Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Family Adventures

So after all the fun at the crawfish boil, Sam and I went out on a date to the little mini-golf place a mile or so from our house! Yes, it's the same place we went to last time.
And Sam still looks like he's levitating. :)
We did the last 9 holes left-handed, which presented a fun challenge. I even got a hole in one, although Sam still creamed me!
A few Saturdays ago we went to the ward campout at Galveston. Sam had a meeting early the next morning, so we couldn't stay the night, but it was fun to go and roast hot dogs and marshmallows, anyway. Ignore the weird coloring and overly enthusiastic expression on my face in this picture...hey, we're camping--I'm supposed to look awful, right? :)
Talmage spent nearly the entire time staring into the fire and sipping juice. He is completely infatuated with fire at the moment. You should have seen how much he loved the fire on Sam's birthday cake a few days ago!
Crazy hair!
Our wedding photo book is currently his favorite book! At least once each day he climbs up on the chair, reaches up on the bookshelf to pull it down, and pores over the pictures. He loves looking at the ones with all the extended family. Even though he doesn't see you much, he feels a special connection to you all.
I've always been a one project or one book at a time kind of a person. I like to tackle a job, get it done, and then move on to the next. Lately I have realized that I'm feeling a bit scattered because I have so many projects and books I'm in the middle of! I'm not quite sure how that happened, but I think I should finish work on these lists before adding to them.

Currently reading:
-The Screwtape Letters (C. S. Lewis)
-The Horse and His Boy (C. S. Lewis)
-The Greatest Salesman in the World (Og Mandino)
-And There Was Light (Jacques Lusseyran)
-A Disciple's Life--The Biography of Neal A. Maxwell (Bruce C. Hafen)
-The Book of Mormon
-The New Testament
-And I'm about to start Man's Search for Meaning (Viktor Frankl) for our family book club.

Current craft projects:
-Sewing school bags for LDS Humanitarian Services
-Making a denim quilt
-Sewing throw pillows for our bed
-Editing a picture of the Mt. Timpanogos temple to blow up and hang on the wall above the stairs
-Plus a HUGE list of "to-do" projects is getting longer and longer.

Yes, I'm starting to understand why I'm feeling so scattered...
It's nice to have so many things to occupy my time since Sam is gone so much.
Here is one project I did manage to finish.
Finishing one motivates me to kick it in gear and get the rest done!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ward Crawfish Boil

Crawfish is all the rage here--continually advertised in restaurants, in grocery stores, on street corners, etc. Sam and I don't like fish at all, but when our ward was holding a crawfish boil, we decided to join in the fun. The whole thing seemed rather...uncivilized to me, but it was fun to experience!
This description gets a little graphic, so if you get queasy with stuff like that, you might not want to read it. But evidently they take buckets and buckets of live crawfish and boil them up with potatoes, sausage, corn, and Cajun seasonings. Then they dump them in big piles on newspaper-lined tables and everyone digs in with their hands, using a communal dipping bowl to add more flavor. To eat the actual crawfish, you twist the head/abdomen portion off from the tail portion (then the die-hards suck out the juices/brains?) and then peel away the hard outer shell from the meat of the tail. All in all, it's a lot of work to get a piece of meat about the size of a small shrimp. Then you dip it in the sauce and pop it in your mouth! It tastes kind of bland and has a rubbery texture. One was enough for Sam and me, but many people had huge mountains of crawfish parts in front of them!
Did I mention it's held outside? Yes, the mess this kind of activity generates is best dealt with in the parking lot. And then mischievous little boys can chase frightened girls with crawfish in hand to their hearts' content.
I was a little nervous. Not only do I hate fish, but these are actually more closely related to insects than fish, which made it so much worse. Their little antenna are still intact, and their beady little eyes stare at you, large pincers at the ready. They looked so...alive! I half expected it to start squirming in my hand and pincing me as I tried to wrench the little creature in half. Yuck.
Talmage quickly grabbed one and stuck it in his mouth, hard shell and all. The Cajun seasonings they cook them in are pretty spicy, so he wasn't too thrilled about things.
His reaction got lots of laughter from those around us.
I guess we're true southerners now that we have had the crawfish experience!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Random

This post is kind of all over the place, but it will help me get caught up.

Talmage enjoys lounging in his carseat. I often look back and see him sitting like this:
Wow. His facial expression makes him look like he is a teenager with an attitude or something!
Ah, that's better.
We wanted this style of carseat and found a great sale on them. When we went to buy it (this was back a year or so ago), they only had orange/black ones. :( I settled for it, so we now have a Halloween carseat. I am thinking I will be sewing a new cover for it before too much longer...

Talmage loves pretending of any sort. Pretending to cook is a favorite.
Here he is on his first day of nursery! He absolutely loves nursery. I set him down on the first day, he promptly ran over to the toys, and didn't look back as I left. The second week, we were nearing the nursery room and he started fussing because he wanted me to put him down so he could go in and play! When we were at Sam's sister's ward in Tucson, he enjoyed nursery so much he only glanced at me when I came to pick him up and then continued on in the crawling race he was having. I think he liked the male nursery leaders they have in their ward.
One week, one of the kids brought cupcakes to share for snack time. (I know, in nursery? What a nightmare!) Talmage was enjoying his so much (and using the frosting like hair gel) that the leaders took a picture of him and sent it to me.
I just think he is so adorable.
I guess I'm biased, but check out that grin!
He is so skinny he can (or could when this picture was taken a few weeks ago) slither up to a standing position in his high chair even when the tray is pushed all the way in and then climb out onto the counter. Here he is saying, "No, no!" because he was going to grab something he shouldn't. He looks pretty pleased about it though, doesn't he?
The other day I took his tray off to wash it off, leaving him sitting in his chair with just the small half-tray holding him in. I realized he was going to climb on the counter, so I turned around about 5 seconds later to grab him, and he was standing on the ground behind me, looking just as shocked as I felt! I guess he stood up and somehow lowered himself to the ground? And he did it all silently in a matter of 5 seconds.
Love that face.
Pictures like these remind me he is still my toddler.
Just a second or two later I took this picture, and he looks so much older in it! Or is it just me that thinks that?
Here he is folding his arms. For some reason when I wanted to take a picture, he would lift them up to his forehead, but he loves to fold his arms. He also loves to pray and says spontaneous prayers all throughout the day. He will run up to me with his arms folded, muttering a prayer and then yell, "Amen!" This weekend we attended a Baptist funeral, and that was kind of a new cultural experience for me. Talmage got very into it, because every time somebody would call out "Amen" he would holler it too. :)
Every time I comb his hair and then try to take a picture...
...he reaches his hand up and rubs it around on his head to mess up his hair.
He thinks it's hilarious!
We were making some of our favorite muffins that have lots of pumpkin and bran in them, and Talmage decided to paint on the wall with the pumpkin.
He loves pushing around the empty laundry basket. In fact, that's what he's up to now.
To look at the pictures I have of Talmage, you would think I like striped polo shirts or something, huh? :) We love this little boy. Sometimes I want to freeze time because he is in such a cute phase and I know I will miss so much of what he says and does right now.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ants, Ants, Ants

One night I noticed a bunch of ants in the bathroom. The next morning, there were tons in the kitchen. There aren't so many ants in our house that I have felt in need to put down poison or call the exterminator (yet), but they still haven't gone away. At first I was a bit upset about them (cockroaches still too fresh on the mind), but I realized they are a blessing in disguise. Why? Talmage is absolutely fascinated with them. He plays much more contentedly now that he has some little buddies to play with...and study...and squish with passion!
He will often come up to me, ask for one of my shoes, and then run over to a small gathering of ants and smash them skillfully. He has got some pretty amazing wrist action. More often than that he will stomp them himself or smash them with his fingers. He loves to catch them and run up to me exclaiming, "Ant, ant, ant!" If he is fussy, all I have to do is ask him to find an ant, and he is almost always happy again. The first thing he says when he talks on the phone (he regularly talks on the phone to Sam, my mom, or others) is "Ants! Ants! Ants!" Even after several weeks of having them around he loves them. He loves including ants in his prayers. Thankfully these ones usually don't bite! But when they do it feels almost like a bee sting--at least mine did!
It seems that no matter how much I clean they can find a crumb, and a line of ants will come out of the tiniest crack in the most random place. They must be filling our floorboards or something! These ants were trying to get back into the hole they came out of--an almost imperceptible hole in the grout underneath the disposal switch. That one carrying the crumb couldn't fit back in with the crumb. Ha.
This is what our mornings look like. :)
I'm sure one of these days I'll get fed up enough to do something about it, but for now our little visitors can stay...as long as their numbers are few. No toy has occupied this little guy so effectively.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Grandpa Skeeters Comes to Town

Way back at the end of March, my dad had a business trip that brought him to Houston! I was thrilled, even though I knew he would be very busy with work and wouldn't have much time to visit. He still made time to take us all to The Cheesecake Factory for a delicious dinner and visit with us one other evening when Talmage and I stopped by his hotel room with dinner for him. Here is Talmage with Grandpa in his hotel room. This picture just warms my heart.
We love you, Grandpa Skeeters! Thanks for having business that brought you to our neck of the woods. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Field Trips and Home Activities

Well, I guess that was a long, unintended break from blogging. The reason for it is actually quite silly--the hard drive on the computer keeps filling up with pictures, and every time I want to load on more from the camera I have to delete some from my files. :( I am torn between getting prints (although purchasing a couple thousand prints would be rather pricey) and putting them onto DVDs. I'm sure I'll eventually do both, but you can see my dilemma. And I just can't bring myself to delete many pictures of our little guy! Time goes so fast and pictures have a way of capturing a moment like few other things. In addition to that, we just got back from a very quick trip to Tucson. More on that (and the more than 40 hours spent in the car with an active toddler) to come later.
Anyway, here is an extremely picture heavy post, so maybe that will make up for the break. :)
I have been trying to do more activities centered around Talmage. Sometimes after he goes to bed I reflect on the day and feel saddened because I realize it really revolved around me and the chores that need to be done. I involve him, of course, in sweeping, vacuuming, doing dishes, folding laundry, making dinner, running errands, etc. etc. etc. and he stays happy. But I realized I wanted to shift my focus a little and do several planned activities each day that center 100% around him.
So we have been having a lot of fun with the different things we have been trying! My system isn't perfect yet, and I miss some days, but I'm trying to pick a theme for each day and do activities related to the theme. The other day the theme was circles, and after just a few minutes of pointing out circles around the house, he started showing me circles and "drawing" them with his finger on whatever surface was available. So cute! He has been much happier, and I have felt more fulfilled as a mother as well. I try to take him on a field trip one day per week and do planned activities at home the other 4 weekdays of the week.
Anyway, enough with the explanation. Here are a whole bunch of pictures of some of our activities!
One day we played with water in the sink (actually, a fairly common activity--it does wonders while trying to get dinner made). But on this day, Talmage discovered the joy of dumping water on himself!
Here he is offering me some water.
And here he is after the initial discovery of how fun it is to throw water on himself. See that delighted grin! They only got bigger! I couldn't stop taking pictures.
I mean, honestly, with grins like these (and a whole lot of laughter), can you blame me for posting 16 pictures of the same thing over and over?
He finished off his fun with a nice, long drink of water...then we sopped up the kitchen together. :)
One day we went on a field trip to PetSmart to look at the animals they had there. Here he is standing on his dresser/changing table, talking on his toy phone before we left.
Smitten with the birds
He saw this picture of a guinea pig and pointed at it, sniffing to tell me what a guinea pig says. I happened to capture his face at the perfect moment! We can hardly look at this picture without laughing out loud. It's honestly one of my favorites of Talmage. (Click on it to enlarge and get the full effect.)
Um, yes, he was rather infatuated.
We saw birds, rodents, fish, reptiles, and cats in addition to the other animals people brought into the store. In fact, after Talmage saw the cats he insisted that they didn't "meow" like he previously thought. The cats at PetSmart stayed quiet, so thereafter he would just sniff quietly when I would ask him what a cat says. He recently heard a cat meow and is back to believing that cats do indeed say "meow." He has a mind of his own, that's for sure!
We went on another field trip to a park a few miles away from where we live. In Houston, even the parks are Texas sized. Forget about little parks on every corner like you see in Utah (other than the private subdivision-owned parks). The city parks here are absolutely enormous, with multiple playgrounds, nature walk trails, exercise trails, ponds, rivers, picnic areas, golf courses, basketball courts, tennis courts, water parks, pools, etc.
There are very few city sidewalks or bike lanes, which irked me for quite some time. How was I supposed to exercise if I had to walk along the shoulders of busy roads while pushing a stroller?? Then I learned that the city claims riding bikes or walking alongside traffic isn't safe, so residents should take those activities to the park. Come on Talmage, let's go get in the car so we can go on a walk! Kind of odd in my opinion, but the parks are nice nonetheless.
We took a bunch of saved ends of loaves of bread to feed the ducks. Talmage caught on very quickly--he would throw the entire piece of bread at the ducks and ask for more. :)
"More, please?"
We loved the baby ones.
He followed these ducks right into the water while I was taking this picture. The water on his shoes and pants didn't make much of a difference since we were already standing in a disgusting quagmire.
Sam and I can think of so many captions for this picture! It looks like the duck and Talmage are having an intense conversation, doesn't it?
We eventually made our way over to one of the many playgrounds. It was covered with a huge canopy, and the ground was covered in those recycled tire bits that make for a very cushy landing. Nice!
He immediately engaged in his favorite park activity--climbing up slides.
He's recently gotten brave enough to climb up to a slide and push himself down it without any assistance from me.
Whee!
The cushy landing was nice when his momentum carried him right off the end.
Rock climbing wall
This was a cool music area.
Chimes
And drums
He looks so old to me in this picture!
And this one, too.
On the day we were talking about circles, we made him a Cheerio-necklace. He loved it! He walked around with the necklace in his mouth until the Cheerios were gone.
Those eyes are pretty amazing, huh?
So there you have it. Yes Breanne, we're still alive. And there are many more pictures waiting to be posted. :)
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