They say that writing is one of the best forms of therapy and after watching the Packers get beat on a last second TD and my top seeded fantasy team upset, therapy is needed. In my younger years a day like this would have been an automatic trip to the local watering hole, but as I have wised-up with age, the written word seems to be the smarter and less painful way to go.
It is an exciting time in the Swanson household. Our addition is winding down and we have begun the process of moving back in this weekend. It has been an interesting and educational process, watching our house ripped apart and then rebuilt. It feels good to see the finished project and we couldn't be happier with the result. We can't wait to be back there permanently. That's not to say that our current arrangements haven't been stellar. Many thanks go out to Bob and Mary Anne for housing us the last two and a half months. They have been an unbelievable help. While I know they wouldn't have had it any other way, it is still quite a sacrifice to have your house turned upside down by the constant chaos of a 21 month old.
Cullen has been enjoying his first winter on his feet. We got knocked with a huge snow storm a couple weeks ago and Cullen was ready to go. The snow pants went on and Dad put him to work...child labor laws, pfft. He grabbed his shovel and pushed some snow around. He took a few breaks to pick up, examine, and eventually eat the snow. Thankfully, Camp hadn't colored it up yet.
The holiday season is upon us and I'm about to get a bit sappy, so if you are turned off by this sort of thing I suggest you end the reading portion here and move on to pictures. Alright, still with me? Good. As I was saying the holiday season is upon us and I always enjoy taking a step back this time of year. Alot of stuff gets lost in the hustle of the world. Days come and go, decisions are made, and the things that seem so important at a moment are really insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The things that tend to get taken for granted, friends, family, health are really all that matters. So from our family to yours. Have a Happy Holiday and we hope to see you soon.
Cullen had his first Christmas program. The toddlers danced on stage to "Run, Run Rudolph". It wasn't a choreographed dance, but rather more of an interpretive or whatever they felt like kind of dance number. Some kids clapped, others jumped, one little girl even pulled her dress up over her head. Cullen just stood there staring at the crowd (there was at least 100 people in the audience). And then, in the middle of the song, Cullen just laid down on his belly. I guess he needed a break. We were very proud of our little star. We predict much bigger things to come....
Happy belated turkey day to all of our fans! We had a great holiday weekend with lots to be thankful for - mainly our happy, healthy families. We were able to spend Thanksgiving morning with the Swanson clan and then we headed up to MPLS for Thanksgiving with the LaVigne's. We are also very excited that Tracy, Jason and Jameson have moved back to La Crosse. Now Cullen has another cousin in close proximity to pal around with. He loves playing with Mase (a.k.a Mason) and J (a.k.a. Jameson).
Cullen just got his first "real" haircut. It's amazing how much he now looks like a little boy. The curls were cut, but it looks as though they will come back - no worries! Cullen read books and played with toys while Tina cut his locks. He didn't seem to mind the haircut. He walked into the salon a baby and walked out a little boy!
The best new toy in years. A small mouse that operates by battery to roll around on the ground and cleverly switch directions - making it hard to chase. Cullen loves it - Camp wants to kill it. The whole scene is quite funny.
Finally, here's pics of the house (along with a few of Cullen). Sheet-rocking has begun and we are hoping to be in the house in a few weeks. It's chaos - but all good. And thanks to Bob and MaryAnne for putting up with 2 adults, 1 toddler and 1 four-legged friend under their roof.
Even though we've had a really rainy fall season, we've managed to have a little outdoor fun. Cullen loves his time at the park - just running in the grass and playing with rocks are a great time in the mind of a 19-month-old. We also went to Ferguson's Apple Orchard with Megan, Matt and Elly. Cullen loved the animals: cows, goats, pigs, chickens and sheep. The tractor rides were also a big hit. And our picky little eater actually likes apples - "apps" as Cullen refers to them. Hopefully, the snow stays away for awhile. We are not ready for snowsuits and boots!
We took Cullen to the Oktoberfest grounds to embark on his first merry-go-round ride. We thought this would be a fun family event. Instead Cullen cried and clutched Dirk as though the horse was going to bite him. Needless to say, it was a scary merry. Cousins Josh and Ione were on the same ride and Ione had a very different experience! Maybe next year......
We have embarked on a rather large home renovation project. We are turning our current garage into 2 bedrooms, extending our master bedroom out the back to add a master bath and then building a garage on the other side of the house. So far, our yard is a mess, but the house remains in tact. We are excited for the finished product. As you can see, Cullen likes the trucks that have been moving in and out of the yard. Camp has been going to work with Dirk everyday and has somehow decided that Cullen's carseat is also a dog seat. Cullen was quite puzzled the other day when Camp jumped into the car and sat on his lap. Dirk and I couldn't stop laughing! Needless to say, we are all adjusting to life in a "construction zone".
I took Cullen in to get his first haircut. He has beautiful curls in that I just couldn't stand to lose; yet the front was getting way too long. Tina did a great job of trimming up the front, while leaving those beautiful curls in the back. For the record, it's not a mullet (at least that's what I have been telling myself!).
Summer has begun winding down, it's amazing how the time flys by. Labor Day weekend was an epic one by any definition. Lisa and Cullen headed up to Minneapolis on Friday and stayed though Sunday. This departure led to what has been referred around our house as the "Weekend of Dirk." As this was the weekend of my 15 yr class reunion, Friday and Saturday night was spent catching up with old friends. Sandwiched in the middle of that was some golf and the Badgers season opener. It was quite the whirlwind.
Lisa and Cullen rejoined me on Sunday, where despite a quite large hangover, we spent the day on the boat. Cullen was pretty excited about the boat ride, but the highlight of his day was wearing his green galoshes. Lisa headed out with friends on Sunday night. I stayed in with the little guy and explained to him that when he turns 33, it is not in his best interest to act like he is 18. Sunday was another beautiful day. Lisa and I took an early morning kayak ride. With a crisp morning breeze, the sun rising, and a thick layer of fog lifting off of the river, it was a highlight of the weekend. Another afternoon on the boat, followed by brats and beers for dinner closed out an eventful weekend.
We embarked on an outing to the MN Zoo. It may look like we visited a farm - but it was the Zoo. Really the farm petting zoo was the most toddler-friendly part of the zoo. Cullen and Mason enjoyed seeing the animals up close. The most memorable part of my day involved feeding the goats: one of the horrible creatures jumped up and smeared poop all over me. It didn't ruin the trip, but I will vow never to pet another goat again in my life!
We would like to welcome Madeline Victoria Parke and Lauren Elizabeth Dahl into the world! Cullen thinks both ladies are beautiful and can't wait for them to be able to run around with him. We still have yet to meet William Jason Dickinson - also born last week. I think this is what you call a "baby boom" in La Crosse.
Cullen had his first friend sleepover. Jack Vogel spent last Friday night at our house - probably the first of many sleepovers. Jack is delightful - very easy-going (just like his Mom). Cullen wasn't quite sure what to think about this kid playing with all of his toys. The boys are 2 months apart - and I now have an idea as to how busy my grandmother was with twins!
I think we have bred the next river rat. This weekend Cullen hung out on the dock feeding the ducks, fishing with gma and gpa and riding in the boat. We even took him to the swimming pool. He is fearless of the water (look out Michael Phelps). He sometimes wades deeper than we feel comfortable with and he has no problem putting his face in the water. He kept pointing at the big blue slide, so I asked the lifeguard if he could slide down with one of us. She said that was cool and Cullen loved it! I think he would have spent the better part of the day going up and down the slide had mom and dad been game. I guess this is what summer is all about.
With many of the LaVignes still in town the day after Annie and Drew's wedding, we decided to play a friendly game of kickball. It was good, clean family fun and a little friendly competition. Rematch: Grand Marais 2010?
It's time to officially welcome Drew into our family! We are so happy that Annie and Drew finally tied the knot. I have a few pics from the wedding weekend, but being a mom, a matron of honor and a stellar dancer meant that I was too busy to play photographer. At least I knew the professionals had my back! The first pics are from the Grooms Dinner at Elsie's. Patty Feste thought of everything - the decorations were perfect and Dave's video was a tear-jerker. Annie was a beautiful bride. And of course, my new brother was very handsome too. Thanks to my parents (especially Mom). All or your hard work made the wedding day so much fun for everyone.
Tracy, Jason and Jameson are in WI for a fun-filled 10 days. It's been great having them down the block - wouldn't it be nice if that was the case all of the time?! We had dinner at Deb and Fred's, lunch at David and Veronica's, a family reunion with the Daines and tons of quality family time. Cullen and Jameson like to stare at eachother - and Cullen might even get a little jealous when Mom and Dad pay lots of attention to his cousin. Next summer we are in for double trouble, as Jameson will be running alongside Cullen. Look out!
Summer time has finally arrived in Wisco and it is going to be awesome. Nights on the patio, beverage in hand and Cullen, what more could one ask for. Cullen is really excited, we have introduced him to the beach. He's digging it, literally. In addition, he headed up to the Dickinson family compound this week for a pool date with his friends. Mom took the day off of work and joined in the fun. Dad has been playing some ball with Cullen. I hold him, place his hands on the bat and then we swing, he then runs around picking up the balls and then brings them back, yelling "ball, ball, ball". It's going to be a great next few months. He is really starting to develop quite the personality and his interests are growing by the day.
PS...sorry for the crappy post. I know that you have all grown accustomed to my witty and creative style. I was forced into this one tonight by the Mrs and as you all know you can't force greatness. :)
Cullen has been on the move and so have Mom and Dad. We've been to Chrissy and James' wedding in Green Lake, WI, Lisa went to work meetings in New Orleans for five days and we all spent last weekend in Minneapolis. This coming weekend, Dirk will be attending Drew's bachelor party in Chicago (Twins vs. Cubs) and Lisa will be up at Wowee's cabin for Annie's bachelorette party. But really, Cullen's "busy-ness" is the most interesting kind. He is always on the move. Cullen loves running from room to room, playing chase around the kitchen and taking out every toy in his basket before he finds the one that most interests him. Cullen has so much fun playing outside and usually cries when we bring him in (a trait that my mother says he inherited from me). We can now understand him saying "ball", "duck" and "dog". It's amazing to see that he is no longer a baby. Each day we watch him absorb and learn about the world around him. He truly is amazing.
We celebrated Mason's birthday this weekend. He was so excited to be the center of attention. When the gang sang "Happy Birthday" he looked so proud to be the birthday boy! And he did a great job of polishing off his little cake. The LaVigne clan was in full effect and we still have Sylvie's big day to look forward to.
Happy Mother's Day! Cullen must have known that it was an important day and decided to sleep until 7 am (he usually is up at 5:30). Then, we headed to Bob and Mary Anne's for breakfast. We even joined Tracy, Jason and Jameson via the crazy technology known as Skype. After lunch, we went for a hike in Hixon - the whole fam: Lisa, Dirk, Cullen and Camp. I realized that carrying 22 lbs. on my back is a great work-out. It was a great day spent with my favorite boys!
Mother's day is quite the honor. I now realize that I have a great role model in my own mom. I've already figured out that motherhood is the toughest job you'll ever love. I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful little boy. We are also so lucky to have such amazing moms in our life: Liz, Mary Anne, Great Grandma Ione, Wow Wee and Great Grandma Marion. Cheers to our favorite Moms!
Spring is finally here. Cullen has embarked on whole list of firsts: first time at the park (he hates swings), first time in the grass (he hates the feel of it) and finally outdoor fun without a bulky snowsuit (he loves this!).
Cullen is on the verge of walking he can take 6 - 8 steps himself, but it seems that when he really wants to get somewhere fast he will just drop down to the ground and power crawl. He was a very early crawler at 6 months. He's good at crawling and he knows it. It will only be a few short days before we are reporting that his prefers walking to crawling. Watch out world!
This week: Cullen spent some quality time with Grandma Liz. We really like having her around and are so thankful that she can come down when we need her. Dirk and I also realized that the early bird specials are not just for old people. When you have a wee little one who needs to eat at 5 pm - you'll find yourself in one of the few occupied tables in a restaurant (along with the AARP members). We went to Edwardo's for pizza - arriving at 4:55 pm. Cullen loved the new environment and was very well behaved. On Friday night, we went to George and Joanie's for dinner. Chris, Jen and Parker Wareham drove down from St. Paul. Cullen loved playing with the beautiful Miss Parker. Saturday brought a visit from the Stohr's. Cullen didn't know which sister was prettier - so he just admired them both. Finally, the Easter bunny arrived on Sunday morning. Cullen loved his basket full of empty plastic eggs - hours of fun! After church and Cullen's morning nap, we enjoyed a great brunch with Dennis, Kari and Jack Vogel. By sunday evening at 6:30 - Cullen was spent. He put his head on my shoulder as if to say - I am done. It was early to bed for our busy little boy.
We spent 5 wonderful days with the Swanson fam in Texas. Cullen passed his first plane trip with flying colors (get it?!), and he traveled in First Class-style thanks to Mom and Dad's Silver Elite status. Cullen is quite the squirmy little guy, but he never cried or fussed. Bob and MaryAnne rented a house in the Terrytown section of Austin and we all moved in: Tracy, Jason, Jameson, Dirk, Lisa and Cullen. It was great having everyone under one roof. Cullen loved Jameson - he showered him with lots of not-so-gentle kisses. We ate a ton of good food (thanks to chef MaryAnne) and enjoyed the time with family. Saturday was capped off with lunch and many margaritas at one of Austin's finest Mexican restaurants: Maude's. We miss Tracy, Jason and Jameson and can't wait to see them again this summer.
We had a fabulous day celebrating Cullen's first year. The Minneapolis crew drove down (Grandma Liz, Grandpa Mark, Brigette, Mason, Annie and Drew) and the Swanson crew came down the block for the festivities. Cullen was spoiled rotten with tons of gifts. His highlight was surely the frosting-laden cake (see pictorial evidence). He had a marvelous time hanging out with all of the people who love him most. We keep telling Cullen that he's a lucky boy and he just looks up at us and grins like he already knows!
Wow! Well we are a year in. It has been unreal watching our son grow right before our eyes. From birth, to minor surgery, to backward crawling, to forward crawling, to da da dit dit, to standing tall, it has been an amazing ride. This past year has been filled with laughs and love, as we have watched this little man giggle his way through his first year of life. As Cullen has grown and learned the essential aspects of life, Lis and I have also picked up on a few lessons of our own, such as: * Crisis management- There is nothing like trying to tackle a blowout diaper at 3 a.m. * Teamwork- Working together as one person works on the bath, while the other cleans up the puke off the floor. *The value of a good night sleep...need I say more. *Stress relief- How a horrible day can be wiped out, by just walking in the house and seeing Cullen splash a huge grin and power crawl over to you.
Year One is in the books, enjoy a look at 52 Weeks of Cullen.
It's February and we all have spring fever. We took advantage of the "warm" weather today (41 degrees) and set out for a stroller ride. The street is a a total mess full of sand and puddles, but it was worth it. Cullen loves riding in his Bob stoller and we all love getting fresh air. It's rough to think that March is actually the snowiest (is that a word?!) month. Therefore, Cullen will need to trade the stroller in for the sled. Either way, he's happy!
For the past few weeks we have been taking Cullen to swim lessons. While Dad has found that he still doesn't have a singing voice (Singing such hits as "Ring around the Rosie" and "Here We Are Together" are an integral part of the class) Cullen has shown that he is quite the natural and seems to love the water. While he doesn't quite have any strokes down, he is comfortable going under the water and has no problem flailing his arms and legs all around. Splashing seems to be his favorite part.
In addition to his love of the water, the little man is also hitting some pretty big milestones. He has recently begun giving kisses. While they are open mouthed and you need to be careful of him locking down on your face, as Mom found out, he still comes right into you when you pucker your lips. He has also began pointing at things and waving hello and good bye. As the saying goes, they grow up fast. It's hard to fathom that Cullen is 11 months old. We just loving waking up in the morning, listening to Cullen blabber...da,da,da, dit, dit, da.... and seeing what the little one has in store for us next.
We welcomed a new addition to the Swanson side of the family on January 28th: Jameson Austin Clark. Proud parents Tracy and Jason brought a 9 lb. 10 oz. baby into the world. We couldn't be more thrilled and are so excited to meet him. Grandma and Grandpa Swanson spent a few weeks in Texas helping the new parents. Cullen missed them dearly and we are all glad to have them home for awhile.
We decided to embark on a hike in Perrot State Park on an unusually warm Saturday afternoon. The original plan was to rent snowshoes. However, they were all gone when we arrived. We were determined to make the most of the day so we set out on foot. The sun had melted away some of the snow and conditions were quite slick. It made for kind of a treacherous hike. It was a bit nerve wrecking to walk on slushy ice while carrying a baby. But the views were great and the fresh air was fabulous. We bought Cullen a pair of baby-sized sunglasses. He protested at first, but after we reassured him that they were cool - he kept them on. I think he realized that wearing the sunglasses was better than squinting.
Cullen has reached the 10 month mark. Boy how time flies! He now has 4 teeth on the top and 2 on the bottom. He is becoming quite the basketball aficionado performing slam dunks on his Fisher-Price basketball hoop. Cullen also makes a growling noise while he plays - probably the precursor to the car engine noises that every boy seems to enjoy making. He is just weeks away from walking, so Dirk and I are trying to enjoy the last bit of sanity. With every day, Cullen becomes more of a little person and less of a baby. He constantly makes us laugh and Dirk seems to think that Cullen even understands his jokes (maybe Cullen is actually laughing at him).