Thursday, August 29, 2013

No One Messes with My Boy

Alternatively titled: I yelled at a five-year-old today.

So here's the story. We were at the waterpark today trying not to melt in the 90 degree + humidity temps we've been having (yes, I'm complaining). We also wanted to get in some of the last days of our pool membership because they close down for the season starting Monday. Unfortunately, our fabulous water baby has very recently (this week?) decided that water is something to fear. Either that or he's been overloaded with pool time and is just over it. Instead, he spends much of his time wandering around the park. With his mama right behind him.

We walked into the locker room yesterday (by we, I mean me chasing him) and he proceeded to obsess over the showers and then found a large bathroom stall and pushed the door closed and yelled "potty" on repeat. Then he was off to the snack bar and the splash pad and the water slide area and the sand pit.

Similarly today, he found his way to the sand pit and I followed like his little minion. As I sat there in a chair observing his interactions with the other kids who were 5 and 6 (the mom said before leaving the area), I noticed the girl fill up her bucket of sand with water and promptly splash the entire bucket onto Benjamin's face.

No she di'int.

And then she did it again.


I marched over there and told her not to throw sand or water or any combination of the two into anyone's face. Especially not a 1-year old. And then I asked her what she had to say to him.

She apologized.

And then I moved my chair closer. To watch the little vermin child who was bullying my baby.

No more offenses were made, but I made a mental note of her precious little face. You know, just in case I needed to get a baby restraining order against her.

Friday, August 23, 2013

18 Months of Serious Joy

This kid.

You guys. We're so thankful. He's been amazing us for 18 months today. Officially a half birthday at 1.5 years. I'm already thinking about birthday party #2. Surely nothing compared to birthday party #1, but I have a few fun ideas to spice up the middle of a Chicago winter... you know... when I like to birth all of my babies it seems.

Just for kicks, I'll share a list of some of our favorite things about Benjamin at 18 months.

  • He climbs up into his high chair (Stokke Tripp Trapp, no straps) and says "bites" when he's hungry
  • The wonderful amount of words he's begun speaking over the last few months. His favorites that he says all. the. time. are "car", "bites", "book", "button", "up", "truck"...
  • Loves to say the owl sound (hoo hoo) when we ask (or sees one in a book) in the quietest, most sweet voice
  • His love for books 
  • When we say "eye", he squints (see picture above) and then attempts to poke our eyes
  • Takes great joy in being in any car (unstrapped) including real cars and his two fake cars
  • How he follows commands like going to get his shoes, picking up the cup, placing toys in the basket, etc.
  • He's finally coming around to eating-- typical kid fare, but at least he's eating more things!
  • How he says "oh" instead of "no" and shakes his head. 
  • Runs to hug us when we ask for a hug and when we walk in the door and says "up"
  • His latest acrobat tricks that will definitely land him in gymnastics this winter
  • His incredible dance moves
  • How he kisses us goodnight and then says "bye" with a wave
  • When he brings me my shoes and puts them on my feet... or brings me his shoes so he can go outside
  • Upon telling him it's bathtime, he walks through the house and up the stairs to the bathroom 
  • How much he loves the new toddler bed we just bought him (not transitioned a deal!) and jumps on it with glee
  • When I tell him we're going to get the mail, gets excited and heads in that direction where he opens and closes the mailbox
  • When he shrieks of excitement as he pushes around a kid cart or sits in the attached cozy coupe at the grocery store
  • That he taught himself how to open the Goldfish container in the cabinet when he wants a snack
  • How tenacious, determined and proud he gets when he accomplishes something he's working at
I will probably come back and add more just because I love this kid so much. He's an absolute light to us and we couldn't be more grateful.

(volume up for this one, it's 7 seconds!)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Guess Where We're Going in November?

If you've been, I want to hear about it! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Littlest Composter

We're in business, you guys. We're composting fools now!

The composter arrived last week and thanks to my (best friend's ex-boyfriend's old dolly he let me borrow once and I never returned) cart we just spruced up with new wheels, I moved that bad boy right where I needed him and popped the top. I added some fresh cut grass and Benjamin contributed by picking up some pine needles and a pinecone and throwing them on in. I added a bit of shredded cardboard and some green waste from produce and we are getting things moving!

I'm following the best advice I was given: don't stress about it. Add, spin, relax.

And so, we are. Wouldn't you know though, last week at the library, we found this little gem that fit right into my little lesson. I swear it made me squeeeee a little bit just thinking about connecting the learning as any teacher would do. Obviously my nearly 18-month old is a bit too young to really comprehend what the heck composting is, but he's not too young to make connections between a book and real life. How our library carries a book on composting but doesn't carry a single book or digital copy on Love & Logic for Early Childhood, I don't know. I digress.
My cute little nugget and a fun new book!
And for kicks, here's a video I shot just before naptime today. We usually wait until we have more than 5 scraps of lettuce, but for the video's sake, I wanted to show how great he's been at contributing to our dirt pile.

p.s. Glad most of you understood my humor about hippies-- I for one embrace my inner hippie and was just being funny. Hope that was obvious enough.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Let's Talk About Dirt

{alternate title of "let's talk dirty" may have landed the wrong people on this blog...}

I bought a couple raised garden beds yesterday. As I was researching how to plant in them for next spring, I came across information on composting.

Let me first start by saying that when I had a certain fourteen friends come visit back in June that many of them were proving they were more hippie than me. I was getting a lot of flack for not being a composter and when it was encouraged to use compost in vegetable gardens (of which I just committed myself), I dug deeper. Get it? Dig... as in dirt? Ha. 

I consulted a few of those hippie friends I was talking about above and asked for their input. Just for fun, let's create a list of things that constitute one as a hippie (but not limited to):

- vegetarians and especially vegans
- driving a Prius or anything made by Volkswagon before 2000.
- piercings or tattoos (sometimes associated)
- breastfeeding mamas
- cloth diapering mamas
- attachment parenting parents
- babywearers
- owning Birkenstocks
- people with dreadlocks
- people who have their own veggie gardens
- Whole Foods shoppers
- wearing or consuming anything with hemp
- pot smokers
- most people in the states of Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and about 1/2 the state of California
- people who compost

I realize the list could be much longer, but let's consider the purpose of this post. Dirt.

I was all sold and ready to purchase this compost bin last night but my husband encouraged me to sleep on it.

So I did. And I'm still about 80% sold today. The other 20% of me is lazy and that concerns me slightly. Let's also brief what my husband had to say about the whole idea:

"We are not becoming those people!"
"I repeat, if I had any say in this, the answer would be no. Also, do you have any idea how big 52 gallons is?"
"Meanwhile, the neighbors are going to know we're freaking composters. That's like being a Beetle driver. Put a little flower right in the console. Are you kidding me."

Ah, but we all know he has no say in the matter. And honestly, he's fine with it as long as I really want it.

So for those of you out there who compost, here are questions I'd like answered that I could probably consult Google for instead... but what fun is that?

- Will rodents be attracted despite having a sealed (yet airated) container?
- What if I have too much compost? What will I do with all. that. dirt?
- How does composting work in sub-zero temps like we get for about 6 months of the year in Chicagoland?
- Any other recommendations or reasons the 20% of me should be talked down from the hippie pedestal?

Thank you, from the bottom of my veggie-loving heart.
p.s. I thought I would note that after 9 months sans nosering, I stuck it back in with no effort. I'm looking the part now again, too.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mom Squads

It's no surprise to anyone that I've struggled with my identity ever since Andrew died.

I knew that I was a wife, daughter, and friend above all things. His death didn't define who I was, though it sure changed how I felt about existing in the world. The world didn't see me as a mom. Hell, I didn't see myself as a mom all that much either. I definitely was/am, but it was pretty hard to confirm those facts when you are still only caring for yourself, even after buying all that baby crap and gestating for nearly 39 weeks. I wanted everyone in the grocery store or passing by me on the street to know. But they didn't.

We visit parks everyday. Some days, we even make it to 4 parks! Benjamin just thrives around other children. No joke, if I see kids at the park across the street, I make a b-line for it. I don't know how to explain it to other people because they often see him in public settings that provide gobs of stimulation, but this boy is a full-fledged tantrum-throwing toddler. He was having one continuous meltdown this morning until I opened that car door. He basically sprinted, jumped into his carseat and off we were to a (faraway) park.

He's a whole different child when being fully engaged. And to most parents, he's pretty freaking pleasant. They don't know home-bound Benjamin. I fear winter.

We usually see an independent mom or two with their kiddos at our local parks. There are about 7 parks we visit within walking distance from our house on a regular basis. He's even well known by other kids and their parents. Ray was riding his bike with Benjamin through the "big red park" the other day and passed a family. Ray heard them say, "Hey, there goes Benjamin!" The kid is a little bit famous in our 'burb.

I don't mind talking with the others parents at the park. We usually get on about preschools and various other activities their kids are involved in-- almost always with parents whose kids are quite a bit older than Benjamin. It's fine with him that the kids are older, because he seems to have little interest in kids his age. But the big kids who will talk to him and faun all over him? Baby crack. Where these parents of 1.5 year olds are, I have no idea. Benjamin has to be out and about.

Despite feeling like a different kind of parent always, I still manage to be honest about our story and engage with the other adults. It's when we're at parks with mommy groups that I can't handle. I find a corner bench to sit on and practice breathing exercises. I have no desire to engage, introduce myself, make new friends... or any of that. Maybe if the mommy group was for parents of just one kid, but they never are. They're always toting around their double strollers, toddlers and babies.

And it makes me uneasy. This happened yesterday and I hermit-crabbed my way into a hole and only approached the scene when Benjamin was getting himself into a predicament. My subdivision even has a mommy group. They advertise in the monthly bulletin (yes, it's pretty much perfect little suburbia) about the mommy group on facebook. Perfect excuse to avoid-- I don't do facebook.

There's a fine line between avoiding those groups because they're a grief trigger for me and knowing what's best for my son. Even before Andrew died, I never pictured myself involved in these mommy groups. They didn't seem like my style. I'm more rogue and less rule-driven, or at least that's how I've always viewed my outlook. Tantrums aside, little brother's growing up pretty well... mommy group attendee or not.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Case of the Missing Shoe

I have a confession to make. B only owns one pair of shoes in his current size. He used to live in his leather Robeez and then started walking. We upgraded him to size 4 Keens and now he's a whopping size 5.

We even have a size 6 shoe waiting for him to grow into. But, they're still a tad on the large side.

The only pair of shoes in size 5 are his blue Crocs. Cute, little, blue baby Crocs. They're honestly perfect for the summer. He can wear them in the water, outside, inside, and they're perfect summer shoes. Not to mention, they're super easy to clean.

I'd buy him more shoes in his size, but for two reasons I haven't:

1. We always gravitate towards these anyway as they're light and sandal-like.
2. I see no reason.

Perhaps I should re-think #2. {For the record, winter calls for more than 1 pair of shoes in the Midwest. I just don't think summer does.}

We went to the children's museum last week in an effort to get out of the house, but out of the rain. I started bringing a stroller because this baby is getting heavy, people. We had to park about 2 blocks away and there was no way I was carrying this chunk around.

We carried on as usual with about an hour of stimulation before we needed to leave the madness. I strolled the baby back down the street and took this photo before putting him into his carseat.

Yes, new stroller. Yes, I have more than you do. Yes, my husband comments on my obsession.
I drive home happily with a tired baby in the backseat to have lunch. I even notice him taking off his shoes (which he takes off immediately in the car), but can only attest to seeing one of the shoes being taken off.

We arrive home and I grab the baby and one of his shoes out of the car and head inside. He often throws his shoes about in the car, so I decided I'd get the other one when he went down for a nap.

Naptime arrives. I head to the car to find no shoe.

I search the car, the stroller, and even go as far as calling the children's museum to ask if anyone turned in a shoe from two blocks away (at this point I did not have photo proof of both shoes just before I put him into the car).

Still no clue the photo existed, we drive back to the children's museum post nap to search the sidewalk and street for the shoe. We give up, throw on the size 6 shoes and head to the park. It was worth the trip to check out a new park. And for the record, he walked perfectly fine in those shoes.

Back home and Dad comes home. He searches the car and stroller. Nothing. He asks if I had the windows down and the baby chucked it. Valid consideration. I commend him. But the answer was no.

The next day, during naptime again, I scratch my head and find the above photo and realize the shoe must be found locally. I search the car one last time and head back inside, sans missing shoe. A few minutes later, I'm determined as things just don't make sense to arrive home without two shoes when you put the baby in the car wearing two. A lightbulb went off...

...what if the shoe isn't in the car at all... but fell out?

I drove in and out of our garage multiple times at this point without having seen the wee little shoe sitting under the car spot. It may seem impossible, but those who have visited our house know that our driveway is steep and when driving up and into the level garage, you can't see anything but the hood of the car.

And so it was. The case of the missing shoe was solved.