Woodland Park Zoo

We have made a visit to the zoo here in Seattle many times. But on this visit, the kids were happy, the sun was shining and I just happened to take a bunch of pictures. So here are some pictures from a recent visit to the zoo this Fall.

We played at the park just outside the zoo for a little while before it opened. The zoo opens at 9:30, so when the kids are up before 7, it’s pretty likely that we are stir crazy before the zoo opens.

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Next, the girls thought it would be fun to chase the jaguar. They don’t have much of a survival instinct. Smile

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Up next were the gorillas. This one was so sweet and came to look at us right by the window.

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Inside the zoo, there’s a really fun playground. They like to run around the path (over and over), stand on the ant hills, go down the rock slides and play in the spider webs.

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One of their favorite places at the zoo is the farm. The animals were pretty silly when we were there.

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More fun things to play in/on.

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Dannie is starting to get the hang of standing on standing part of the stroller. For some reason Maddie wanted to sit in the seat.

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The lions are kind of hard to see in this picture, but they were all out on the rocks which is something we don’t see very often.

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We hadn’t visited the wetlands at the zoo in a long time, so we took a stroll through there. It was really pretty

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The red panda (Firefox) is one of my very favorite animals. He’s so dang cute and fluffy!

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We also saw the giraffes, hippos and zebras, but I didn’t get any good pictures of them. I love this zoo. The only thing I wish it had were more indoor areas. It rains here…a lot (in case you didn’t know) and it would be nice to have more options at the zoo for rainy days. But alas, it does not. I hope we can get a couple more nice weekend days to make another visit before it gets too cold (and rainy) for the season.

What is your favorite animal to see at the zoo?

andi

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Zoo Bathrooms

So this may seem like a very weird post, but I can’t help myself. We go to the zoo fairly often and I made a bathroom stop one time and I was surprised to see all the doors to the bathrooms painted. I thought it was so cute.

They had a female lion painted on the women’s restroom door and a male lion was painted on the men’s restroom door.

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And there was a lion family painted on the family restroom doors. It was so fun and so creative!

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Now, here is where I show my true weirdness. Each of the stalls in the women’s rooms were painted with the front of an animal on them. And when I went inside, I was surprised to see the rear of the animal painted on the inside of the door. Since there wasn’t anyone else in the restroom, I decided to be a whack-a-doo and take pictures of each of the stalls….on both sides. So here you go, the painted stalls in the women’s restroom at the zoo. I’m sorry. And you’re welcome.

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See….it may have been weird to take pictures of all of these, but they are really beautiful in person. It took a lot of time for someone to paint all of these. And they did a wonderful job. It’s such a creative idea and I haven’t seen it before. Well done, zoo. Well done.

andi

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Alex * 11 Months Old

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Alex is 11 months old! I am sure you are happy to hear there’s only one more of these posts after this one! I will keep doing yearly posts, but these monthly ones are coming to an end!

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Alex is one silly, happy little boy. He has started making silly faces and sometimes I can get him to dance for me. He has the best laugh when you tickle him, too!

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The biggest news this month is that Alex finally got a tooth! Two actually! A couple weeks ago the first one cut through and then about a week or so later, he got the second one (both on the bottom). He puts his fingers in his mouth and seems to be a little confused by the sharp things he finds in there. And I have to remember I can’t let him gnaw on my fingers anymore because those baby teeth are sharp!! (I haven’t been able to get a good picture of the teeth yet.)

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He has finally started cruising around the couch and coffee table. Of course, this also comes with more falling over, bumps and bruises. But he is pretty proud of himself and will even stand against something and hold it with only one hand. We have a little walking/riding toy that I have been working with him on. He can take a few steps with it, but doesn’t do it on his own yet. It’s only a matter of time, and I am not encouraging him all that much. I’m in no hurry to have him running around. He’s already a speedy little guy that gets into plenty of trouble now.

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He loves being under your feet or wherever you are. He will crawl and then stand up by grabbing your pants. He usually likes to do this while I am making some meal and if I can’t play with him, he just sits and cries at my feet. Usually he can be distracted by a spoon, cup, goldfish or ice toy, thankfully.

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His sisters still just dote on him all the time. Dannie won’t call him anything other than “YOU LITTLE BABY” in a very deep voice (which I think she is imitating me) and aggressively pointing at him. Maddie likes to wrestle with him and they can both get him giggling like crazy over the tiniest thing. In general, it’s a good thing babies are durable.

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Speaking of durable. Chuck and the girls like to wrestle when Chuck gets home from work and most days, Alex likes to crawl right into the fun. I like that he wants to be a part of it all.

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He likes to yell and babble. He hasn’t acquired any new sounds this month really, but he has gotten better at copying the sound you want him to say. He is also copying motions or doing commands more regularly. Maddie likes to ask, at dinner, “Who’s going to eat all their dinner?” and we all raise our hands. Alex will typically join in with us, but he sometimes has a hard time with one hand and prefers two!

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I have gotten him to dance a bit when I sing to him. He will shake his head and then giggle at me. I think it’s pretty adorable, but I’m a huge sucker for his happy eyes and little dimple!

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Chuck’s dad sent us some pictures from when Chuck and his sister were little. We found a couple in there that look just like Alex. I have always thought Dannie looks a lot like me and Maddie is a pretty good mix of us both. Alex is definitely a mini-Chuck.

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He likes being held, but isn’t big on snuggling (unless he is in his carrier or looking at my phone). When we try to read books, he still tries to eat them more than look at the pictures. But I have seen him playing with books a lot more and turning the pages. He also really likes pressing buttons on toys.

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He’s a great eater and really eats whatever we are eating. Apple slices are about the only thing that are still a little hard for him without any teeth, but he does pretty well. I just have to make sure I grab it from him before he gets the last huge chunk. Smile

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We have also cut down on his bottles since we only a have a number of weeks left of them. I am looking forward to no more bottles and not being so attached to that with him. When he does get one, he will see it and start crying or saying “mamamamama” and crawling toward me. He does love his bottles. I think he’s going to be sad to give them up.

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We have some playdates with my friend Mallory and her kids a couple times a week. Some days we just hang out there while Maddie is at school. Her kids are almost the same ages as Dannie and Alex and all our kids play so well together.

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Happy 11 months, little buddy.

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andi

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Fremont Troll

We had some time one weekend and thought we would take a drive over to see the Fremont Troll. I had heard of it, but it was quite fun to see in person. It’s a huge sculpture under a bridge and the troll has a real VW beetle under his hand. It’s so whimsical and strange. I am glad we went to visit it.

If you look closely in the next photo, you’ll see a chuck and Maddie up on his shoulder waving to me. :)

 

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Seattle Aquarium

We have been to the aquarium many times, but our most recent trip was a lot of fun.

We colored.


We pet animals.

We had our faces painted.

We stuck our heads in painted plywood.

We looked at the jellyfish. (This is the cutest picture ever, by the way!)

We looked at tropical fish.

Then we headed out. We weren’t there very long and only saw a small part of the aquarium. But sometimes a short trip is perfect!

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Rants About Life

Lately I have felt off. Not just kind of off. Really off. I would describe it as a fleeting feeling. Some days it’s there in full force while other days it’s just in the background. I am starting to wonder if something more than just having three kids and general life stresses are the problem.

I worry. A lot. But only to myself. I am not worrying about things that make me helicopter parent my kids, but I have dreams about strange things and when my mind wanders it wanders to things like death and dying and what life would be like either without me or if I were to lose someone close to me. It is in a more general sense, though.

I feel like I just want to shut down and sleep in my room in the dark. Alone. The idea of chores and things are so unappealing. And yes, I know that chores aren’t appealing to most people, but I want to whine like a baby about needing to do the dishes or laundry. There are enough toddlers in this house. Mommy doesn’t need to act like one, too.

I am irritated by the smallest things. I just want to give my kids ipads and tell them to leave me alone. I have no motivation to teach my kids things (writing, reading), doing crafts seems stressful and taking them anywhere just feels like such a hassle.

I understand kids feed off me and my reactions to things. But I find it to be such a challenge to keep my cool. I just feel like I could explode inside if I have to answer the same question 100 more times. Or ask them to do something for the 100th time. It’s exhausting.

There are other random things on my mind, too. Maybe I’m not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom anymore. This freaks me out. I feel like if I don’t stay with Alex a while, I have let him down in some way. I was home with the girls and now, see ya, kid. I’m outta here. And then I worry that I failed at staying home. Some times I think I am really taking the easy way out and staying home and not getting a job. But am I even doing a good enough job with the kids to continue doing this? On the other hand, I love being home with them. I love seeing them everyday and seeing them grow and change. I would miss them like crazy if I didn’t get to deal with their non-sense all day.

Maybe what I need is a job where I can take the bus to and from work and just read a book. Then I freak out about how the kids would be if I’m not with them. Would they be ok in daycare (obviously I know the answer is yes). Or how the house stuff will get done if I’m not home all day. But let’s be real…it’s not getting done and I am home. So that wouldn’t be that big of a deal. And I would be so sad to miss seeing them all day. I love them and I love being home with them.

I always intended to go back to work at some point after staying home with the kids. I wish there was something I was extremely passionate about, though. I have things that might be ok, but then worry and fret about learning something new, being qualified/good enough and just generally scared about the whole process. I don’t feel that good about myself, so how can I go sell myself to someone when I don’t even think that highly of myself? And how will I ever learn something new when all I think about is how bad I’ll be at it or how I’m not smart enough for it.

Then there’s the regrets. I went to college and got a crappy degree. What a waste of thousands of dollars and brain cells. Then I went back to school for a more respectable degree and dropped out. I just didn’t want to be in school anymore. I also didn’t think I could do it (but it has been pointed out to me that that isn’t the case). Either way. If I had stuck with it years ago, I would have been done. I could have years of experience behind me by now and I wouldn’t be in this predicament. I’d have a great degree from a great school. But alas. That is not the case and here is sit with regrets. And the fear of failing and relearning and just fearing it all.

This can’t be healthy. There are a bunch of stresses in our lives right now. And I am sure these are big contributing factors in all of this. But I am worried there are underlying things that I don’t know how to get rid of. I had tried therapy once and hated it. That isn’t something I want to do again. But I don’t really want to pop happy pills everyday, either.

I feel like I’m not as happy as I should be. I mean, my husband has a great job he loves and is amazing at. I have a part time job and three beautiful, smart, healthy kids and the ability to stay home with them. And we have food on our table. Clothes on our backs. More toys than the kids know what to do with. Generally nice things. A beautiful house. Two cars. What the hell is there for me to complain about? I just feel so whiny.

I’ve been waking up early for about 5 weeks now. I get up before anyone else is awake and I shower, do some yoga, sit in the dark in the quiet of the morning. Sometimes I light a candle. It’s so peaceful. I had hopes this would set the tone for my day. And I would be peaceful and happy. Instead, I look at the clock and think I should have gotten up earlier because the time was too short. Wonder how it can be morning already and why my kids need to wake up so early. Why is it that I’m not over-the-moon excited that they are running to me with messy hair and open arms for morning snuggles? Then I run through the day thinking about when will it be their rest time? How long until it’s their bedtime? Then the days just go on repeat. That can’t be normal. Or healthy.

There’s my rant in a nutshell. A feelings-dump. I am not actually looking for answers. I just wanted to put it out there. It feels like I can maybe tackle or overcome some of these things if I actually say them. I can’t avoid them as much this way. These stressful days will pass. I know that. I just want to enjoy them and look back with happy memories and not wonder if I gave the kids enough love and laughs when they were little and needed it the most.

Blah. Or maybe I’m just getting my period.

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Best Breakfast Potatoes Ever

I was looking for a good potatoes and veggies meal and I came across this recipe from The Pioneer Woman for the “Best Breakfast Potatoes Ever”. And they don’t disappoint. I would be surprised if any of the food she made wasn’t delicious.

I have made this a number of times and I love it more every time. It’s really simple and you can add/eliminate anything you want. I’ll admit I add WAY too much food, but who cares if there are more peppers and onions mixed in? Chuck and I won’t complain. Smile

You literally chop up the peppers, onions and potatoes, throw some butter, olive oil and seasonings in a bowl, mix, dump on a pan and throw it in the oven.

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That was with purple potatoes, a small Yukon Gold potato (because it needed to be eaten), a red onion, two medium yellow onions and I think 4 small-ish bell peppers. That picture was before I put it all in the oven. It cooks for about 30 minutes. This was a HUGE batch so it didn’t get quite as browned/crispy as other, smaller batches have gotten, but there were no complaints.

Here is the meal after it is cooked. It doesn’t last long on my plate. Chuck likes to add cheese to his.

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Back when we first started dating and neither of ate any vegetables, we used to make something similar on the stove top with chicken and potatoes. I commented to Chuck one night when we were eating this that I couldn’t believe we ate the chicken and potatoes meal before without peppers and onions. It just seemed wrong. He laughed and told me I had come a long way. Smile He is right, and I am happy about that.

Definitely give this one a try. You won’t be disappointed!

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Exit Strategy

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Our September Book Club book was Exit Strategy by Kelley Armstrong. If I haven’t mentioned it, the way we are picking books this year is from a long list of random book topics, subjects and general fun book stuff. I randomly pick three from the list below each month and we try to fill 1-3 of the topics to pick a book (this month it was 1, 2, and 10). This book happened to fill 2 of them. A friend in book club found this list online somewhere and it has been a really fun way to find a variety of books we may not have found otherwise. This list was a little more fun than just picking a book from a certain genre, too.

1. A book with more than 500 pages
2. A classic romance
3. A book that became a movie
4. A book published this year
5. A book with a number in the title
6. A book written by someone under 30
7. A book with paranormal characters
8. A funny book
9. A book recommended by an author
10. A romantic mystery/suspense/thriller
11. A book with a one word title
12. A book of short stories
13. A book set in a different country
14. A nonfiction book
15. A popular author’s first book
16. A book from an author you love but haven’t read yet
17. A book a friend recommended
18. A NY Times bestseller
19. A re-adaptation of a popular story
20. A freebie you’ve downloaded
21. A book that hits close to home
22. A book you can finish in a day
23. A book with antonyms in the title
24. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to go
25. A book that came out the year you graduated college
26. A book with bad reviews
27. A trilogy
28. A book about childhood friends
29. A book with a love triangle
30. A dystopian book
31. A book set in high school
32. A book with a color in the title
33. A book that made you cry
34. A book with magic
35. A book by a male author
36. A book by an author you’ve never heard of
37. A book you own but have never read
38. A book that takes place in your hometown
39. A book published during a year that is significant to you
40. A book set during winter

Here is a little about the book:

From the author of the acclaimed Women of the Otherworld series comes an exciting new heroine whose most secret identity is both lucrative…and lethal.

Regulars at Nadia’s nature lodge don’t ask what she does in the off-season. And that’s a good thing. If she told them, she’d have to kill them. She’s a hit woman for a Mafia family. Tough and self-sufficient, Nadia doesn’t owe anyone any explanations. But that doesn’t mean she always works alone. One of her contacts has recruited her in the hunt for a ruthlessly efficient serial killer cutting a swath of terror across the country. The assassin is far too skilled to be an amateur—and the precision of the killings is bringing the Feds much too close to the hit man community for comfort.

To put an end to the murders, Nadia will have to turn herself from predator to prey as she employs every trick she knows to find the killer. Before the killer finds her…

When I first found this book, I read some reviews and found that it was considered a romantic thriller. After reading the book, I don’t think that was the case at all. There were a couple possible love interests, but aside from a pretty innocent kissing (and slight groping scene) there wasn’t a lot of romance. Maybe some romantic tension, but that may come out in the following books (this was book 1 of 3).

I was weary that I wouldn’t be able to finish the book in time (since I started reading midway into the month) because it was over 500 pages on my Kindle. I also don’t consider myself a very fast reader. But I think because there was a lot of dialogue I was able to read it quite quickly. I was actually surprised it only took me a few days to get through. I also didn’t want to put it down. I was intrigued by the author writing some chapters from the perspective of the victims. Very chilling and fascinating.

It was a pretty exciting book since I haven’t read much about hit-men (or hit-women) before. Although I think there were a few parts of the story that were lengthy and a bit dull, the overall story was quite entertaining. I am not sure I will be rushing out to read the next books in the series, but this one was a pleasant surprise.

Happy reading, friends.

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The Fishers Visit

It has been ages since I have blogged about something other than books or Alex’s monthly updates.

Last week/weekend, my friend Trisha came out here with her daughter, Chelsea. They arrived on Thursday and left Sunday morning. We had a fun-filled weekend!

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After they arrived on Thursday, we headed to Starbucks and then I drove them by a few things before heading back to our house to hang out and get them settled in. Trisha brought gifts! She brought me a sweatshirt from Bluefin Bay and a really yummy soap! Chelsea brought handmade necklaces for the girls. It was so sweet and thoughtful of them.

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That night we went to Red Robin and thankfully the kids were happy because we had the WORST service ever! We waited 45 minutes for our food and we arrived before 5:00. It was nuts! Then they didn’t bring drink refills or extra fries. I was not pleased I didn’t get more fries!!! But everyone survived and we headed back home to get the kids calmed down and ready for bed. Then we sat around on the couch and Trisha and I did some coloring. Smile Yep. We are dorks.

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-FRIDAY-

Friday morning we went to a mall to let the kids play because it was a rainy day here. I had hoped to take them to St. Edwards State Park, but the weather wasn’t having that. So we went early and let the kids play at the play area. Then we went to The Disney Store and then the LEGO store for a while. We walked around a little then had lunch at McDonald’s. Then headed back to get Alex down for his nap.

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I made pasta for dinner (Pasta from our food box we get weekly) and then we headed down to the farmer’s market down the road to hang out and play at the park. This was the last farmer’s market of the season, so some of the vendors were giving kids goodies away. The kids were really excited about this! Then we walked back home and got the kids ready for bed.

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-SATURDAY-

Saturday was the day we really packed full of stuff. We left early and parked downtown and walked to the Space Needle. We spent some time there (and even got a peek of the mountain before the clouds rolled in) and then walked to Pike Place Market. It was a little chilly at first, but it warmed up into a gorgeous morning! We looked around a little bit before heading back home for Alex’s second nap. He slept in the carrier while we were walking around. He loves that.

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Chuck took all the girls outside to play in the yard with balls and bubbles while Alex was sleeping. He even picked some roses from the garden on his way in. We decided to go out for Mexican food Saturday night and I was so giddy! Fajitas and Margaritas are my favorite! The kids were really good and the service was AMAZING. I thanked them for their quick service with the kids after we had such a horrible experience eating out Thursday night. After dinner it was time to head home and get the kids ready for bed again. We sat around and as was the theme each night after bed…chatting, cocktails and coloring. Smile 

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Sunday morning we brought them to the airport and said our goodbyes. It was sad to have them go, but it was so nice to have a taste of Minnesota here. We missed them and can’t wait until we can hang out again. Thanks for coming all the way out to see our crazy little family! You are welcome anytime!

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Alex * 10 Months Old

Our baby is 10 months old and quickly becoming, well, not a baby.

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We are just two months away from his first birthday. I have already started planning a small joint party for him and Dannie. (It’s going to be so cute!!) Ok, I’m off topic. And this was a picture for Maddie’s school and the best picture we could get of all of us. Smile

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Alex has started to actually crawl instead of army crawling. He also does this funny sideways scoot. It’s weird. But he is happy that he can get places more quickly. He is also working on standing and pulling up on things. Since Alex has learned to stand, he has started pulling up in his bed and only once kind of got himself stuck there and forgot how to sit down. He was so mad! But mostly he’s just happy with his new skill.

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His favorite game is crawling all over me. Some days I just want to sit on the couch a minute and watch them play. But Alex does not like that game at all. He will sit at my feet and cry. Once he forgets why he is crying, I’ll go sit on the floor (because I don’t reward the kids for crying at me when they want things). Then I’m just a huge jungle gym and climbing (and eating) toy.

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And if I am lucky, I’ll get a snuggle. But mostly it’s very short lived because this kid does not sit still unless he is sleeping. And he is still a great sleeper!!

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With Alex being good and mobile, he has gotten himself into a couple funny places. Last night he crawled into a box. Then he put his head in another box and got stuck. It was hilarious! He also crawled under the jumper and I thought he was stuck. So I went to take a look. Nope. Happy as can be and crawled right out. Ha! Goofball!

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Alex has been eating just about everything we eat at meals. He had grilled cheese and peaches last night and I think he thought he was in heaven. But, still no sign of teeth. That certainly hasn’t slowed him down eating at all. And if you put your finger in his mouth, you know he could chomp anything…ouch! He loves loves loves squeeze food. He sucks those things down faster than I think should be possible. And I got him a new straw cup and he loves being able to drink whenever he wants by himself.

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He has also gotten really good at holding his own bottle. I mostly put him on the boppy to keep him in one place. If I am getting the girls’ breakfast ready, he can lay there and feed himself. It is so nice and I think he enjoys doing it. He seems quite proud of himself.

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The girls are very in love with him. Maddie loves playing with him and sometimes has to be reminded to be a little more gentle with him. But she means well, she just thinks Alex is her own baby. Dannie loves to help him with things and bring him toys. Every once in a while I will get a rare, sweet moment when all three of them are playing together.

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Alex loves playing with his friend, Brayden (who is 3 weeks younger than Alex). They are buddies. Brayden is such a teeny little guy. I about throw him in the air when I pick him up. Smile They follow each other around looking for toys and snacks their sisters have dropped on the floor.

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We took the kids to a park one weekend and they all love swinging. Alex giggled (and snorted) the whole time. He is also obsessed with sticking out his tongue these days. It’s the funniest thing.

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We have been working on sign language and I have caught him signing for a drink a few times. The other ones I am working on are “more” and “all done”. They are so very helpful! He can also do a few other tricks (except he never does them on command when I’m trying to show someone he can do it). He does “so big” (with his hands in the air), he will clap when you sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” and “tick tock” (he will tip his head side to side, although lately he just does “tick” and looks a little silly)…that’s all I can think of right now.

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He has been talking (babbling) more. I have heard “dada”, “nana”, “baba”, “mama” and a couple other silly noises on occasion. Still nothing incredibly consistent. “Dada” is pretty clear on command and he usually yells/cries “mama” as he is crawling to me when it’s time for a bottle.

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He has been loving books and toys with lots of buttons to press. There’s one toy that is a pretend cd player and he could sit and open and close that thing ALL DAY LONG. And everything is still going in his mouth. Maybe that will calm down if he ever gets some teeth. We are still waiting on the first one to pop through.

Other than that, he’s an extremely happy baby. He laughs and giggles all the time. We love him to pieces!

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