Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Samuel: 5 months

Weight: 15 lbs, 15 oz

Dear Samuel,

My word.  You are precious.

Your hair sticks up at every angle all over your head.  People ask if they can touch it all the time.  I love to rub my chin against it when I'm carrying you in the Ergo or rocking you.  It's so soft and cute and I love it.

You laugh all the time.  You especially laugh when we tickle your tummy and neck.  You get the giggles when we tickle your toes and the bottoms of your extra large feet :)  You also LOVE "chest bumps" with Carter.  Boo made up this game in our driveway one evening.  They make you giggle and giggle and giggle.  Carter too.  It warms my heart right up to see you two starting to "play" together.

I could have sworn teeth were coming through.  I was so wrong.  No teeth in sight.  I did the exact same thing with your brother.  I mean...I know they are eventually coming.  You're all drooly and you put EVERYTHING in your mouth.  But?  I think the actual teeth will be awhile.  I am NOT good at predicting teeth breakthroughs!

You're still an awesome sleeper.  You're still going to bed around 7:30 and waking up around 7:30 the next morning.  Sometimes you fuss a little in the night...but never actual crying.  You always settle back down and sleep on till morning with no parent dragging themselves into your room.  Thank you from the bottom of my sleep-deprived heart.  Seriously.  Thank you.  You are in the current habit of a 45 minute cat nap in the morning, a 3 hour monster nap in the afternoon, and another little catnap in the evening.  You really like to be in your crib for aforementioned naps.  Car/stroller/etc naps are not appreciated, though you will occasionally comply.

You don't love when your brother yells anymore.  For a long time, you seemed to be deaf to his loud noises, but you seem to have gained your hearing lately.  I mean, I get it.  No one really loves that shrill, out of nowhere, piercing scream in the car.  You particularly hate it.  I must admit make this huge pout complete with a lower lip that almost hits your chin just before you cry about it.  A-dorable.  

You're rolling!  I'm constantly finding you in a new position than the one in which I left you.  One minute, you're pulling on the toy hanging over you on your play mat, the very next you are staring up at it.  You love being on your stomach...but you are quick to flip to your back these days now that you know you can do it.  Speaking of moving, you are a crazy little "incher."  I don't know how you do it, but you manage to squirm quite a ways while we aren't looking.  You moved your entire body length the other night, squirming around in your crib.  Do you have some agreement with Carter to come wiggle you around to make me think I'm crazy?  

You watch your brother with the classic "Castillo eyes," wide with wonder.  I think it's part interest and part healthy concern for your well-being.  It's enough to make me melt.  Your eyes are still a hazel-ey greenish gray.  They light up around me, your reigning favorite person.  You like everyone else too...but not as much as you like me.  I know I will get to hold this sweet position as long as I am the only one who can feed you.  I bet you'll be all into your Daddy and his awesome throwing and chasing games soon, so I am soaking it up.  I'll be MVP of your world as long as I can :)

I love you so much Samuel.  I love your sunshiney outlook on life and your husky little laugh.  I love your beautiful gray eyes and your soft, spikey hair.  I love the way you suck your thumb and the way your hands go crazy while you try your hardest to get them to connect with the thing you are reaching for.  I love the way you put your sweet bottom in the air when you sleep and the way you, you know, sleep in general.  I love when you lay your head on my shoulder when you are really tired and the way you chew my thumb's knuckle when you are getting tired.  I love how patient and easygoing you are...and how you are so willing to go with the flow.

I love you my tiniest buddy.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

**Please note the child being happily hung by his heels in the background :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Get off my obstacle!

We drove an hour and a half as the sun rose around us.  

We met Sarah and Rique, who graciously held sweet Samuel while we ran off into the woods with Ashley and Brian to run 5.2 miles and complete 36 obstacles.

We were too deep in the woods for Sarah and Rique to try to get any pictures while we were on the course...and the ones on the website are so overwhelmingly numerous that I just can't sort through and find us among the many, many competitors.  But...the short version is that we waded through, swam through, and dived under a LOT of mud, climbed  walls, traversed through a cold, stumpy creek, ran a lot, experienced a lot of over/under log moves, and shimmied around, over and through many poles and ropes, boosted each other, carried each other, and pulled each other...with a lot of Marines yelling at us along the way.  Basically?  We had a lot of fun, were extraordinarily muddy, obtained several bruises and scrapes and were sore for DAYS.

So fun.  Seriously.  I would do it again this weekend if I could.

At some of the obstacles, the Marines were super...excited.  They yelled, "Get off my obstacle!" or "Get under those logs!  Why are you so slow? Go, go, go!"  It was humorous how little impact that had on our clan.  Steven?  Heard it all before. Brian?  Feelings of steel.  Ashley?  Teaches fifth graders.  Me? Lives with a toddler who loves a good tantrum/ drum set.  Their yelling couldn't even slow down our conversations :)

You know what's a great best friend/spouse?  Someone who will do 5.2 miles of muddy obstacle course when it wasn't really their initial idea of a good time.  I'm looking at you Ashley and Steven.  Best. Sports. Ever.

I bought these shoes when I was a senior in high school.  Man I loved those things.

Samuel was tired, tired, tired when we got finished and needed a snuggle from Mama.  Now.  Not after I got rinsed off...not after anything.  Now.  So I obliged and he got muddy.  Worse things have happened :)

Samuel snuggling with Daddy while I showered off.  And by "showered off," I definitely mean standing with all my new muddy friends under a grid of PVC pipes with water somewhat spraying from holes poked in them.  In our mud-filled clothing.  That we changed out of in a tent that was also muddy.  It took a couple of real showers at home to really clean up.

Samuel's post-snugglies muddies :)

It makes me happy that snuggling with Mama is worth this :)

After I had Carter, I ran a 5k.  After Samuel...a Marine Corps Mud Run.  Gotta do something to pay for those pregnancy cravings, I guess!

Thanks Ashley, Brian, and dear life-long friends :)  We shall run this with our children and they will fireman carry us those last hundred yards!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Peeing on Elmo

When I was a kid, Mama and Daddy told me I could do anything.  Like most kids, I heard that I was smart enough to be an astronaut, skilled enough to be an artist, strong enough to be an athlete, and kind enough to compete with Mother Theresa herself.  Other than playing the violin (another post for another time), my parents thought I could do anything I set my mind to.

Unlike most all the other rational children,

I believed every.word.

I could do anything!  The stars were the limit.  Even now, I size up scary guys in the parking lot, ending with the determination that I could probably take them on in the event of attack.  I look at careers and believe that, with training, I could succeed.  I see obstacles and make plans for how I could overcome them...even when they aren't mine to tackle!  I think trying hard can accomplish almost anything.

But?  I am scared to death of potty training.  Seriously.  Massive mental block here.  After my mother dropped me on my head spotting me on a backhandspring in fifth grade, I had this stupid hop after my round-off that I dealt with for years later because I just constantly thought I was going to crash.  On my head.  It was understandable.  Sort of.

But potty training?  I haven't even crashed yet!  Why the dread?  I have not a single idea.

Maybe it's Carter's strong will.  Maybe it's that I know that if he doesn't really want to do it...that he won't...and I happen to know I can't make him want to do anything.  Maybe it's that there are a million different ways to go about it and I just don't want to get into all the methods.  Maybe it's the total lack of interest Carter is showing.

It's early yet, I say.  Boys train later than girls, I say.  I'll know when he's ready, I say.

Maybe it'll just happen one day, I say.

I did buy a potty.  I went to the store with Carter, just like everyone and all the books suggest, and let him pick out a potty that goes on the toilet so his tiny little booty doesn't splash directly into the pot as soon as he sits down.  The potties that go on the floor gross me all the way out...says the girl who dug a flesh-eating fungus out of her arm.  He picked up an Elmo one, of course.  He has sat on it exactly three times, wanting to get off as soon as that tush hit the cushioney-Elmo face.  One day, he stood up in the tub and said, "I'mah pee pee in the potty!"  In all the my excitement, I grab a towel to whisk him onto the toilet for our first big pee pee in the toilet.  As I turn with my over-eager smile, I watch him pee onto the Elmo toilet that was floating in his bath water.  (He does love the potty...likes to have it to play with in the tub.)  He looks up at me with triumph and says, "Ca-ca pee pee on potty!"

Yes.  Yes you did Carter.

This?  Is going to be awesome.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012


Because of the generosity of some of our dearest friends, Steven, the boys and I were able to wake up to this weekend before last:

Each morning, we trotted down this path straight from our doorstep to the ocean:

We held hands and babies as the water lapped at our ankles.  We reveled in full nights sleep and long mornings with babies.  We know to appreciate those night's sleeps, especially on trips.

It was the off-season...almost no one on the shore.  We splashed and played...and inhaled and exhaled.

Carter watched the "bubbles" as they hit the shore.  He didn't want to get in...or out.  The water was too cold to convince him to swim and the sand too gritty on his watershoe-less feet (way to go, Mom of the year...forgetting water shoes!) to endure much play on the sand.  So we stood.  I sort of hoped for more running and sand castle building, but Carter's hyper-awareness of the sand on his feet promoted more quiet standing than anything.  I can't complain.  Holding one sleeping baby and another's hand is kind of perfect.

Samuel slept happily, was carried happily...was generally happy the whole weekend.  Except when we were in the car.  He basically hated all of the car.

The boys played in the light of the morning while I watched Samuel nap on a towel in the sand.  Everyone got a little more wet than intended...which always, always happens when children are at the edge of the water.

When I was little, we camped a lot with the Smith family.  Stacy was a year old than me...Brian was Travis' age.  It was a perfect pair.  We rode bikes up and down the hills of the campground, slept side by side in sleeping bags, ate perfect camping food, and lived in a general fear of Brian's love for the campfire.  One particular year, we were released from the site to go play while the adults got everything upacked.  It was October and cool, so we were instructed not to get wet.  Four children.  The edge of a pond.  I don't remember what happened, but we all ended up soaking wet, head to toe.  I'm sure it was Stacy's fault...because it never was, but that's always how it ended :)

I kept thinking of that day while Steven and Carter were playing.  The water levels on their shirts rose higher and higher with each inadvertent stumble and each wave that hit higher than anticipated.

On one side, our windows opened to the ocean.  On the other, a pond and walking trail.  We went inside only for naps :)

We stopped for snacks, shook our fists at a playground full of sand that Carter didn't appreciate, and chased balls that were kicked into the aforementioned pond.  I made homemade goldfish and wheat thins that were perfect and that made Carter turn up his nose.  He chose grapes over and over and we carried on with the yellow backpack my dad bought for me in 11th grade to take to Wyoming.  It's taken me rockclimbing in the Tetons, across India, and through a thousand small adventures like this weekend.  I love that backpack.

We spent long afternoons after naps out on the beach where Carter practiced more refusal about his feet touching the sand.

Instead, throwing was a hit.  He said "again, again!" more time than I can count as Steven's arms launched him into the sky.

Finally, we would get too tired or sandy and finally retreat back.  We rinsed and re-rinsed sand, and trecked up 3 flights of stairs with a little boy who insisted "i'mah walk!" every time.

We shared ice cream, both of us eating as fast as we could to get as much as possible.  It was the first time I've ever shared ice cream with anyone (gosh, I love ice cream) and the first time I've ever finished a cone before Steven.

Kisses, hugs, and sweet time together.  The perfect breath of fresh air.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Letters to Carter

Dear Carter,

You have a strong will Carter Steven Castillo.  There is no redirecting, distracting, or reminding that will deter you from what you've set your mind on.  It's one of my favorite things about you.  And also one of those things that make me twelve levels of crazy.

It makes me proud when I think about how your strong will won't falter when your friends want you to do something you know isn't right.  You will set your mind to things and won't give up when things don't go your way.  You will persevere when others tire and lose interest.  I am grateful for your strong will when it lines up with mine.  I admire it.  That same strong will makes me crazy when you decide that you are going to throw your spoon when you're finished eating...every matter the consequence.  It makes me crazy when you throw your Cheerio bowl from the stroller when we walk every day for a YEAR even though I take it away every time.  That strong will is so annoying when I just want you to do something the "easier way" this time and you have another plan in mind.  Oh Carter, I am grateful that your strong will will remain intact when you are fighting for something you believe in even when resources wain, strength tires, and resolves falter.  But son, sometimes that strong will makes me want to go straight back to bed with a bowl of ice cream before the sun has cracked over the horizon.

You love to help right now.  If you catch me doing anything that looks like work, you run for a chair from the kitchen and push it over so you are tall enough to get yourself involved.  Every night we have to locate and return all six dining room chairs back to the table from all around the house.  Nothing is sacred. You can reach EVERYTHING.  It's harrowing.  The work takes longer, is messier and is brilliantly more fun with your eager hands.  You can currently unload clothes from the washer to the dryer and push all the buttons to start the dryer on your own with the help of your little Alabama stool from Uncle Kyle.  You're welcome, future daughter-in-law.

You love to empty the dishwasher.  You take all the dishes and put them on the counter while I run to put them all away.  We haven't broken any dishes is only a matter of time, but this is how you learn!  You also LOVE to help cook, dust, wipe tables and counters, clean up toys, and organize things.  You love carrying laundry to the washer, bringing Samuel multiple diapers and wipes per changing, and burping Samuel when I feed him.  I do love your eager little spirit.  I wish I could bottle it forever!

I've written about your sleep habits before.  Mostly about how you don't do it.  Or how we have a new plan for getting you to sleep.  Or how that plan failed.  Or how we're being patient with you and your sleep.

So.  We've covered the topic.  But...and I say this cautiously...I think you've finally taken hold of independent sleep.  I'm not saying there won't be nights.  I'm not saying there may not even be seasons. But you are definitely going to bed on your own, sleeping through the night (or nap) and getting up by yourself.  You are falling asleep around 8:30 and sleeping till around 7-7:30.  

I'm just going to say...I haven't had three full weeks of all-night sleep since before you were born.  It's amazing.  I love it.  I forgot how great it was.  I love going to bed with your Daddy, staying stone-cold asleep till Daddy wakes in the morning for work.  It's so nice to get up with him and get things done before you join me, all bleary-eyed, groggy and sporting classic bedhead a few hours later.  You seem so much more rested these days.  Best. Milestone. Ever.

You say a million hilarious things.  My favorite right now is, "Oh, I'm forry (sorry)!" and the way you announce everything you are about to do by saying, "I'mah help!" or "I'mah walk!".  You mimic everything we say...with just the right intonation and tone.  It cracks us up all the time.  You love to read us books.  You grab books with the declaration, "I'mah read this book Mama!" and you plop down beside me.  You turn each page, one by one, talking a mile a minute, pausing just to turn pages.  You make these crazy faces while you read (I know you're mimicking me...I know I'm dramatic when I read...I know.) and you do it all with such sass and authority.  You, dear boy, are what we like to call a piece of work.

Your faces continue to make our lives happier.  The expressions never they just have hilarious comments along with them.  You make me laugh so hard every single day.  Gosh, I love you.

You totally love nursery now...which is amazing.  So many sweet ladies worked with you so patiently (a whole 'nother post for a whole 'nother time) to earn your trust and help you remember that I always, always come back.  Now, you don't want to leave the gym nursery when I come pick you up, you start chanting "goldfish!" as soon as we hit the church parking lot, and you talk on and on and on and on about "balls" and "fwiends" and "slide" and "twain" and "eeeeaaaaat" when we leave.  It's kind of amazing how far you've come.  

You are a little obsessed with coffee.  You love, love drinking my iced coffee (always decaf, no sugar...why do you like this?) and are crazy about pretending to drink from my steaming travel mug.  You always say, "Oh, so hot" after you make a slurping sound on the cup's edge.  Terry Hancock runs deep in your veins, I think :)

You really love Samuel a lot.  I think I expected the transition to be more difficult for you.  I know things will change a bit when he gets big enough to knock down your towers, share your toys, and steal more attention, but still.  Things are good.  You love giving him his paci, telling me that he needs a nap, and bringing him toys.  Your favorite thing to do is to lie down with him wherever he is having some tummy time and let us tell you how cute you are.  You'll do anything to hear admiration in our voices.

You LOVE throwing balls more than anything right now.  We are spending hours and hours and hours outside now that the weather is a little cooler.  You have crazy tan lines on your feet from your sandals that make you look perma-dirty, and you are getting pretty good at catching a ball that bounces once before it hits your arms.  You've got a great arm and are a strong kicker.  Seriously.  We go chasing more balls down our down-ward sloping driveway than anything else.  You think our goalie-playing is hilarious.  Probably your favorite game. :)

Andi and I took you to a little festival in Simpsonville while everyone else was working one day.  It was a little lame, but you had fun tearing through the crowds and collecting balloons from everyone who would give you one.  Gosh you love balloons.  You made the festival a fun, fun day.

Lowes had a workshop with a wood craft for kids.  They said it would be age appropriate for you.  They apparently think two year olds can nail real nails into wood.  And that 32 pieces with tiny instructions on a piece of paper folded into origami is reasonable.  You got to keep the apron.  Winning.

You love Henry.  You guys are finally old enough to really play together.  They came over for a sleepover a few weeks ago and you two chased each other all through the house.  We could hear squeals of laughter and "Henwee, Henwee!" all through the house.  Hearts melted everywhere.  This is you guys at Andi and Boo's, having some tailgate food before the season opener against Michigan.  You LOVE to say Rollll Tide because of all the happy smiles you get from it :)  We love it too!  You love to sit and eat at this table...and I love it because I spent hours eating, coloring, and every other sort of activity there as a girl.  It's a good table, that one.

Our neighbor got kittens.  I really loathe cats, but you love these two guys.  You call them puppies and "meow" at them.  You know they are called will even say the word...but you only call them puppies because that is what you decided to call them and there is no deterring you.  They seem to like you so far.  Hopefully that will last.  I keep running them out of our garage and our neighbor keeps halfheartedly trying to give them to us.  No.  No amount of cute faces from you will achieve this.  Gross cats.

You call tomatoes, "no no's" (I have no idea why...just the way you pronounce it right now, I guess) and still love them.  You will also eat as many tomatoes as we give you for the chance to eat anything resembling a chip.  Specifically if there is "so-sa" (salsa) involved.  You get your own, special salsa because you dip the chip in, lick the salsa off, and re-dip until the chip basically falls apart in the bowl or you finally consent to eating it.  Little Mexican baby :)

One of my favorite meals is "lettuce wraps."  We take Romaine lettuce and load it down with hummus, black beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and carrots, burrito style.  You have randomly started LOVING this.  We were giving you all the pieces separately on a plate, but now you insist on having your own "burrito" and eating it with NO assistance.  It is super messy...but the health nut in me rejoices a little with every bite.

You are getting much better at sitting in your chair at supper.  You went through a little phase where  you insisted on getting down and up and in our laps and back in your chair...and it was crazy.  It turns out, you just wanted the tray off your chair so it is now a booster.  You look huge.  I hate it.  But if you will continue to eat your veggies that way, I consent :)

I was trying to slice cucumbers in the food processor the other day, and glanced over to see you eating the cucumber like a banana.  Whatever floats your boat, cowboy.

Carter, one day you won't be teeny tiny, wide-eyed and toddlerish forever.  One day I won't talk through the house and step on a Cheerio every other step.  One day you won't sit in my lap to read, say, "I'mah snuggle" before laying your head on my tummy while I read to you, or prop your feet in my lap on the couch.  One day, everything will be clean, you will be big, and I will re-read these letters with smiles and tears.  I hope that when we get there I will embrace that stage of life with the same passion with which I am embracing this one.  But no matter what...I am going to miss this.  There is no way you can ever understand how much I love playing with you, giving you baths, reading books, and talking to you.  I have literally never done anything in my entire life that satisfies me the way spending my days with you and Samuel does.  Sweet boy, thank you for making me a mama.  Thank you for being my little renegade cowboy.  Thank you for this sweet time in life.

I love you.