Thursday, January 31, 2013

This house is clean.

I spent some time decluttering/organizing and improving our toy rotation system today, and our house now seems happier.

The boys are seriously tickled when they come home/wake up to cleanliness, organization, and new arrangements.

Sometimes just moving things around gives them new life. This whiteboard wasn't being used in the playroom the past few months. Since Killian recognizes his name, I realized I can write him messages :) Hopefully it'll get more use in the hallway.

Spent some time decluttering today and the house feels more home-like. The kids are seriously tickled when they come home to organization, cleanliness, and new arrangements. Mick says, "clean!"

Mick will enter a newly cleaned room and say excitedly, "Clean!"

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Then and Now (Killian & Discovery Place)

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I really loved going to Discovery Place with Killian today. We had let our membership expire around the time we moved out of Uptown, so we hadn't been in about 10 months. He was so excited to go back. I can't wait to see Mick there - he wasn't even walking the last time we were there.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Mick at 22 Months


He can disarm you with his sweetness, and rile you with his candor. Mick can be incredibly particular about certain things, which can melt your heart when it is him insisting on holding your hand or touching your arm…

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… or can test your patience when he insists on eating from a certain colored bowl (or sometimes - 3 specific bowls)!

Mick and his colored bowls

This picture shows a typical scene with Mick. He will usually pick a certain object and hold onto it for the whole day, remembering exactly where he left it, if he puts it down to eat or bathe. (He has a great memory for where he leaves his things too - a better memory than most kids and young adults I know.) Both Red Car and Pink Bowl are two favorite "objects of the day." He is always particular about what color bowl he eats out of (pink and purple are his favorites), but this particular morning, he was absolutely adamant he wanted to eat out of PURPLE!, BLUE!, and GREEN! And note the 2 spoons, also carefully chosen, and absolutely no other color would have sufficed. If you offer, say, orange,  he'll respond with a deafening, NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Colors are very important to Mick.

When Mick is happy, he is so playful and sweet. 

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I need a close-up of that face.

This face

One of his favorite things to do while driving is yell with a smirk "GO!" when it's a red light. (He might have picked that up from his older brother - who has since outgrown that habit, and now yells at Mick for yelling GO! when it's not time to go.) Mick also likes to yell "YELLOW!" when it's green, seemingly solely for the purpose of annoying Killian.

He is flirt. This became very obvious on the cruise, surrounded by so many little girls. To prove the hypothesis that toddlers are like little frat boys, he would exclaim and point "GIRRRRRLLLL!" if he saw a cute a little girl nearby. (Oh, to see inside a little boy's mind!) On numerous occasions, Mick would either quietly sidle up to a little girl and make googly eyes at her, or just completely put on a show for her, which once prompted a little girl's father to say, "Do you see the effect you have on boys!"

My little studmuffin, with ball, and Pink Packet in hand. Pink Packet replaced his usual wooden toys as "object of the day" while we were on the cruise. 

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Mick really loves and thrives on routine. He just started attending his old daycare in Uptown again, and Mike made the transition really smooth for him, by talking through the routine, and helping him set expectations. As they drive into Uptown, Mick likes to say everything that he sees that Mike talks about when he describes what they'll do. "Gate!" "Ticket!" Mick is now (only in his second week back at school), waving and saying "Bye Bye" to Mike, as he leaves. He knows that Daddy will come back.

Mike has also developed a really sweet bedtime routine with Mick, where they read 3 Sandra Boynton books in a particular order, and on the last page of "The Going to Bed Book," Mick lays down in bed.

Sleeping buddies:
Mick looks vintage this morning (except for his daddy's family guy pjs)

His memory does impress me. For the first time, I described his upcoming birthday to him, describing how he'll turn 2 in March, and we'll have a birthday party. The next time I brought up "birthday" a few days later, he nodded and said, "March." 

If you ask Mick how was school today or how is food tastes, he normally nods his head and says, "Good." If you ask him where he wants to go today, he always says, "Papou's house!" When we inevitably have to leave Papou's house, he is usually quite disgrunted, sticking his lower lip out and frowning at us, alternating yelling and begrudgingly pouting "Papou's house" (or "BA-POU's HOWS.")

Because Mick is so particular about how he likes things, Mike and I do wonder what kind of personality this will translate to as an older child and adult. We are spoiled by being able to hear what's going on in Killian's mind, and we can't wait to learn more about Mick and what's on his mind.

One thing we know for sure though is that he's a cutie!

Mama's boys

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Little Superhero

New Superman PJs

Baby-kangaroo-wearing SuperSanta

Baby-kangaroo-wearing SuperSanta

I love Killian's role playing and imaginary play.

Every day, conversations start out like this:

"Hey, Killian..."

I'm not Killian; I'm Yukon Cornelius!

I'm not Killian; I'm Peter Pan!

I'm not Killian; I'm Peter Pan dressed in a Super Man costume!

I want the whole family to be Care Bears.

I want the whole family to be cats.

I'm Santa and this is my workshop.

"I'm Santa and this is my workshop."


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Burn Out

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"Burnout is a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest. ... Maslach and her colleague Jackson first identified the construct "burnout" in the 1970s, and developed a measure that weighs the effects of emotional exhaustion and reduced sense of personal accomplishment."

The last few weeks of the year, Mike and I were both "scraping the bottom of the barrel" physically and emotionally. The past few months have been challenging as we've blended home and work, and dealt with the normal difficulties of a life with toddler + sibling. Since September, Mike has forgone lunches and adult interaction to instead: at lunch hour, leave work, drive back to our neighborhood, pick up the kids at school, come home, put Mick down for a nap, and all the while, be on parenting ninja high-alert mode to avoid/limit melt-downs and mishaps. Even though I have had help here from 3:30-5:30, afternoons still involve a lot of juggling and stress for me also.


Ironically going on a family "vacation" was what pushed us over the edge. We went on the cruise with my parents, 6 siblings, and other close family because we didn't want to be the only ones not going, and I thought it was important to my parents that we all be together. There was no discount for kids, and from the get-go, I wasn't thrilled to be paying hundreds of dollars a day for food and amenities my kids wouldn't use (or it turns out, Mike and I wouldn't use much of either!), but again, didn't want to be a party pooper. 

I had been under the weather leading up to the cruise, and not being able to physically rest while always caring for at least one of my kids, by Day 2 or 3, I was completely exhausted and even more sick. There was one afternoon, I had been alone with Mick (high-energy toddler) for several hours (no working cell phones = impossible to get a hold of anyone), and collapsed in bed curled up in fetal position while Mick destroyed our cabin until my mom got my message and came to pick him up.

I hate to hear myself complaining about a cruise (talk about first world problem), but it was difficult for Mike and I to be around so much "vacation" (I lusted over people sitting by a pool reading the most), people eating dinner uninterrupted, etc when we were so burned out ourselves, and would kill for a couple hours of down time. (And likewise, it also pains me to hear me "complain" about a situation that is temporary (toddlers) and totally normal (everyone is once a toddler!) and fortunate (2 healthy kids). But not acknowledging the difficulties is what leads to mess we were in.)

When we came home, we continued to be pretty much exhausted (both got sick again, I got the flu) until the kids went back to school in January. I scheduled getting my wisdom teeth out for New Year's Eve and fantasized about a day I'd be able to lie in bed with Mike looking after me, because being heavily sedated and drugged, I could justify Mick's first sleepover at my parent's house. (I had to cancel the surgery because I had the flu.) 

But once we had some quiet time to think uninterrupted, we decided to make some changes, and enrolled Mick in fulltime daycare again (his previous daycare in Uptown). This has taken an ENORMOUS daily burden off of Mike, who can resume adult interaction or just some alone/free time at lunch again, and will also let me have stress-free afternoons. Because Killian is at such an easy age now, I will be able to pick him up from his current day school, and he can either nap, or not nap, and either way, it's no big deal, and I can go about my business. There is no incessant fighting between him and Mick, and I don't have to worry about everyone's safety every second they are both conscious. Mike now takes Mick to and from school on his way to and from work, and I take Killian to and from school. We both find being one-on-one with each kid is like a beautiful walk in the park, and it reduces the mental load an EXPONENTIAL amount compared to managing the 2 of them alone.

So we won't be going on another cruise any time soon in the future, but I did realize how important it is for us to schedule some down time for ourselves individually and as a couple going forward. If I could do it over again, I would have taken the $2k we spent on the cruise and instead actually have gone on 40 date nights throughout the year. And I say "actually" because I would have actually gone on date nights instead of always just talking about how it's something we should do more often. 

The new arrangement has been great for everyone so far. I think both boys appreciate time away from each other. Killian gets to do things he couldn't do when Mick was here in the afternoons (which he has mentioned), and Mick loves riding in Mike's car to Uptown every day. (He says from the backseat, "Dad... Wow.") Now instead of spending the afternoons essentially trying to avoid Mick (or keep re-engaging him in something else besides me), I look forward to him walking through the door at 5:00 with Mike.

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In my professional and personal life, I'm big on "setting expectations." Because I feel parenting is the most important aspect of my life, and I love my kids so much, I find myself falling into the trap of somehow thinking it will be easy or at least easier than other aspects of my life. Or it should flow more naturally... I've found I'm constantly amazed at how difficult it can be (especially now with 2, which has added dimensions of sibling rivalry and fighting). I've found myself reflecting on past projects in my professional life and wondering "what's wrong with me?" - why was managing a million-dollar project in Corporate America, with different stakeholders, changing requirements, and no test environment LESS stressful than an afternoon with my toddler and kid together? Why is it when they fight or hurt each other my blood pressure is elevated more than any "high-pressure" meeting could ever make it rise?

Removing the expectation that it should be "easy" or "natural" has definitely helped, and Mike has pointed out that I forget I've had 10 years of professional experience, but we're still relatively new at raising human beings (and less than 2 years at raising 2 at once)!

So this year, we are looking forward to managing our time a little better so we don't reach a point where we schedule a surgery just so we can have a break! 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Resemblance: 2001: A Space Cat

Sometimes my cat reminds me of the black obelisk in 2001: A Space Odyssey: enormous, and kind of creepy. Showing up at random places. I'm not sure what he's trying to tell me.

Sometimes my cat reminds me of the giant black obelisk in 2001 Space Odyssey: enormous and kind of creepy. I'm not sure what he's trying to tell me.

Dunn... Dunn.... Dunnnn... DUN! DUN! 



Saturday, January 5, 2013

Overheard from a 3 Year Old (Part II)

Playing "Restaurant," he holds up a sign, that according to him says, "No Naked People. No Bad Guys."  Mike points out that Killian is not wearing any pants.  "But I work here."

Signs your kid might be spoiled:


Leaving a restaurant playroom with a firetruck, he says to his dad, "I want you to order it on amazon right now!"

Upon seeing deer crossing the street, he says unimpressed, "I want them to be on a sleigh."

And the ones that made me smile:

"It's not homogenized yet."

"I think jail doesn't help solve the problem."

Holding up a plastic pumpkin in the bathroom, "This is for Sleeping Beauty's kidney stone."

And my favorite...

"What's a commercial?"


Scale of the Universe

I can't believe I had not seen this site before: http://scaleofuniverse.com/

Or this video:



Killian loves it.

"We're going up... into outer space..."