Sunday, August 21, 2011

Summer 2011

This summer has simply flown by. I didn't mean to let more than two months go by without posting, but it's getting late in August and I haven't posted in a long time. Sadly, I lost my camera recently before I had a chance to pull off a summer's worth of pictures, and so a lot of the ones I'd taken were lost. I have a bunch on my phone, though, so I've got something.

My last post was written while we were at Ocean Isle Beach with my family. After that trip we spent a few days with my dad and then returned to Austin after being away for a little over 5 weeks. Carter was SO happy to be home after all that time. I think he'd forgotten how many toys he has! It was hard to get him to leave the house for the next week.

A week later we went to Seattle, WA where I had a conference. Doug was going to be traveling during that time, so Carter went with me (and we brought Michelle along to hang out with him while I was busy). Doug was able to come for part of the weekend, and so we were able to spend Father's Day together, at least. Doug even got to take him to the Boeing Museum on Saturday morning, but there aren't any pictures of that, sadly.

We returned home in mid-June to insane heat. Summer in Texas is like winter in other places in that you stay inside. This has been a particularly brutal summer, combined with a horrible drought, and it's been over 100 degrees almost every day. So we've spent a lot of time playing inside. Here are the few pictures I managed to scrounge up from the summer. I hope they capture something about what we've been doing!

We measured Carter's height at the beginning of the summer for the growth chart in the playroom. He's getting ever closer to 40 inches tall.

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It's amazing what kids can do to entertain themselves. Carter spent days playing with this bucket of corks in the dining room.

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I'd been saving this cardboard pirate ship for summer (it was a Christmas gift), and he's really enjoyed it.

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We got a juicer early in the summer, and he was brave enough to drink some of my creations at first.

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In the mornings it's still cool enough to be outside, and we have been enjoying our makeshift screened-in porch immensely. It's basically a tent on our deck. Kinda ghetto, but it does the trick.

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We even put a little sandbox in there for Carter. The one in the yard is way too hot and overrun by ants and mosquitoes this time of year.

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This is how our grass looked at the beginning of the summer.

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Now it's dead and brown, and we're on really tight water restrictions because of the drought. I hope it rains this winter!

In addition to continuing swim and gymnastics classes, Carter also started taking a dance class. He really seems to like it, especially the tap part. Here he is in his tap shoes. (Ugh, bad phone picture quality.)

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And here he is in class.

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He's the only boy, though he hasn't seemed to notice that just yet. It's Texas, you know? A couple of the other moms there said their husbands would freak out if they had put their sons in a dance class. Doug and I both have a background in theatre, and we both know how important it is to expose kids to the arts when they're young. I find it sad and disturbing that so many people are so concerned about perceived gender roles that they'd refuse to let their child try something fun. But whatever. I guess I can't say I'm surprised. He'll be starting a drama class in the fall, and I'm hoping he'll enjoy it. :-)

I looked into the cost of occasionally renting a jumping castle, and it turns out they're not that expensive to buy. I think we paid $240 for this one on Amazon, and it fits in our living room. We've gotten a lot of use out of this so far, and we'll continue to for years. It's a fantastic way for him to burn some energy when we can't really go outside.

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We spent so much time outside last winter and spring that we really neglected arts and crafts. Michelle and I both have made an effort to get him painting and drawing again this summer.

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Michelle helped him make this awesome play mat for his cars This is still sitting on the bar, actually, and he plays with it a lot.

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And of course, we swim. Though we haven't been swimming as much as I'd expected. With the heat we've actually had trouble keeping algae out of the pool this summer.

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This is a cute picture, even though it's a bit blurry. This was taken at a fantastic restaurant downtown called La Condesa.

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If we really need to get out of the house, we like to go to toy stores and just hang out and play. Terra Toys is awesome for that. Here Carter is checking out a real hamster that was rolling around the store in a ball.

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There's always fun stuff to play with there.

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And for some reason, he loves pet stores. He likes to look at the animals, but he also likes to walk up and down the aisles and check everything out.

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We've spent a lot of time in the playroom. We've made some rather elaborate train layouts this summer. The latest one (this is not a picture of it) has basically taken up the whole floor. Our local TRU was having a moving sale, and I got that roundhouse for 40% off! And you know how expensive Thomas the Train stuff can be...

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Here's an earlier version, with a lego train station.

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I need to take a picture of the current massive layout, heh.

Carter likes to play store, then cook food in his play kitchen. Sorry for the blurry photo.

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We've done some actual baking as well. Here he's sampling our cupcakes.

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And here we made rice krispy "lollipops". We dipped them in sprinkles, which seemed like a really great idea at the time. And then I was sweeping and vacuuming up sprinkles for DAYS.

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When it's crazy hot the last thing we want to do is cook, so we've gone out to eat a lot this summer. We've gone to Carter's favorite restaurant, Nagoya, almost weekly. For some reason, this is the only place he'll eat rice of any kind.

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And of course, we love Rudy's. Carter loves this hand-washing machine.

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We've been trying to get him to do some simple chores around the house, like helping with clean-up and the like. He really likes doing laundry, though. He can load the washer and start it all by himself. The only thing I have to help him with is adding detergent.

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The summer has just flown by, and it's hard to believe I start teaching again next week. Two years from now, Carter will start kindergarten. That's hard to wrap my brain around, I have to say. I don't know if he'll go to preschool before then or not. I don't think he's particularly ready for that yet, not socially, anyway. He's reading a bit and has no trouble playing preschool matching games and putting together puzzles and the like. The one area of concern I have is for his fine motor skills. He doesn't want to hold a pencil or a crayon and draw or write. When he does do it, it's clear he doesn't have much control over it yet. He can draw shapes on a touchscreen with one finger, but he can't do the same with a crayon. And it's something he seems reluctant to try as well. I'm sure it's completely within the range of normal, but it's something I'm keeping an eye on.

He's basically using the potty all the time, but asks for pullups to poop in. I haven't pushed that yet, and keep hoping that it'll take care of itself. After months of no problems he's regressed a bit recently and has begun wetting his pants. He's been waking up wet as well, and is also starting to be distressed when he wets himself, which is something new for him. I know regression is normal and is usually a sign he's working really hard on something else, so clearly this isn't the time to push him on pooping on the toilet.

I spent a good chunk of July teaching summer school, and Carter and Michelle went to classes and played inside a lot. When that class was over, we were home for a few days and then we went to Santiago, Chile for my 40th birthday. That will be a separate post, with much better quality pictures! I should get that done sometime this week, so it won't be another few months before I post again. :-)

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