Thursday, December 26, 2013

Lights in the Park

On the Friday before Christmas, we took the boys to Phalen Park to drive through the holiday lights display, it was on my list this year as I’ve been sort of on the look-out for easy, low-key, low-stress activities to do as a family over the holidays.  So nice to do something that doesn’t involve prepping or packing or planning.  We took baths and had dinner at home, even baked some cookies, then got the boys all loaded up in the car in their matching polar bear jammies and headed off. Before we left Gus asked me, incredulous, of we were really leaving in our PAJAMAS?! Coming from a kid who would stay in his pajamas all day if he could and often begs me to let him wear his Spider-man pajamas to daycare, this was an unexpected treat. 

We stopped on the way for some cinnamon spice tea (newest obsession), and then were our way across the city.  Once we had made it into the park I unbuckled the boys and told them they could come sit up on our laps, something that seemed to surprise and unsettle them both, despite the fact that they were prepped in advance that this was part of the deal.  It was like they didn’t think I was serious, and then when it was happening… they looked at me like FOR REALZ MOM?
They took turns on each of our laps and just oohed and ahhhed and exclaimed over each display we passed.  Louie was timid at first but very interested and discussed at length every single thing he saw.  Called one of the displays (a town scene) “The Lorax”, which made us giggle, and the whole experience was as magical and sparkly and cozy and delightful as I had hoped.  

It was really nice to have this quiet, special night, where it was just the four of us, with the wonderful craziness and over-stimulation of the actual Christmas holiday looming. I’d say it was practically a spiritual experience in that minivan on that very cold night.  Well... as close to spiritual in a minivan gets.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Since April

Seven months is a ridiculous amount of time to go without blogging. We'll get that right out of the way.

I feel like I owe some sort of apology to someone but who would that be exactly? If you know, let me know. Or if you feel like you need an apology. Let me know. I'd be happy to give it, I basically throw out unnecessary I'm sorry -s all the time in my day-to-day life. Been doing it since elementary school. It's sort of my thing. Drives many of my close friends absolutely NUTS.

I'm sorry.


Still, I feel better.

Dan and I were talking about my neglected blog one day as I was lamenting that I'd really like to get back on the horse, but it feels awkward now. Like I don't know where to start, or where I left off, seven months is a massive amount of time in iPhone pictures (truly THOUSANDS) and holidays (Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July, Summer Girl's Weekend 2013 (what? that's a holiday right?), Labor Day weekend, Halloween, Thanksgiving) and birthdays (I turned 30-something in July, Dan in August, Gus was 4 (FOUR!!) in September)...


Gus and Louie are very concerned about their Uncle Tim, off camera, who is wearing a terrifying evil monster costume. 

Gus Birthday

Backyard birthday party for our 4 year-old.  Dan made that cake, which I find pretty impressive. 

Yeah there have been some big time happenings, and then all the little stuff, the stuff I'm normally more interested in writing about. It just feels overwhelming and giant and messy. Like a big black hole. But in all honesty, I've never been consistent about regularly documenting things in this space, consistency in life, really, has never been my strong suit, so I'm projecting something by making a big thing of it now. I go through spurts of wanting to write, and doing it often and even well, and then I go through spurts of wanting to hole up in my own little world, content to just share little tidbits with the world via Instagram. And I've definitely noticed my Instagram activity getting heavier as of late (am I becoming an over IG-er? you can tell me, I can take the truth) and that's probably due to the fact that it's the only consistent space I have at this point to interact with this community and share my life and document it for future me to look back on and idealize. I think my oversharing there might be a symptom of my desire to get back here more, so hopefully I can do that.

I am totally just spewing at this point. I hate that I am blogging about Instagram, how lame is that? Blech. Bad taste in my mouth.

I was trying to get to a point, about Dan. He had the brilliant idea that a way to "get back on the horse" could be that I simply take another look at my last post, of my Spring Day-in-the-Life, and provide some little updates on some of the things that came up in that post. A Then and Now sort of thing. I liked that idea, it seemed doable, so that is what I will be attempting to do here, I'm sure with varying degrees of success.  This takes the pressure off of deciding what is important and what is not important to include here.  Basically a mish-mash.

Here we go.

* We RECLAIMED OUR BEDROOM and it was gloooorious.  Louie easily transitioned upstairs to his crib in his own room, and while he still wakes up in the night, it's not usually very often (when he's healthy) and even his most piercing screeches don't seem to wake up his brother directly across the hall. 


Sleeping like a baby, as they say.

Neither boy seems to care about having his door shut (something that I always worried would be an issue for Gus, and thus part of the reason why for 18 months we let him basically rule the kingdom that consists of the entire 2nd floor of our home). So yeah.  Our makeshift "bed" (sectional couch + the ottoman squeezed in the corner like a puzzle) has gone back to just being a damn couch.  


Now we sleep here. Again. Like I said, GLORIOUS. Found this picture on my phone amongst three-hundred-some-odd blurry pictures of the floor, set up action figures, and my grumpy self with bed head and a mascara-streaked face. Gus is really obsessed with "taking photos" these days, he runs around the house CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK, telling us to smile and look at the camera, exclaiming often, "Ooooh, that's a good photo!"

* Louie no longer sobs and screams on the floor of the bathroom while I shower, and is now quite easily distracted by TV, so there's reason #1 why 23 months is much easier than 16 months.

* The boys are (knock-on-wood) playing so much better together these days than they were 7 months ago. 

boys at como

When I read back on my day-in-the-life, and put myself THERE and THEN, well the difference is drastic.  Thank goodness for that.  They honestly seem to like each other, and enjoy being together.  And believe it or not Louie is now often the instigator of trouble between the two of them.  I find myself running into the room yelling "GUS!!! What did you do to your brother?!" much less often than I used to.  These days its a chorus of "Stop bickering! You two need to figure this out! If you can't play nicely together then leave each other alone and play by yourself!"  It's still exhausting, and I'm still pretty shrill and shrieky (working on my patience everyday), and I'm sure the whole sibling relationship thing will continue to be hard, but from what I'm seeing, I am full of hope that theirs will be truly lovely someday. I'm grateful already for the glimpses I have on a daily basis of the bond they clearly share.

* Woot!  We finally painted our dining room in August!  Or... we paid my sister-in-law to paint our dining room in August. Semantics. So long ugly patches of sample grays.  It's much brighter in there, which was my ultimate goal, so I am very happy.  I have moved on to somewhat hating the busy curtains I purchased (and fell in love with!) less than a year ago.  Meh.  Nothing I can do about it now because it might mean the end of my marriage.  ;)


You can see the dining room here (cameos by Iron Man and Spider-Man, lucky you!) which in the last year has been given a new paint color and curtains as well as a new-to-us dining room table and hutch cabinet.  Certainly an improvement.  I LOVE our new table. 

* We fired our Nanny.  Whoa.  Yeah that was a big change.  She just... wasn't working out.  Details are unnecessary, but we found ourselves scrambling to find childcare at the beginning of the summer and somehow the stars aligned and an inquiry I made with a friend of my aunt's who runs an in-home childcare led to someone she knew with almost immediate openings whom willingly takes on part-timers.  I still can't believe that it all came together as it did, and I am so thankful.  So grateful.  This woman, and her daycare, well it's amazing.  She's amazing.  And it has been so good for our family, definitely good for our kids. 

Dan &

* Along with the new daycare, Gus also started preschool this fall, a 2-day program at a church nearby that we truly just happened upon through our new child care situation and it ended up being a wonderful, loving and kind learning environment that I am so grateful Gus has as his first experience with real "school".  And after meeting with his teacher at conferences this fall, it is clear she "gets" him, which is just so important to me.  The daycare lady brings him and four other kids to preschool two mornings every week, and it works perfectly, though I do feel a bit disjointed from the process and wish I could be there for pickup to hear all about what they did each day. It would make getting information out of Gus later much easier if I was able to have a few more good "prompts".  It is like pulling teeth getting the details from him.  :)
* Louie is still a bit of a picky eater, but in COMPLETELY different ways than Gus. He BARELY eats fruits or vegetables, despite the fact that they are both offered at most meals.  Apples, bananas, sometimes mandarin oranges and pears.  And that is about it for the fruits he is willing to put anywhere near his mouth.  He'll eat vegetables only if I cut them up real tiny and mix them in some sort of rice or noodle dish.  (Oh and he eats raw carrots on occasion, but usually just chews them up and spits them out.)

It is quite annoying, especially since we're used to his brother who would prefer to eat fruits and vegetables and pretty much nothing else.  Their preferences could not be more different, and some nights I'm tempted to just give Louie all of Gus's meat and/or starch and give Gus all of Louie's fruits and vegetables.  Call it a win, and at least it all gets eaten and we avoid the inevitable battle.  Gus has turned into my brother, which truly was my worst nightmare when having kids. (Sorry Ben.) All of a sudden he has this huge aversion to anything "mixed".  Rice casseroles, spaghetti with meat sauce, fried rice, stir-fry, enchiladas.  These are staples in our house and they are all things he used to eat with gusto, and now he just pushes them around the plate and whines about how he can't eat that noodle because "it has meat on it" and he can't eat that chicken because it has "butter on it".  Trying so hard to be zen at dinnertime, and to not wage too many unnecessary battles, but we usually ask that he at least try things.  One bite, "you never know, you might like it."  And if he doesn't like it he can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Or a yogurt or something.  But that ONE BITE can just be torture.

* Oooh! Oooh! Gus no longer begs us to cut his sandwiches into little bites!  That's a big change from 7 months ago! That's progress right? Deserving of its own bullet point? Probably not, but I need a win in the food department.      

* We haven't been to the MN Zoo since my last post.  We are definitely more of a Como Zoo crowd, I like that it is so much smaller and closer-spaced, and that we can go there for the morning, hang out a bit, and high-tail it home in time for naps without much problem. Also, Como Zoo is one of my all-time favorite kid hang-outs in the winter.  It's pretty quiet and the kids can blow off some steam a little while we all get a good dose of Vitamin D from the amazing sunlight that pours into the conservatory through those floor to ceiling windows. LOVE.

* Gus finally somewhat mastered the tricycle this summer, though he still is so lazy and often un-interested in riding a bike of any kind in general.  Hopefully he will move on to being interested in a 2-wheeler with training wheels next summer.  Oy. Grant me patience.

* Oh melon!  I forgot that Louie actually eats and loves most melons!  Can't wait for them to be back in season.  Glad to have that reminder... see it does pay to read your own blog!

* Okay now I am just depressed.  Those pictures of us at the park last April.  It has basically been below zero for the past week.  Does not compute. 

* I talked in my last post about Louie's communication, and how nice it was that he could tell me things like he's hungry, even if its just by bringing me a bowl.  Goodness, it's just amazing how much he can communicate with us now.  He doesn't stop communicating.  Like, ever.  His language explosion has been incredible, and has been one of my greatest joys over the last half a year.  I LOVE that we know what he is thinking because he is constantly telling us.  He is intensely stubborn, and has started to throw quite the epic tantrums, but they aren't as frustrating as they could be because we understand him, and he understands that we understand him.  He is comforted by our words, and our explanations. His tantrums usually have to do with us saying no, or Gus playing with something he wants, rarely are they a result of his frustration that we don't know what he wants.  That knowledge is such a blessing with raising a one-year-old. 


Some of my favorite Louie-isms... When he gets hurt or sad to the point of having a big crying fit, and we console him and hold him, talk to him about what's going on, he decides he's done being hurt or sad and tells us, "I'm done crying." and climbs off of our lap or out of our arms.  So freaking hilarious."I'm done crying mom."


The other day, out of the blue when he heard me talking about a haircut, he listed off the events of the day that HE got his first official haircut, "Louie haircut, Gus haircut too, I watch Lightening McQueen, I play dinosaurs with daddy".  Like truly, that is exactly what happened more than a month ago, at the salon where we got their haircuts.  

He was sick last week and the night of Thanksgiving, actually, he had a coughing fit after going to bed and he ended up gagging and puking all over himself, and then when I got him out of his bed the fit just kept going and he continued to throw up all over the floor of his room.  Poor thing.  He still talks about it.  "I throw up in my scrib (his word for crib), I need a bucket, daddy clean up, daddy wash my duck blanket, duck blanket dirty, I sleep with animal blanket."

He blows my mind.

* We are still nursing, Louie and I. I don't know when we'll stop, but I'm having a hard time thinking about the realities of weaning.  If I knew whether or not this was our last baby (which I don't), maybe it would be easier, or maybe not. It's working for us, and I love the bedtime and morning snuggles I get out of this relationship, so I don't see an end in sight.  Not yet.  Who is it hurting?  No one.  Still, I can't believe he'll be two at the end of the month and we're still nursing.  Certainly wasn't a part of some big master plan, just happened.  We've been lucky.


My view from the rocking chair we nurse in, in Louie's room. 

* Awww, my little nephew Graham, my brother's little boy was just 6 weeks old then, and now is over 8 months old, crawling and babbling and getting so big. And my boys love him so much. That is just crazy.  I mean, duh.  But life is weird, it just continues to truck along, even when you're not blogging about it. ;)   

me and ben

Pumpkin patch this fall, terrible pic of both Ben and I but it's pretty rare to have a picture of the two of us, with our kids (still crazy to me).