Saturday, April 30, 2016

Happy Half Birthday! Forest is 2.5!

Happy Half Birthday to Forest! Today our little boy is 2.5 years old and he is growing up so quickly. He is crazy tall, speaking incredibly well, and coming out of his shell more and more. 
I think in the past few months, his biggest area of growth has been socially. He’s engaging with everyone around him, having back and forth conversations and really trying to interact with other kiddos everywhere he goes, though he is still a little shy with adults.

He’s starting to participate more in his classes and does well with structured preschool-like settings.
Outside of that, he is still a total wildling. He’s doing much better with staying near us and not running away but we still have to reinforce this pretty constantly. It’s frustrating because I feel like I never see any other kids his age acting that way and it’s always disconcerting when you feel like your kid is the ONLY one with a certain behavior. Yea, sure, you’re not supposed to compare, but it would be nice to be able to normalize some of it. 
But Forest is totally fearless. It’s apparent across every facet of his life.  More than any other kid he is ready for adventure and doesn’t even flinch if the slide is steep or the water is deep. 
It’s challenging but also pretty awesome. I never have to push him or encourage him to take on a new challenge- he is two steps ahead of us all the time. And his energy level and speed is unmatched as well. He definitely keeps us in shape! 
But on the other hand, at home, he excels at entertaining himself. I’d also say his attention span is unmatched by most of his peers. Playing with his trains for up to 2 hours is not unheard of. He builds intricate, rainman style tunnels for them out of his blocks and it’s fascinating to watch him meticulously work out exactly how he’s going to build them.

One huge milestone over the last quarter is: HE’S POTTY TRAINED (hence the big-boy-undie photoshoot theme)!! Woohoo! 

We are so proud of him. It was relatively painless and not at all as scary as I thought it would be. 

Here are a few more stats regarding his development and life at 30 months: 

Favorite Book: Curious George Story Book. This book is nearly 200 pages long and he wants to read it cover to cover, and then start again from the beginning once we’ve finished. I’m slightly second guessing this purchase… 

Favorite TV show/movie: We've been really limiting screen time lately because we've noticed Forest is more prone to tantrums after watching a show. But he is literally obsessed with TV and movies so it does work as a good bribing tool when we need it. His favorite shows are Super Why, Daniel Tiger, Sesame Street, or Curious George. His favorite movie is Bambi or Cars. And he loves Leapfrog Letter Factory which has helped him with learning all his letter sounds. We mostly will just let him watch YouTube clips rather than a whole show and he loves the special guest music videos on Sesame Street, especially Dave Matthews, Ed Sheeran, and Jason Mraz. He's a pretty cool kid.

Favorite toys: Hands down his train table/train set and his blocks and generally anything with wheels.   
Favorite foods: Now that he’s no longer teething (woohoo!) he’s a little less picky. His favorite food is still yogurt or cheese but he’s also gaga for watermelon, bacon and lima beans. 
He loves sushi. Such a hipster kid.
Language development: He is speaking with clearer enunciation and better grammar these days. Unless he gets overly excited (which is 75% of the time) and then he starts speaking incoherent gibberish.

Cutest sayings: He calls butternut squash ‘peanut butter squash’ which is pretty stinkin adorable. His favorite saying right now is ‘I want to play with my toys!’ which is his response any time we try to get him to eat/potty/leave the house. If he falls and hurts himself he immediately says ‘I don’t want to play with my toys!’ like it’s their fault he’s so accident prone. Another cute phrase is ‘I love…(fill in the blank)’. Like the other day I took off his shirt after lunch and he looked at his very full tummy and said ‘I love my Forest belly!’.  He also loves the letter J, apparently:

New skills: He knows all his letter sounds (!) and has even started sounding out some words (!!) and is trying to spell words too (!!!). Like if you ask him to spell Fox he will tell you it starts with an F and has an X in it just by focusing on the sounds in the word. Pretty cool!   
And did I mention yet that he’s potty trained???? That’s a pretty spectacular new skill in my opinion.

Stats: 38.4 inches tall (96%) and 32.8 pounds (81%). Wearing 3T almost across the board. Size 9 shoe. 

Teeth: He has all 20 of his baby teeth in. Woohoo! Those 2 year molars were obnoxiously slow coming in. It took almost 5 months for all 4 to break the skin, whereas all of his other groups of teeth came in back to back. Whatevs! So glad teething is behind us! 

Schedule: The daylight hours are so much longer now so he’s sleeping from 7:30 PM to about 6:30 AM, though he’s in his crib from 7-7 every night and will just play quietly upon waking and going to sleep. He is only napping about an hour each day which is hard, but he’s toyed around once or twice with just skipping his nap altogether so I’ve learned not to complain. 
Occasionally he will nap 2-3 hours but that’s generally during a growth spurt. 

Other Observations: We joke that Forest is part puppy all the time. I think it’s actually more accurate to say that he is MOSTLY puppy and partly little boy. His energy is boundless and his joy is contagious. He is constantly described to me as ‘wild’, ‘crazy’, ‘energetic’, and ‘active’. When people see Forest, this is the first thing they notice for sure. 

He has a strong preference for the color blue. He loves to make up songs and uses a pretend microphone when he sings them. I joke that he’s the next Ed Sheeran (whom he loves). A sample of his recent song lyrics are: 

"Thomas Movie/ Not watching/ going home/watermelon and French toast for lunch!" 

Profound, right? 

My struggles: I think it comes back to the energy level thing. He’s just insatiable. And I think my biggest pet peeve is when people observe him and say ‘well he’s surely going to take a good nap today!’. You would think that with all that energy he expends he would sleep like a rock but his naps are getting shorter and I fear they may be on the way out in general. Sigh. The nap karma is not fair. 

The tantrums have lessened recently but he is very uncooperative in general. His automatic reaction to anything is ‘no!’ so we’ve learned not to pose anything as a yes/no question but instead try to offer him a choice (for example: do you want to use the potty seat or the big toilet instead of asking if he has to potty). I feel like giving him some control in the matter can help move him along and side-step some power struggles

My biggest rewards: Forest continues to be exuberant and full of life and joy. It is hard to be mad at him because he’s quick to turn on the charm. I’m so proud of him and how well he’s done potty training and just how smart he is. He is a whiz at puzzles and watching him try to sound out words is just amazing. 

I love seeing him learn new things and seeing how proud he is over difficult accomplishments. He is so funny in that he compliments himself all the time. He will say ‘Mom come see! I built a big amazing tunnel!’. I like to observe him trying to work out a problem because he will say to himself ‘try, try again! Maybe it goes another way?’. I’m glad he’s internalizing these skills and thought processes. 

Alright guys, I will go ahead and conclude this marathon post. But y’all! 2.5 is HUGE and deserved a huge post, and like, 3 different photo shoots... Really I've just learned how to bribe this little model to pose for me with Sesame Street music videos and I am a little drunk with power.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Today Samson is 11 years old. Just yesterday someone asked if he was a puppy. Not bad for a geriatric spaniel. It’s unbelievable to me that we are celebrating this milestone. He was 8 years old when our vet in Scotland cautioned us that the end was near and all we could do was monitor his quality of life. Here we are 3 years later and he is still kicking. 
That being said, I do feel in my heart that this will be the last birthday he celebrates. While he’s been stable and asymptomatic for years, over the past few weeks we’ve seen a rapid decline in his mobility and energy level. He is starting to lose strength in his back legs making it hard for him to get on and off the couch and to squat or lift his leg to do his business. 

Despite his recent difficulty in getting around he is weirdly following us around the house more than ever. Whereas he used to exclusively stay downstairs, now he comes up with us into the playroom and even follows me into Forest’s room when he wakes up in the morning. I’m not sure if he senses something happening with the upcoming move which has him more clingy or if he’s not feeling very well himself and just wants to be near us. 
I think we’ve been preparing for the down-turn for years now and feel like we just want him to be able to age gracefully and with dignity. Already we’ve had to cut back on his walks which I know has been a devastating blow to him. I hate leaving him behind when we head to one of the farther parks, but with his mobility and heart issues, I know he would just push himself beyond what’s healthy for him. 

But you just never know. Despite his heart murmur he’s been incredible healthy and active these last few years. This could be a minor setback and he could still have a lot of life left in him. We sure hope so because I’ve never met a dog more irreplaceable than Samson. He is just the most gentle, friendliest, snuggliest, beautiful and dignified dog I’ve ever known. If I was ever going to clone a dog, this would be the one. 
He is a great testament and example of one of the most loved dog breeds out there. We have certainly been completely charmed in our 7 years with him (he was adopted at 4 years old) and feel constantly blessed that he’s ours. Happy birthday to our sweet ‘Sammy Sammers’. 
Thank you for being so adaptable and easy going. It can’t have been easy but you sure do bring joy even amongst the chaos. And you are an all-star in terms of not only tolerating, but embracing the feral toddler who thinks you are the best thing since pull back cars. 

Can you tell they share the same enthusiasm for these photo shoots?

We all just love the stuffing out of you and you are such a good boy. Except for when you 'woof' too much.