Monthly Archives: February 2012

She Says… Phrases

For the last few weeks Owen has been stringing words together to make phrases. Little sentences. It is AMAZING how much you can communicate with only stringing 2-3 words together.

Doggie tail WAGGIN’.
Funny doggie.
Hold you, Mommy. (He says “Hold you” instead of “Hold me”. That one melts me EVERY TIME)
Wake up!
Buh-bye, Dada.
Dada WORKIN’.
Phone RINGIN’.
DUMP TRUCK!
(Always said in ALL CAPS)
Police car.
Soccer ball.
Baseball.
Ride bike.
Car DRIVIN’.
Go go go ‘chool!
(school)
More cereal.
More yogurt.
More _____.

The world is an exciting place, people. Always something new to point at and talk about. He’s big into emphasizing verbs recently, and he’s learning the “-ing” suffix. Though for Owen it’s “-in’”.

I have been trying desperately to get these precious conversations on camera, but to no avail. As soon as I get the phone/camera out, he’s all, “All done! See. Pikkers (pictures). OWEN.” All he wants to do is gaze at pictures of himself when the camera comes out.

Who can blame him, right?

I mean… look at this face.

She Says… Can I Buy You a Drink?

Come here often?

Mind if I sit down?

Can I buy you a drink?

Though I am past the days of pickup lines like this, I have recently found myself figuring out how to navigate pickup lines of a different sort.

Oh, your son is so cute! How old is he?

What’s his name?

Do you guys live around here?

Oh, they may not sound like much. Just smalltalk. But they are also often the awkward-but-necessary beginnings to a new mom friendship. The end result may be different (a playdate instead of a hot date), but the aim is the same. Get a name and phone number and hopefully see them again.

Making new mom friends is HARD. Kids (and dogs) are a gateway to conversation, sure, but no matter how you slice it, it’s still a challenge to a) find someone you connect with, b) get a read on if they feel the same way, c) exchange digits without seeming freakishly over-eager or like you are actually hitting on them and d) make an actual date to get together again.

I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m not big on smalltalk. I smile and nod and know how to go through basic introductions, but I am much, much better at conversations with substance. When I meet someone new, I often forget to ask those seemingly normal questions that help you learn the basics. For whatever reason, I tend to skip over those things and launch right into a real conversation. Benjamin, however, is awesome at this. He asks question after question and all of a sudden an hour has passed and we know tons of little facts about each other. Maybe I’ve gotten even worse at this since we got married, since I haven’t had to do it much. I don’t know. All I know is that I wish I was better at turning chitchat into friendships.

Last summer when I was walking around our new neighborhood, wrestling the dog and the baby stroller, another mom, also being pulled in 2 directions with her dog and her baby stroller, approached me. Our dogs immediately hit it off and were galloping around together and wrestling each other to the ground. She and I chatted for a bit and immediately we knew that we would be fast friends. Real friends. She suggested we meet in the same time, same place the following week. We did, and the rest is history. We’ve gotten together at least once a week since then and have become great friends! While that seemed so easy and natural, that is the only time that’s ever happened for me.

Yesterday at Music Together class, a mom who I have smiled at and sat next to for a few weeks started up some of those mom pickup lines. Owen is SO cute. How old is he? Do you guys live nearby? We chatted a little and then Owen ran out the door and I had to chase him down. Then it was time for the next class to start and in a hurricane of coats and hats and mittens and shoes, we were headed home.

I didn’t realize it until I got in the car, but I think she was hitting on me!

Goal for next class: More chatting. And turn that chatting into a phone number. And then turn that phone number into a playdate. Ok, ok, maybe not all at once. I’m still new at this.

What are your strategies for making other mom friends? Do you actively chat people up who you think you will connect with, in an effort to make a relationship? How do you turn smalltalk into playdates?

She Says… Playdate

Remember Owen’s best friend from school? Well, I should say friendS, because they are twins. For awhile Owen was totally enamored with one of them more than the other, but recently the names are interchanged when you ask Owen who his best friend is. Their little lovefest is utterly adorable. Every morning they eat breakfast together. And if one arrives before the rest of “the breakfast club”, as we’ve dubbed them, they greet each other at the window and usually don’t eat until the other one(s) arrive. They ask about each other constantly. Owen’s daily reports almost always include at least one of their names (“Owen loved building towers and knocking them down with X”)

This weekend we had a playdate with Owen’s buddies. He was beyond excited to see them on a non-school day, and even more so to go to their house and play with their toys.

It was our first kid-centric playdate. We’ve had lots of playdates in the past, but they were mostly with our friends who happened to have kids, so we threw them together and hoped they played nicely so the parents could hang out. This time, though, was the first time it was the kids who were connected and the parents were along for the ride.

Luckily our “blind date” went great. We had a blast! What began as a breakfast date quickly turned into lunch, and would have lasted even longer if the wee ones didn’t need to nap.

(But believe me, they did.)

There were pirate hats and crayons and books galore. Tunnels to scoot through and boxes to jump in and toys to bounce on. We even had a dance party and Owen showed off some of his best moves! And, bonus, a playdate with twins is double the fun! They totally entertained each other and the adults were actually able to have a lovely breakfast.

Owen even had his first taste of chocolate in the form of chocolate chip pancakes. His mind was blown.

It was so fun to hear the twins talking just like Owen, using similar words and phrasing. Group dynamics are a powerful thing! I could listen to Owen talk all day, and having three little voices babbling was just about the sweetest sound. The things that came out of their mouths cracked me up constantly

We did find out one very sad fact, though. Even though the twins live only a couple miles from our house, they are in a different school district, so the breakfast club won’t be able to continue into elementary school. Sniff sniff

Still, I see many happy playdates in our future. Little buddies are the cutest and I’m so glad Owen has these two by his side at school.

She Says… Soaking It Up

Things have been a little uncharacteristically quiet here on the blogfront. Do you know why? It’s not because we’ve been overwhelmed or busy or rushing around. It’s not because something stressful is happening behind the scenes. It’s not because I have some big announcement that I’ve been hiding from you.

Just the opposite, in fact.

Things are… calm. And peaceful. And lovely.

Yes, I live with a toddler. And yes, I just said peaceful.

All of a sudden, a few weeks ago, the 4 month sleep regression that plagued the fall (in retrospect, probably a combination of a period of massive language development, illnesses, travel, molars, canines, holiday excitement, etc.) ended. It just… ended. Our mornings quickly went from crying at 4:30am/5:00am every morning to waking up at 6:45am or 7:00am to sweet babbling coming from Owen’s crib. Sleepy smiles and cuddling in pajamas and book reading replaced tantrums over having to change a diaper.

Owen’s vocabulary has grown so rapidly that we are now having actual conversations. And chatting together has become the center of our days. We talk. We laugh. He is HILARIOUS. I am pretty certain we have a budding class clown on our hands. We have dance parties and go for hikes and throw a ball for the dog and run errands and get coffees and make zucchini bread and play in the sheets while we fold laundry and Owen is, in a word, a joy.

To be honest I really don’t know if this is the result of a change in Owen’s behavior or just my attitude towards it. But either way, we’re in this magical, happy place. And again, I have that feeling of just wanting to stop time. Just like I said when Owen was 1 year, and 6 months, and 6 weeks… this is my favorite age.

Now let me pause here and say this: I am well aware that this golden period may not last very long. We are rapidly approaching the Terrible Two’s. Heck, things could be different when I pick him up from daycare today! I know that these sweet days may be numbered. “This too shall pass” goes for the good and the bad.

But in the meantime? In the meantime I’m just soaking them all up. I’m closing the computer and ignoring emails and basking in the glow of this little person who is growing up right before my eyes.

So tawlk amongst yourselves while I soak it all up.

She Says… Potty Training

This kid cracks me up.

Every. Single. Day.

(And no, we’re nowhere near actual potty training.)

She Says… Dinnertime Woes

Remember when I wrote about how we are doing our best to institute family dinners? I’ve made great strides in coming up with meals that can be ready quickly so we can eat by 5:30pm, and cooking dinner together (usually with me cooking as fast as possible, Owen climbing in and out of his learning tower and Benjamin making sure he can’t get his hands on a hot pot handle or sharp knife) has become one of my favorite parts of the day.

Owen hops up next to me and we talk about what we’re making. He usually samples whatever I’m chopping (Bonus! He chomps away at veggies and foods he wouldn’t even try if we were sitting at the table) and bangs his own spoon around a bowl and arranges ingredients on the counter. It’s usually a bit crazy, but I love a little crazy.

So the preparing dinner part is going great. It’s the eating dinner part that is going through a bit of a rough patch.

We wash hands, grab our drinks and sit at the table. Usually that involves Owen shouting “Noooooo!” while running away and crying “Nook! Nook!” (milk) while we wrangle him up to the sink to wash his hands. What is the big deal with washing hands? Why does he hate it so? The world may never know. The learning tower has helped with this recently, since he likes climbing up and doing it himself instead of having us tie him down hold him and wash his hands. Anyway, once he washes hands, he gets milk. And we sit down.

He usually points at his plate happily for about 30 seconds and talks about all of the food. The second I dig into mine, however, he’s all, “All done! Done. All done, Mommy.”

Uh, what? Didn’t we just sit down?

“Doggie? Doggie?” He leans over the edge of his seat to peer under the table where the dog is laying silently. “Yes, buddy. The doggie is under the table.”

“All done!” He does sign language and moves his plate gently off of his tray and onto the dining room table, out of his own reach. “DOWN! PLAY. Toys. Doggie.”

“No, Owen, it’s not time to get down. It’s time to eat dinner! Mommy and Daddy are eating dinner. Yum, yum! Isn’t this chicken delicious? Did you try a piece? Oooooh, look how green that broccoli is! Can you find something orange on your plate?” Yes, I am crazy.

It’s not the food that’s the problem. I mean, he’s been going through a weird week or so of eating what with the ear infection and stomach bug (forgot to blog about that, but we got a minor version of the major stomach bug that’s been going around on Monday), but he’s generally a voracious eater. He’s especially good at just trying new things, even if he doesn’t like them or doesn’t eat more than one bite. That’s my goal at every meal — to get him to try one bite of everything on his plate. However much he eats is up to him.

No, the problem here is not food (as far as I can tell). It’s that he just simply doesn’t have the time to sit and eat. There is too! much! fun! to! be! had! Oh, to be a toddler.

I’m struggling with how to respond to his protests. Of course I want him to eat dinner so that he is nourished and not hungry at night. But honestly, he eats pretty well the rest of the day. It’s pretty much just dinner that seems to be the issue. He’s growing perfectly and beautifully, so I’m not worried about him not consuming enough calories. I also want him to grow to love family dinner time, and not think that he’s being held captive in a chair. I won’t be able to strap him down forever!

I know in theory I should be letting him make his own food decisions. If he says he’s done, he’s done. That’s generally how I’ve reacted for the last week. I encourage him to eat a few more bites, but then if he demands that he’s done, he’s done. But it’s after we let him be done that I don’t know what to do.

  • Ideally I would like him to be able to sit in his chair and just be at the table, even if he’s not eating. Eventually I believe this will turn into eating, if he’s sitting in front of his plate long enough. But the talking and engaging around the table every night is important too, and I want him to be a part of it. But is that asking too much of him right now, especially after a long day at daycare when he just wants to play with me?
  • I have considered letting him get down and play, but maintaining that Benjamin and I are still eating dinner, so we are going to sit at the table. (Subtext: Don’t you want to sit at the table too?) We tried this one night and he literally spent the next 3 minutes whining and climbing up my leg while I did my best to ignore him. I gave up and said we were done.
  • The other night I asked him if he wanted to sit in my lap instead of the high chair. He did, and he ate a few bites off of my fork and then played pretty happily while I finished my dinner (eating over his head). Now, every night since then, as soon as he gets in his chair, he’s reaching for me, shouting, “Yap! Yap! Mommy! Yap!”. The lap idea backfired. That’s not the way I want to be eating dinner every night!

I’m going to chalk this up to this too shall pass. But in the meantime, I think how I react to this behavior is pretty important. I want to be calm and have a response prepared. I want to be consistent and set behaviors that will someday turn into happy family dinners.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Stories of similar woes? Other things that backfired on you that I shouldn’t try?

She Says… A REAL Hike

Last Friday I was covering Owen duties on “Daddy Day” because Benjamin got a job he didn’t want to pass up, and I was able to switch my day off to accommodate. On Mondays (“Mommy Days”), we have Music Together class in the morning, so the process of getting ready, walking there, going to class, walking home, and sometimes stopping to play along the way, takes up a good portion of the day. Before we know it, it’s lunch time and nap time (which means workout and computer time for me). The afternoon seems to fly by with a quick dog walk or trip to the park or marathon laundry folding session, followed up by dinner prep and family dinner together at 5:30pm. But on Fridays, we don’t have a class in the morning. So the morning can feel like a looooooong stretch of time, even when Owen is at his happiest and most agreeable (sorry, Daddy!). Last Friday was, as you know, when we found out about the ear infection, so Owen was, to say the least, NOT at his happiest and most agreeable.

Best cure for a whiny kid, at least in our house, is to go outside. It was warmer than it should have been in early February in Boston (and we couldn’t hit up our usual playground since it’s at a school and it was a weekday), so we decided to go for a hike.

And since this hike was intended to exhaust Owen and get the ants out of his pants, I did something I’ve never done before. I didn’t bring the backpack.

Owen walked.

He absolutely loved the freedom. He touched sticks and plants and pinecones and leaves. He laid down on his back in the middle of the path. He walked along roots like a balance beam (and couldn’t stop shouting the new word he learned, bah beeeeeem). We chattered on about birds and water and trees and the sky. I taught him about how important it is to stay on the path (even when the dog gets to run all over the place).

He was happy. I was happy. Schnitzel was VERY happy.

Owen got a little tired after hiking for about 25 minutes. To be honest he lasted longer than I expected! I had taken the shortest loop I knew of, but I ended up carrying him for about 10 more minutes to get back to our car. Not ideal, but sure beats carrying him for the whole hike! The kid is getting BIG.

On the way home I decided to stop at a coffee shop for a little treat for both of us. I got a latte, Owen got a banana. Owen was happy. I was happy. Schnitzel waited in the car, but I think he was still pretty happy from his leash-less hike.

When we got home Owen had worked up an appetite and was ready for an early lunch and an early nap. Success! Unfortunately that nap turned into the scary rush to the doctor’s office, but hey, at least we had a nice morning before the ear infection changed the plan.

It’s amazing how activities change as your baby grows up! What activities can your kid do that are more fun now that they are older?

She Says… ‘Tar

Owen has always had a penchant for all things musical. Remember his emotional piano playing? And his high-pitched singing in the bath? I’ve been singing to him since before he even had ears. These days singing is the #1 way to stop him mid-tantrum or turn his frown upside down. Also the way du jour of getting him to do something he doesn’t want to do (aka changing his diaper or getting in the carseat). Recently he has started singing along with little “doo doo doo”s and “bah bah”s. Complete with head bobbing, drumming, bouncing, spinning, and even putting his arms up over his head like a ‘rina (ballerina).

We’re currently doing a Music Together class on Mondays and it is easily the highlight of his week. He loves circle time, playing instruments (especially the drums), singing and moving with the music and being silly with the other kids. But what he loves most of all? When the teacher plays the ‘tar. Guitar, that is.

Back in high school I went through the requisite “I’m going to learn to play the guitar” phase that most do. I had a boyfriend who played a lot of guitar at the time and we went guitar shopping for an eternity before we found the one I was sure I was going to play all day, every day for the rest of my life. (A big thank you to my mother for supporting this fleeting passion and buying it for me, even if she knew it would probably end up in my attic someday). Alas, I never played enough to make callouses that lasted or to get very good. The perfectionist in me won out and I lost interest after awhile. Still, it came to college with me and I spent many a night listening to other people play it in my room. Since then, the guitar has been collecting dust in various spots around our house until Owen recently picked it up.

Now it is his favorite toy.

He’s inspired Benjamin and I to pick it up again ourselves. We’re pretty rusty, but hey, The Wheels on the Bus (someone’s favorite song… I won’t say whose) is only 2 chords! And Owen doesn’t seem to mind mistakes at all. He runs over and shouts, “‘Tar! ‘Tar! Hold it.”

And the latest phrase du jour, “Oh-tur”, which means Owen’s turn. He’s getting really good at the concept of taking turns, except it always seems to be Oh-tur…

I don’t know yet which instrument he will land on (drums? piano? singing? all of the above?), but I would put money on the fact that music is going to play a huge part in Owen’s life. We’re planting the seeds now.

Did you play an instrument growing up? Did you love it or did your parents have to force you to practice? Will you try to encourage your kids to take instrument lessons?

She Says… Night Away: Part II

So Saturday morning arrived. Owen seemed MUCH happier after a good night’s sleep and his first two doses of medicine. No signs of stomach bug or impending doom, so we spent the morning cleaning up, changing sheets and doing laundry. By late morning Grammy and Grampy arrived and I began to tell Owen how much fun he was going to have while subconsciously preparing him that Daddy and I were both leaving. “Do you want Grammy to read you all of your favorite books? Grammy and Grampy are going to play with you all day, and then give you a bath, and they are going to put you to bed. And they’ll be there when you wake up too! So fun!”. He seemed to get what I was saying and although he whined whenever I got to the part about how Daddy and I were leaving just for the night, he was totally fine.

I wrote out instructions and packed up his meals like I do for school days. I laid out pajamas and play clothes and coat/hat/boot/mitten combos for going to the playground. Overkill? Yes. Probably. But it also helped me feel like everything would go smoothly when we left.

And you know what? It did. It went totally smoothly.

Grammy and Grampy and Owen went to the playground and took walks. They ate. They played guitar. They played with trucks. They built towers with blocks. They changed diapers and did bathtime and even brushed and flossed his teeth. They put him to bed and, undoubtedly, everyone slept really, really well. Toddlers are tiring!

Benjamin and I started our date with a quick trip to Target. Romantic, no? But anyone with a toddler can attest to the fact that going to Target without them is WAY easier, so we took advantage of the free babysitting and ran our errands. After Target was Starbucks for a little “better wake up, fun night ahead” coffee, and then on to the Ritz.

The hotel was lovely. I mean, it is the Ritz, after all. After a nice afternoon we got dressed up and headed out for a fancy schmancy and utterly delicious steak dinner. Seriously, one of the best meals we’ve ever had. And then moved on to two different bars we’ve been wanting to try to meet up with various groups of friends. It was SO fun to be out without worrying about paying a babysitter at home or wondering if Owen got to bed ok. Y’all would have been proud — we didn’t even call to check in!

After our late night, the fact we didn’t have a toddler to wake us up and the amazing beds at the Ritz, you would have thought we would get the best night’s sleep ever. WRONG. I woke up at 4am to go pee and could not, for the life of me, get back to sleep. I don’t know what was wrong with me — maybe it was that caffeinated coffee? I always drink decaf these days since caffeine really affects me. In any case, there I was… wide awake at 4am and twiddling my thumbs until Benjamin woke up. Sunday morning we had planned to have breakfast in bed and enjoy our toddler-free time, but to be honest Benjamin wasn’t feeling great (a little too much fun the night before, perhaps?) and I just wanted a bagel and my baby. So we headed home.

When we arrived, Grammy, Grampy, Owen and Schnitzel were out at the playground. When they came home, there wasn’t any big drama when Owen saw us. It was like, “Oh, hey mom! I’m having such a fun day!”, which was totally awesome. No big drama when Grammy and Grampy left, either. Huge success! Owen is such a resilient, easygoing kid.

So, despite the rocky start, our first night away was, all-in-all, a lot easier than I expected. Makes me confident we can do it again soon!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

She Says… Easy as Pie (Or “Night Away: Part I”)

The post-birthday/pre-Valentine’s Day/first-night-away-from-Owen celebration was a huge success! Despite some bumps along the way (read on…), it was easier than I expected. Here’s how it all went down.

THURSDAY
Last Thursday morning Owen’s daycare called shortly after I dropped him off to let me know that his temp was slightly elevated, his cough was a little gunky and he wasn’t really acting like himself. They weren’t saying he needed to go home, but they were giving me a heads up that they were going to keep a close eye on him. I knew he was not feeling 100%, but he was in great spirits and it was mostly the nagging runny nose and cough bothering him, both of which were really not a big deal. So I dropped him off letting the teachers know I was working from home that day and could definitely come get him if anything changed. Once I got their call in the morning, I worked double time to clear my schedule for the afternoon and wrap things up. Happy birthday to me!

They never called back, and when I picked him up a little early at the end of the day, they said he had a great afternoon and seemed to perk up after a long nap. Phew! Crisis averted.

FRIDAY
Friday morning the cough was a bit thicker and Owen seemed out of sorts when he woke up in the morning. We had a low-key morning at home. I worked out during naptime, which, these days, is usually a pretty sure bet. Owen’s naps are very regular and reliable recently — 2 to 2.5 hours. So I usually have time to work out, shower, check email/blog, and maybe even prep dinner ingredients while he sleeps. But on Friday after only 1 hour he woke up SCREAMING. Wailing in a way that I have rarely, if ever, heard him wail. I bolted up the stairs and held him against my sweaty chest. No visible issues. No fever. Some snot, but nothing out of the ordinary. Except he would. not. stop. crying.

This is entirely out of character for Owen. Heck, even when the kid was hospitalized with pneumonia and barely able to breathe he was laughing and climbing around. When he acts sick, I get scared. His eyelids were drooping and he was seemingly falling asleep while looking into my eyes. He was limp and fragile. He whimpered and wailed and nothing soothed him. After a few (agonizingly long) minutes of this I called the doctor and they gave me an appointment in 15 minutes. We live 15 minutes away, and I was thankful to be able to be seen so quickly, so I grabbed an extra set of clothing for Owen (as any mother of a kid who gets easily car sick would do) and my purse and ran out the door. I had a blanket wrapped around Owen but no coat for myself… and I was still wearing my sweat-covered workout clothes. One track mind, people.

On the way to the doctor’s office I called my sister, who is a doctor and mother of 2. Her house was recently hit by the awful stomach bug that seems to be going around. Six out of Owen’s class of 10 kids were out with the bug this week, so I was constantly knocking on wood that this weekend (this SPECIAL weekend) wouldn’t be the first time we would have to deal with that. Side note: I can’t believe we have been lucky enough to avoid it until now. After I listed off Owen’s symptoms and the fact that he had diarrhea that morning, etc., she said, “Uh oh. Sounds like the beginning of the stomach bug to me. You should probably cancel your plans and expect to be in the bathroom for the rest of the weekend yourself.”

Shit.

BUT, as soon as the doctor looked in his ear, everything made sense. A nasty ear infection, close to rupturing. Owen’s good spirits made me miss all of the telltale ear infection signs (he wasn’t eating well and had woken up throughout the week, but I blamed it on his other symptoms like the cough and boogers and an “I don’t want to eat in my high chair” stage). I was so thankful that it was something treatable, and not something more serious. Another crisis averted.

Long story short (ha, brevity is not my strong suit!), it wasn’t the stomach bug. It was JUST the nasty ear infection that got him down. And thankfully that is not contagious. But my sister’s warning made me panic a bit and I spent the afternoon wondering and wondering if we should cancel all of our plans, or if I was going to be spending my night at the Ritz clinging to the toilet and wishing I was home to rock my sick baby.

I decided to be optimistic and continue as planned. If on Saturday morning Owen seemed like he needed me, I would cancel then.

Ah! Speaking of reliable naptimes… sleeping beauty awakes. Apparently this story necessitates 2 parts and I didn’t quite type fast enough. Part II to come tomorrow!

P.S. Oh, so far this story doesn’t sound “easy as pie” to you? Me either, as I write it out. But things looked up starting Saturday morning.