Claire has this precious way of expressing she loves you and finds comfort in you. When holding her, she pulls both arms in and tucks them down, as to give up full control, in total trust. It also ensures you can't grasp her arms well to put her down. She's clever like that.
Then she plops her beautiful baby noggin right on your shoulder. She knows her people and exhibits this behavior often when in our arms.
My mom was in two weeks ago (today) and we hit up a local church rummage sale on a dreary and wet Friday morning together. We got there about 3 minutes before it opened and it was a madhouse with a line of around 100 people. I rummaged with Claire riding piggyback in the Ergo and Benjamin was charming my mom into buying everything he touched. It worked.
She bought him a slew of videos and toys and even a lava lamp. Grandmas.
One of the videos was a 35-minute Leap Frog Letter Factory Phonics video. I never thought he'd watch it because it didn't have Disney plastered all over it. Surprisingly, he requests it almost daily and has for the last 14 days. He's probably seen it 10 times.
A few days ago, he started pointing to some letters and telling me their sounds as we were reading a book together. That's the "tuh" (t). So, I decided to go through the entire alphabet. He knows every single letter sound. Totally floored.
The catchy little jingle probably makes it easier to learn, but he was able to say them all without the song. "The t says tuh, the t says tuh, every letter makes a sound, the t says tuh."
Would've been the biggest steal ever, at $1, and it should've been, if I hadn't lost $40 cash somewhere in the madhouse of that rummage sale that morning. Let's hope it was picked up by one of the church volunteers and put into their fundraising pot.
$41 phonics video for the win. Who knew.
(It turns out it can be watched here for free, too. The rest of you might have the luck of a $0 phonics lesson without leaving your home!)
At this exact minute, I'm listening to our friends' kids playing on the deck with the water hose and water table (drought-ridden Californians see this as gold!). Claire is giggling and getting soaked right beside them.
Benjamin is sitting on the couch singing songs to himself as he flips through a book.
He's such a loner.
He's the only kid of the like 13 kids at soccer last week who spent almost no time listening to his coach and more time complaining and acting as though soccer with other kids was complete torture. I wasn't asking him to be great at soccer; I just wanted him to listen to the coach. For 30 minutes. He wanted to be at the park instead.
I played soccer with our friend's kid this afternoon on our deck (and had a blast!) as my kid blew bubbles about 15 feet away. I'm trying to get him interested by playing myself and showing him how much fun it is to play soccer (or insert thing here).
You can't change a person. It's not that I'm trying to, it's just that I desperately want him to put himself out there and try new things and be that kid who plays happily with others and enjoys the heck out of life. And if I'm being totally honest, I wish he just liked everything I did (thought every parent ever). He won't.
He'll find his thing. He will. And when he does, I will be there with pom poms and streamers on the bleachers yelling obnoxiously (as proud and embarrassing parents do) or have front row tickets to his play on opening night (and probably every night thereafter). And GOODNESS GRACIOUS, I love him. I love that he's the kid who saved me after Andrew died. He's the snuggle bug who really does love fiercely. He's the kid who doesn't go by the book or follow the rules, but he's also mine.
I didn't design him. He was designed for me. I never thought I'd learn so much parenting this one, but I totally am.
When B was a little guy, I took him to storytime starting around 6 months. At 17 months, Claire has only ever tagged along to B's storytime hour (and doesn't even get offered a cookie when they occasionally have them available). B was bringing me dozens of books each day at her age and she isn't as interested. I blame that on my lack of devoted time to give her since Benjamin is still very much dependent on me for his entertainment. A dual book reading doesn't often go off without a hitch. Sounds dreamy though.
This morning, I dropped B off at VBS and was planning to stop at the library since my next destination (Habitat for Humanity Restore) didn't open until 10. I was killing time and also figured I'd use the library scanner to get some photos uploaded really quick.
We arrived as the librarian was opening the doors and she asked if we were there for baby storytime. Um, no we weren't! I took about 10 steps further toward the scanner before realizing that encouraging literacy in my 17-month-old was more important than those scanned photos. We turned around and entered the storytime room.
Wouldn't you know, Claire loved it. It was boat-themed and the brave librarian even had a pool filled with a few inches of water and boats they could add to the mix. I went home and signed her up for storytime for the rest of the session. Her own storytime.
A few weekends ago, we were knee deep in house projects and were bummed about some neighbors making rude comments. Side story: We cut down two trees in our yard (one was dead) and they expressed disappointment in the form of the words, "We're sorry for your loss." When you've actually, really lost a child or anyone important to you, talking about trees with those same words is offensive. Those neighbors are forever on my list.
The weekend was full of hardware store trips and I needed to change this. We had to do something as a family. I'd been insanely jealous of my friend Renel adventuring with her family and had geocaching on my list for a few years now. I wanted in. I didn't want to schlep babies out to find caches and wanted it to be a family affair (though I could totally geek out on this all alone!). I had to wait until they were a bit older.
With a 1yo and 3yo and a weekend of mundane yardwork, I told the husband we were going on a geocaching adventure.
He rolled his eyes.
I knew he'd enjoy it once we'd started. He's just as --if not more-- adventuresome as me. Without telling me, he put in for a lottery to hike Mt. Whitney in 2007 (I was pissed!). We got it. We hiked for 16 straight hours and over 26 miles. It was probably the coolest experience of my entire life. All thanks to the pushy (and amazing) husband.
The cache was hidden .3 miles from our home in what looked to be the parking lot of a nearby parish. Problem was, it was on and off raining the whole day. Benjamin insisted on the single red stroller, so Claire went on my back in the Ergo. It wasn't raining when we started, but about halfway, it began to downpour. We took shelter under a tree.
My husband turned to me and said something about just aborting the mission. I was having none of that. So it was raining. So we were drenched. What else did we have to do anyway? And rain doesn't hurt anyone! Claire was surprisingly loving it. I told him he could head home, but I was going to keep going.
About 100 feet from us, there were 5 guys playing a drinking game with washers and old coffee cans. I told the husband that I would just ask these guys if they could get me a Ziploc so our phones would stay dry. He didn't like the idea (read: male), but I explained to him that these guys would probably give me the shoes they were wearing if I asked. Because, female. I assumed they would have to run in the house and grab me one. I asked, and one of the guys randomly whipped a Ziploc out of his pocket and handed it to me.
Phones dry, we trekked on. After searching around the bushes in the parking lot for about 10 minutes with Benjamin whining about going home and Claire becoming increasingly more drenched and dirty from gleefully sitting and splashing in a mud puddle, we found it.
Scratch. The husband found it. The stars in his eyes shined brightly and he recommended we upgrade our membership that evening.
My son doesn't like getting his hands dirty. He'll play in the dirt, fully enjoying himself, until he realizes it's dirt and then it's all over. "Mom, I'm dirty. Clean me, please."
This past weekend, we headed out after naptime on geocaching adventures like we have the last few weekends. We tell him we're finding treasures. We are. Some of them, we even get to keep (for a trade). One of them had us through some woodsy ungroomed area and required we trek about 30 feet into the sticks. And branches. And rose bush thorns. We assumed he wouldn't, so we headed in. He insisted he wanted to go in. And when he cut himself on the rose bush thorns in two places, he had a mini issue, but gave himself a spit bandaid and moved on. Progress. When he found the chicken-shaped, totally adorable geocache "treasure," he was even more excited. He trekked back out of the woods and then insisted he put it back himself. He was owning that adventure. We were bursting with pride.
As I type this, we've found 19. Only on weekends and only together.
Five years now living here, we're sort of stuck in the there's nothing to see rut. But there is. And there are adventures to be had. I desperately want my kid, who could easily sit in front of Disney movies all day without breathing air outside, to seek adventure. To go outside and explore the unknown and expose himself to what may not be comfortable.
He may not be into nature and hiking and traveling quite as much as his parents, but we would be foolish not to at least give him that exposure. If you've never been introduced, how can you fall in love?
Last weekend, we parked our car and walked within about a two-mile radius just searching for geocaches a few miles from our house. We were digging under bridges and finding our way 300 feet into the sticks in the name of adventure. We stopped at a park we discovered halfway through our adventuring and then headed out for the next treasure hunt. We finished the evening with pizza, ice cream and talking of our awesome finds.
I started a treasure jar that both kids have dug through with excitement over the last few days. There's a 10-sided dice, friendship bracelet, plastic dino, trackable zebra, a nickel, a penny, and an "astronaut," which is actually a transformer robot-looking creature. But to Benjamin, it's an astronaut. To his parents, it's a memory of us getting out as a family and enjoying being together and outside in nature to cultivate the spark of curiosity that is born in every child. And with any luck, the spark can be made into a fire and continue to burn into adulthood.
We're all hooked. (Except maybe Claire who has no freaking idea what is going on, but loves to find things and open packages and dig through that treasure jar just like the rest of us. She's good for an adventure as long as she has 1. snacks-- girl can eat and 2. allowed to touch some of those treasures without brother snatching them up.)
SoCal girl + East Coast boy. Travelers. Currently living in Reno, Nevada by way of Chicago, Germany and Los Angeles. Parents. Andrew born still at 38w5d, Benjamin born living at 37w & Claire born just in time at 36w. Living the incomplete American dream of 3-1.