Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Strawberry Milkshake, take 2

After returning to Austin after Thanksgiving, we celebrated Jasper's birthday in Texas with the Burchfields. During that party, Erica made some really yummy cupcakes and stawberry milkshakes. In case you missed, this post starts to capture how much he enjoys them: Strawberry Milkshakes.

We had a lot of fun celebrating with two of Jasper's favorite people. Here are some pictures of Jasper enjoying his milkshake.

He started using his straw like a spoon, and it was very funny to watch.

As you can see, the cupcake has been left untouched ... but the milkshake was devoured!

Jasper got a big front-end loader from mommy and daddy.

This was the year of the tractor. Jasper has multiple books about tractors and farms, and one of his favorite tractors is the combine. He can tell you that the grain gets separated from the stalk in the threshing cylinder and that the stalk gets left behind in the field to be made into hay. He LOVES talking about the combine and gets excited when he sees one. He's never seen one in person. Man that'll be the day! For his birthday, both sets of grandparents got him tractors. Nana and Papa bought a set of John Deere tractors while Nana was in TX, and Jasper opened that set when we celebrated with Mark and Teri. He had fun playing with those tractors and still does.

Tummy Time

To help Benjamin strengthen his neck muscles, we put him on his tummy periodically. In reaction, Benjamin lifts his head to see what is going on around him. The hope is that he can begin to hold up his head which opens us so many more activity options for Benjamin. Here are some photos from those sessions.

1 month old

2 months old

When we have Benjamin down on the floor for tummy time, Jasper cannot resist getting close to him.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Snow Day

We were disappointed during the first part of our time in Michigan because we hadn't experienced any snow. On the last day we were in Michigan, the heavens opened up. Jasper and Drew went out with Papa to explore the snow!

Look at him! Jasper is giddy as a school girl!

When I told Jasper we should meet Papa at the shed, he chose to blaze his own trail through the fresh snow. In fact, this was a theme for our entire adventure. Jasper always chose the fresh snow, and loved kicking his feet through the accumulation.

Papa joins Jasper for the trip to the shed where...

...the tractor is parked!

It's like a winter wonderland, especially if you're a kid who loves all things truck-related and thinks riding Papa's tractor is one of the best things ever!

After riding on the tractor, Joe wanted to use his snow blower to clear out the driveway. Jasper walks with Papa to see how this thing works.

While Joe pushed the snow blower, Jasper followed just a little behind. Jasper had a great time in the snow, and it was a great way to conclude our time in Michigan.

Jasper's 2nd Birthday

Since Jasper's birthday falls so close to Thanksgiving (December 1st), we decided to celebrate with all the family gathered in Michigan for Thanksgiving. In addition, my parents traveled from Ohio to participate as well. If you look back at Jasper's first birthday (Texas and Ohio), you will see that Jasper had a great time, but he didn't enjoy his (cup)cake. In addition, looking back will help you see how much Jasper has grown over the past 12 months.

We chose a theme that is close to Jasper's heart: Trucks! Erica went out before the party to purchase some party supplies, and that included these helmets worn by Jasper's cousins Karin and Linnea.

In an effort to create some fun for all, we created a race track that used a card table combined with a counter mat to form a ramp. The cars were released behind the upper blue line and raced to the finish. Jasper raced every time against each member of the family ... and he won most of the races.

After the racing concluded, Jasper went into the living room to open his gifts. As you look at the large boxes spread before him, remember that we are in Michigan when these photos were taken. Fortunately, Jasper has a kind Nana and Papa who shipped a box to Austin.

Jasper's cousins were very willing to help Jasper open gifts.

Now that is the picture of excitement!

Jasper received a dump truck, and you can see the excitement in his eyes.

(I thought about getting rid of the red-eye, but you loose something when you do.)

Auntie Lindsay showing Jasper how to jam with his new guitar.

Here is the entire gathering and a view of the decorations as well.

The cake was awesome! It included a road, a dump truck filled with icing boulders, and excavator, a stop sign, and couple of additional cars. Jasper just wanted to touch it.

Here you see Jasper reaching for the dump truck from the cake. After cutting the cake, Jasper received a piece of cake with one of his favorites, strawberry ice cream. To our surprise, he tried and liked the cake!

Benjamin didn't quite get into the festivities, but Jasper had a blast!

Thanksgiving 2008

Thanksgiving 2008 was spent in Kalamazoo, Michigan with Nana, Papa, Linnea, Karin, Auntie Brittany, Uncle Adam, Auntie Lindsay, Uncle Chris and both puppies, Belle and Daisy. It was a full house! Cousins Linnea and Karin were especially excited to see Jasper and Benjamin. Both girls loved holding their baby cousin and playing with Jasper. The last time we were together this summer, Jasper still wasn't quite playing with them. But at Thanksgiving Jasper developed adoration for his cousins. It was quite cute!

Here are Nana and Papa with their current brood (Linnea, Benjamin, Karin and Jasper). Baby boy Atkinson will be joining us in May!

Here are the puppies. We were told they spent the entire first night together racing around the house, chasing each other. Then they wore themselves out and got along well the rest of the visit.

The first night we arrived, Jasper immediately started playing with his cars with his cousins.

On Thanksgiving evening, we all enjoyed a good old fashioned game of pin the hat on the turkey. Some people kept the game above board. Others used a little slight of hand. We won't say who did what. Drew and I were both far, far from the poor turkey's head to even come close to winning the game. However, we did nearly put our hats directly on top of one another's. I guess 5 years is really starting to show on us.

Jasper waited his turn to play the game.

Linnea read this entire book to Jasper. It is a favorite for both of them.

Benjamin was well-bathed while we were in Michigan. Nana loved giving him a bath, mainly because he loves baths so much that he is nearly grinning ear to ear the entire time. Who wouldn't want to take part in that? Jasper, Papa and Auntie Lindsay all got in on the gig at one point over the visit.

All the Shively women got some good baby time on this visit. Auntie Brittany was often found carrying and cuddling the littlest guy. It doesn't take too long being removed from having a little one to make you greatly enjoy this cuddling time. Benjamin has quite a strong neck, so sometimes when I've held him for a long time during the day my own neck is tired from him straining against me - either to cuddle or try and look around or from rooting into my cheek. He can be quite demonstrative when he wants to be.

This swing really helped us out during the visit and allowed us to enjoy a full Thanksgiving meal and a birthday party meal together. Benjmain slept peacefully in the swing while we ate and then, right on cue, woke up as we were finishing. He knew what was up!

The first thing Linnea wanted to do when she got up the first morning was hold Benjamin. The girls loved spending time holding him, and they each did a wonderful job! I think Linnea for sure is going to make a great babysitter!

A craft is often part of the Thanksgiving weekend activities, and this year was no exception. Linnea got the idea to make traditional Swedish candy wrapper gifts for all her classmates. She saw it in a book Nana read to her (I think that's how this came about). So, the night before the Shivelys were pulling out, it was all hands on deck to get this crafty creations all done. Look at that fringe! It really was such a sweet idea, and this shows just the kind of girl Linnea is - soooo sweet!

Nana and Papa got Jasper this cool Tonka book that has 5 stories in it. They are "If I could driver a ... (1) bulldozer, (2) front end loader, (3) dump truck, (4) fire truck and (5) tow truck." It's pretty cute. Of course, even if it wasn't just the fact that it has all those trucks in it would be enough for Jasper to want to read it over and over again. But actually, I think it's a great imaginative book for him. Each story stars with a boy or girl playing with a truck and then imagining what he'd/she'd do if he/she could drive a real truck. One night last week I told Jasper we would read two stories from the Tonka book before bed. We red two, and then he turned the page to read a third and just barely glanced up at me as if to indicate, "I know she just said two, but I wonder if she'll notice and go ahead and read me a third." I did. :)