In the past few weeks I have instituted a new part into Christopher's daily routine. I call it "Big Boy Playtime". It goes something like this: Sometime in the afternoon I put the gate up in Christopher's doorway. I turn on his favorite Putumayo CD (thanks Aunt Laura). Then I sit with him and get him started in some play. I then tell him, "Ok Christopher, Mommy has some things to do, you have Big Boy Playtime, and I'll see you soon". Out I go, getting things done that are too difficult to do when he is underfoot. I return every few minutes to check on him, and I am always tickled to see him lost in some kind of play. He doesn't even notice me. Sometimes I laugh at what I see. Today when I peered in this is how I found him:
Yes, he put the hat on himself. Here he is just getting into the diaper cabinet.
"Ahh, the loot!"
"Let's see, I'll take a few of these, and a couple of these..."
And finally he sits down and plays with his loot. Notice the door is shut again? He always closes doors and drawers after getting his treasures. This way he covers his tracks.
Grandmom reads Leif a book... ...while Granddad feeds Christopher a bottle. This pretty much sums up how Sophia felt all weekend.
Leif shows Granddad the firetruck.
After playing at the playground we strolled the beach.
Leif burns off some energy at the playground.
Sophia and her rough love. She grabs Leif's ear "Come 'ere Leif let me lay one on ya!"
Christopher really liked Leif's toys, especially this stacking toy. He wanted to pick the entire thing up, but to do so he had to grasp the bottom, not the sides. It took him a minute or two to figure it out, but he finally did it by balancing the top on his chin as he stood up. Clever little lad.
Chilling during a stroll through the neighborhood.
Resting during our nature walk.
Mr. Marvin's Cessna 170 taking off. Christopher got to see this up close and personal.
Waiting along the runway for take off.
Another of Christopher's favorites.
Christopher and I have returned from the sunny state in one piece. Last Friday we flew to Tampa to meet Grandmom, Aunt Amy and cousin Sophia. Aunt Amy had a Thursday-Friday conference in Tampa and Grandmom tagged along to take care of Sophia. We all decided to make a full weekend of it and visit the McClains on the remote island of Cedar Key, about 2 1/2 hours northwest of Tampa. The entire trip was a success, with very few tears and tantrums. I can't describe how great it was to spend a relaxing weekend with my brother and his family. I so enjoyed reading and playing with Leif. He has really grown and so has his vocabulary. Unlike talking on the phone, when speaking face to face I can understand Leif very well. Leif is spirited! To watch Christopher with him is neat. The two of them played hard and rarely sat still. You can see how Christopher takes in everything Leif does, following him around with a look of admiration on his face "so this is what big boys do". Leif shared his toys with Christopher and Sophia very nicely. Sophia was such a big girl this weekend, sitting up for almost an hour at a time! She was full of smiles and death-grip hugs.
Highlights of the trip were nature walks, kayaking, bon-fires, delicious local seafood and a scenic plane ride over Cedar Key. Grandmom and Granddad went out clamming with Aunt Laura's brother-in-law, Shawn. Afterwards, we went to see Shawn's business "Southern Cross" and learned how clams are grown and harvested. It was very interesting. Life on this island suited me. There are only a few major roads, one school K-12, one tiny library, a small tourist district and endless natural beauty. It seems as though everyone there knows each other. And with major stores about an hour inland, you definitely feel "away from it all". To me Cedar Key has a similar feeling to the Eastern Shore. The people are friendly and hardworking. The water provides the main source of income to the community. And no matter where you are on Cedar Key, there is always a water view. Oh, and the wildlife! The bird population is so diverse. Just relaxing in the living room we were entertained by Osprey, Bald Eagles, Storks, Egrets, Herons, and Pelicans. Check out Aunt Laura's fantastic photos at: http://www.leiflaiflife.blogspot.com.
The McClain's house is superb for bird watching. The half of the house that faces the water is a continuous wall of windows. The windows are very low, starting about knee height for Christopher. There aren't any curtains, so Christopher could see as much as he wanted of the outdoors. He loved it. There was a boat on a lift next door, and Christopher would point to it excitedly and say "Boat!". He did this about 20 times a day, each time just as excited as the last.
Christopher travelled well, never once crying on the plane. I am relieved our travels are over, at least for now. The warm Florida sunshine did wonders for my spirit, as did the days spent with family and watching cousins play. I am sad it has passed so quickly.
I have prided myself in keeping a neat house with baby thus far. Unlike many houses with small children, I keep toys to a minimum, wipe the smudges away weekly and try and run the vacuum when I can. Until recently, I thought it was a piece of cake. Now, I find myself scrambling about, picking up random objects that Mr. Christopher has strewn across the house. Things from the bathroom are in the kitchen. Kitchen utensils (he has quickly swiped while the dishwasher was open) are found under the coffee table. A remote left too close to the table's edge wanders into our bedroom. Ryan's sneaker is under the dining room table. It goes on and on. I tidy all day long, and he rearranges all day long. I try to keep him contained, but when I quickly open a door, he is right there, squeezing his way past me. I try to gently coax him out, so as not to upset him as he wants to adhere to his agenda (explore room, find new object, walk around with it for five minutes, drop it in another room after finding a new object). But as gentle as I am, I seldom can distract him without an outburst. This happening time and time again is exhausting. It is easier to put off doing anything non-Christopher related until after he's asleep. This way I can keep him engaged and limit the amount of trouble he can get into. By evening I find myself exhausted. I see the smudges on the cabinets and they make me tired. The flecks of dried food under his high chair can wait til tomorrow. All I want to do is curl up on the couch next to Ryan and talk about our sweet perfect boy.