Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Said the boy who likes to read

I've mentioned Killian likes to read.

Yesterday I overheard him talking to himself as he played. I had a jaw-dropping, head-tilting moment as I listened with awe.

He was narrating.
"I'm in here," said the voice inside the drawer.*
"Come out, " she said.
"I don't want to...." he said.
*He actually said, "...said the voice inside the drawer."  I don't remember much of anything else,  I was so fascinated by the "he said" and "she said" he was adding to the dialogue, just like a book. If he had used an adverb, I would have probably crapped my pants.

The other day, completely unprompted and out of the blue, he said something new. While he was sitting on my lap, he said, "Mommy, I'm basking in your sun."

I know there is mention of an animal "basking in the sun" in one of his Curious George books. Is he now creating metaphors?

And if so, that just might be the most beautiful metaphor I've ever heard, Killian!

Reality & Expectations

Parenting: It's like having fun... but you're still in jail?

I consider this blog an online "baby book" of sorts for Killian and Cormac. Not all the posts of course, fall into this category, but their monthly "birthday" posts and other posts about their development do. Everything I write on this blog, I write with the expectation that they might read it someday (in whatever form it may be in the future). So because of the intent of an online baby book, I focus on the noteworthy (and positive) happenings of interest.  I don't think it's appropriate or relevant, and it's not even satisfying to me, to talk about all the normal, but not-so-fun aspects of life with a baby and toddler.

For example: when Mick is sick (which seems to be all the time these days), he is not a "good sleeper." (By "good sleeper," I mean of course, his sleep schedule/habits do not negatively affect me.) Having a sick baby that wakes up frequently and cries randomly throughout the night because he is uncomfortable is one of those normal, but not-so-fun aspects of life with a baby that doesn't get documented and isn't something I like to think about more than I already do.

So for the purpose of setting expectations with other parents or soon to be parents: I focus on the fun stuff because it makes me happy, it's what I want to remember, and what I want to share with my kids (not how many times they woke me up at night). Because it's not all happy happy fun time, but taking the time to document small but happy moments helps lift my spirits and gives me resolve to get through the challenging moments.

Some people say, "You all look like you're having so much fun!"  We certainly do try. But there are plenty of challenging moments too. After Mick has been sick for a few days (and sleeping poorly), the sleep deprivation starts creeping back in, and sometimes in the afternoon after a full day, I feel just about as drowsy as I was during the newborn days. 

I find myself repeatedly assuring myself with the statement, "Mick will be one year old soon." Then I realized, I've been setting myself up with the expectation that life will get magically easier after his 1st birthday. (Well, I will be free from either pumping or nursing ever 3 hours!)  But what isn't magically easier? What if we have a whole new set of challenges? I should watch how I set my expectations. Because it's ALL about how you set expectations. Hint: Have LOW expectations or NONE at all.

When I look back on Killian's first year, it seems so easy. (Well, certain aspects. Caring for him was easy. He was a "good sleeper," he wasn't often sick, he had an easy-going nature, etc.) I sometimes picture what life would be like if it was still just Killian (if we had decided to wait until he was older before bringing another child into the family) and if it was just Killian, life right now with just a 2.5 year old would seem so ridiculously easy. But if it was just Killian and we had nothing to compare to - would we even know how easy it was?  (Maybe I should try to picture life with THREE babies and toddlers, so I can feel like life is SO easy right now!)

I often hear how working moms feel conflicted because they feel like when they try to do both (work and be a mother), they can't do either well.  I actually fortunately don't stress too much about my work/life balance, but I often feel this way about being the mother to two young children. Am I giving them both the attention they need? If it was just Killian, what would we be doing differently? If it was just Cormac, what would we be doing differently? Are they both getting what they need? Etc.

When Killian turned one, we felt so... relaxed! We were ready for more. With Cormac almost at the same age now, I am at the complete opposite place. I can't imagine going through pregnancy again and having another baby in the house. All I want now... is some sleep. Long, uninterrupted stretches of sleep. And to be able to leave my children in the same room together for 2 minutes so I can use the bathroom. It's like the frick'in Middle East in our living room sometimes. Peace agreements are totally ineffectual.

So for the record (in case anyone was wondering)... it's not all happy happy fun time. But talking about these normal challenges is boring and not fun for me, and bottom line, I am SO grateful that my biggest "complaints" involve wanting more sleep and that my kids act like a one-year old and a two-year old sometimes. As Mike said the other day, if we were in the hospital with a sick kid, ALL we would wish for is to see our two kids messing with each other on the living room floor.

My disclaimer is over. Regular programming can now continue.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mick at 11 Months

Happy 11 Months Mick!

Pool Party!

Thank you for all the smiles. And laughs. This month we've started to see Mick's sense of humor come out more. He catches the gleam in our eye. He repeats actions that make us bust out laughing, like lifting up our shirts, so he can blow raspberries on our bellies.

He loves playing "fort!" with blankets or this pool. It is such a funny sight to see this pool move around our living room like there is a raccoon or some other wild animal inside.

But it's not all silliness and fun. There is much to be serious about.

We often find Mick deep in concentration. Here he is determined this duckie will never come up for air ever again.

Remember how I commented how active he was in utero? Mike and I pondered, well, maybe that means he'll be a pretty active baby. More active than Killian? No, we said, with trepidation in our voices, is that even possible? Ha. Well, apparently, it is.

Items that were once safe in our house for toddler Killian (the little table) are not safe for Mick. He uses it as a push toy (which is fine), but we had to put it away when he started to climb on top of it every time we looked away.

He is determined sometimes to do things on his own. Something I find so endearing is when Mick wakes up in the middle of the night or early morning and I'm not in the room with him, instead of crying in bed (like a baby), he just crawls out of bed (floor bed of course), and comes to find me, acting very disgruntled and inconvenienced that I made him have to come find me.

He does know how to ask for help though, quite literally. He has started to sign for "help" (clasps hands and then lifts them up). It usually either means "help" or "pick me up."

In other news, Mick has returned to daycare, after being home with me and sometimes a Mother's Helper since November. Our wonderful Mother's Helper is expecting a baby soon and a spot opened up at Killian's school, so we decided to take it. I really loved being able to hear Mick play throughout the day as I worked, but I think (and hope) he is enjoying being around other little ones and the new and exciting things they get to do at school.

We love you, Mick!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day: Embracing the Hallmark Holiday

A long time ago I was once an angsty, anti-establishment teenager who railed against the "Hallmark holiday" of Valentine's Day, boyfriend or no boyfriend.

As a married, young adult, my angst grew into ambivalence. Years ago Mike and I once showed up at a Macaroni Grill on a random weekday night in February and wondered why there was an hour wait. Oh. Valentine's Day. I think that was the night we ended up getting take-out and renting "The Virgin Suicides." The clerk at Blockbuster was like, "Really, guys? The "Virgin Suicides" on Valentines Day, really?"

Anyway, I've come to realize that if atheists merrily celebrate Christmas, then why can't a cynic heartily celebrate Valentine's Day too? And wasn't I just bitching the other day about how January-February basically sucks and there is nothing to look forward to? Well, I should embrace every chance to celebrate, make and consume good food, and share treats with others. (And I have been - thanks to friends and family with January and February birthdays!)

Mike is still forbidden to buy me any overpriced box of chocolates, and I still woke up this morning thinking, "I thought of something I like about Valentine's Day! It means that February is half over! Sweet!"

But today I embraced the holiday by delivering 7 plates of brownies that Mike and Killian made over the weekend to Killian and Mick's school and had fun preparing a special dinner for Mike: sashimi tuna steaks (just happened to be in the shape of hearts!) & strawberry/rhubarb compote.

Nothing says love like heart shaped sashimi grade tuna

Thank you to whomever gave us this wine (Donna?)!

Happy Heart Day from Killian and the Duke Building too!

Happy Heart Day #dukebuilding

My valentine


I seem to have caught the whole foods bug...

We just signed up for weekly produce delivery from a local company, Absolute Organics.

I LOVE them. You can select items that you never want to receive, the ratio of fruits to veggies, and how often you would like a delivery. They send an email a few days before your delivery telling you what's coming and include some recipes for produce being delivered. All the food is organic and most of it is local.

This has helped me solve one of my cooking dilemmas: deciding what to cook and therefore, what to go buy. Now I have no choice of what produce I need to work around. It makes meal planning pretty easy, and it also shifts the focus away from meat to veggies. Instead of me asking myself, "what side dish should I serve with this meat?," I now ask myself, "what meat (or fish) should I serve with my veggies/fruit?" The protein is still important, but secondary. We are not going vegetarian, but I'm pretty much done buying regular old meat from the grocery store, thanks to watching "Food Inc" and becoming more educated about what chemicals and filth are going into the meat from factory farms (which is a real shame because I LOVE MEAT). And grass-fed, not-pumped-full-of-antibiotics meat is expensive and hard to find, so another great reason to fill more of our plates with greens.

Our first delivery:

Two of our favorite meals this week that came from the delivery:

- Fruit salsa, greens, and salmon (wild caught of course!)

- Cabbage/mushroom/bacon/cod stirfry. Both Mike and Mick could not get enough of this. I was a bit surprised by Mick's enthusiasm especially.

Hooray for healthy, whole foods! They are really yummy and make your body feel good!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My response to the dad who shot his daughter's laptop (viral video)

I actively bite my tongue often when it comes to parenting topics/discussions on the internet. But I feel compelled to say something about this viral video. I don't care that this one dad has a problem communicating and acted passive aggressively and inappropriately to "teach his daughter a lesson." What boggles my mind is how much support this guy has been getting. I suppose what resonates with people is seeing a parent with a backbone, which is often absent these days. But you don't have to be an asshole to have a backbone.

This video is like witnessing a parent hit their young child for... hitting another child. Yes, spanking stops the behavior, but doesn't teach any values. What I see here is a father acting like a 15-year old brat… to stop his daughter from acting like a brat? What is he trying to teach? He is doing exactly what she did, but on a bigger scale and with more shock value. Congratulations. You may have stopped the behavior, but what have you taught your daughter? This is the behavior you want to model? Is this how we should communicate and resolve conflicts? Oh, I get it. Adults should only be respectful to other adults. Children (or young adults) aren't worthy of respect and should just magically learn how to resolve issues like an adult.

Don't hit other people… *spank*. Don't be a brat on the internet...*be an even bigger brat on the internet.* We all need better role models than this.

Reminds me of the positive discipline saying, "Get rid of the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first you have to make them feel worse."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Family Dinner

We are trying a new concept in our house called "Family Dinner." In case you are not familiar with it, it involves ALL members of the family sitting down at a TABLE to eat at the SAME time. I know. It's kind of ground-breaking.

We've been fans of the "Montessori weaning table" (oh my goodness, look at cute little toddler Killian seating himself at his own table for the first time!) ...


...but we thought it would be nice to all sit down together, and it turns out Mick really likes sitting in the high chair, and especially sitting with the rest of us!


Killian is not super interested in family dinner. He will help me set the table and will sit there a few minutes with us. He's quite the picky eater right now. (He acts like he's allergic to protein.) Mick has been making up for it though. The kids are welcome to eat just about anything I make, but usually Mick is the only one who partakes in the "adult food" as long as it is the appropriate size and consistency for him. More tot-friendly food is always on the table though: usually meatballs, chicken "nuggets," or avocado sushi).

Mick outlasts Killian at the dinner table, eating all the chicken, while Killian goes off to read a book.

There's something so satisfying to me about seeing a baby eat meat!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What makes me happy...

Killian's enthusiasm for reading...

Rainbow reading nook

..anywhere and everywhere...

...and Mick's too!

Mike is now experimenting with...
Yay drawing practice is relaxing


Now that I think about it, of course, it makes sense that Mike would have an artistic side.

And finding wonderful, random bits of whimsy around the house.

When I'm up in the middle of the night with too much on my mind, looking through photos (recent or dated) never fails to cheer me up. And Care Bears.