Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bits and Pieces: August

Summer may be unofficially over tomorrow, but we certainly made the most of it. Our August was filled with many trips to the park and pool, get-togethers with friends, and our first ever camping trip as a family. Oh, and the Fair. We can't forget the Fair.

In early August we packed up the kids and headed to Jay Cooke State Park. I have to say, the trip went a lot better than I expected. Sure, the baby woke up screaming at 3 a.m. because he had peed through his sleeper. And yes, he attempted to eat fistful after fistful of pine needles. Overall, though it was a success. Clare had a blast. She was thrilled about everything, especially eating in s'mores and sleeping in her sleeping bag. We hiked and sat around the campfire. The weather was perfect and the bugs were nonexistent. What more could we ask for?

More pine needles, please!
My happy little guy.
Having fun?
Family nap time. I managed to fall asleep in one of the camp chairs while re-reading Harry Potter.
Looking at the St. Louis River from the swinging bridge.
The beautiful St. Louis River.
Of course, we went to the Fair. I am not a "Fair person" myself, but I don't mind going for a few hours as long as it is not too hot. So naturally we picked the hottest day of the summer to go. It wasn't bad in the morning, but by the time we left it was pretty warm. We looked at animals. Clare absolutely hates chickens, but she was okay with the goats and the rabbits. She even got to pet a rabbit. She closed her eyes and covered her ears when we walked past the chickens. We did the ride thing - Clare could have gone on rides all day. We ate cheese curds, malts, cookies, deep fried olives, mini donuts, and the adults drank beer. Somehow we didn't get stomach aches.

Driving. This ride was incredibly loud and annoying, but Clare loved it.
Merry-go-round selfie.
My sister tried to get a family shot. Clare and Christopher weren't having it.
This is how he spent most of the fair. 
My parents are visiting this weekend, and we went to Minnehaha Falls this afternoon. It is so close to my house, I don't know why I don't get over there more. It was fun, especially driving around in the Surrey. Clare wasn't sure she liked it. She kept yelling directions at my dad, who was driving. "Slow down Baba Ralph!!" She is her mother's daughter.
At the Falls.
Ready to ride.
Now, on to preschool. I think we are ready. I hope. In the meantime, we're headed to the beach on Tuesday. I am going to enjoy every last gasp of summer.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Water Worries

When I was young, one of my favorite things to do was go to the library. The smell of the books, the thrill I felt as I ran over to the new books section, the anticipation of the stack of unread books I selected to take home. I loved the library. I still remember getting my first library card. I was so proud. Clare, Christopher and I frequent our local library now, and I am so happy that Clare shares my love for books. She always comes home with a pile to read (and maybe a Hello Kitty DVD or two). She adores story time. She'll sit and read by herself in her room. She sets up her own story time with her stuffed animals and dolls. I am so excited to share this with her, and can't wait to introduce her to some of my favorite books when she is a bit older. (The Little House on the Prairie and Harry Potter series are on the top of the list.)

When I was a kid, I also loved the pool. Swimming lessons, open swim, jumping off the high dive - you name it, I was game. Maybe that's why I am having trouble understanding Clare's total fear of going in the big pool now. She screams and cries. She'll put her feet in, but that's it. And when her teacher dunked her underwater during class last week? Well, I'd rather not think about it.

Clare loves the water, as long as she can keep her feet firmly planted on the bottom of the pool. She will play happily for hours in the shallow end. I want her to actually learn how to swim, though, you know? It is hard watching every other kid in the class happily do what the teacher asks while Clare sits on the edge of the pool, scared and crying. She told me she wants to wait until she is eight to get in the big pool. I don't want her to miss out.

I am not forcing her. I am trying to be patient. I feel so frustrated, though, because I don't understand. I don't know how to handle this, other than to let her find her way into the pool in her own time.

We went to lessons yesterday, in the rain. Clare sat outside the pool, freezing. Finally, I wrapped her up in her towel and took her to the library. Eight books and three DVDs later, we came home for lunch. She was happy. I just hope she decides to swim, too. When she is ready.

For better or worse, she has no fear on the playground.



Monday, August 4, 2014

10 months


Christopher is most definitely on the move. He finally got the hang of the whole crawling thing. He also figured out how to climb up the step out of the playroom, but he seems reluctant to do it regularly. This is fine with me.

He is starting to communicate with actual signs. They are not  accurate signs, but he consistently makes the same gestures for hungry, milk and all done. He also smacks his tongue when I ask him if he's hungry and shouts "maa maa maa" when he wants more. And he always wants more. He has mastered the pincer grip, and now hates being spoon fed. He wants to do it all himself, thank you very much. He is a big fan of Cheerios.



He loves cars and trucks and balls. Such a stereotypical boy. Clare loved music from the womb, but Christopher has just started reacting to it, shaking his whole body to a song. He especially loves the theme song to "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood."

Everything still goes in his mouth.

He is content to be carried in my Ergo when we are at the park. I am enjoying this while it lasts, because I know next summer I will have to chase him all over the place to make sure he doesn't fall head first off the big slide.

He is still big - only about 7 pounds lighter than Clare. He is not off the charts or anything, but he is in the 80th percentiles for height and weight, and still in the 100th for head. Both kids had to have their fingers pricked for a blood draw at the doctor's office last week. Christopher handled it so much better than Clare. He barely cried. I guess after going through heart surgery a little finger prick is no big deal.

His hair is getting longer and wavy. His smile is toothy. Sometimes when I am nursing him, I realize he's stopped eating (I am looking at Twitter), and I look down. There he is, grinning up at me. I just love that smile.

He still adores Clare, even when she yells at him. They have started "playing" together, and Clare tells him about her day. I can't wait to watch their relationship develop even more.

So, 10 months. Last summer I didn't know if he was a boy or a girl, or what he would be like. Now I can't remember not having him around. And time can go ahead and slow down now.



Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bits and Pieces: July

July has been filled with visits to family, picnics at the park, birthday parties, cookouts, bike rides, trips to the zoo, dips in the pool, and, most importantly, beer. Kidding!

Hard day.
I had the greatest foodie weekend ever in mid-July. My mom was visiting, so of course we needed to have two ladies-only brunches. Psycho Suzi's and W.A. Frost were more than happy to oblige, as was Ben, who stayed home with the kids. Actually, I don't know if he was happy about this or not, but he didn't complain. That same weekend I got to go out for drinks! With friends! In Minneapolis! A friend was visiting from Philadelphia, so of course I had to go, because I hardly ever see her. Right? We sat outside at The Lowbrow, and I felt very hip and trendy, though I looked neither hip nor trendy. I cannot express how nice it was to eat these delicious meals without having children a). crawling on me, b). asking me for things, or c.) throwing Cheerios all over the restaurant (ahem, Christopher).

***

We took the kids to Highland Fest, the local neighborhood festival, last weekend. Clare loved the bouncy houses, and because there was no line, she got to bounce for quite some time. Christopher loved the ride in the double stroller. He later feel asleep. So it was a good day for him, too.


On the way home, we stopped at Dairy Queen. Clare decided to try to "drink" her ice cream, pouring it all over her lap and the stroller. She was up much too late, probably due to all the sugar. But hey, what is summer without a little melted ice cream in your lap, right?


***

We spent the 4th of July in Evansville with my parents, my grandmother, and my brother. It was lovely, and Clare even managed to make it through the parade without having a nervous breakdown. The secret to her new-found courage? Parade candy, of course.


I love the small town 4th. Like last year, we ditched the kids at home and went to the fireworks. And the beer tent. It was great. The kids and I stayed with my parents through the following week. We spent a lot of time watching cooking shows and the World Cup, but also made it to the park, the pool and the zoo. I was able to take advantage of grandparents and uncles who were willing to babysit, and have a girls night out with friends AND a trip to Concerts on the Square. It was a nice visit.

Historical Note: this slide is a famous Madison landmark. I have a picture of myself going down it when I was about four. If I was on top of things I would have found it and scanned it in to put here. I am not on top of things.
Hi.
So, on to August. Here is a preview for you: we are going to attempt a family camping trip. Where we will sleep in a tent. With two small children. I also plan to eat my weight in sweet corn.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Disequilibrium

Since Clare turned 3, she has decided it is time to test everything, especially my patience. Six months ago I wrote a post about her bad behavior. She was doing a lot better for awhile, but on her birthday the switch flipped. Back to brat.

I should say this: she is generally a really good kid. She is funny and smart and creative. There are just these moments, though. And they are daily.

Last week she ran away from me at the park. Luckily, a friend was there to hold Christopher while I tracked her down. When I told Clare I would have had to leave Christopher alone if my friend hadn't been there, she was chastened. It didn't last long, though. As I was putting her in her car seat she had another tantrum, and kicked me in the face. (She was not trying to hurt me. She was just flailing everywhere.)

She is not subtle about it, either. Today she said, "I am not going to listen to you." Just outright said it. So she knows what she is doing. She knows I know what she is doing. And she uses the snottiest tone of voice. Where do they get that? I don't talk to her that way.

I've tried time outs. I've tried counting (which I hate. I don't do it in public). I take things away: books, TV, dessert. Ben talks to her at night about listening to me.

She is fighting her naps. She is exhausted, but refuses to sleep. I try quiet time. That works, for about 15 minutes. She NEEDS her nap. I NEED her nap. Right now she is in her room crying, and has been for the past 40 minutes. She has some stamina, I'll give her that.

The professionals talk about how children go through stages of equilibrium and disequilibrium as they pass through different developmental stages. We are definitely in disequilibrium right now. Hopefully by the time she is 3 and a half the switch will be flipped back the other way.

Until then, I'll count my blessings that she hasn't figured out how to open her bedroom door, so I can shut her in there.

Speaking of figuring things out:


Yep, he realized he can escape the play room. We are in trouble now.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pipestone

At the end of June, we traveled to southwestern Minnesota to visit Pipestone, a small town at the edge of the prairie. Have you ever been to the prairie? It is wild - long grasses blowing in the wind like waves on the ocean. Weather you can see coming in from miles away - huge, dark clouds building higher and higher, bolts of lightening crashing to the ground. Then, suddenly, the sun breaking through, bright and hot. The storms never actually got near us, though, just threatened us from the distance.



This was our first vacation together, just the four of us. Traveling with small children is never going to be relaxing, but I didn't realize how hard it would be to be in one hotel room. There was a lot of this going on in the middle of the day:



At night, when the kids finally fell asleep, Ben and I opened a bottle of wine and sat in bed with our tablets. It was all we could do - we didn't dare turn on the lights.

We visited Pipestone National Monument. If you're not familiar with it, the national park is a sacred site for Native Americans, and is still used as a rock quarry for people to mine the red pipestone used to make peace pipes. It is a beautiful place.


Christopher was really into it, too.



We had fun, though, our little family. Hikes, pizza, the hotel pool, the public pool in Pipestone (Clare kept screaming that she was SO EXCITED to be at the pool), and a diner with the best pumpkin pie in the WORLD. It was a good trip.


Yeah, I don't know how Christopher slept like that either.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Nine Months



Okay, I know he's not really saying Mama, but it sounds like he is. And it is especially heart wrenching when he is crying while saying, "Mamamamama!" He also says "ooh," a lot, especially when he sees something new or interesting - and just about everything he sees is new or interesting to him.

His favorite book is "Goodnight Moon." He smiles from ear to ear when I pull it out to read to him before bed. He studies the pages carefully, and turns to grin at me, like he's thinking, "Wow, I can't believe I get to look at this!" Babies are funny.

He crawls, but not much. He gets up on his hands and knees and rocks back and forth, and drags himself across the floor toward his toys. His preferred method of movement is rolling. He rolls and rolls and rolls.

Clare is taking a music class, and Christopher gets in on the action, too. He dances. He plays a drum. He stares in awe at the music teacher.

He gets very upset when something is taken away from him, but if it is immediately replaced with something else he is content. He is never sad for long. He does scream at the top of his lungs if he is not getting the attention he wants when he wants it, though. It is piercing.

He is a hearty eater. A very hearty eater. That boy enjoys his food. I've started cooking for him regularly, because we go through so many packets of food. So many.

We're going to be at my parents' house for the Fourth again this year. Clare has already refused to attend the parade, but I think I am going to take Christopher. He can "ooh" all he wants.