DIY Captain Underpants Halloween costume

I have a draft of a post from July still waiting to be published. I have two birthday party posts yet to be shared. But right now I want to share this year’s Halloween costumes: superheroes!

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I don’t know how many years we have left of doing family costumes without any dissenters, so I was happy that Corban and Mara ended up on the same page with their costume selections: Flash and Wonder Woman (for a while it was looking like Princess Leia or Elsa were going to win out for Mara, but in the end she said she wanted “star underpants” — which, still, she did not get, but it was enough to convince her to join Corban in the Justice League).

This is Haddon’s first Halloween, so I had almost full control over his costume since he had no concept of the holiday. Going along with the superhero theme, Haddon’s pick was a no-brainer. I knew he’d actually be excited (and not just confused) to dress up as Captain Underpants. After the five of us saw the “Captain Underpants” movie this summer, he has had an affinity for running around the house in a diaper and cape shouting, “Captain Underpants! Tra-la-la!”

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My original ambitions were to make everyone’s costumes myself, but time got the better of me and we ended up ordering Mara’s and Corban’s on Amazon so we’d have them in time for some festivities two weekends before Halloween. I was actually really impressed with their costumes, considering they were both $20 or less. Here is the Wonder Woman costume and here is the Flash costume. I ended up sewing the Wonder Woman belt to the dress just to keep it in place (a tiny stitch just at the center of the waist, not all the way around), but otherwise they both worked just fine straight out of the package.

Captain Underpants seemed simple enough to make, and I also found the store-bought versions really creepy, so that was my project this year. Here’s what I did.

(Past DIY Halloween costumes: Berenstain Bears, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Peter Rabbit, a mouse)

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The bod

Nude long underwear is apparently difficult to find in toddler sizes (though for an older kid, this would be perfect) so instead I bought a white long-sleeve shirt, thick, cotton tights and a package of tan Rit dye.

This was my first experience dying clothing, and it was really simple to do on the stovetop, although the shirt ended up with some weird dark dots on it (not ideal but I don’t think it was too noticeable). I used the powder dye, so maybe the liquid dye would be more reliable? The color turned out darker than I was anticipating. It worked fine for Haddon’s skin tone, but for a fairer child you would probably not want to leave the clothing in the dye for the full amount of time.

The underpants

I drew lines with permanent marker on a pair of white underwear to match the look of Captain Underpants’ underwear.

The head

To achieve Captain Underpants’ bald-headed look I crocheted a simple skin-toned beanie for Haddon. This also was convenient because it ended up being fairly chilly for our trick-or-treating last night. Here’s the pattern I followed (via video). I am not a crocheter—I’ve crocheted two or three hats in the past but that’s it—yet this was simple enough to knock out in spare moments here and there over a few days.

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The cape

I bought this $6.99 red satin shawl and cut it in half (the other half became my Supergirl cape). If I owned a sewing machine, I would have hemmed the cut edge, but un-hemmed it survived trick-or-treating and a Halloween party with only a few stray strings. To make the cape fully authentic I drew seed-shaped black dots on it with a permanent marker.

That’s it! Totally doable, and Haddon loved his costume. You could also add a plunger as an accessory, but Haddon had enough work just carrying his candy bucket.

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Other Halloween notes:

At the last minute I decided to dress up as Supergirl—literally 10 minutes before trick-or-treating started I printed out a Supergirl logo and pinned it to a blue shirt, pinned the remaining red scarf into my collar for a cape and cut a strip of yellow fabric and tied it around my waist with a red skirt. Pure luck that I already had everything for that one.

Peter’s Clark Kent costume included woodworking safety goggles since he couldn’t locate any normal fake glasses in our house.

Haddon was my pumpkin-carving sidekick. He mainly enjoyed sticking his hands in the pumpkins and playing with the scooped-out seeds. I roasted the seeds to perfection this year (I’ve found the best route to success is soaking the seeds overnight in a bowl of water with lots of salt before roasting).

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I managed to carve three of our five pumpkins (the kids lose interest after about 10 seconds so it ends up being my solo project). They got to choose the designs, though, and I’m sure you can guess who’s pumpkin is whose.

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All in all, it was another very fun Halloween, made even more special by getting to introduce Haddon to the holiday and share in his excitement.

Corban at 4 years, 3 months old

Before I let any more time go by I want to capture the fun and ferocity that are Corban and Mara right now. Let’s start with my firstborn.

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It is so much fun to see Corban’s mind at work* as he soaks up new ideas and begins to see how they are applied in real life. I can practically see the lines being drawn as he connects concepts across different experiences—when he learns a new word then hears it used the next day in a different context, puts letter sounds together and sees how they form a word or starts to grasp the connection between the faces on his “Presidents of the United States” placemat and the characters in “Hamilton.”

Speaking of “Hamilton”…

Both kids are obsessed, but we are taking a little break from listening to the cast recording because Corban is starting to pick up a little too much from it. He and Mara both love a few songs enough that Corban has them just about entirely memorized, including phrases like “I’m the ‘damful’ that shot him,” (as he pronounces it) and “I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.” It makes me so, so happy to share things like brilliant musicals with them (and it is pretty fun that Corban’s starting to learn about our country’s history because of it), but we are switching back to children’s catechism and scripture songs for a while—music with lyrics that are 100% OK (and wonderful) to repeat.

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Corban also is obsessed with his Wildlife Fact File, a.k.a. remember those binders with pages about various animals that would come in the mail? Peter’s mom found one at their house from back in the day, and we read a few pages every day and learn so many interesting facts about animals.

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Photo credit: Wade Tregaskis

Books

He loves to be read to in general, and we all enjoyed intentionally reading through the “Jesus Storybook Bible” start to finish in about three weeks during Advent. Other current favorites are still Beatrix Potter stories, “Where the Wild Things Are” and nursery rhymes/fairy tales from anthologies.

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School

Corban is also very into his Sunday School class and Primary Praise (children’s worship) at church. He often asks when he is going to go to preschool (this is probably partially because adults ask him this ALL the time) and I know he would love it if we decided to send him. But as of right now we have no plans for 4K (for a variety of reasons).

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Play

While last year was all about pirates, this year is shaping up to be all about super heroes. That’s the favorite game these days. Corban also is a card shark—Go Fish, Uno, War and Slapjack are popular in our house. He plays endlessly with little action figure-type toys, animals and cars, but is also a very physical kid, always climbing on things and jumping off furniture. When he plays outside it’s all bikes and sports. He doesn’t usually opt to color or do art unless we have a specific activity planned.

He and Mara are two peas in a pod, always playing together. They love each other well but do fight over toys like any siblings.

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Learn

Like I mentioned, Corban is starting to understand how letter sounds form words. He sounded out a word almost fully by himself the other day (“Max”) and it felt like one of those special parenting moments like when he took his first steps. He is far from actually reading, but I just recently started working with him a little more intentionally using some Montessori methods for learning letters/words and it’s crazy how even just a tiny bit of that goes a long way when a child is ready for it. He has this letters activity book that he loves, and I’ve noticed recently he seems to be “getting” it and can complete the activities correctly on his own. We are more of a “learning through play” style family, but his brain seems to be ripe for phonics right now.

“Why?”

Corban continues to be very inquisitive and a HUGE fan of the question, “Why?” My response is almost always, “Why do you think?” and I would encourage every person who hears this question from a child to respond that way. Corban almost always has a theory in mind and a lot of the time he’s right, or he’s looking at it in a way that I hadn’t thought about.

I simply relish how uninhibited he is with sharing his heart with me and asking questions about life. This age is also sweet because everywhere we go and everything we do is a learning opportunity. I love how curious he is and it’s fun to explain life to a kid who devours everything you say!

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“Learning” about senses and nature on a hike. Also saw a hawk eating a dead animal–wildlife in action!

Some recent firsts

The other weekend I took Corban to see a musical at FirstStage, “Just a Little Critter Musical.” It was geared at the preschool set but was just as entertaining and thought-provoking for parents. Every kid in the place seemed to be enthralled, including Corban. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next preschool-geared show there.

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We also took both kids to their first movie at the movie theater this past weekend, “Zootopia.” I think Peter and I loved it even more than the kids. Corban enjoyed the whole experience but keeps talking about this one borderline scary scene (which thankfully Mara and I were in the bathroom during). It felt liberating to be able to take the kids with us to the movie theater (Mara was pretty antsy, though).

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Peter bought a used Nintendo 64 late last year and introduced Corban to his first video games (much to my chagrin, though I probably need to lighten up). We will play Mario Kart, Starfox or this WWE wrestling game (which Corban somehow wins at) maybe once a week. Corban is quite into it (that might be an understatement). The nice part is that we play together as a family.

A few words I’d use to describe Corban:

Observant, social, silly, curious, loving, cautious.

Up next: Mara update (and more posts that have been sitting in drafts, hopefully soon!)

*work, work.

Mara at 18 months

At some point while I was busy playing silly games, wiping away tears, dancing around like a crazy person and kissing her soft head, Mara became a full-blown toddler. It hits me over and over again, but it did again last night as she walked over to the step stool to wash her hands after dinner, chatting to herself and needing very little help from me: she’s not a baby anymore. (Cue the waterworks.)

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I struggled to differentiate personality traits between Corban and Mara when she was an infant, but over the past six months or so Mara’s distinct personality has emerged loud and clear. Key Mara-isms:

She loves dancing and has impressive rhythm (no idea where that came from) that gets put to use when she hears any music, including random background songs, tunes from musical toys or the singing of her family members.

She loves to talk, and is picking up new phrases right and left. Last night it was, “Where’s my purple?” (Her purple pacifier… a.k.a. the glow-in-the-dark one–genius invention.) She went through a recent phase where she very clearly let us know everything she wanted (“I want milk!” “I want ‘fier!” (pacifier) “I want baby!”).

Speaking of wants, Mara certainly is persistent. I never would have guessed that the laid back baby who snoozed and smiled through her first 10 months of life with nary a whimper would stand up to her brother so fiercely when he takes a toy from her, or slam her body to the floor, flailing her limbs in defiance,  when she’s forbidden from playing in the cleaning supply cabinet. Yes, she’s really a toddler now.

No, Brother, you may not usurp my lawnmower.

No, Brother, you may not usurp my lawnmower.

Speaking of pacifiers, while going through pictures from the last few months, the obvious has become even more obvious: she almost always has a pacifier in her mouth. She loves that thing, and her pink crochet blanket. Time to start cutting back on the daytime paci usage.

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Mara has always been snuggly and, to my delight, still loves to cuddle. She’s still a mama’s girl and we enjoy lots of affection (as do her friends).

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My theory is that because she was so happy to be held and carried, she didn’t crawl until her first birthday, and then didn’t walk until shortly before 15 months (which I realize is not abnormal, but seemed late compared to her peers). But before long she was running, and now she keeps pace with Corban and all his shenanigans.

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She still is cool with being worn in the Ergo carrier, which was very handy when we went on vacation to Hawaii in January. She got to ride along on many hikes and walks and see some pretty spectacular sights.

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She even snoozed on Peter’s back while he skiied (at home–not in Hawaii).

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When she’s tired, she’ll just lie down on the floor or ground with no regard for her surroundings.

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Mara loves to get dressed, get her socks and shoes on and wear random items. Her most ridiculous quirk: wearing my underwear around her neck like a necklace. She does this all the time. I’ll spare you a photo.

Mara can be quite fearless and independent in certain situations. For example, she sees a slide and she goes for it. Sometimes 10 times in a row.

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Nice hair.

She loves to sing and amazes me with how quickly she picks up on songs — both melody and lyrics. “Let It Go” (of course) was the first song we recognized her singing many months ago. Her theme song, “Miss ‘Mara’ Mack,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” are other popular ones. I did a double take when she started singing (without lyrics) “Into the Woods” the other week (Corban and I sing, “The woods are just trees, the trees are just wood,” and she picked up that tune). And yesterday it was “This Little Light of Mine.”

Since I already sound like a gushing mom, I might as well continue. I am thoroughly delighted by Mara’s artwork. We color and paint with watercolors regularly, and I want to frame all of her work as serious abstract pieces. It must be that 18-month-old lack of inhibitions that makes it seem so not contrived. (Feel free to smack me next time you see me for making serious comments about a one-year-old’s artwork.)

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Although she’s not small (by any means) for her age (around 80th percentile for height and weight), people often think Mara is younger than she is. Chalk it up to the hair–or lack thereof. She’s got the baby mullet in full force. Those wisps are so soft, though!

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Some highlights over the past few months…

Flower girl in Uncle Noah and Aunt Lindsay’s wedding.

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Enjoying some nice, spring weather (today it’s snowing, though…).

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Hawaii fun (separate post to come on that).

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Serving as Corban’s watercolor canvas.

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Fun with friends visiting a couple weekends ago.

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Winter hiking (more babywearing for the win).

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Favorites:

  • “Where is Baby’s Bellybutton?” book
  • Pointing out and naming body parts
  • “The running game” (she and Corban start by the front door and race into Peter’s outstretched arms in the family room)
  • Showers/baths
  • Sitting on the potty
  • Snuggling “babies” (stuffed animals)
  • Drawing/painting
  • Milk
  • Duck, duck, goose
  • Ring around the rosie
  • Dancing!
  • Playing “show” (singing/dancing with a toy microphone behind our puppet show curtains while we watch)
  • Playing outside

Stats:

  • 25 pounds, 5 ounces
  • 33 inches
  • Size 4 diapers (cloth diapers during the day)
  • Size 18- or 24-month clothes
  • Size 5 shoes
  • 1 afternoon nap
  • 7 p.m. bedtime and 6:30 a.m. wakeup

Bye bye, pacifier!

After months of thinking about it, talking about it but ultimately putting it off due to one thing after another, we finally (finally!) said bye bye, pacifier. For Corban, mind you. Mara is still more than welcome to soothe herself through the long night with hers.

Ultimately it came down to the fact that I discovered dirt/mold inside Corban’s one remaining pacifier and I just couldn’t stomach giving it to him anymore. There’s no easy time to go through this transition, but with four weekends of travel in the past month behind us and another three weeks until we go camping, we had a window to take advantage of.

So last night we pulled up some youtube videos. First, the brilliant “Bye Bye Binky” song by Elmo (thank you, Elmo, for using your influential position among toddlers to make the world a better place for parents).

Then we trolled around for videos of other little kids saying bye bye to their pacifiers. This was enlightening. Apparently many parents tie them to balloons and send them off into the sky “for other babies who need them.” Some put them in a box and leave them overnight for the Binky Fairy to replace with a toy. Corban was enthralled by all this, but thankfully the video that resonated the most with him was one of a little boy simply throwing his pacifiers into a large garbage can in the garage.

We had been talking with him for months about someday throwing his pacifier away, and about how he doesn’t need it and he’s becoming a big boy, so this wasn’t a novel concept for him. We had even attempted a paci-trashing session a few months ago, but he genuinely seemed so disappointed to say goodbye to it that I relented and backpedaled. Maybe it’s my own memories of pacifier-sucking bliss as a child or just my reluctance to admit Corban is growing up, but even watching the darn youtube videos of kids saying bye to their pacifiers had me misty-eyed with compassion.

But this time it was happening. After all the video motivation, he was excited about getting in on the action (and possibly even more excited about watching the garbage truck come and take it away, which is a weekly highlight we enjoy together).

So we pulled out the big garbage can, let Corban sing Elmo’s binky song, and without so much as a second of hesitation he tossed the thing in. Bye bye, pacifier.

I did my part and posted the video on youtube to motivate other little ones who may be headed for Pacifier-holics Anonymous.

Of course, come bed time (a few minutes later) he was like an addict in withdrawal. Seriously. Kicking, fidgeting, crying, rolling around in bed. He begged to “put Mara’s pacifier in my mouth.” Sorry, sir. Our bedtime routine distracted him for a while, but when we left his room he would not stay in bed. After nearly an hour of whining and crying in the Pack N Play, I lay down with him in bed for about 5 minutes before he passed out.

Thankfully, he napped perfectly for our nanny today and tonight was better than last night. He only brought up the pacifier once and instead of crying he just lay awake singing and talking to himself in the Pack N Play, and eventually fell asleep on his own.

No matter what the next few nights hold, I’m glad to finally have the pacifier gone!

Mara at 10.5 months

My little Marabelle (not her real name) is 10 1/2 months old*. My tiny baby girl is no longer tiny, but she is still very babyish to me, or at least she was up until the past several weeks. It seems like right when she hit 10 months, she started to mature at lightning speed with first words, waving, first teeth, rolling around, wanting to crawl… more on all that in a minute.

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But In a nutshell… Laid back. Social. Content. That’s Mara right now (and how she’s always been).

Mara is the happiest baby I’ve ever seen. She is almost always content, whether she’s sitting on the floor with toys in reach or being carried along to the various adventures we head out on with Corban and friends. Nursery volunteers at church comment every week that she’s the easiest baby in the room (she just chills with a few toys in the middle of the floor) and I don’t go anywhere in public with her without being stopped by strangers thrilled that she returns their baby talk with smiles. Whenever Corban is being stubborn or throwing a tantrum (a.k.a. being two years old), I am extra grateful that Mara is calm as ever and not adding to the stress.

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I don’t want to simply compare her to Corban, but they have been so obviously different in the timing of their developmental milestones that it’s hard not to note. Compared to Corban, Mara has been slower with gross motor skills. She didn’t roll over until just the past week or so! I don’t think it was that she couldn’t before (she’s been sitting since around 6 months and that uses the same muscles as rolling) but more that she just didn’t feel the urge to roll. She isn’t crawling yet, but is starting to want to move more. No pulling up on furniture either.

But socially, she has been earlier than Corban for the most part, with early smiles, coos and laughs as a newborn. She started waving right at 10 months, and shocked us a few weeks ago by very clearly starting to say “Mama” in reference to me. Now she sometimes says “bye” (or something vaguely resembling it) when people are waving goodbye. I wasn’t expecting that for a while!

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Teething
Mara was toothless until 10 months. The past week she sprouted two bottom teeth and I think it makes her look much older. She has had a fussy few days — which isn’t saying a whole lot, but she’s been clingy and had a rough morning at the beach last week when I wouldn’t let her stuff handfuls of sand in her mouth. Mean mom am I.

Eating
Mara loves her solids. We has a slow start with baby-led weaning, but at around 8 months she really got the hang of it and has embraced every food we’ve given her. She enjoys beans, eggs, steamed veggies, soft fruit, avocado. Bread is a little more confounding, and perhaps harder to down with essentially no teeth. Next we’ll try plain yogurt and maybe small pieces of meat.

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She’s still breastfeeding and still very efficient and to-the-point with nursing. I am in no rush for Mara to wean and I hope she continues to be interested in nursing for a good while.

Sleeping
Maybe it’s the steady diet of solids, but Mara has started sleeping through the night enough that I’ve lost count of the exact number of times it’s happened (10 or 11 now?). I was astounded and almost didn’t believe it the first time, more than a month ago. But this week it has become normal. Amazing that it just happened naturally! As much as I love getting uninterrupted sleep, it makes me a little wistful thinking she is outgrowing her habit of nursing in the middle of the night. I know that sounds completely crazy.

We finally kicked the swaddle last month when she simultaneously outgrew it and it became too hot to be wrapped in fleece, so now she sleeps with this creepy little torso-less knit clown that was mine as a child, a random stuffed ball and a blanket crocheted by the same friend who made Corban’s favorite blanket. Those items were not chosen intentionally (aside from the blanket) — they just happened to be thrown in her crib at one point and then stayed because they work.

Sibling love
Mara is highly amused by Corban. She loves any attention from him and laughs at his antics. Every night after dinner, she gets in her pjs and I bring her out to say goodnight to Corban and Peter. C says, “Goo-night Mara!” in the sweetest little voice and kisses her on the head, and she just giggles hysterically. The girl loves kisses in general, but especially from her brother.

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Stats:
Weight: 21 pounds 6 ounces
Height: 28.5 inches
Naps: 2 (9 a.m. and 1 p.m.)
Sleep: 6:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Clothes: Size 12 month for pants and onesies, 6- and 9-month still fit in dresses and shorts. Love little summer dresses with cloth diaper bottom!
Hair: Light, light brown, soft and wispy
Eyes: blue/gray on the outside, brownish in the inside (in transition?)
Diapers: Charlie Banana with two inserts during the day, size 4 disposables at night
Words: Mama, bye
Tricks: Rolls her tongue all the time, waves, claps and cheers, high fives
Favorite foods: Steamed zucchini, banana, avocado
Favorite toy: Fischer Price xylophone/piano

*she was 10.5 months when I started writing this, but life is busy and she is now almost 11 months as I hit publish AHH!

Toddler Valentine’s Day

In all the hype surrounding the romantic side of Valentine’s Day… gifts, cards, dates, chocolate recipes (especially when you’re planning content for a lifestyle site – I have been living and breathing all of those topics), I had almost forgotten how much fun Valentine’s Day was as a kid.

Disney Princess valentines torn along the dotted lines. Candy hearts. Stickers. A pink hair bow. An exciting whirl of an afternoon slipping cards into your classmates’ decorated shoeboxes.

Peter and I did go out for a nice dinner this year on Valentine’s Day eve. It was romantic and very adult. I tried foie gras. But Friday morning I was reminded how fun and festive the holiday of pink and red is for those to whom a kiss is the thing that makes an owie better and a heart is one of the five shapes you can identify.

We went to a little party with some of Corban’s best buds and their moms. It started with lots of playing – with 11 kids ranging from age 5 months to 5 years it’s more like strangely choreographed chaos interrupted by occasional tears – and eventually moved to craft time for the older kids.

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Yes, Corban is now one of the “older kids.” I don’t know when that happened and why it now seems like he’s always been one.

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They decorated picture frames for their dads with fun Valentine’s Day stickers.

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Then they made drawings to put in the frames.

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Somehow the pictures make this seem like a calm and controlled affair, but it was more like trying to keep a bunch of cats sitting at a table. I’m glad I was able to sneak away to snap some pictures, but crafts with a two-year-old are always very hands-on adventures!

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After Corban completed his frame, he decided to rip all the stickers off and throw them on the floor. I may have done a bit of reconstruction.

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Next on the agenda: cupcakes.

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Not hard to keep kids still for the approximately 2 minutes it takes to eat a cupcake!

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Then, the valentine exchange.

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There are so many cute ideas out there for DIY kid valentines. Oh, the puns! I promised myself I wouldn’t get too ambitious this year, but I wanted Corban to have some sort of hand in what he gave to his friends. Here’s what we ended up making:

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These were very easy to throw together the day before. I made a heart stamp from an empty toilet paper roll and had Corban (admittedly with the help of his nanny, not me) stamp hearts with white paint onto folded pieces of red construction paper.

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Then I filled resealable sandwich bags with about an inch of Valentine’s Day M&Ms…

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…and folded the tops down and stapled the construction paper sandwiched over the bag.

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So simple and fun to put together.

If you’re wondering what little Mara looked like on her first Valentine’s Day… well, I’d be happy to show you.

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Sweet and smiling as usual.

Hope you had as lovely a Valentine’s Day as we did. I’m hoping to get back here with some more updates soon since it’s been a while!

Mara at 2 months

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Two months old already!

I sat down thinking that not much has changed in the past month – Mara is still sleepy, sweet, snuggly and overall a great baby – but she has hit a few exciting new milestones since my last update.

Most notably: smiling!

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And also cooing!

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We finally started offering the pacifier, around 6 weeks. It took her a few days to learn how to keep it in her mouth, but now that she’s got the hang of it the pacifier really helps during her evening fussy time. Before, she would act hungry then cry when I would try to feed her, then pass out for a few minutes, repeat. All during dinnertime and bedtime for Corban… so evenings were rough. The paci has helped a bit with that.

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Speaking of eating, Mara is the opposite of Corban – she eats super fast and doesn’t like to linger and suck for comfort. 5 minutes is an average nursing session. We have had some issues this month as my milk supply regulates and found that nursing lying down works best for us so the flow isn’t as fast.

It’s hard to believe, but until last night I hadn’t been apart from Mara for more than an hour (to run an errand once or twice). Last night Peter and I went out for the first time without her, so she had her first bottle (no major issues). It was nice to have a tiny bit of freedom! We were only gone for two hours, though. Baby steps.

As my dad put it, she’s like an appendage.

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Mara goes where I go, and I don’t hesitate to get out and about. The Moby wrap has been essential!

Top of the tower at Holy Hill:

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At the park with my mom:

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Bundled up at the park with Corban (we’ve had a drastic shift in weather this month, as these photos demonstrate!):

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Pumpkin farm:

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She has now graduated past the newborn hold in the Moby, so her little legs dangle out. This helps me look like I’m actually carrying a child and I’m not just an oddly shaped person.

We switched fully to cloth diapers around 6 or 7 weeks. They fit her much better now. She’s growing so fast!

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I’ll write an update on cloth diapering soon! Quite a bit has changed since my initial posts.

I love that Mara still will sleep anywhere. I know those days are probably numbered and am taking advantage of it before we have to start planning outings around her naps.

Nothing better than a baby snuggled on your chest!

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I still sometimes pause and marvel at the fact that I have a daughter. Two months later, it still seems surreal. Two kids. A boy and a girl. Whoa. (In the best sense of the word!)

One thing is certain: baby girl outfits are irresistible! Mara has been outfitted quite well with gifts from family and friends.

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Baby leopard?!

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She has outgrown this outfit since the beginning of the month. She seems so small here!

Tummy time has become a fun game for Corban, and Mara has become quite advanced at it. She actually loves being on her stomach.

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And although most of the time he’s doing his own thing, Corban has melted my heart with some tender moments with Mara. There have been a few times when he’s been touching her head and talking to her, and she just looks up and smiles at him. I am looking forward to seeing their relationship grow.

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The stats:

Height: 22.75 inches (62nd percentile)
Weight: 11 pounds 14 ounces (62nd percentile)
Clothes: Size 3 month
Naps: All the time, no regular schedule
Night: Sleeps in our room; wakes twice to eat
Diapers: Cloth, or disposable size 2

My mini mouse (an easy DIY costume)

My mom made almost all of the Halloween costumes I can remember from my childhood. Bride, witch, Barbie doll, Grinch (my brother)… she found patterns to sew, and when there was no pattern she made up her own. I didn’t realize at the time just how much work it was, but I loved every Halloween costume and went all out with it every year through high school, and even college (though by then I was putting together my own costumes).

I would love to do the same for my kids, but this year I found myself browsing Pinterest with less than one week until trick-or-treating, still undecided about Corban’s and Mara’s costumes. At that point, it had to be something simple if it was going to be homemade.

Then I found a pair of mouse ears from my sophomore year of college, when two friends and I dressed up as the three blind mice.

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(I forgot how un-mouse-like that costume actually was…)

Bingo! It would be easy to make him a simple mouse costume, and Mara could even be a cat.

It only took one (long) naptime to make this costume, and I didn’t have to buy anything at all!

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Here’s what I used:

Gray sweatshirt or jacket (light gray is best, but I used what we had)
Gray sweatpants
Two 8 1/2 x 11-inch sheets light pink felt
One 8 1/2 x 11-inch sheet gray felt
Needle and thread
EyelinerMouse ears

I cut one sheet of the pink felt to make the pink belly, and sewed it onto Corban’s gray fleece jacket using only a handful of single stitches spaced a few inches apart. I wanted to be able to easily remove it after Halloween without any damage to the jacket.

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I just pulled it over his head to put it on him come trick-or-treat time.

I decided to make mouse paw mittens, which aren’t really essential to the costume, but ended up being my favorite part. If you have gray mittens, you can just sew the pink paws onto them instead of making the mittens themselves, but for some reason I find that hand stitching a pair of mittens is less stressful than going out shopping to find a pair.

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I used Corban’s mittens as a pattern and cut a mitten shape about 1/4-inch larger than them. Then for each mitten I hand sewed two pieces of mitten-shaped felt together. If you have a sewing machine this will only take a minute, but it took me a couple episodes of “The Mindy Project.”

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I turned the stitched mittens inside out and prayed that they would fit Corban (he was still sleeping). Then I cut a few rough circles of pink felt and stitched them onto the palms of the mittens.

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Lastly, the tail. For this, I just hot-glued some pink felt into a roll, including in the middle of the roll a thin piece of wire we had lying around. I ended up making the tail way too long (this is what happens when your child is not in your range of vision — you forget how short he is!) so I pinned it pretty high up inside the back of his jacket once he was wearing it.

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For the nose and whiskers, first I tested out some homemade, all natural face paint by mixing a little bit of baby lotion with cocoa powder (for brown) and frozen raspberries (for pink). I did not want to put face paint on my babies for fear of exposing their gentle skin to potentially dangerous chemicals.

The homemade face paint was a giant fail! If there were a natural way to make black face paint, that would be one thing, but the brown just looked like chocolate (or you-know-what) on my face when I tested it. The pink actually turned out OK, but I don’t think it would have lasted very long on Corban’s or Mara’s noses.

So I went the eyeliner route instead. I’m sure there are chemicals I don’t want to know about in eyeliner, but I just told myself since it’s made to be applied near one of our most sensitive areas (the eyes) it can’t be that bad on baby cheeks and noses.

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My little kitten wore cat ears we already had, a black onesie, black tights and a small boa tail.

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Trick-or-treating was on Sunday in our city (I know, the Milwaukee area is weird and every city has its own trick-or-treat day and time, which is often not on Halloween). We went with friends who have two toddler girls and it was such a blast watching the little ones scramble up to each door on our street and reach their mittened little hands into bowl after bowl full of candy.

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Corban also helped me carve our big pumpkin that afternoon.

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It all reminds me once again what a fun age he is at.

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Your turn: What are your little ones being for Halloween? Or what were you as a toddler? Toddler Halloween is the cutest!

My first maternity massage

This past weekend I enjoyed my first ever professional massage! And not just any massage, but a maternity massage.

Maternity massage… sounds amazing, right? At a time in your life when you’re feeling tense, in pain and just generally uncomfortable, what could help you relax better than a professional massage?

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

But it didn’t end up being as glorious as I had imagined.

Embarrassing before and after pics.

Embarrassing before and after sefies.

Peter had given me a gift certificate to Neroli Spa (for a maternity massage) as an early Christmas gift when I was pregnant with Corban. Little C came just two weeks later, though, so I never ended up using it. This time, I vowed, I would schedule that massage before it was too late!

So at 35 weeks, I finally got a 35-minute maternity massage on the books. I was glad I had waited until later in pregnancy, because my lower back started aching and I just was feeling more uncomfortable than ever.

Essentially, a maternity massage is just a regular massage, but they have a special pad that you can lay on to accommodate your protruding belly. The masseuse warned me that it was highly possible I would start feeling short of breath or nauseous after some time lying on my stomach, so she would start with my lower back to make sure we got that in while I was still comfortable. Sure enough, after 10 minutes of bliss on my belly, I started to feel sick.

She had me turn around into a partially reclined position on my back, where she could still massage my neck, shoulders, head, etc. Again, I started out feeling great, but within a few minutes was feeling sick again – this time, I thought, due to the strongly scented oils.

She kindly wiped off the oil and proceeded again, but eventually I needed yet another break to sit fully up and drink some water.

While my neck, shoulders and head enjoyed amazing relaxation, I couldn’t fully appreciate it as I battled that horribly uncomfortable feeling of nausea that I thought I had left behind in the first trimester. I silently was thankful I hadn’t booked anything longer than 35 minutes.

How regretful to be treated to such bliss and not be able to enjoy it!

Apparently, this is common for pregnant women who come in for a massage. I’m sure there are some who have no issues, but sadly I was not one of them. It wasn’t a total bust – there were parts of the massage during which I felt fine and really enjoyed it, and afterward I sat in the relaxation room for quite a while with a lovely foot soak – but I will definitely wait until my body is back to normal before considering another massage.

I guess during pregnancy (especially at this late stage) there is only so much you can do to get comfortable, and a massage can only be as relaxing as your body allows. I don’t hold it against the spa or the masseuse at all (in fact, she was so kind as to give me 10% off, I’m guessing since she knew it wasn’t as wonderful as I was expecting). I did leave feeling much more relaxed and rejuvenated, just not as completely as I would have were I not pregnant.

Have you tried a maternity massage? Was your experience anything like mine?

Corban’s 15- and 16-month update

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I started writing this about a month ago, as a 15-month update, but never finished or posted it. Such is life. That update was written while I was in the throes of morning sickness and emotional stress/sadness while Pa was sick, so it started like this:

This past month or so has been a challenge for all sorts of reasons. But through the ups and downs Corban continues to be a bright, beaming light to me every day. And even though I’ve felt at times like I’m coasting through as a mom and not giving him 100%, he continues to learn, grow, impress us and make us smile.

Thankfully, I am feeling much more like myself now, so I’ve been able to enjoy the fun of having a sweet toddler this month. He has changed so much since the last update I wrote, at 13.5 months! Here are some of the adventures and milestones he’s experienced in that time:

  • Started walking
  • Said his first word (well, sort of…)
  • Started understanding and following directions
  • Weaned completely from breastmilk/nursing
  • Switched to a convertible car seat
  • Had his first haircut
  • Learned how to open doors
  • Learned to walk (not crawl) up very small steps
  • Flew on an airplane for the second time in his life

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Busy few months, I guess. Each new skill so naturally builds upon every other that these milestones just keep creeping up on us.

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Walking

C took his first steps at almost 14 months, and now he walks all over like a pro. When he’s tired or overexcited he might get clumsy and falls on his big diapered butt, but he gets right back up again like nothing happened. He tries to run if you pretend to chase him, but usually gets too giggly and trips. It still makes me smile to see him toddling all over the house like a little busybody.

Talking

He has absolutely mastered the point, gesture and grunt to communicate his desires to us. He used to consistently sign things like all done, more and eat, and he sometimes does that still, but now is more apt to use sounds and facial expressions to communicate. He is surprisingly effective at telling us what he wants – but without using real words.

I have been eagerly awaiting a “mama” or “dada” (which we reinforce constantly to him), but instead I think Corban’s first official word is “dog.”

No, we don’t have a dog. We have cats. But Corban still thinks almost every four-legged creature says “woof woof” and, starting about three weeks ago, will point at them and bark and occasionally say “dah,” which I interpret as dog.

For a while he would constantly point at things and says “dis,” but I think “dog” is more of a real first word than “this” since “this” can refer to anything.

Over the past few days he has been saying “bah,” a lot, sometimes possibly in reference to a banana, but several times when I pointed to a picture of a sheep and asked him what sound it makes. Another new one is “aaarrr,” like a lion roaring. Yes, our child makes lots of animal noises (see video at end of post).

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Listening

Although he hasn’t done much talking yet, it’s been amazing to see Corban’s language comprehension really take off these past couple months. He understands and obeys when we ask him to go get a book off the shelf, put something away, go give something to mama or dada, find a diaper, go get his blocks, throw something in the garbage, go find Biggles/Basil, get his blanket and various other simple instructions. Every time he hears a phone ring, he puts his hand to his ear like he is holding a phone. It’s so much fun seeing the things he picks up just by observation.

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Eating

Corban is generally a good eater, but I feel like I bore him with the same rotation of foods in his diet. His nanny and I try to ensure he gets a good balance of grains, fruits, veggies, protein and dairy, but because of a combination of his preferences and my shopping habits, that means he eats some combination of eggs, plain yogurt, peanut butter, toast, bananas, cooked carrots, cheese, hummus and a few other fruits and veggies almost every day. It’s easy, healthy and he likes it, so I guess I shouldn’t worry, but other ideas would be welcome. He rejects most meat I have tried to feed him recently. Green smoothies are my new favorite way to get some extra veggies in him.

He went through a phase where he was obsessed with eating whole apples. He would spend a good 45 minutes working his way (partially) through one in tiny bites, with a huge grin on his face the entire time.

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Sleeping

Happy to report we are at a REALLY good place with sleeping! Corban naps for usually 1.5 to 2 hours right after lunch (usually asleep around noon). Bedtime is 7:30 p.m. He goes down without a problem and sleeps until the early morning, when Peter may go in and replace his pacifier to get him to go back to sleep. Up for the day between 7 and 7:30 a.m.*  I’d better hurry up and enjoy this before we start all over with #2!

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He has become attached to a blanket my friend Jess crocheted for him last Easter. He threads his fingers through the holes and picks fuzz off of it for comfort.

*Of course… I typed this two days ago and the past two mornings he has woken up in the 6 a.m. hour. Grr!

Fun

Current obsessions:

Being outside. This really took off when we were on vacation in South Carolina two weeks ago. He was fascinated by the snowless ground, filled with sticks, leaves, pine cones and other exciting things to pick up and carry around.

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But even before that, he enjoyed playing in the snow.

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He loves walking around outside and going to the park.

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This past week has been cold and rainy almost every day, and Corban doesn’t understand why we aren’t taking him outside. A few times he carried his and Peter’s coats over to Peter, his way of asking to go out. One time he even carried both of Peter’s big shoes over to him. Don’t worry, C, we aren’t fans of this weather either.

Balls. Corban loves to play catch (though he can’t catch yet) with tennis balls, a beach ball or balloons.

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Climbing. We are his human jungle gym and climbing on us while we’re lying down can entertain him for a long time.

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When Peter and I hug or kiss. This is highly amusing to Corban. He grins and laughs hysterically. I’m sure someday he will have the opposite reaction…

Jumperoo. We still have the Jumperoo out (even though I am sick of seeing it in our family room) because our nanny’s son uses it while she is putting Corban down for naps. Surprisingly, Corban still asks to go in it sometimes and has an absolute ball bouncing around. I never would have guessed he would still be into that thing at 16 months.

Stairs. Ugh. He doesn’t get to climb stairs very often because we have a one-story house, so you bet that the first thing he runs for at church or someone else’s house is the staircase. He has never fallen, but still needs supervision, which is the inconvenient part because he would be happy climbing up and down stairs for hours.

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Touch screens. He thinks every screen is a touch screen, and tried swiping at a friend’s TV the other weekend. I let him hold my phone and play with it, usually only while it’s locked, and he is usually sufficiently entertained by pressing the home button to reveal a photo of himself at one day old. A couple months ago I showed him the Gangnam Style music video on my phone and he was riveted. Eventually he started dancing, and then bent down to kiss the screen and put his face/ear on it.

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Humidifiers. This love has subsided quite a bit, but for a long time he was really into playing with humidifiers. We turn one on at night in his room, for white noise and to keep the air from getting too dry in the winter, and he used to freak out over it — squealing, clapping, putting his face over the vent.

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Stickers. A cheap thrill, but now I find them in unexpected places all over the house.

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“Cooking.” I designated a plastic spatula for him to play with and he likes to get a mixing bowl out of the cabinet and sit and stir the bowl while I’m cooking. It will be fun to try actual cooking with him when he’s a little older!

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“Helping.” Unloading the dishwasher, sweeping, doing laundry… these are all exciting activities in Corban’s world. He loved the Swiffer in the house we rented in South Carolina, so I’m thinking we should get one. Productive playtime!

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Brushing his teeth. If he sees you brushing his teeth, he tries to grab your toothbrush and put it in his mouth. He smiles while I brush his teeth with his apparently very yummy toddler toothpaste.

Whew. It’s daunting catching up on 2.5 months of changes. And these are just the highlights. I keep thinking I’ll focus these updates more on my thoughts as a parent, but I like recording the details of Corban’s development (with photos) for both myself and far-away family and friends. I’ll leave you with some quick stats:

Height: 32 inches at 15-month appointment (80th percentile)
Weight: 24 pounds 4 ounces at 15-month appointment (75th percentile)
Clothes size: 18 months
Diaper size: 3 during the day, 4 at night (in Target brand — other brands tend to run smaller)
Shoe size: 5
Teeth: 14, I think, including 4 molars
Words: Woof woof, baah, dah (dog), aaarrr (roar)

And here he is yesterday showing off some of his animal noises. All but woof woof are recent developments within the past week.