This past week has been nearly perfect. Wesley is such a great kid when we’re all home, all day, every day, and I’m sure his mood is helped now that he’s (finally) finished teething. I’m spending my afternoon similar to the last several ones – lounging, snacking and a whole lot of cuddling – with some Gilmore Girls and Wii U thrown in there somewhere.
Our Ashbaugh family Christmas was a large one. It was the first time in several years that all the aunts, uncles, cousins and great grandkids were able to make it. Minus one spouse, we were a party of 33. It was truly special to have the nearly entire family together, and I know my grandparents loved it all.
Steven brought the Wii U to the extravaganza, and I’m pretty sure my favorite part of the day was my 2.5-year-old nephew’s attempts to contribute to the 5-person game, only to get stuck in a corner and announce periodically, “I just scored!” What a fun day.
Christmas Eve is always spent with my parents and my sister’s family. The kids are getting old enough to really get excited about the presents under the tree, and that makes Christmas all the more fun and special. We lost Elli to impatience halfway through our Christmas brunch, so the rest of the day was spent sipping coffee, eating biscotti and enjoying each other’s company. Perfect.
Christmas Eve service was beautiful. However, I spent more than half of the service in the hallway due to Wes’ discouragement that the ceiling fan was, in fact, not spinning. He was adorable in his red tie.
We were lucky to have a laid back, quiet Christmas morning. Wes opened a few presents after we got coffee and actually woke up. By 1o am, we were in the car and heading to Ohio for Christmas Day with the Shattucks. I always enjoy the ride over on Christmas day because it was then that we made phone calls to family and friends with news of our engagement in 2006. It’s fun to reminisce.
Shattuck Christmas is always crazy with loooooots of presents and wrapping paper and chaos and then everyone veges out for the remainder of the day. We snack on clam dip, sausage dip and cookies all day long. It’s just wonderful. Wes followed Pa around the house all afternoon, pointing out the various clocks in their house. While Wes was entertained, I got to play with my silly little niece, who was fascinated with taking goofy photos of ourselves.
We headed home that night because BLIZZARD 2012 was headed to Indy. The next morning we woke up to only about an inch of snow, but it accumulated as we began hibernating for the next two days. We left the house only to shovel/play in the snow (of which Wes is not a big fan)…
…and to check out Christmas at the Zoo, which was amazing. The newly fallen snow made a beautiful backdrop to all the lights and animals at night. It is definitely worth doing again next year.
Since we’ve been spending so much time with Wes, we’ve noticed a few things. 1) He’s walking EVERYWHERE. He is getting fearless, and it’s totally unlike him. Now he’s even trying to climb stairs! 2) He eats far better if he’s sans tray in his high chair – sitting at the table. He’s pretty big stuff. 3) Transitioning from a 2-hour nap to a one-hour nap is happening whether we like it or not. 4) Grapes are like candy.
Steven and I do not go back to work until after New Year’s Day, so the rest of the week’s plans remain unplanned. Just soaking up family time and spending an afternoon here and there with friends is pretty much the best vacation ever.
Big news in the Shattuck house! Our cautious little guy has been taking a few steps here and there for several weeks, but just in the last few days has he been walking/toddling as much as crawling. So proud. And many, many thanks to Nicole, Wes’ First Steps PT! This is gonna be fun.
I caught him in action tonight. Complete with a face plant.
It’s nearly midnight. Usually I’m asleep by now (as are all others in the house), but it’s still November 30. I’m a little late on the “30 Days of Thanks” bandwagon, but I’ve got time now.
I am thankful for my Lord. He provides every single thing in my life. The air I breathe, the ground beneath my feet – it’s His. Solid ground.
Eight years ago I met my best friend and forever partner. Life sure is more fun and a heck of a lot easier with Steven. We’re a good team.
Oh, Wesley! (Cue Princess Bride) Dare I say more? I fall more in love with our son every day. It’s amazing how much they learn so early in life. I am proud to be given this mom thing opportunity.
My sister is quite possibly the reason I am so focused and dedicated to all the above things. She has been a stellar example and a loving and understanding friend – who happens to “get” how I think. Or not think. We’re known to just wander about and still understand the other.
I have grown to know and love my parents in a totally new way as an adult and new mother. I’ve always known how rare and lucky I was to have parents married for now 40 years. Their relationship is strong and steadfast – and my words fail to unwrap my appreciation.
My extended family is pretty great. My parents in law are generous and gracious. My in law siblings are quirky, yet caring. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are all close and family-oriented, so I get to see them often and share our lives together.
One each for my nieces and nephews. Alli, my oldest niece is the smartest kid in her class. She is going to be valedictorian for sure. I swell with pride when I hear her accomplishments in school and soccer, and I’m bursting to seams that she shares my love of books.
Elli is my spitfire gal. I love her spirited energy, her long eyelashes and her curiosity. She is surrounded by boys in her life, but she shines through the dirt and grime she loves so well. I see glimpses of my sister in her and I pretty much tear up whenever she hollers my name (aka Lisa).
Jeremiah. He’s my constant reminder that God works everything for his good. No person on this earth cannot be changed by knowing him. Ask me about his story sometime.
Anna, my preemie 2 lb miracle baby niece who saved her mama’s life. Just like Jeremiah, we greatly anticipated her high-risk birth, and she thrives today.
Josiah is the newest kid in town. He is sweet, innocent and has surprised us all with his life.
I am thankful for my faux aunts and uncles that have been a continual source of support and encouragement throughout my life. I am thankful for the friendship they have provided to my parents – which has been most evident all these years.
I am thankful for my second set of parents – David & Sheela Lall. Their kids are my brothers and sister, and I am blessed beyond believe for being a small part of their ministry in India.
I am thankful for my childhood best friend, roommate and sister, Rachel. So many wonderful memories are spent with her. There is truly nothing like a best friend.
I love my community. East side Indianapolis is my home. The energy is thriving here, and it’s so exciting to be part of it all.
I love the PEOPLE in my community. We rock, man.
Chocolate. All forms.
It’s somewhat down lower on the list, but it doesn’t mean they’re not important. My pups, Jake and Lucy, provide endearing laughs and comfort every. single. day.
Our home. It’s the first place we settled, and I don’t think we’re going anywhere for a while. Many memories have been made and will continue.
Reliable transportation is wonderful.
Again, it’s not as high up on the list, but not on purpose. I freaking love my job. Seriously. Hands down best position ever created for me. Some days I forget how great it is, and then I witness yet another amazing Joy’s House family and their strength gets me all excited about my job again.
My coworkers. Past and present. I’ve been blessed to work with some amazing people, and I know that I have them to thank for where I am right now. Every place is a stepping stone.
I received a fantastic education. Ball State was perfect for me, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
Health. We are fortunate.
The ability to be thankful. Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful and not assume I’m “deserving” of such-in-such. But I know that everything in this life is GIVEN to me.
Technology. I love it all. Maybe too much.
The season of giving to others. Everyone is just a little kinder and gentler.
Matthew, Wesley’s namesake. He introduced Steven to me. Eternally grateful, man.
Charles & Nikki. Wesley’s Godparents and dear friends. Much love.
You, whoever you are. You read this and apparently care (or are curious) about our lives. Thank you.
I didn’t quite make it, but it was close. 12:08. Goodnight, all!
I just put my date to bed. Since Steven is at Startup Weekend, the little guy and I are spending lots of time together and it’s pretty great.
It’s Thanksgiving week, so I’m dedicating this post to my family – both immediate and extended – for which I am so grateful and proud of.
Yesterday was Dad’s birthday. I was able to take the day off and celebrate with my sister’s oldest two kids, who happened to be spending a few days with my parents. We went out for breakfast, my dad’s favorite meal, and the kids were so excited to see “Baby Wesley.” Who knows if he’ll ever outgrow his nickname… even though he’s no longer the baby of the family!
Elli had helped Mom decorate a cake with a variety of rainbow sprinkles. She couldn’t stop talking about it at breakfast and insisted that we throw Grandpa a birthday party with cake as soon as we got home. So, we did. Breakfast followed by cake is a fabulous idea.
I’m looking forward to seeing my fellow Shattucks next week. Thankful that I’m surrounded by caring family members, funny nieces and adorable nephews.
And I am blessed tremendously by the life of our sweet Wesley. He grows more endearing every day.
(Early) fall is the busiest time of year for our family. October, specifically. Here’s a run down of what’s up with the Shattucks.
Leah – Planning my fourth annual Gala for Joy’s House was a huge success! We raised $120,000 and had 320 people in attendance. Crazy awesome. I also completed my first ever 5K. Perhaps it was too easy walking the 3 miles, but it was really fun. It’s going to be an annual tradition as a fundraiser for Joy’s House, so we’ll see if I actually push myself to train and run/jog it next year! As if I didn’t have enough going on, I’m now a consultant for Usborne Books. I will have a separate post about this later, but in the meantime, come find me at createalibrary.com or host your own show for free books!
Steven – The Historic Irvington Halloween Festival was a smash. Steven made several media appearances, coordinated all marketing aspects and set a huge record of 23,000 people in attendance the day of the street fair. Since he’s been a part of the Festival in 2009, he’s seen a 230% attendance increase. I’m pretty proud of him. And I’m still dumbfounded.
Wes – He’s making leaps and bounds of improvements through First Steps. His balance gets better every day, and he’s actually “standing” for up to 3 seconds at a time! He loves to “walk” between two people by himself – which consists of one or two steps and then a giant lunge into one of said persons. His words are increasing, and he’s demonstrating more signs. He’s definitely looking more like a toddler these days… and acting like one, too. Small fits and tantrums are happening on a nearly daily basis. I’m sure it’s because of the frustration that 1) he can’t make x y or z work or 2) he can’t communicate his needs. Wes is a good kid – does well at daycare, loves books and enjoys adult attention.
Here he is “yelling” at the dogs. Just mimicking what I do every day.
Jake & Lucy – FLEAS. Yuck. Thankfully, I think we’d rid of them. Disgusting.
More news – Our newest nephew was born! Little Josiah is the sweetest guy in town. I’m pretty smitten, as are his big siblings Elli and Jeremiah.
It started out rough. These hard white things kept appearing in my mouth. They’re like really really hard and tasteless crackers that won’t go away and you can’t ever swallow them. And man, do they hurt. And the more they kept showing up, the less I could sleep. I felt like a walking zombie.
Mom got pretty exhausted by me, I know. But seriously, nothing else sounded appetizing except Cheerios. And so what if I’m snotty? It’s gonna just keep coming, so it really doesn’t make sense to wipe off my face all the time.
But it got better. I started sleeping better again, too. And I had time to focus my energy on moving these stumps of legs again. All these adults think it’s so great when I do this thing where I move one leg in front of the other. It’s tough, but man, do I ever get lots of smiles and laughs! I’m pretty close to trying it without hanging on to one of them.
I even figured out a way to get around for the time being.
The adults also like it if I try to repeat words to them. Seems it help, too, because they’re giving me the things I want. Finally. So I’m telling them about the motion of a ball in different reference frames, how clocks work, the history of the model car and so forth. It seems to make them happy.
And last weekend, we went to a farm that was growing a strange kind of orange ball. We ended up taking home 3 of them of various sizes, but they’re still sitting on the front porch. I don’t understand the point of the phototaking with these things, but it was still a fun day with the ‘rents.
Seems to me each month that passes gets easier to live with Mom & Dad. They’re pretty cool, I guess.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!