Friday, 31 December 2010

Y3 - 92/365: Bring It On!

As 2010 draws to a close I took some time to sit and think of goals I'd like to set for 2011. Get a job? Lose weight? Develop ninja domesticity? Then I thought it's all well and good setting these goals, but do you know what happens when you tell people said goals? They play big brother and call you on them!

Now I don't know about any of you, but I don't want babysitters. So rather than announce my goals, I'm just going to keep them to myself for now. The last thing I want to do is let myself down because I can't follow through.

One thing I know for sure is that I want to set a goal to make certain I'm consciously taking in and absorbing the quality time I get with my family. That is first and foremost. I also want to do my best to tuck away money each month so I can save for three things...

  1. My items in boxes still in the US (Goal: to have them shipped here by summer)
  2. Application for British Citizenship (Goal: by the end of the year...although I'll be eligible to submit it in August)
  3. US Trip (Goal: make a visit by Christmas with Matt and Ryan -- which leads to two mini-goals, in that case)
    1. Go to the Embassy in London to register Ryan as a US Citizen born abroad
    2. Get Ryan's British and American passports
Other than that, no big complaints really for 2010. I was lucky enough to stay home and see my son grow through his first year of life -- that's been pretty fantastic! I could have done without the unnecessary 'moving house' mid-year...but that's just one of life's curve balls, I suppose.

It's all to be expected.

At least I have the support of good family and friends -- what more could I ask for?!

I joined Matt on the porch at the stroke of midnight tonight and we wished the other a Happy New Year. Then we watched all the displays of fireworks in the hills surrounding us as well as the mass release of what seemed like thousands of Chinese Lanterns -- it was mad to see! We just stood there, me in a t-shirt and Matt's slippers, and took it all in. Then I rushed back inside to make sure the little man of the house was still asleep.

He was, bless him!

Happy New Year to all my readers and many blessings for a healthy and happy 2011!!! x

Oh, and as far as you're concerned 2011....bring it!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Y3 - 91/365: It's For You...

He may only be twelve months old, but Ryan is pretty darn hilarious. He gets it from both me and his daddy. Lucky lad!

He received this phone from his cousin Amy's grandad, Mick, for Christmas. He has a similar Fisher Price one based off Toy Story, but as you can see the handset on this one is "portable." Over and over he will press some buttons on the phone, it makes a bit of noise, and then he brings the handset to one of us.

Naturally Matt and I play along and we answer the phone, "Hello?" and then find a way to make like the "phone call" is really for Ryan and then we hand it back to him. Ryan will accept the phone from us and promptly hang up on the "caller."

He repeats this over and over.

And over.

Matt's responses are quite relevant and have gradually gotten funnier and tonight he had me nearly rolling on the floor in laughter because he doesn't miss a beat! I'll give you just a few examples (that all happened right after the other)...

Caller #1
Matt: Hello? Yes, just a moment.
         ::holds phone out to Ryan::
         It's for you.

Caller #2
Matt: Hello? Oh, the cute blond kid? Yeah...
         ::holds phone out to Ryan::

Caller #3
Matt: Hello? Oh right, I see...
         ::holds phone out to Ryan::
         Apparently you've won a cute baby competition. They want you to collect your prize.

Caller #4
Matt: Hello? No, sorry...we haven't ordered 40 pizzas.
         Oh? Just the crusts? Just a moment.
         ::holds phone out to Ryan::
         Your pizzas are here.

Caller #5
Matt: Hello?
         ::looks at Ryan dancing to 'I'm a Little Teapot'::
         Oh, you're after the dancing baby?
         ::holds phone out to dancing Ryan::

Caller #6
Matt: Hello?
         ::Ryan trips and stumbles backward into box landing in
          a sitting position on his keyboard::
         You need a stuntman?
         ::holds phone out to Ryan::

Caller #7
Matt: Hello? Oh, right...I see. Just a moment.
         ::holds phone out to Ryan::
         Your MOT's up on your quad bike.

Anyway, I think you get the point.

The best bit of all is that every time we answer the phone 'hello' Ryan smiles from ear to ear and is tickled that you give him back the phone. For someone who can't even talk, much less answer the phone...he sure gets a lot of calls!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Y3 - 90/365: Pa-Rum-Pum-Pum-Pum!

Looks like we've found an alternate use for the empty Quality Street chocolates tin...and an appropriate use for Ryan's hammers! Yaaaay! Do we have a little "drummer boy" in the making, perhaps?

Surprisingly, I don't mind the noise like I thought I would. I just like that there is something that can keep his attention for more than 30 seconds at a time as he seems to want to be EVERYWHERE in the front room anymore. He was so very pleased at the sound he, himself made on the tin and would beat the tin a couple times and then look up at me with the sweetest grin.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Y3 - 89/365: Come Dine With Me...Or Maybe Not?

First of all, I'd like to point out, especially to any new parents/parents-to-be: He is fascinated with a set of stacking cups from Asda...probably less than £3 when he has loads of toys from his birthday and Christmas in the background! How can that be?!

I guess to be fair, I just happened to catch him with these at that precise moment...but so far he has played with everything. Maybe only for a minute or two before moving on to the next, but he does play with everything he's received.

The unexpected photo for the blog tonight was completely random. Sure, it's another pic of Ryan eating...we all know he can do it...but the incident that had just occurred before this photo was snapped was priceless and had Matt and me in absolute stitches!

Matt prepared some ham omelets for the three of us tonight. I cut Ryan's portion into strips and placed a few at a time onto his tray. Matt and I finished ours and surprisingly Ryan was still going to town so we just sat back and watched him. At one point we see the familiar "dropping of the food" onto the plastic mat below, which usually means he's finished. He cleared every last tiny piece of egg and ham from his tray and it lay in an eggy-heap beside him on his mat. Before I could grab the pack of wipes to start clearing up, in one swoop of his massive "Little Brock (Lesnar)" fist, he grabbed the pile of omelet he had once abandoned, lifted it up, and tried to mash the entire contents back into his gob!

I guess you had to be there...but...

Funniest. Thing. Ever.

Without missing a beat upon finishing his omelet, he guzzled his sippy of cold cow's milk like someone was going to steal it from him!

I've been replacing 1-2 nursing feeds with cow's milk during the day to slowly transition him and we've been leaving breastfeeding for first thing on a morning and just before he goes to bed at night, as he's not as interested during the daytime as much anymore. Up until the last two days I've struggled to get him to drink more than a couple ounces, since breast milk is easily/quickly digested, and here he had to have his sippy refilled with 3-4 ounces at least twice!

Looks like he prefers it cold then.

Later. he had his bath just after tea, Matt and I took turns reading stories (which he didn't find appealing tonight for whatever reason) and I took him in our room to nurse him down. Since he's been fighting going down the past week, I've called for Matt to step in and twice now when Matt has put him down, he's been out for the count without a single night-waking! I wanted to try something else a little different so tonight I didn't turn his Scout bedtime music on to lull him to sleep while nursing and he was asleep in 15 minutes.

Not sure if he will sleep straight past 5-6am, but the absence of Captain Stubborn-Sleepy-Britches was NOT missed tonight!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Y3 - 88/365: Mad Professor?

It's always a hoot collecting Ryan from his late afternoon nap as he often has a tuft of hair on his head that's all wonky...similar to his Daddy in the morning. We affectionately refer to it as "pigeon hair." When Matt brought him downstairs I made a comment that he looked like a mad professor...then he makes this face whilst pushing his Leapfrog table across the floor and it only solidifies my observation.

Guess I should keep my eye out for bubbling, green test tubes, dry ice smoke and Frankenstein?

I'm loving that he is getting lots of time for each of his new toys. Matt and I think we should probably re-locate some of the older things upstairs to his bedroom so he won't be so overwhelmed...and so he can crawl INSIDE his Peeka Pod again.

One of his new gifts was a football (or soccer ball for my fellow Americans...but I'm sure you could gather that much from the photo). He loves kicking stuff around the floor and we joke that he's going to be a footballer...but who knows. He has some coordination for a 12-month old, that's for sure!

He's also getting a kick out of the toys that talk to him. This is his pull along shape sorter. When the voice reminds him to "put (his) seat belt on" he giggles up a storm.

Rock on, VTech!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Y3 - 87/365: Ryan's Baby Quad

Ryan's baby quad is actually a birthday gift off his Nan and Grandad. Since his party was cancelled we never all got the chance to meet up before Christmas, so he had a few extra gifts waiting that were intended for his birthday.

Matt stayed up last night assembling the quad and then gave me the important responsibility of applying the decals...tedious work, those decals.

I could tell how excited Matt was to show it off to Ryan this afternoon and we think Ryan will eventually get the hang of the "go" button... well as the one for the light!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Y3 - 86/365: Happiest Christmas!

Until I had a child of my own, I thought I had some pretty great Christmases, but that all changed the moment Ryan tore off his first piece of Winnie the Pooh wrapping paper.

And then handed it to me.

I was fully prepared for him to not be very interested as he is only just 12-months, but on several presents as soon as he realised there were buttons he could poke and make sounds with, he was totally committed to and bonded with that toy. In a way, as silly as it sounds, although he couldn't verbalise a 'thank you' to us, the joy in his eyes was enough to know he was truly happy and excited about his pressies.

And of course he let Daddy have a bit of a sneaky play as well! The Leapfrog Musical Table was the last gift he opened at home and despite feeling a bit down that we couldn't afford to get him much this year, it turned out to be just the right amount for his patience.

We managed to get him down for an hour-long nap before heading off the Brierley Hill to visit the in-laws. He decided here that Elmo would be his traveling companion for the day.

Presents were opened at Nan and Grandad's before we ate. Amy looked so pretty in her green Christmas dress!

Christmas dinner is ALWAYS the best!! I had probably 3 glasses of this nice Lambrini as it was quite tasty. I would have had more, but for some reason since having Ryan I can't justify drinking much more or very often. I guess because I always want to be alert in the event of any unexpected emergencies. Fair enough if he wasn't in Matt's and my care, but seeing as how he was with us all day, I reached my personal limit.

I guess having kids really changes your perspective on priorities. My little guy is totally worth it though!

Ryan really enjoyed this chocolate chip cookie after eating his dinner...but he wouldn't share. Boo!

And of course, no get-together is complete without a munch from Auntie Emma!

A HUGE Thank You to Josie, David, Em & Daz for your company today as well as your generosity in making this a Christmas to remember!! We hope everyone had a beautiful Christmas today with their family and friends as well!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Y3 - 85/365: The Eve

Only someone mad would do any Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve, right?

Well, we're mad then because we braved the crowds at Toys R Us to get something for our niece and then we did a small shop at the Asda Walmart Supercentre. The crowds weren't actually too bad except for the tills at Asda...but that can go for any time of the year there. The only thing that really frustrated me was the knob behind the counter who, after supplying me with only two bags to bag our groceries seemed to ignore 6 requests between Matt and I for more bags. We had to get them from the cashier at the till next to us.

We returned home and lounged around for a bit. We could tell Ryan was ready for a nap as evidenced in the photo (above). So we took him up for a bit of kip before Matt got a casserole on for a couple hours and I took a shower to get ready for mass at 9 o'clock.

We arrived at Our Lady of Lourdes just before the opening procession and promptly took seats in the back for a quick exit should Ryan get fussy. He managed okay until it was time to sit down and he really didn't like that and started to kick off, so Matt took him out into the vestibule. After Father Pham was finished with the Homily I joined Matt with a wiggly Ryan and got him settled in the Moby wrap hoping that he would nod off if he was sleepy. However, he was way too nosy and stayed awake through the rest of the mass, giving cheeky smiles to anyone who looked his way -- thankfully in a much better mood since he was essentially swaddled against Mommy.

After Communion, Father handed out chocolate Santas to all the children and even brought one by for Ryan. I noticed Matt's eyes even light up at that...probably because he was envisioning it going into his own belly.

We got home around 10pm and Ryan went straight into jammies and up to bed. I can't wait for tomorrow!!!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Y3 - 84/365: STOP...Hammertime!

Not one, but TWO wooden hammers came with Ryan's activity cube, a birthday gift from his Auntie Emma, Uncle Daz and cousin Amy. For those who have not been briefed about the dangers of a toddler with weaponry, which is essentially what these hammers are, then I caution you to wear protective gear in the presence of said armed child.

Hammers hurt.

But my boy couldn't be happier. You wouldn't know he's gotten any other gifts with the amount of time he spends pacing the floor with his wooden armaments. Is it any surprise that Myst walks past him tentatively? You try explaining to an over-excited 12-month old, with the extensive vocabulary of 'dada' and 'cat,' to stroke the kitty GENTLY whilst they have their mitts on a hammer.

In the latter part of the afternoon, before Matt returned home early from work, we worked on some drawing. Our session didn't last very long as I had to help him hold the correct end of the felt-tip towards the paper and babies don't have too much patience when being corrected. Still, he really seemed to enjoy making his spots and lines again with several colours.

I wonder who will receive this little gem in the post?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Y3 - 83/365: Schtuff

Now that Ryan has a few new things to spark his interests, he is enjoying a lot of quality time on his own exploring his new toys. Here, he is sat in his "office" working out a new jingle on his keyboard...basically scuffing me and my attempts to build a block tower with him.

And speaking of blocks. He throws them now. Hard.

They hurt.

We recommend hard-hats, shin-guards and steel-toed boots when visiting. Maybe even a cup as well, gentlemen.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Y3 - 82/365: All Aboard!!!

This is the trip we would have taken this past Saturday, but the snow came down in buckets and we had to cancel our visit to Santa. So when Matt left work, he stopped by the post office to get a parcel (that was waiting for Ryan's birthday and Christmas from Aunt Lisa in America), and returned home long enough to get changed while Ryan checked out his new pressies, and then we were off to Merry Hill...or Merry HELL as it is affectionately called round this time of year.

We arrived outside the train setup to check in and then joined the short queue just outside the entrance...which is where I snapped the first photo. Ryan was enjoying his view of the snowman just behind where he and Daddy were standing.

Once inside we were instructed to sit in a train-style booth to wait our turn where a big flat screen played a small intro of animated scenery for our "train ride" to meet Santa. Ryan's hair was a messy combo of frizz and waves making me wish I had brought along his brush to tidy it up after removing his knit hat.

At the next stage we moved on to another car that housed a giant teddy and two large Christmas tree baubles that had touchscreen games on them. After this we were ushered to the space between the cars where we waited behind a curtain to meet the big man himself. I didn't take a photo with my camera for this bit because they weren't allowed beyond this point, however we did end up with a very clear photo...that we intend to scan and print off copies for people.

Once past the curtain, Santa welcomed Ryan by exclaiming, "Aren't you a little boster?!" This wasn't the first time this was said to him, so already he was cool with Santa from the start. We sat him down on Santa's lap and the photo was taken without a single tear. We think he was actually just in a state of mild shock by the look we saw once we got the photo.

The visit didn't last long as we were handed Ryan's wrapped gift and said our goodbyes and thank-yous to Santa and the elf/helper.

After exiting we got Ryan settled in his pushchair with his new kiss-blowing Elmo by his side and set off for the photo kiosk to pick up the picture for our £8.95 visit. The photo I have posted with Santa is a photo of a photo, so not as clear as the original. We were quite pleased with the clarity.

Naturally, this is where Mommy requested a stop for a photo before departing.

So there we go...first visit to Santa, done and dusted and nary a whinge. WIN!!!

Monday, 20 December 2010

Y3 - 81/365: The Cube

When I brought Ryan downstairs this morning after he woke up, he could hardly contain his excitement about playing with his new activity cube (from Auntie Emma & Uncle Daz) through his morning nappy change. Literally, as soon as he was dressed he was on his feet and running past the cat to get to his cube!

So...I'm guessing the activity cube = WIN!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Y3 - 80/365: E Pluribus Unum (One From Many)

Well...he made it! I can't believe our little boy is growing up right before our eyes and is officially


He made his first proper scribble this afternoon. I had out the drawing pad to make a 12-month-old sign to take photos of him and he saw me colouring in with the markers. As a result, he came up and swiped the blue and purple. I managed to get the caps off and show him how they can make marks on the paper, but initially he wasn't interested. After a few attempts to make marks with the wrong side of the marker he figured it out and away he went!!

This is one for the baby book..."first scribble." So proud!!

Then we had our monthly photo-shoot. I skipped 11 months because things were so hectic and busy that it slipped my mind until it was nearly his first birthday and I didn't see the point. This time I wanted some of the wintry background in the photo to show how snowy it was outside.

We decided later to brave the un-plowed and roads lacking any grit to visit Emma, Daz and Amy for our usual Sunday dinner. But this time we forfeited the yogurt at the end of the meal for BIRTHDAY CAKE!

Ryan's smash cake experience went a little like this...

::poke poke::

Sticky icing...hmm.

(Mommy enticed him a little at this point by giving him a taste of the icing from her finger.)

Oh, I see...I can eat it?! Well okay then, why didn't you say so?!

It's SO on like Donkey Kong!! Come here, teddy...into my belly!

This is good stuff, should try some!

Look out, Mr. Bear...I have but one claw pokey finger...BEWARE!!

And yes Auntie Emma...I will take a birthday kiss!! Thank you very much!

 I am so in awe that this tiny little being has gone from this... this!

Thank you to everyone who has sent cards, called and left Facebook messages with Happy Birthday wishes for Ryan. And a very Happy Birthday to our darling baby boy...may you have many more to come!! Love from your Mommy & Daddy xxx

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Y3 - 79/365: Snow Way Out

These were the cakes that had me up until 6am this morning baking, icing, and decorating...for the birthday party that never happened.

I decided that since my mom always baked our birthday cakes, it should be no different for Ryan and until he asks for something otherwise, it's how I plan to continue. We bought the things we needed last night from Tesco and as soon as Ryan was up in bed asleep I got started.

Originally I was sent this recipe to make a monkey cake...but then I changed my mind on making the monkey and moved the ears up a little higher as well as altered the face so it was a bear instead -- perfect for the theme of 'Teddy Bears Picnic.' I made a regular cake for all the party guests and an individual "smash cake" for Ryan to...well, smash into as he sees fit.

Unfortunately we woke up to a smaller scale of the following...

There was probably half as much snow than in this photo when we were up well before 10am this morning. Despite my not getting any sleep and Matt sleeping down on the sofa, I was up by twenty past 9 and trying to get Matt alert enough to look after Ryan while I hopped in the shower. We had a visit booked with Santa in his grotto at Merry Hill and were then planning on meeting up with Em, Daz & Amy at Build-a-Bear to make some teddy bear friends for Ryan's indoor picnic birthday party.

Sadly, we had to re-book Santa because of the snow and Matt could already see the roads would be bad as they forecasted over 25cm of snow for the weekend. This then caused a chain reaction of us having to further cancel/postpone Ryan's birthday party. We only had 2-3 more guests planning to come other than Em, Daz & Amy and Matt's parents, but it wasn't worth the risk of travel when we looked at the big picture.

This didn't stop me, of course, from having a wave of disappointment for feeling like I stayed awake and baked cakes for nothing. Thankfully I was over it by mid-day when I could see the snowfall wasn't letting up and it was getting quite bad.

By 3pm I wanted to get some photos of the street we live on to show just how much we had so I got dressed in an old pair of jeans, Matt's work boots and puffy coat and a head scarf...yeah, I looked hot! I ventured to the end of the drive carefully navigating my way through the snow that was nearly knee deep. I had a chat with a neighbour shovelling the end of the drive that we share and eventually made my way back to the house.

Once inside and changed, I went into the front room expecting to see Ryan running around, but instead I saw this...

Bless them.

Matt was actually awake, he just happened to blink for the photo.

Well, he WAS awake...but moments later, that was out the window.

I suppose we all needed a bit of a rest, to be fair.

And with that in mind, I'm going to now cash in on that rest since my total sleep last night was less than three hours.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Y3 - 78/365: I Feel Like Dancin, Dancin

A play tent...what I always wanted as a kid and I only had to wait thirty-one years to have one of my very own for my son. I actually naively thought I'd be able to play with it too, but I misjudged the size of the doorway vs the size of my ass...yeah, not happening.

It reminds me of when I was a kid and went to COSI (science museum in Columbus, Ohio) and I wanted SO bad to go into "big" kid's space because they had the ball pit and tunnels you could climb through. Because I was under the height requirement I was never allowed in and instead was stuck in "little" kid's space where all they did was paint faces and pet baby chicks and turtles. How excited then was I when I finally reached the "height allowed" only to have my hopes and dreams crushed that I STILL couldn't go in because although I was only JUST tall enough...I was now TOO OLD, at an ancient 15 years of age!

Took me long enough!

Later, Matt and I were playing some things like CBeebies' winter song and Teddy Bears Picnic on YouTube to see if we could get Ryan to bust a move. Music comes on and his body seems to tell him he just HAS to dance -- which is SO cute to watch!

In other news...Ryan is warming up to the Peeka Pod though. He's crawled inside several times already today. I just hope he enjoys it as much as I knew I would have.