Thursday, February 21, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday Brady!!!

I can't believe my baby boy is 3!  It's really scary to see how fast three years have gone and how soon he'll be too big to give me a kiss and a hug any time I want.  Everyone thought we were crazy for having him young and so soon after we got married (he was due 2 days after our 9 month wedding anniversary), but we wouldn't have it any other way.  Both our kids were planned and wanted, and having him with us through all this moving made things easier for me.  I had a buddy no matter where we were and he filled my days (and still does).  

We had his party over the weekend, and his actual birthday was this past Tuesday.  Until this year, his birthday had always fallen on a weekend, so this was the first year it was just me and him for the majority of the day.  I decided a few weeks ago that we'd go to Chuck E Cheese to play in the morning, then we'd go out to eat for dinner that night as a family (which we've done on every one of his birthdays and will continue to do).  We ended up going to Bob Evans, where he ordered a hamburger, fruit, and a cookie for dessert.  Overall, he had a pretty good day.

Playing at Chuck E Cheese.

He had his 3 year check up at the doctor yesterday and he was excited because he's been playing with a doctor kit I got him for the last six months.  He is also a fan of the show, Doc McStuffins, on Disney Junior.  Every night for the last week, he'd talk about all the body parts the doctor would check and he was very good during the whole exam.  I was interested in seeing his height and weight as he can still fit into some of his 24 months pants, but outgrows his shirts with his long torso.  These are his stats compared to last year.

Last Year:                                               This Year:

34.5 inches (65th percentile)                 38 inches (65th percentile)
26lbs 8oz (35th percentile)                    34lbs (75th percentile)

They had written on the paper they gave me that his weight was in the 90th percentile, which didn't seem quite right.  He's a skinny little guy, although he does have a lot of muscle.  When I got home, I checked a growth chart and it only put him at the 75th percentile, which seemed much more likely.  Still, he gained 7.5lbs in a year, which is a lot for him.  I can remember fretting about his weight since he was 9 months old and went from a steady 50th percentile to 10th to 35th percentile depending on the visit for the next year or so.  He's still a healthy eater (loving his fruits and veggies) and is extremely active, so we are glad he's growing!

Brady has done more in his three short years than most people have done in their entire lifetimes.  He's lived in three different states and two different countries on two separate continents.  He's traveled to some of the largest cities in Europe.  One of the coolest things is that he's been in a different location for each of his birthdays.  He was born in Pittsburgh, turned 1 in South Carolina, turned 2 in Germany, and turned 3 in Michigan.  Unfortunately, he will also turn 4 and 5 in Michigan (as far as we know), so the streak will end.  We do have something amazing already planned for his 6th birthday as all the schools in our county take a mid-winter break for the whole week during his birthday every year.  This was his last birthday as our only child and even though Izzie's birthday will be only two weeks after his, we will always do separate celebrations and parties as each child deserves their own special day, regardless of when their siblings were born (because really, they have no control over that).

I love looking back at birthdays in the past for a comparison.  Although we didn't have a party or any family near for his first birthday, he still ended up with four cakes!

A look at his cakes for every birthday.  It's fun to see how much he's grown in between each set.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Brady's Up Themed 3rd Birthday Party

All year I have been trying to think about what theme Brady's 3rd birthday party should be.  He is still head over heels in love with Disney Cars, but that was his theme for his 2nd birthday.  Initially, my plan was to take him to the store and browse the cake book until he found one he liked and then go with that.  My mom had seen an Up cake on Pinterest and suggested that.  Brady instantly fell in love with the idea as he also loves that movie.  He has been talking about his Up party since Christmas.  We decided to schedule the party the weekend before Brady's actual birthday (which is tomorrow) as we only have a couple weeks from that point until Izzie B arrives.

The only idea on Pinterest was the cake, so I had to come up with some on my own.  Above is the Pin the House on the Balloons game that I made.  I figured it would be hit or miss with the crowd we had (a couple 4 year olds, a few almost 3 year olds, and an almost 2 year old).  Brady and one of the 4 year olds were the only ones who agreed to wear the blindfold, but everyone got their house up there.

This is the cake.  We had ordered the cupcakes, made the gingerbread house, then I assembled them and painted the balloon strings, etc.

I thought it would be fun to keep with the balloon theme when it came to the treat bags as well.  I got a balloon chocolate mold that worked with pretzel sticks and made them earlier in the week.  The treat bags had other miscellaneous items and each one had a helium balloon tied to it for the kids to take home.

Brady's present from us was so large that we had to wrap and leave it in the empty living room.  We wrapped it on Thursday night, so we were lucky that he understood he had to wait for his party to open it and left it alone.

This is the first year Brady has had a real birthday party with kids and family.  His first birthday, only Andy's uncle, Buks, made the trek to South Carolina to surprise us.  His second birthday, we were in Germany, and had the downstairs neighbor and Andy's co-worker, Dennis, over for cake and presents.  This year, we not only had kids to invite, but my parents and Buks were able to make the four hour drive to spend the weekend with us and enjoy the party. They were a big help in the party prep on Saturday morning as well and I don't know if we'd have been ready when guests arrived if they hadn't been there.

As for other party guests, we had our friends the Reeses come.  Brady loves playing with Sam and Ainsley, so he was very excited when they arrived.  We had met a few neighbors during a block party in the fall, and one of them has a set of identical girl twins Brady's age, and an older daughter around Ainsley's age.  We were excited when they accepted the invite as Brady loves playing with new kids, and we looked forward to getting to know them better.

The kids played in the family room for a while, we had lunch, then we headed downstairs to take a crack at the pinata.  It became obvious very quickly that the kids weren't even going to make a dent in it.  We let each one have two turns, then pulled the strings to let all the candy out.

The frenzy once the candy was out.

Dubby shook the pinata to get any remaining candy out.

We let the kids play in the basement for a while and then came upstairs to sing and eat cake.  Brady had only seen the Pinterest idea for the cake, so he was excited to see his cake.  He even started singing happy birthday to himself as soon as he saw it.

Brady lost interest in the cupcake due to his taking a nice bite out of the candle first.  He spit it out, but thought the icing on his cupcake was also wax and wanted nothing to do with it.  It was cute that all the girls wanted pink cupcakes and fortunately, there were enough for all of them.

He didn't mind the ice cream though ;)

Next it was time for presents.  The chair he's sitting in is an amazing recliner that Buks got him that matches our family room furniture in color and fabric.  He also got him a work bench.  He scoffed at our Bosch tool bench and said Brady needs to learn the English system of measurement and not metric.

Brady opened the presents from Sam and Ainsley first.  Sam got him a really cool homemade cape with Batman on one side and Superman on the other.  Ainsley got him a Play Doh farm.

Brady was really good about the kids wanting to help him open the presents they had gotten him.  He was just so excited to open them all that he wasn't screaming that they were helping.

Other family members had either mailed gifts or sent them with my parents and Buks so Brady could open them at his party.  He's holding a Sonic the Hedgehog car from our Mimi.

Mimi also got him some clothes, but he wasn't as interested in those as the car.  I know we have video of me at his age opening gifts with clothes, throwing them over my shoulder, and saying, "Oh, clothes."

Uncle Pat and Aunt Leecie sent him a really great Alphabet Pops learning toy that helps kids learn upper and lower case of the same letter.  Aunt Leecie is also a teacher, so she's always good at getting some great educational toys.

They also got him some activity mats that have games on them.  That will be a lot of fun in the basement.

Aunt Lanie and Ava got him a Duplo car and also some Disney Cars App Mates that go on the iPad.  There was also a Ninja Turtle figurine in the bag.  It was funny because I was the first kid at preschool to have a Ninja Turtle and Aunt Lanie was the one who had given it to me.

Nana and Dubby brought some little toys to go along with their large gift.  You can see the Woody race car above, but they also gave him a four pack of Little Wheelies for his track, and a Thomas the Train steam boat for the bathtub.

This is the large gift from my parents.  It was so large that when Andy went to pick it up at the toy store with my van, they couldn't get it in inside the box.  They had to take all the pieces out.  The pieces have been in our basement, but we had to move them before the party.  The plan was to lightly assemble it (it needs screws to be really assembled and once it's together, we don't have a door large enough to get it outside) in the living room and let Brady open it.  My dad and Andy pulled all the pieces up on Friday night and there was no way to assemble it without the screws.  They covered the pieces up with a sheet and the plan was to assemble it outside during Brady's nap the next day after the party.  It snowed (of course) and that plan went out the window.  They decided to put it together one of the weekends my dad is up here in March, either dropping off or picking up my mom who will be staying with us to help with Brady and Izzie once she arrives.

It's a little blurry, but this is the gift Brady got from Andy's dad and stepmom.

The grand finale was the gift from us.  This is something we've had planned since he was a baby and we always knew this would be for his third birthday.

He didn't quite grasp the concept that it was motorized and not like his normal push cars as it's still in the box.  We won't be assembling it until the weather turns warmer and he can actually use it outside.  All the other kids were excited and can't wait for warmer weather so Brady can give them rides.  If you haven't noticed the theme yet, Brady got a lot of outdoor toys.  Our house is quickly filling with toys and now we need things that will take up space outside instead of inside.

To prove, we've had the Power Wheels in our minds for a long time, this is Brady in the "show room" at Toys R Us at 6 months old, checking out his future ride.

We had a great time and were so grateful that so many friends and family could make it to Brady's party.  My parents and Buks remarked several times that evening and the next day about how it was such a well behaved group of kids and they all played well together.  We were thoroughly exhausted that night though.  It was a lot of work, but well worth it!  Next year, Brady will have preschool friends, so we will likely do it at a venue outside of the house (and this time I already know the theme), so our next in house birthday party will be Izzie's 1st birthday!  It seems like forever away since she's not even born, but the last three years with Brady have flown by, so I'm sure it'll be here before we know it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Brady Plays in the Snow

Contrary to what many people think, Detroit does not get much more snow than Pittsburgh in the winter.  The averages each year are within an inch.  Most people think that Detroit is on one of the great lakes, but we are above Lake Erie, along a river, that connects to a smaller lake that feeds into Lake Huron, way north of us.  The other side of Michigan that borders Lake Michigan (aptly named), gets almost double than us due to the lake effect snow that we don't get.  I can understand why people would think all of Michigan would get a lot of snow since it's nickname is the Great Lakes State (we touch four of the five).

We got almost no snow (an certainly no accumulation) before we went home for Christmas.  We came home to about six inches, but a week later it had all melted.  This has happened several times over in the last six weeks. We get 3-4 inches over a day or two, it stays for a day to a week and then it gets warm enough for it all to melt.  This has made it difficult for us to get Brady out there to play.  Most of you know I hate snow, so we had to wait until there was snow on the weekends so Andy could take him out (plus I can't get my feet into anything really snow proof and it's not too safe if I should fall in the snow).  

Andy was a little too particular about how the snow felt so it took a while to get Brady out there, even when there was snow.  We finally got around to it two weeks ago.  I had bought Brady new snow boots in November (by now they're all sold out), so this was his first time wearing them.  He was pretty excited as they have Lightning McQueen on them and light up when he stomps around.  His snowsuit from Europe last year still fit, so he was all set to go.

He's been out in the snow once before when we went sledding in the Swiss Alps last year, but it was more packed down and he went down on the sled, never getting down and dirty in it.  He hasn't seen much snow with us moving down South during his first winter and there not being too much snow in Germany last winter.  You can see that he doesn't know quite what to do with it, as his feet are shuffling through instead of just walking in it.

After being the OCD kid he is and removing all sticks in the yard, his first order of business was to get down and roll around.

You can see the marks he made in the snow from just rolling and rolling.

Andy got him to make some snow angels, which he called Snow Bradys.

Checking out his Snow Brady.

He easily spent close to an hour out there with Andy.  He loved when Andy would make snowballs so that he could come up on the deck and throw them at the window (and me).  He got a kick out of it.  Our glass door that leads out to the deck from the kitchen was covered in snow where he threw all the snowballs.  He definitely didn't want to come in at the end, but his little cheeks were all pink from the cold.  He went straight into a hot bath (which is one of his favorite things).  The snow has melted yet again, so we will see if he gets another chance to go out and play before spring.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Brady the Fish

It's very snowy outside and area schools are cancelled, which meant that Brady's swim lesson this morning was also cancelled.  That gave me the perfect opportunity to sit down and write about his swimming.  I was in the water as a baby and that progressed into my swimming competitively, so getting Brady swimming was high on my priority list (and will be for all of our other children).  He has pretty much taken to it like a natural, where other kids or babies are very scared to be in the water.

Brady's first pool experience in May 2010 (3 months old), in his cousins' pool.

Chillin floating on the water in June 2010 (4 months old).

Cooling off in the pool during our Myrtle Beach vacation in June 2010 (4 months old).

Most swim centers don't start lessons until babies are six months old.  We moved to Michigan the first time right around then, so I started searching for a place he could take lessons.  I found a great local place that started in Michigan, but is expanding to other states (one will even be opening soon in Pittsburgh).  It's called the Goldfish Swim School.  We took a trial class and I was sold.  The conditioned the babies to keep their mouths closed under water, to kick and scoop, and even climb out of the pool.  Sadly, we stopped lessons there when Brady was ten months old as we were headed South.

We kept pretty busy in our first few months in South Carolina, so I wasn't able to search a place to take Brady for swim lessons.  We went to Disney when Brady was 15 months old (five months since his last lesson) and while in the pool at the resort, he was automatically doing all the things he'd learned in his lessons (pictured above).  I knew right then that we had to get him back into swim lessons.

Around that same time, we'd joined the YMCA down the street from our house and they offered swim lessons.  They weren't up to par with what we'd had at the Goldfish Swim School, but it was better than nothing.  They also had an outdoor pool with a great play area for kids, which Brady loved (pictured above).

Brady continued to take swim lessons at the YMCA from June to December 2011 in South Carolina.  He even started to wear goggles which was so cute.  By 18 months, he was able to swim underwater to me.  He was still working on moving his arms enough to keep his head above water.  He was fearless when it came to jumping off the side of the pool into the water without me catching him.  He loved going to the pool and was always disappointed when we went to the YMCA for another reason.

Going to Germany threw the ultimate monkey wrench into Brady's swim training.  It took me a long time to find a public pool, and because we had to walk everywhere, we had to wait until the weather was nice.  I finally got him to the pool in April, but it was too late.  He was clingy and scared.  I was shocked because he'd gone five months without a pool when he was 1 and had no problems going right back into it like he'd never stopped.

When we got back to the States, Andy was renting an apartment with another Bosch employee and their complex had a pool.  One weekend Brady and I were visiting, so we decided to go to the pool as a family.  Brady was again terrified (but this time I wasn't surprised).  We went to the beach in August and he was scared to let go of us in the water even with his lifevest on.  He didn't even remember that he was supposed to keep his mouth closed and threw up quite a bit of sea water.

I knew that as soon as we were settled, he needed to be in lessons again, but I was scared he was going to scream the whole time.  I signed him up for classes at the local community center, but chose one a bit under his age group because I had no idea how he'd react.  It took a while, but he finally got the hang of it again.  After the first session, I moved him up to the one more for his age group.  It was more independent, which he liked a lot (the younger class provoked a lot of screaming from him as he wanted to do things by himself).  He took one session of the higher level in the fall and is currently in another session now.  We have to take a break due to Izzie B's arrival soon, but he will likely start up again in the late spring.

Andy had a Monday off before Christmas, so he was able to come watch Brady in action.  They start the class in the shallow end and have the kids get themselves wet and practice kicks and bubbles (as you can see Brady doing above).

So happy to be in the water.

Practicing back floats

Putting on a floating backpack so he can swim without my support.

I was so glad when he started swimming underwater again.  I was also bummed that we'd almost backtracked a full year with the move to Germany.  He loves to swim from the wall to me and back again.

A shot of him swimming underwater to me.

Practicing safety jumps

Since he has hardly any body fat, his lips turn blue and he starts shaking the minute he walks out of the water.  I wrap him up like a burrito to get him into the locker room.