the other one is close behind to steal it. Sigh.