Sunday, October 4, 2015


One week.

He's two! Unbelievable.

The other night Christopher was a reading a book and we heard him talking. "E! Y! O! C!" he said. Ben and I looked at each other, shocked. Could he really know these letters? We asked him to point to the letter Y. He did it. Same with E, O and C. This is partly surprising because Christopher has a lot fewer words than Clare did at this age. He is in the normal range, though, so I am not worried. Clare was (and is) just crazy verbal.

His new words this month include blanky, home, Daddy, moon, Ernie, Bert, piano, balloon, door, shoe and plane . When I give him a snack or a toy, he says "Thank you, Mom." I love it. He is so polite.

Here are a few of Christopher's favorites at two: blanky, anything with wheels, balls, slides, swings, the sandbox, fruit of any kind, books (especially if they have pictures of anything with wheels or babies), babies, running, making animal noises, playing the piano, ECFE (especially Teacher Ugo), waiting for the bus with Clare (he actually shakes with joy when the bus turns the corner. "Beeeeeepppp!" he yells), snuggles with Mom, coffee, and Cookie Monster. Most importantly, he loves his people: Daddy, all four grandparents, Aunt K, Uncle Andrew, Josie, Uncle Robby and Aunt Andri, Uncle Andy and Aunt Meg, and Clare. Clare most of all. When she gets home from school, she runs to him and wraps him up in a huge hug. It is my favorite thing. He has a running list of people he asks for in the morning, too. Right now it includes Daddy, Clare, Aunt Katie and Josie. (Meema and Baba make regular appearances on the list, too.)

He is less enamored with sitting in his car seat, going down for his nap, the opening credits to Super Grover 2.0, and carrots.

Christopher's personality is a lot like his dad's: laid back, smart and so funny. Not much bothers him, except Mom leaving and Super Grover. And even if he does get upset by something, he gets over it within seconds.

We celebrated birthday number two with a small party. We had pizza and cake (homemade!) with one set of grandparents, Aunt Katie and Uncle Andrew and Josie, and Uncle Andy and Aunt Meg. He got several trucks, a helicopter, an airplane and a baby doll. Oh, and a My Little Pony and Mr. Potato Head from Clare. He couldn't have been happier.

Happy birthday to my sweet, cuddly, adorable little boy. I love you so much it hurts.

Clare opened most of his presents. He didn't mind.

Mommy and Christopher and a new dinosaur.

Aunt Katie and Christopher and a new helicopter.

Applauding after "Happy Birthday." For the first time, I made a layer cake. It is chocolate with a fresh strawberry buttercream frosting.

Best buds.

    Cheering on the 10 mile runners on his birthday morning. Go Aunt Katie!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

First Day of Pre-K

There were tears shed. By me. Clare did just fine. She has been looking forward to starting school for weeks. The thing she was most excited about? Taking the bus. I hope the novelty doesn't wear off, because she is going to spend at least half an hour on the bus every morning. She was so eager to get on the bus this morning that I couldn't even get a picture. I do have a lovely shot of the bus driver, though.

I baked banana bread for a special breakfast today. She helped. We also went out to dinner to celebrate her first day, her pick. She chose Snuffy's, of course.

Ben took the day off, so I decided to follow the bus to school. Yes, I am one of those parents. I can't help it. It is scary putting your 4-year-old on the bus and sending her off into the world.  I didn't actually follow it the whole way, I just went to the school to make sure she got there okay. I saw her get off the bus, talking to another little girl. She looked so grown-up.  (Note, and this is important: Clare had no idea I was following the bus and did not see me when I was at the school.)

When she got home, she didn't want to tell me much about her day at first. Later, she was laying on the kitchen floor when she said, "I did okay today, Mom, I didn't even play by myself. I just played with other kids." She paused. "Sometimes I am shy when I first meet people, but I wasn't today." She sounded surprised. I told her she was getting better at meeting new people, because she's had lots of practice. I am so happy she had such a good day.

Waiting for the bus.

 Christopher taking a coffee break while waiting for Clare.

Getting off the bus at the end of the day.

Monday, September 7, 2015

End of Summer

I think I'll start with my favorite Clare-ism of late. My parents babysat for us on Saturday so Ben and I could drink a lot of beer and ride on the light rail wearing matching T-shirts. (Rails and Ales: super fun!) Clare and my mom were playing restaurant.

Clare: "How do you like your ice cream?"

My mom: "It's really good."

Clare: "I stored it in my hunderwear!"

My mom: Slowly spits out her pretend ice cream...

Yes, she says hunder instead of under. Maybe it was all the beer, but I couldn't stop laughing when my mom told me the story.


We tried camping again at the begin of August, despite the mixed results from the first trip. This trip was worse, mainly because everyone but Clare had a bad cold. We stayed for one night and then gave up. Clare had fun, at least. We were at Blue Mounds State Park in southern Wisconsin. It is beautiful, and they have a nice pool, but even that wasn't enough to motivate us to stay longer. Christopher is at a hard age for this type of thing, too, mostly because he doesn't seem to think it's a problem to run into the road or walk through the fire pit while there is a fire blazing. Next year?


We were invited to a friend's cabin for a few days in mid-August. The kids and I went during the week, ditching poor Ben. It was really nice. The best part, though, was that Clare actually went tubing! It was a tube with sides that she could sit down in, and she had a blast. I was really impressed, considering her usual fearful nature. She has definitely become braver this summer.


At the end of the month, we went to Golden Eagle Lodge on the Gunflint Trail for the third year in a row. Being up north is so relaxing. Even with an almost two-year-old, I feel like I can breath better up there.


Clare and Ben are really in to the Fair.

I can take it or leave it, but if I have some beer and some Sweet Martha's Cookies I am usually happy enough.

Christopher hates it.

He did manage to choke down a few cookies, though.

We had one final summer playdate this morning with our neighborhood friends. The best part of a Labor Day playdate? The husband of one of my friends delivered Chipotle to the park.

Another good summer in the books. Now, time to get ready for another new routine.

Friday, September 4, 2015

23 months

Two nights ago I was giving Christopher a bath. I was home alone with the kids, and Clare was having a crisis downstairs. I ran down the stairs, leaving Christopher alone in the tub. (I know.) I quickly grabbed Clare and ran to the stairs. And what do I find? Christopher, halfway down the staircase. There was water everywhere, and a huge grin on his face. This kid.

He has hit the independent twos. Anything he can do himself, he will. And if I don't do things exactly how he wants, he gets very angry. The fact that he can only sometimes express his desires does not help.

He has started speaking in two word sentences. His new words this month include pee, poo, hop, popcorn, up, please, buggy (yeah, for bugs), and da (finally!). For reasons unknown to me, Clare and Christopher spend a lot of time yelling the word juggle at each other. We frequently ask Christopher if he can say certain words. His response: "Yeah." But he won't actually say the word. He is confident he could do it if he wanted to, apparently.

We had swimming lessons a few weeks ago, and Christopher got pretty comfortable in the water. At the end of lessons, his review from his teacher said, "Christopher likes to have fun! But if he doesn't like what we are doing, he won't participate." That certainly describes Christopher, although I think it probably describes most almost two-year-olds.

We were at my parents' house a few weeks ago. Clare took out my old Samantha doll, and set up her birthday party. I have a set of small glasses, plates, a pitcher and tiny cakes and ice cream. It is really adorable. Anyway, she had it painstakingly arranged in the living room. You can see where this is going. Christopher came barreling into the room. His eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning when he saw the doll toys. He ran toward them and immediately began throwing them over the couch. You can imagine Clare's reaction.

We spent the weekend up north a few weeks ago. Christopher and I were on the deck of the cabin when an overly friendly red squirrel came looking for seeds. Christopher panicked a bit, backing up and whining. The squirrel was undeterred. Christopher, seeing the squirrel wasn't leaving, chucked the bottle of bubbles he was holding right at the squirrel. It worked. That squirrel was out of there.

Even though he has become more independent, he is still sweet and affectionate. Whenever I am kneeling down changing Josie's diaper or putting away toys, he'll come up behind me and put his arms around me and lay his head on my back. "Mama," he says.

One more month until two!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August Ennui

I've always wanted to use the word ennui in a piece of writing. Hey look, I've done it twice now!

It happens every year. I know others feel it too: that anxious feeling that starts to take hold in August. The days start getting noticeably shorter. Back to school preparation is in full swing. This year, the feeling set in for me when I saw mums for sale outside of the grocery store. Fall is just around the corner.

Now, I love fall, and am usually relieved for the change in season. I much prefer jeans to shorts. (I don't wear shorts.) Also, though, I feel sad. No more picnics or days at the pool. No more lazy mornings. I have very mixed emotions about Clare going to school five days a week. And, to quote from a popular show on HBO, winter is coming.

I often wonder if I would get this feeling if I lived in a warmer climate. Sure, there'd still be the change in routine that comes with school starting again, but maybe I wouldn't have the same sense of bleakness, of knowing the nice days are numbered.

Still, though, I am going to do my best to enjoy the rest of summer, and fall and winter for that matter.

On a summer-y note, we finished swimming lessons last week, and we made progress! Last year, Clare refused to go into the big pool at all, but this year she did it! Sure, it was just during the last two days of lessons. And one of the days it was 60 degrees and raining, so she realized she'd be much warmer in the pool than out of it, but still! Progress! Christopher passed into the next level, but unfortunately he will not be old enough to participate in that class next year. Which means I will be in the pool with him again. He had fun though, which I guess is the important thing.

At the beginning of summer, I was super strict about screen time and playing outside. If the weather was nice, the kids were not allowed to choose an indoor event. Now, I am tired of being an enforcer. I am tired of sunscreen. Even though I know the nice days won't last much longer, I let them go to the aquarium if they want to. Soon Clare won't be doing much of that kind of thing anyway. As Clare pointed out this morning, we are outside when we walk to and from the car. Can't argue with that kid's logic. Or her fashion sense.

Now, off to enjoy the last few weeks of summer.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Changes: School Edition

Clare is going to a new school this fall. I've been struggling with the decision, although when I lay out the reasons to send her to the new school it is a pretty easy call.  She is going to a public Montessori school. She'll be going five mornings a week. She'll have the same teacher and classmates for Kindergarten next year. She can take the bus. Oh, and it's free.

Change is always hard, though, and I will miss her preschool. She had a great experience, and part of me would like to keep her there. The school also houses a K-8 school. It's private, though, and we just don't have an extra $5,000 a year (or $10,000 for Christopher, too) to send her there. And then she'd probably want to go to the private high school where all of her friends would go. And I don't even want to think about that school's tuition.

Clare herself seems to be taking the change in stride. I was nervous to tell her, because she loved her school, but when I mentioned the change she said, "Okay Mommy." That was it. When I gave her some more details, like the fact that she could take the bus and that her friends Nora and Henry both go to that school, she was starting to get pretty excited. I told her I'd drive her on the first day, but she refused. She will take the bus. So instead of driving her, I'll be following the bus in my car.

Having her attend this school also allows us to avoid the troubled middle school in our neighborhood - she'll go to a different middle school and then end up at our neighborhood high school. Not to plan too far ahead.

I think the Montessori method will be a good fit for Clare, too. Lots of independent work at your own pace. The teacher is there as more of a guide, not as someone who stands in the front of the room talking. The lessons are all geared towards individual students' interests, too. I just hope it is a good teaching style for Christopher, too. If not, too bad for him, I guess. We should find out her teacher this week. I am sure I won't sleep the night before the first day of school (which is not until September 10! So late!) but I think Clare will be fine.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

22 Months

He is no longer interested in cooperating with these pictures.

Okay, expert moms out there. How do you stop the throwing of everything? Christopher is not discerning. Whatever is in his hand is tossed, frequently in the direction of his sister, his mother, or his cousin. I have been taking the object away, holding his hands tightly and telling him NO. This has not stopped the behavior.

Christopher has always been funny, but he seems to be working more on his comedy routine. He has figured out the face that always, always makes me laugh. I can't describe it properly, but he scrunches up his whole face with this ridiculous toothy grin.

Every time someone comes to our door, Christopher thinks it is Baba Ralph. He has an unshakeable belief (or hope?) that Baba and Meema are going to come through that door. Of course, they rarely actually do. For a long time I thought Christopher was saying "Mommy" but it turns out he is saying "ma-mee," Meema in reverse. (He does say Mama for me, though.)

He makes many animal noises to everyone's delight, including moo, baa, quack, woof, and a very strange, low hissing sound that he inexplicably makes when he sees a penguin. He also roars like a dinosaur when he has his dinosaur towel on. He gets upset if someone takes the hood off his head. You can tell he really enjoys being a dinosaur.

His new words this month include wheel, read, book, no, and row, as in "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" his all-time favorite nursery rhyme. He really, really likes nursery rhymes.

He loves playing with Clare and Josie. He is concerned about their whereabouts at all times. He hands Clare her things, concerned that she is missing them. He is very polite, saying thank you when someone gives him something. But he still throws food on the floor.

Christopher is not a water baby. Clare loves the water, as long as she can touch, but Christopher is very hesitant about going in. He likes playing in the water table and splashing in the bathtub, but when it comes to a large body of water he is not interested. We start swimming lessons next week. I'll be in the pool with him, but I have a feeling it will be a struggle.

He's been sick the past few days, with one of those pesky summer colds, so he has been extra cuddly. I don't love wiping noses all day long, but I'll take the hugs.

Only two more months until birthday number two! I hope they go as slowly as possible.