I grew up with fake trees, which I really do love. They’re easy and sturdy, and I used to make the branches into rooms for our ornament elves and play with the toys and the elves in the tree. You can’t do that with real ones. But I’ve grown to really enjoy getting a real tree each year since Brian and I have been together.
We have once or twice gotten our tree from a tree farm. Once we got a big fat tree with pine cones in it from there. But even easier to get it from the hardware store, already cut, and not too big. This year though Brian passed a sign for a little cut your own tree farm not too far from us for only $25. That is a steal!
This is the only picture I have of Coraline on our little trip out to get the tree. It was freezing and wet, and I didn’t want to put her down. She had a terrible runny nose!
After about 10 minutes walking around, we settled on this bushy (but not too much), tall, soft needled tree. Jameson was running around like a little monkey in the snow while dad cut down the tree. He was a little concerned when it fell down but then we got to take the tree home, so all was well.
We didn’t decorate it immediately, but we do have advent ornaments we hang up, so Jameson was excited to do that. It is a soft needled tree, so it’s not prickly, but it is harder to get ornaments to stay on properly on stiff branches or back farther on the more flimsy ones. But he’s happy to point where the ornaments should go.
A couple days later, we had the tree all done! Coraline isn’t a crawler yet, so as long as she’s moderately far away from the tree, it is safe from the baby (and the baby is safe from it!). Coraline is ready for her first Christmas!
This year, my brother brought his new dog for Thanksgiving at my parents’ house. We arrived Wednesday afternoon and were introduced to Athena (which he reminds us was the name she was already responding to, not perhaps he might have chosen for himself!) Athena was a rescue, and a pretty one at that. Her and Shiloh learned to play together while we were there, but old Mayzee was not as much of a fan.
We celebrated Aunt Holly’s birthday that evening, early for December 4th. Jameson was of course a big helper.
Next, Jameson helped Meemaw make zucchini bread for Thanksgiving morning. Chopping the nuts was the best part, because he actually really likes them. He kept sneaking pieces to eat. And even though Meemaw forgot the butter, the bread came out healthier and just as delicious (with a slightly different consistency) as usual after an overnight wrapped in foil.
Jameson must’ve had about 4 pieces that next morning! We had the parade on, though Jameson wasn’t too interested in it (he just wanted to watch Monsters).
Coraline got sniffed by the dogs over and over. Athena did really well with her first introduction to babies, though she wasn’t as good with Jameson, a quick, startling toddler. She nearly nipped at him once, which scared him, though by the end of the trip she was much better and he got better at being “brave” walking around her.
Ah! That’s not a sock!
Coraline’s first Thanksgiving outfit, courtesy of Meemaw.
Once the turkey was prepared and in the oven, there was time for play!
This photo was pretty hilarious, with all three dogs in the picture.
Jameson just loved Shiloh this trip. He kept requesting that she come with him to his room and to follow him. She wasn’t a great listener (she’s not for anyone), but it was still very cute. Jameson loved his room and wanted to play in it all the time because it is a big blow up mattress bed right on the floor! So much fun.
Another fun thing at Meemaw’s house was the big cup. He wanted ice (the ice maker on the fridge there is a novelty for him) and then Meemaw found a straw to put in it, and it was impossible to get him to put it down for photos with Uncle Tyler.
Jameson and Grandpa practiced hopping on one leg while we waited to eat, and then Jameson played with Coraline’s toys (more interesting now that someone else wants to play with them). He also loved playing with the Little Tikes dollhouse van. It must be a vintage item at this point, but in great shape for playing with Duffy the bear.
Everyone ate their fill for Thanksgiving with our traditional turkey, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce (the jellied kind of course), stuffing and pie. Coraline even tried potatoes the first time! She’s had a couple solid foods now including peas, noodles, potatoes, and corn.
Friday, the boys all went to the Air Force Museum while Meemaw and I stayed home to do a special Christmas project. Coraline was great for us, though she was a little pooping machine!
She let Meemaw give her a bottle, and did really well over Thanksgiving with just the bottle feeding. We nursed in the morning but the rest of the days were all bottled fed. She’s showing some signs of wanting to hold it herself!
Jameson had a lot of fun at the museum, though he kept saying that some of the planes were broken when they weren’t allowed inside all of them. He came home with a little toy airplane and asked me how to fly it (certainly because Grandpa had been flying little quadcopters earlier!). Alas, this one can only be flown by hand.
He even gave us a little concert that evening on the piano!
Our final morning was Saturday, so that we could have an extra day to unpack and relax before heading back to work. We relaxed in the morning, and Jameson got an early 3rd birthday gift from Uncle Tyler.
Coraline is still iffy driving any time past 30 minutes, so the way there was a little rough with a few stops, but both kids were amazing the way back! They both fell asleep for a time, and we didn’t even have to stop once. A first and last, most likely.
It was great seeing Uncle Tyler, who won’t be able to visit for Christmas this year, and fun to meet his new dog. We celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, birthdays, did special projects and visited a museum. We even found time to do a little shopping (online and in store!)!
A couple weeks ago, we were able to do the Polar Express with our local scenic railroad service, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. They also brought Thomas to us earlier this year, so we knew it would be a pleasant activity for us all to enjoy. We were even able to go with our neighbors.
Jameson had never seen or read the Polar Express, so a couple hours prior to the trip, we watched the Polar Express movie to prepare him. He was excited to get in his pajamas and ride a train! Coraline meanwhile had to stay at home for this since it was so late in the evening. It was nice to be able to spend some time with just one bundle of energy!
When we first arrived, he had fallen asleep in the car on the way there, so he was a little grumpy but quickly warmed up after seeing Lily!
The kids got special golden tickets like in the book, and Lily even brought the book with her, so Jameson was able to look at the book before the train ride started. They advise to arrive early to all sit together, so we had about a half hour wait before the train got moving.
The helper elves came around while we were waiting and made name tags for the kids so that the elves could talk to them personally during our trip!
The men had to sit together in one seat so that we could make room for everyone (obviously no hardship, haha), but they were able to spread out after the train got moving and no one needed the extra seats across from them.
During our wait time, I took a lot of photos of the kiddos being silly. They both held on to their golden tickets tightly and no one lost them!
I loved Jameson in his monkey pajamas; for the past year or so, he has actually worn the looser two piece pajamas; these “footie” pajamas were a gift from last Christmas, and when I brought them out for this occasion, he was thrilled to put the “soft” pjs on. They’re now in regular rotation.
The men went to purchase popcorn for everyone, and the kids kept peering over and around their seats to look for them.
Finally the popcorn arrived! And the train started moving! Everyone stayed happy and occupied. Phew.
The next big event was the conductor coming around to punch their tickets. I love the look of shock and awe on their faces.
During our ride to the North Pole, they read the story with some interactive elements (like banners of scenes from the movie held and shown); Jameson didn’t really pay attention to that though. He was more interested in his ticket, the popcorn and cookie they brought out.
They also did hot chocolate, which wasn’t too hot for the kiddos. Jameson’s picky about chocolate though so he wasn’t too interested in the hot chocolate.
Another activity they did was have all the men do their best impression of Santa’s ho ho ho! Daddy wasn’t too great at it. We did have a slight delay from a tree branch (and some reindeer) on the rail but Jameson only got antsy toward the end.
And then we arrived! The North Pole was all lit up and elves were out to greet us. Santa and Mrs. Claus came out on the sleigh, and then Mrs. Claus left alone. We didn’t know it, but Santa had climbed aboard our train!
Surprise! Here comes Santa!
We had only talked to Jameson once prior to this about what he wanted Santa to bring but each time he is asked he says the same thing: a teddy bear. (Specifically, a teddy bear the size of Bobby bear so that Bobby bear has a friend). It is just so adorable that he wants a teddy bear for Christmas.
Jameson even told the big man himself on our train ride.
Santa Claus gave Jameson a bell, just like in the story and movie.
Our ride back was much faster, and my favorite part was singing Christmas carols from the signed book we got from the elves on our train car. Jameson knows Frosty the Snowman by heart; I loved watching him sing.
All in all, it was a wonderful event. We had so much fun, even with Jameson being under 3. He wasn’t old enough to appreciate all the activities on our trip, but just the other night he told us at the dinner table, from nowhere, that he had rode the Polar Express. He definitely remembered and had fun on our trip.
We have continued to enjoyed the fall weather this month with Coraline (I just love babies in hoods!), but it’s also been harder to spend that time outside since it is getting dark so early. Most of our outdoor time must be on the weekends, and I was excited when we were able to introduce Coraline to the wagon and pull her around while Jameson followed behind on his tricycle.
Mostly though this month’s outdoor time has been spent dressed in costume for Halloween. Coraline was an adorable and tolerant octopus.
The cold weather though in turn means more illness at school and has also meant more ear infections for Coraline. She has had 3 in a row, with about a 2-3 day gap between rounds of antibiotics. We still can’t tell when she has one, until her ear drum (the same each time) bursts – 3 times now. We met with an ENT to check in between (about a day after starting drops again) and he saw the ear drum healing, so at least it hasn’t been open for long each time.
It’s been about a month of antibiotics, which has been hard on her digestive system. We are hoping that the latest round of more aggressive antibiotics mean the end of the ear infections for a little while so we do not need to talk about tubes.
Though her digestive system has been a little irregular and off, Coraline doesn’t let that stop her from eating food. Coraline is eating mostly any baby food now that doesn’t have protein in it. She doesn’t seem to have any preferences. Anything you put in her mouth, she’ll eat as long as she’s hungry. She loves breakfast and dinner now with solid foods. She loves puffs and yogurt drops, and mum mums were a fun introduction to bites.
We also introduced her to formula which went fine, and will be going full force on that this next month. We still have two teeth!
Bath time is my favorite right now. She sits upright in the tub on her own and loves to splash the water with her hands. No fear, all fun. Even when overtired, bath time always makes a happy baby.
This month she also noticed when people were entering and leaving the room. She will cry when we leave the room, and follows Sasha’s entrances and exits with her whole body. She also makes a hilarious full bend over to reach toys and other things. I caught her on her hands and knees one morning in her crib, but no signs of crawling after that.
Eight months old is pretty awesome. And the giggles are the best! She likes me to shout “boo” at her, and to play peekaboo with the cloth resting on her face.
Our official city trick or treat was delayed due to weather (for the second year in a row!) so we had it on a Sunday instead of the scheduled Halloween.
Since I had already gone with Jameson trick or treating with friends, I decided to hang back and hand out candy. Brian went with grandma and the neighbors, and I got a nice little break to read! Too bad it was ice cold; thankfully Brian left me a heater running in the garage.
Jameson had to stop for candy at our house twice; before he left and when they got back too. When he returned, he shouted “trick or treat!” I think he got the hang of it this time.
Coraline was cozy in her costume, but after about a half hour, she returned with neighbor baby Peyton because it was so cold outside!
And they were off! First they went to our brand new neighbors whose house was just built and finished just that week. Brian tells me that he had lots of fun.
A great finish to our fun Halloween this year! But unfortunately it means no more pictures of kiddos in costume!
We’ve been able to make the most of our costumes again this year, between Halloween activities and our official city trick or treat getting delayed! First, we went trick or treating at a friend’s house on Saturday.
Because Brian had to work, I left Coraline (they easy one, for real. I never thought I’d say that about a baby, but Jameson’s a bit more work than her right now!) and I took Jameson by himself to our friend’s house. We were there not too long ago for their daughter’s birthday.
Jameson was pretty shy, but warmed up over the few hours we were there. First we did crafts with foam stickers and pumpkins.
Then we ate and went out for trick or treating! Jameson didn’t want to say “trick or treat” bu the did get out a “thank you” a couple times. Milo was a hit in his Lightning McQueen costume. Jameson wanted to keep going for a while; he loved getting candy! I loved enjoying Jameson, by himself. We haven’t been able to do that much recently; it was a nice mother-son evening. He even stayed awake the whole car ride back.
Then we went to Boo at the Zoo! This year we went to the Cleveland Zoo (last year, it was the smaller Akron Zoo). I think we like the Akron one better, since it’s smaller and more suited for little kids, but they didn’t really care.
At first, Jameson and Jonathan did not want to be in the wagon. Not even a little bit. Jameson had fallen asleep in the car and was still waking up.
Coraline though as usual was just taking it all in.
Jameson slowly woke up and started having fun. He captured a few photos before it got too dark. Lisa and Jason with their daughter Vivienne joined us too! Kids were hard to capture all together this year.
They had some treat bags for the kids, and we even got to see a bear eating a pumpkin.
The kids had a good time! Jameson also got to dress up at school for their Halloween party, and then again for our neighborhood event. All this before our regular neighborhood trick or treat!
Coraline wasn’t able to have a costume at school, but everyone did dress up for Halloween to get a cute photo!
Our neighborhood puts on an event with crafts and activities for kids. We went with the neighbors and grandma.
Jameson enjoyed the crafts and games like ring toss and a bean bag toss. I think he really like the decorating a cookie best (filed away under good ideas for the future).
With our $10 fee which helps support the event, we also got flashlights for the kids which were a hit.
We also ran into Nathan, Jameson’s best friend from school. This photo was a little grainy, but I love the delight on their faces.
Coraline eventually fell asleep on grandma, so sweet.
We carved our pumpkins on Monday evening before Halloween this year. Brian has been doing a lot of extra work after hours, so it’s been difficult the last couple weeks to find the time to do this. I am so glad we did though! Jameson was hilarious.
I drew on the face, and Brian did the cutting. Jameson had to get his little knife from his kitchen set to help with that part too. I questioned him and he requested a sad face with two teeth and a big nose; then a scary face.
Jameson didn’t want to use his hands to take the pumpkin pulp and seeds out, though he did have some fun using the big spoon.
The best part was his squeals when Brian plopped pumpkin on his toes. I even got him on video. It’s too slimey he said (delightfully, I think; he enjoyed it)
When we were finished, we immediately took them out and lit them. Jameson loved going out in the dark to see them.
This year, I made some salted pumpkin seeds for Brian and some of the cinnamon spice ones that I made last year. They are so good! We only carved two of our four pumpkins, so we might actually cut up another one or two for some more seeds this season.
We’ve really been enjoying our fall so far, and the weekend after we returned from vacation, we took the kids to a little farm. There, we had a hayride and some photo opportunities.
This is the first year that Jameson has every seen a corn pit, and he was a little concerned about the feeling between his toes. He didn’t want to leave though; he just wanted to watch the big kids.
Animals are always a hit, and he got a kick out of the chickens that were just roaming around the yard. The farm also raises cattle and we saw some calves on our hayride.
Jameson enjoys going up on the tractors now, even the big ones, without fear.
The following weekend we went to get our pumpkins at a real pumpkin patch! Every year, I say I want to go to a real one and pick them from the vine. Last year we came close, but the vines had already been pulled up. This year we found the real thing!
We went with JP, Lisa and Jonathan. Lisa is pregnant and due in November. We are so excited to meet Coraline’s new friend (and find out if it’s a he or she!!)
We took a hayride back out to the corn maze (which we didn’t do this year: it’s acres large!), and then to the pumpkin patch.
Jameson dove right in picking out pumpkins. He was pretty flexible though with dad’s selection.
We even got some photos of Coraline on the ground. She ended up with some muddy hands, reaching for that pumpkin (which is, in fact, one of the actual ones we took home). How about that adorable pumpkin hat!
After we made our final selection, I tried to have Jameson take a photo. He was very interested in sitting on top of the pumpkins, which cracked me up.
All in all, a very successful trip. We even went out to dinner with our friends and successfully occupied children! We went to Hartville Kitchen, which makes a good homecooked meal. With pie, of course. On our way home, we stopped at Crafted Artisan Meadery (honey wine). The kids and I stayed in the car while Brian went in to check it out. We might become fans! We took home two bottles which we haven’t cracked open just yet.
Happy Halloween from my two sea creatures, my shark and little octopus. Sadly, our trick or treat is getting delayed (again, for the second year in a row), so we will have our trick or treat on Sunday.
We have, however, had a few opportunities already to wear the costumes already. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you!
A couple weekends ago, I went on a photography tour given by I Heart Faces during their conference for women in Columbus. It was a bit of a drive for me, but I was excited to be able to do the Amish Country Tour which was open to the public even though I couldn’t attend the rest of the conference.
We learned quite a lot about the Amish, and were very surprised by how well off the Amish are in Berlin, where we visited, which is the most toured Amish area in the country. Many Amish are no longer farmers.
We came across a wedding (above, with all the buggies lined up).
For lunch, we ate at an Amish case house, which is where they have church, weddings or other large gatherings. It was part of the property of an Amish couple and their farm and they graciously allowed us to photograph their land.
I did take a picture of their grandson outside the case house, respectfully avoiding his face. He captured our hearts with his adorable overalls.
This one is my favorite; it was so beautiful, and the clouds were moving quickly overhead, making every photo different with shade and light.
I loved the spiderweb in this one, it took a bit of work to get into focus and visible.
Despite the trees not being quite in their full glory, the scenery was just beautiful, and we could’ve stopped every 5 minutes for another picturesque view.
We were able to do a little touristy shopping at the end, and it started raining then too, luckily after we had finished taking photos.
I loved exercising my camera and skills with landscapes, since I so frequently take photos of people. It was new for me, and editing was fun. Even better, I was able to stay overnight with friends while Coraline actually took a bottle at home for Brian. It felt very freeing, after feeling home-bound for so many months.
This photo was from a visit to a farm the following weekend; Ohio is beautiful in the fall.