Posts in September 2012

Family love

Little people at Wes’ baby shower, May 2011

I adore the little people in my life. They make me proud; they are smart; they are beautiful; they are strong. They are silly, too.

We got to skype with our nieces Alli, 7, and Anna, 2, yesterday. (Why don’t we do this more often?!) Oh, it was so fun. They enjoyed watching Wes play and try to figure out the people in the computer screen talking back to him. They loved joking along with Uncle Steve. Anna’s face was nearly always filling the screen – so anxious to see more. Nothing productive was accomplished – just giggles and enjoying our wireless company!

Today my sister, mom and I had a girls’ day of shopping, eating and catching a movie. Mom and I picked up my very pregnant sister and were able to spend a little time with my niece Elli, 4, and nephew Jeremiah, 2. She walked out to greet us with a big, beautiful baby belly and my heart grew a little larger right then and there. To top it off, the kiddos ran with open arms to greet me and Mom. The following half hour consisted of Elli’s showing off of new skills learned (She’s now able to complete a somersault, count by 2’s and 4’s, say the 10 commandments and impressively recite a historical timeline from Creation to 4000 BC.) and Jeremiah’s hugs, waves and blue, blue eyes. Have I mentioned the cuteness factor of his new glasses? Melt.

Hannah’s last pregnancy was different. Jeremiah didn’t move at all while in the womb. He was born with spina bifida and we were unsure of his physical future and health. I’m pleased to say he is a happy, thriving little boy today. This new baby is alert and active, and my hands felt his little kicks and movements this afternoon. It was pretty amazing.

Jeremiah’s birth wasn’t the only prayer-driven event in 2010. Our little Anna was born much too early after her mother’s kidneys stopped working and began dialysis. Born at 2 lbs, she fought and gained enough weight and strength to finally come home after weeks in the hospital. We are so thankful that Kelly, Anna’s mom, now has a new kidney, Anna is healthy and Jeremiah is doing great. Our hearts hold a special place for these kids.

Seeing all of my nieces and nephews in the last two days has been such a blessing. They are all growing up to be kind, caring and just downright beautiful. The girls are looking less and less like toddlers and babies and more and more like little girls. I’m not really saddened by this. I won’t say “slow down” to them or miss their infant days to point of blindness. I am proud of these kids and my heart is bursting with love for them.

Posted: September 22nd, 2012
Categories: Leah
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Shattuck Vacation Part 2

Land’s End

It’s Thursday night. While I’m itching to snuggle with Jake and Lucy at home, I’m glad we have one more full day at Hilton Head. It’s been fantastic. I love the southern end of the island we’ve made home for the last several days. We’ve talked with locals and frequent fliers every time we’re outside. The people are friendly, and well, they like to steal smiles from Wes. Who doesn’t?

Apparently we chose wisely because two different couples (mind you, we’ve only seen empty-nesters, retirees and groups of long-time friends during this week) have told us that it took them several trips and several years to “settle” in Land’s End and South Beach. And once they found it, they haven’t looked back. And it’s no wonder – Sea Pines in general is absolutely gorgeous, but there’s also something charming about the end-of-the-road. You get as private of a public beach as possible, surrounded by green marshes and dolphin families in the Sound. It’s a gentler part of Hilton Head.

And then there’s the fun of the Marina next door. We’ve gotten ice cream nearly every night, swam at the pool half a dozen times and talked with the parrots living in the courtyard.

Cruise pointing

Earlier this week we ventured to Harbour Town, which is the postcard focal point of the island. The small red and white lighthouse is – there’s really no other way to describe it otherwise – cute, and the marina surrounding it is clean, classic and fun. We took a dolphin cruise from Harbour Town and counted nearly 20 different dolphin! Did you know that whales are considered dolphins? And that every dolphin has a dorsel fin as unique as a person’s face? In the words of our cruise tour guide, “Aaaaabsolutely!”

Wes has been the center of attention during our stay. Everyone comes up to us and asks us questions about his age, how he likes the beach, etc. One little adorable boy, about 5 or 6, fell in love with Wes during the cruise. The two played peek-a-boo for a half hour or more. Wes squealed and brought smiles to all around. The little boy’s family hung around us, asked us similar questions about Wes and we enjoyed some friendly conversation. After the boy and his family left to walk around the boat, Steven turned to me and said, “You know who that was, don’t you?” No, of course I didn’t.

Apparently Steven saw a facebook photo posted by The Salty Dog (you know, the world-famous restaurant down the road from where we’re staying) the night before of a few staff posing with former Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson. Sure enough, he and his family ended up on the SAME DOLPHIN CRUISE as us. And that little boy? YUP. Kevin Richardson’s SON PLAYED WITH WES. And I TALKED WITH KEVIN RICHARDSON without realizing who he was. Of course the dolphins weren’t nearly as intriguing as our discovery during the rest of the cruise. We spent the last half hour trying to get discreet photos of the “landscape” with him in the background. I won. I get the prize. I won’t post the photo publicly to be nice to his sweet family, but you better believe Steven posted it on his facebook wall.

Yay, friends!

Yesterday we headed to Charleston to visit with my longtime girlfriend and two kids. They have lived in the Charleston area for several years now, and I haven’t been able to visit. It really didn’t make sense NOT to see them since we were so close in proximity, so we made arrangements to meet in Mt. Pleasant and take the ferry to Fort Sumter. Her 3-year-old, Liam, wasn’t so interested in the ferry trip itself, but once we got to the fort, he was enthralled. His reaction to everything was priceless! I’ve never seen a kid get so excited about an old sword or a cannon. At each plaque containing several paragraphs of historical moments from that spot, he’d ask Angie to tell him what happened. He and his little sister warmed up quickly to Steven, and we all had a fun day despite 3 tired children without naps!

Sea Pines Forest Preserve

Today we took a brief walk through the Sea Pines Forest Preserve. Beautiful, cool place. We spotted an alligator, several turtles and many other interesting creatures while among the big old winding trees and marshy pools. The pesky mosquitos got the better of us, however, and we didn’t get to stay as long as we’d hoped. When Wes is older, it will be great to go deep into the preserve to scout out birds and reptiles.

We’ve noticed that Wes seems to thrive best in a home-life environment. Meaning, he’s not so good in public anymore. He’s still a sweet kid and will usually give lots of smiles to strangers, but at home he’s happy, giggling and pleasant. He naps and goes to bed well when given this time to roam the floor and play independently. In fact, he’s adapted so well to this villa (we spend the whole morning at home each day), that he’s learned new “tricks!”

  • The morning we left for vacation he started pulling himself up to stand. He was still shaky at the beginning of the week, but now he confidently pulls himself up wherever he can!
  • Until today, Wes would complain and be scared when he pulled himself up and got “stuck.” We’d have to him him sit back down. Now he is up and down and crawling around everywhere.
  • Wes’ signing has been sloooooow to say the least. He knows and understands signs, but he barely showed any interest in communicating back. Today he’s happily signing “milk,” but that seems to be all the time now, haha.
  • He is also pointing at everything he deems interesting. He’s been doing this for a few weeks now, but there’s been so many new things for him to discover this week that he’s been a pointing machine.

Of course,  I’ve also thought that perhaps his advancements this week could be because he’s been around his 2 favorite people 24/7 for days. He likes this. He loves our praises and asks for more. Monday will be hard for all of us as we get back into reality swings. But despite Wes’ crankiness (he’s got yet another cold and yet another bad diaper rash) today, this week has provided an excellent backdrop for a relaxing vacation.

To view the rest of our vacation photos, click here.

Now to finish the last 20% of the last book of the Game of Thrones trilogy before my library Kindle copy expires tomorrow!

Posted: September 7th, 2012
Categories: Leah
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Shattuck Vacation Part 1

While the rest of the world goes back to school, this little family can enjoy vacation over Labor Day. It’s nice to be able to travel with a baby not yet in class, but I will admit, it’s been a looooong time waiting. We booked our Hilton Head vacation in April, and this summer crept by. But it’s here! Hooray!

Good morning, Rocky Top

The trip started at Jordan & Matt’s in Knoxville, which is the halfway point from Indianapolis to HHI. I was a dork and didn’t get my camera out of my bag, but we did get a few phone shots of the amazing views our friends have of the Smokey Mountains. We enjoyed spending some time with them, walking around downtown Knoxville, perusing a farmer’s market and in Steven’s words, “had the best breakfast he’s ever had” before heading further south.

After 12 hours of driving with a baby in the backseat, I feel like I can achieve almost anything. I brought a ton of toys – some noisy, some slippery, some new and some forgotten – to whip out at the next fuss fest. My cheap portable DVD player craigslist find over the summer proved useful as well. Wes stops everything for Baby Signing Time (even though he rarely signs anything!), which was perfect for when-all-else-fails times. Bubbles were a hit, too, though his hair got pretty soapy, haha.

Braddock Cove – our vacation backyard

I didn’t know what to expect about Hilton Head. Some have said that it’s super ritzy, catering to golf and tennis lovers. Yes, there are some super nice and perhaps over-the-top areas on the island, but all my research proved useful. We’re the kind of folks who avoid touristy and flashy areas, and I think our villa on Braddock Cove is the tops! We’re on the first floor, which means we have a charcoal grill (steaks tonight, yeah!) and super views of dolphin activity in the cove. We have beach access right across the street, which is not heavily frequented, since it’s on the far south end of the island. For those who are familiar with Hilton Head, we’re a stone’s throw away from The Salty Dog at South Beach Marina in Sea Pines.

With a one-year-old, we’ve been to the Marina pool more than the beach these last couple days. Wes loves it, and really, he’s been in happy spirits since we arrived. He thinks its great to be with both mom AND dad all day, every day. He squeals when he stands up in his pack n play and sees us first thing each morning.

Yesterday we took a bike ride to Coligny Beach, which is a family-friendly public access beach. The ride through Sea Pines was breathtaking. Spanish moss covers every twisted, knarled branch lining the streets. Small ponds are home to blue heron, alligator and turtles, and we got to see them all as we rode past! It was fun to see so many people on bikes enjoying the views. I would have strapped our Flip to my head if we could. It was truly that awesome.

Eh? EH?

I didn’t realize the ride to the beach park was 5 miles, and we rented small one-speed bikes. My knees took the brunt of it, but the ride was worth it. Since I didn’t plan ahead, we didn’t have beach gear or sustinents with us. We took Wes down to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the hundreds (thousands?) of other families doing the same thing. You could hear a band playing from one of the resorts and blue beach umbrellas littered the sand. But it was low tide, so it was perfect for Wes to sit in the mushy, brown, wet sand and watch his reactions. He may be been just as overwhelmed as we were – just from the crowds! But he did find the receeding waves fascinating. That was enough for the afternoon, so we biked another 5 miles “home” and spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool! hah

Since today is Labor Day, we imagine the beach will be crowded again today. My guess? We’ll be at the pool and then enjoy our villa patio until the sun goes down. Wes is currently taking a long, healthy nap, which allows me plenty of reading time – MY favorite vacation pasttime.

Sure, beach vacations with a baby aren’t the same. I’m not soaking up the sun with a big thick book all week long. But I’m loving this flexibility and coasting (ha, get it?) attitude we’ve adopted. We have plans to visit Charleston and Savannah later this week, and we already have tickets for a dolphin cruise. There’s something magical about the beach, and I’m so excited to share it with Wes. Hooray for vacation!

Posted: September 3rd, 2012
Categories: Leah
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