Monthly Archives: May 2012

She Says… Music to my Ears

I’ve been singing to Owen since before he was born and I’ve often wondered when he would start singing back. Music is a huge, huge part of our lives. Sometimes I wonder if I sing to him more than I talk to him. We sing lullabies at night, along to CD’s and the radio in the car, we make up songs about everything from diaper changing to making dinner to the ant we saw on the sidewalk. Recently he has started to say, “Sing it?” about everything. And what he means is, “Make up a song about it?”.

People listening in on our conversations would think I am crazy.

And maybe I am.

But in the last few weeks, Owen has started singing on his own, unprompted. I hear him working through songs as he puts himself to sleep, or quietly singing to himself in his carseat.

It melts me.

Into a puddle.

My favorite part of this new talent is his “singing voice”. It’s more like a really loud talking voice, so he pretty much just shouts song lyrics. Sometimes he gets the pitches to go up and down at the right places, and once in awhile he can match my pitch if I’m singing, but mostly I just encourage him  to shout it out. Even though he can say all of the words very clearly, he seems to turn song lyrics into gibberish, or to smoosh the words together unrecognizably when he’s singing — too many other things to think about, I guess!

Singing is ALWAYS accompanied by full-body swaying/dancing.

Duh.

Here is a rendition he did this past weekend of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” into “Twinkle Twinkle” (he’s already realized they are the same tune and thinks they are one song now):

He’s gonna be a STAH!

She Says… Spontaneous Vacationing

Last week I was joking about what constitutes a vacation these days (a quiet few hours riding the train to New York for work). But it sort of made me realize how we never really go on vacation. Our honeymoon and one trip to Vegas are the only trips I can think of that were not work-related or to visit family over the last few years. Lame.

So you know what we did this past weekend? Decided to take a REAL vacation. Spontaneously.

Don’t be too impressed. It’s not like we jetted off to a tropical island on a whim. But when our friends invited us to join them and some friends at their beach house on Cape Cod last Thursday, we stifled the urge to say “Oh, it’s too short notice… what will we do with the dog… we’ve both been traveling and we really need a weekend at home…”, and just said, “YES!”.

Yes, it was short notice. And yes, we had to figure out who would watch Schnitzel while we were gone. And yes, Benjamin has been traveling so nonstop recently that I really thought all we needed was a weekend, at home, with just the three of us. But you know what? Getting out of the house was far better. We couldn’t weed the garden or go to Target. We couldn’t do laundry. We couldn’t get stuck in our usual weekend routines.

Instead, we packed up the car when I get back from New York. We threw clothes in bags and made a quick list of things like the pack n’ play and booster seat and grabbed a bunch of extra diapers.

It really wasn’t that hard. I’m not sure why we don’t do this every weekend!

Owen was entertained for the entire weekend and acted like a little angel. He took the new sleeping arrangements and nap time car rides and new foods in stride.

He made LOTS of new friends (one other toddler, who was already a friend of his, and 10+ adults staying in one house = lots and lots of people to chat with, climb all over, play with and perform for!).

He explored a new house, playground and the beach.

Benjamin and I were able to completely unplug and relax in a way we could NOT have done at home. There was even one naptime when Benjamin was asleep on the couch, everyone else was out to lunch, and I literally had NOTHING to do. It was… unprecedented. I hadn’t even packed a book, because when was the last time I had a chance to sit and just read? So I plopped my butt in a sunny spot, turned my face toward the sun and closed my eyes. Now THAT is vacation.

She Says… Brilliance or Stupidity?

While sitting on the train yesterday I had a flash of brilliance. Or utter stupidity… I’m not sure yet.

We are planning to take a family vacation this summer to go visit my family in the Philadelphia area. My brother and sister-in-law are having their second baby, which will bring the cousin count to 5, all within a few years of each other. So fun! We discussed a group vacation to a destination (like last year’s family trip to the Cape), but budgets and time and the fact that the littlest cousin will likely be born in July dictated that we would meet at the most convenient spot — my older sister’s house with a pool! We’ve finally nailed down dates and I quickly did a search to see how much flights were going to be.

BOS > PHL round trip for the whole fam = $1,100

What in the…

Why in the world is it so expensive? First of all, we have to buy Owen a ticket since he will be over 2 by then. So that’s a BIG part of the cost. But really, Boston and Philly are SO CLOSE, why in the world does it cost nearly $400 a person to get there? I can fly to Vegas for far less. Heck, I could probably even get to Europe for less than that. Southwest and JetBlue are usually my go-to budget airlines, but they don’t fly directly between these 2 airports for whatever reason. Other, slightly cheaper options include stopping along the way, but that just seems ridiculous since the entire flight time is probably an hour or less.

My first thought: Well, OBVIOUSLY we have to drive. But y’all know how Owen does in the car. Carsickness. Agitation. Crying. Pleading. He’s gotten SO much better recently, even on longer trips (like to the zoo last weekend, we pushed 40 minutes and he didn’t fuss at all), AND he will be over 2 so his carseat can face forwards. BUT! Sticking the most active toddler ever in a seat for 8 hours, plus bathroom and food stops along the way? Kill me now. Maybe I’m being a little too dramatic, but the thought of driving that many hours with Owen in his current stage makes me cringe.

Which brings me to the idea I just came up with. What about taking the train?

Advantages:

  1. It’s cheap. Dirt cheap compared to flying.
  2. We don’t have to go through security or pay through the nose for parking. That means we can bring all of the food and liquids and strollers we want, with little to no waiting in line.
  3. Bathrooms and food are readily available.
  4. No “Fasten your seatbelt” sign. In fact, no seatbelts at all.
  5. Owen will be IN HEAVEN riding a choo choo. At least for the first 5 minutes. Train conductors stopping by every once in awhile? The kid will probably want their autographs.
  6. Scenery. I always take the train to New York instead of flying because it’s just. so. darn. beautiful.

Disadvantages? It’s still long. 6+ hours. But that’s still less than driving! Owen’s motion sickness could still be an issue, I’m not really sure. He won’t be riding backwards, which is a huge plus, but I will likely bring a few changes of clothes. For everyone.

Why don’t I hear about others taking the train with kids, or see toddlers running down the aisles normally? Is there something I’m not thinking of? Anyone ever tried this before?

She Says… What Constitutes a Vacation These Days

Right now I am sitting on the train somewhere between Boston and New York. I’m going to New York to oversee a training event I’ve coordinated for my company. It was one of those everything-that-could-go-wrong-did situations. Instructors cancelled, times were switched at the last minute, attendees didn’t show up on time, files had typos, people are leaving early for the holiday weekend despite knowing about this event for months. And on and on. I organize these sessions all the time, and they almost always go off without a hitch. Not so, this time.

I feel frazzled. And unprepared. And worn down. And like all of the balls I’ve been juggling for the last few weeks (months, now?) while Benjamin has been traveling and working like crazy are about to come toppling down on my head.

Benjamin and I had our first “oh my goodness, we both have to travel and what are we going to do about OWEN?!” moments this week. It all got sorted out, thanks to a sweet friend who is going to hang out with Owen for the short period of time that Benjamin’s and my work plans overlapped, but oy. If that doesn’t make you feel the strain of being 2 working parents, I don’t know what does.

But back to me. And my vacay. Oh, it doesn’t sound like I’m on vacation? Well, this is what constitutes a vacation these days, folks. With Benjamin traveling so much recently and me holding down the fort, I’ve barely had a chance to leave the house between work and taking care of Owen. I haven’t had a chance to see friends or go to yoga or do something fun for me. So this morning I rushed around like a madwoman getting Owen to daycare and then booked it to the train station.

Sitting on a train with a coffee in my hand? Apparently that’s a vacay now. Despite the fact that I am clickety clacking away at my keyboard relentlessly for most of the ride, I’ll take it. I’m sitting. Quietly. Dressed in a cute skirt and heels. I’ve put out most of the fires and I’ll deal with the rest when I get to New York. I even got myself an Us Weekly to catch up on my celeb gossip between emails.

It’s the little things.

 

 

She Says… Z for Zebra

I took Owen on his first trip to the zoo on Sunday.

A few days prior I started prepping him for the trip, since he’s all about talking about when we’re going to do things these days (he’s been saying things like, “Birthday party tomorrow!” even if it happened yesterday, and ” Deedah Playground last weekend!” even though we go to the playground at least 6 or 7 times a week). He likes to list out the order of things. He takes a deep breath and winds up for a long sentence. “After… Trader Joe’s… playground… dinner… bathtime… bed!”. You can almost see the gears in his head turning while he tries to figure out what all of that really means.

I have no idea why he was so excited to see camels.

I asked him what letter he thinks the word “zoo” starts with, and he said, “Z Zebra”. Seriously?! How did he know that?!

When we saw pictures of animals in books I would ask him, “Do you think we will see a ____ at the zoo tomorrow?”. “OH YEAH!” he would reply. To be honest, even I wasn’t entirely sure what animals we were going to see, since I’ve never been to the zoo here in Boston. I grew up in Baltimore, which has an incredible zoo. Or at least I used to think so as a kid. There are a few different zoos around the Boston area, but my blog/Twitter friend (and now real life friend!) Mary Kate from Kitchenbelle invited me to join her and her daughter at the Franklin Park zoo. It’s in a very urban area, so I wasn’t really sure if they’d even have lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

In case you’re wondering, they had a lion, but no tigers or bears. And a jeep you could play in whose windshield looked right into the lion’s cage.

Side note: It’s kind of a shock to go from driving on packed city streets to seeing a sign for “Gorillas! Next left”. Or to be looking at a lion and hearing police car sirens going by. Don’t get me started on how wrong it seems to have wild animals living in the middle of the city, for a multitude of reasons… I’m trying to put that out of my mind and let Owen enjoy seeing these creatures up close.

After a little parking fiasco (I couldn’t believe you could park practically right outside the main gate… in Baltimore you’d have to park far, far away and take a shuttle bus to the door, so I drove right past the best parking spots and got totally lost in Boston assuring Owen we were “almost there” for 20 minutes while I looked for parking in all the wrong places), we finally arrived. Right inside the door? ZEBRAS. And a choo choo train. I think Owen’s little heart almost stopped from the excitement.

And there were gorillas. Creeeeeepy gorillas whose eyes seemed like they were looking right into your soul. I honestly don’t understand how people can look into a gorilla’s eyes and not believe in evolution. They are SO human-like.

Since we arrived right when the zoo opened, it wasn’t very crowded. There was tons of space for Owen and Mary Kate’s daughter to run around. Owen nearly gave me a heart attack when he veered off the path and did his patented “I’m going to run away from Mama as fast as I can” move, wiggling right through a crack in a fence (mercifully to a parking lot for zoo employees, and not an animal cage). I was only a few feet away, but he was going FAST. I dropped my stroller on the ground and ran after him, realizing as soon as I hit the fence that there was no way I was going to fit into the opening that he did. He must have heard the fear in my voice as I said, “Owen James. Stop walking right now. Turn around and come back. This is VERY IMPORTANT.”. He grinned and his eyes danced as he came right back to me. THANK YOU, UNIVERSE, FOR HAVING A CHILD WHO LISTENS TO DIRECTIONS (most of the time).

As a result of this little stunt, I wasn’t able to get very many pictures. Toddler wrangling, my friends, is a full-time job with this one.

The best part of all? We made it home with Owen happy and awake in the car so he could have a nice, long (if a little later than normal) nap in his crib.

Total success. I’m thinking a membership to the zoo just might be on Owen’s birthday wishlist!

She Says… Death of the “Deedah”

Once upon a time, what feels like forever ago these days, Owen started talking. Quickly his few little words (“Uh oh!”, “BUH bye!”, “Hi!”) turned into sentences and phrases. Now the kid can talk about just about anything. I feel like he knows almost every word that I say. He wakes up in the morning asking, “School today? Playground later? Read a book with me, Mommy?”. He puts himself to sleep telling his lovey about the fun things we did that day (“Walk doggie. Ate eggs! See choo choo.”). He tells on himself when he’s doing something he shouldn’t be (“Oh-WEN! No climbin'”) and parrots the rules back to me before I even have to say them (“Only Mommy holds knives. Knives SHARP. Dangerous.”) while nodding enthusiastically.

To say he is very verbal for his age is an understatement.

As his vocabulary doubled and tripled, there were a few words that he consistently said wrong. At first, like the Type A person that I am, I wondered, “Why does he say them that way? What can I do to help him say it correctly? Is something wrong? Why won’t he try to say them clearly when he says so many other words clearly?”. Many more experienced mothers assured me, “Don’t worry. They will correct themselves in time. And you may even miss those mispronunciations when they are gone.”.

You know what? They were right. Obviously.

One of Owen’s favorite mispronunciations was to call the playground deedah. I still have no idea where it came from, because none of the sounds are the same, but he insisted that’s how it was said. We would over-enunciate “Puh-LAY-ground” and he would grin devilishly and repeat, “DEEDAH!”.

And so it was. We went to the deedah.

But a few days ago, after I told him we were going to the playground, he waited for a moment, and then, very slowly, said, “Puh-lay-gound”. Missing the “r”, but pretty much perfect.

And that was it.

Deedah was dead.

And I miss it.

As of today, there really aren’t very many words that he still mispronounces. I’m hanging on to yappoo for vacuum, thank you very much. Won’t be correcting that one any time soon. And my new favorite, pro-BOB-a-lilly or probby for probably. They are just too darn cute. And my time to hear them is short.

She Says… Spring

Spring has sprung, my friends. Every window in our house has been open for the last two days and the temperature is holding steady at 70 degrees. It is perfection.

I’m taking a rare Friday off of work to cover “Daddy Day” since Daddy has had more work than he knows what to do with recently. Owen and Schnitzel and I spent the entire morning at the playground.

Guess who graduated to the “big boy” swing?

Owen made a new best friend (a 3 year old) and ran around the playground with him copying everything he did. Watching his little playground relationships just melts my heart. The kid hugs before he even says hello, and immediately starts doing exactly what the other kid is doing.

Hence the climbing wall incident. This time he did the climbing wall almost entirely by himself and got almost as high. He also monkeyed himself right up a ladder that is intended for much, much bigger kids. Muscle memory is a powerful thing — the boy has amazing coordination and picks up new motor skills like it’s no big thang.

Once we got home, I was pooped and ready for lunch. Someone was just getting started, so we changed into lighter clothes and went on a little bike-ride-slash-nature-walk where Owen pointed out every ant on the sidewalk and asked, “Mommy get it?”. We’re really working on the lesson that bugs are ok. Because to Owen, they are not ok.

All that sunshine meant a niiiiiice, looooooong nap, which means enough time for a good workout for me, a little blogging and some dinner prep (black bean and sweet potato burgers and asparagus on the grill!).

Spring is the best.

She Says… Remember?

Do you remember the good ol’ days when we used to post beautiful photos on this blog? Yeah, me too. And it hasn’t happened for a long time.

Do you know why?

The iPhone.

The iPhone and the fact that a wildly mobile and active toddler almost always means blurry photos. But I still blame the iPhone.

When Owen was tiny and would stay where I put him, we did the “monthly photo” thang. You know, stick him in a chair in a cute outfit once a month and snap a million pictures in order to get one or two keepers that you can hang up at his first birthday party. Although it was a struggle to do it regularly, it was also an incredible opportunity to capture the huge changes of those first few months of life. I am SO glad we did it. But I was also SO glad that I let myself stop doing it when he hit 1 year old.

After he turned one, we had various photo opportunities where Benjamin would whip out “the good camera”. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter. But the number of high-quality photos declined dramatically.

But other than that? To capture the everyday cuteness and silliness? We use our iPhones. While it’s great to be able to pull out my phone from my back pocket and take a picture or video at a moment’s notice, it has also almost entirely obliterated our “good camera” usage. And that makes me sad.

Benjamin is SO talented behind the lens. Someday, when I have the time, I will re-learn all of the things I learned in photography class in college. But for now I rely almost entirely on Benjamin’s mad skillz.

So for Mother’s Day, after dinner, Benjamin suggested we play in the backyard and have a little photo session. Happy Mother’s Day, indeed.

Come on. Admit it. You only read this blog to see the adorable pictures of Owen.

I don’t blame you one bit.

She Says… Mother’s Day

On Friday night, as Benjamin and I were having a quiet night watching tv together (which hasn’t happened in a LONG time, thanks to his crazy work/travel schedule and my work and random events like singing at the Red Sox game), he casually mentioned that he should probably make brunch reservations for Mother’s Day. On Sunday.

I just laughed. Of course he should have made reservations already. Every mother in the Boston area wants to go out to brunch.

I also kind of rolled my eyes. Since I am always the one making the reservations and the plans for our family, it was not a surprise that he hadn’t thought of it. Although a tiny part of me wished that he had planned ahead a little more, the rest of me realized that a weekend with him at home is far more important than any brunch reservations. As it turned out, he had a few little tricks up his sleeve and we had a lovely, special day.

He taught Owen to say “Happy Mother’s Day” to surprise me. (Or perhaps I should say, “Happy Mother’s Mommy”).

There were crayon drawings and flowers.

We took a leisurely walk as a family and got coffees in the morning. After a sweet morning, Benjamin gave me my REAL present, which was a few hours in the mall by myself to do some shopping. A few hours later we met one set of Benjamin’s parents for an early dinner at one of my favorite restaurants.

Brunch or not, the day reminded me just how thankful I am to have these two wonderful men in my life. And just how in love with them I am.

Last year I blogged about how becoming a mother changed me. It was one of my favorite posts I’ve ever written. Every word is still very much true today. This year, though, I felt the calm confidence of having been a mother for even longer. The “new me” that emerged after becoming a mother is not so new. It’s just… me, now.

My days are not filled with the strain of wishing for a baby or waiting for that positive pregnancy test. They are not filled with the drama of the newborn months, obsessing about nursing and reflux and how many minutes my baby has been asleep. They are spent exploring and imagining and chatting with my hilarious little boy. They have a rhythm, a routine, a predictable course. It’s in times like these that I’m able to look back on all of the frustrating, stressful, difficult times and actually feel happy that they happened exactly as they did. Because I’m here now, and it’s better than I imagined it would be.

She Says… Rock Climber and Mommy Fail

Monday was a randomly sunny, warm day amidst a week (plus?) of cold, dreary rain. Thankfully Mondays are also my day off, so Owen and I grabbed the dog and headed to our favorite playground to enjoy the sun in the afternoon.

As I’ve been discussing Owen’s kinesthetic learning style and need for, uhh, constant physical activity this week, I thought it would be appropriate to show you how he plays on the playground. Bouncing from one thing to the next until he starts right back up again. He never stays in the same spot for more than a minute or two and never stays still for more than a second. But that’s what playgrounds are for, no? No sitting for Mommy, either, because of course his favorite playground is for bigger kids and has all kinds of dangerous drops and spots with no railings.

I love watching him explore and following him (not too closely!) to see what he chooses to do. The only downside is that when we meet friends at the playground (aka my mom friends), I never get a chance to talk to them!

Swings. (No baby swings on this playground, just this one random plastic swing that is missing a seatbelt. Which he ADORES despite face-planting out of it twice because he wanted to get out and just jumped instead of asking for help. Sigh.)

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Running around in the field next to the playground. Found a far away picnic table, hopped up and took a water break. First break all day!

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Trash can. Who knew opening and closing the trash can would be SO. MUCH. FUN?)

Not pictured: Climbing up the stairs, running across the wiggly bridge, sliding down a tube, climbing up a “rock” staircase, zooming down each slide at least 3 or 4 times in a row, pretending to “drive” using a pretend steering wheel, spinning the tic-tac-toe squares, exploring the bushes and trees on the outer edges of the playground, breaking up a basketball game to grab the ball, learning how to dribble a basketball from a big boy.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

On Monday he found a new obsession on the playground as well. The climbing wall.

He begged me to help him climb it. At first I responded with a quick, “Sorry, buddy. That’s for bigger kids.” But he wasn’t going to take no for an answer. The kid is an incredible climber, so I decided to let him try it with some assistance. I showed him how to use his hands and feet on the holds to climb up. He quickly dropped his sippy cup to the ground and stretched his little body out, trying to reach from one hold to the next.

Before I knew it I was supporting his butt to make sure he wouldn’t fall off while he wrestled his way up the wall. As I helped him, he got higher and higher. Soon he was over my head. He got the hang of it so well that I was on my tippy toes grasping for his shoes.

He actually got to the very top. As in, his little hands reached over the top of the wall. There is no platform on top, but kids can climb over the top and climb back down the other side. All at once I felt the blood drain from my face when I realized I wasn’t holding him at all and he didn’t know what to do when he got to the top. For some reason I didn’t think to climb the wall myself to get him (in hindsight, big DUH!), so I jumped up in the air and grabbed his legs and pulled him down. He fell hard against my chest and started giggling and laughing. That was the most fun he had had all day. Little daredevil.

I literally almost thought that I had lost him to the great climbing wall in the sky.

Mommy fail.

I hesitated even telling Benjamin about our little escapade. Benjamin is much more cautious on playgrounds than I am — I am much more of the “he has to learn somehow” mentality and I let him climb and fall and go down the big slides. Of course I watch him and keep him safe, but I want him to learn how to conquer these things on his own and be self-sufficient.

But, you know, not so self-sufficient as climbing over a climbing wall before he’s 2 years old. That’s a milestone I think we should wait on.