Oh these two. They seriously have such a bizarre relationship. These photos pretty much depict exactly what it's like right now. On one hand they are attached at the hip, partners in crime, displaying their love of one another in such sweet ways on a daily basis. But also? They are intent on driving one another crazy. Needling, picking, complaining, taunting, teasing, bragging, arguing. These are their most treasured hobbies.
I let them watch a show when they get up in the morning, since they both wake up very slowly and often somewhat crabby. A little television seems to be the best way to ease into the day, not to mention if it's a work day I'm usually scrambling to get myself together and it goes much smoother when I am not playing referee between brothers or curling my hair with a 30 lb toddler on my hip. (Though that usually still happens, since TV keeps Louie's attention for about 10 minutes these days before he inevitably ventures off in search of a mommy's legs to hang on.)
Of course, they always argue about what show they're going to watch. On one particular day, they were sitting on the couch on each side of me as I scrolled around on Netflix screaming back and forth, "I get to choose!" "No Gus, I gonna choose!" "That's not fair, I want to choose!"
Get this: they both wanted to watch the same damn show. But still, by the end of it, both boys were in TEARS about whose turn it was to choose even though it had already been established that they would both choose the same thing.
Lord, give me patience.
And as I went up the stairs I could hear them arguing about which one of them had chosen the show, "I chose Curious George Gus." "Nuh uh, I chose it Louie! Mom! Tell Louie I got to choose!"
I can't even.
While it can be amusing, sometimes it's downright infuriating. Not to mention the fact that Louie has taken to screeching at the top of his lungs at the slightest offense, oh the screaming, so much screaming. It pierces my soul and gets my blood boiling to the point where I have to talk myself down from flipping my lid.
You guys! How did I forget what it's like to live with a two year old?! Gosh. I just LOVE HIM, he is so smart and so quick and so funny. But my goodness, he whines and complains and demands and I think it's safe to say he puts the household on edge a bit. I am much better with Louie than I was with Gus at this age, about just letting him be mad sometimes. With Gus I had to try so hard to catch myself, because my people-pleasing instinct (I know, not healthy) is to fix everything, and that can carry over to my kids. Also... I mean really... sometimes you're just so desperate to make the screaming stop!
I seem to be able to tolerate Louie's screaming a little better though, and I'm better at getting down on his level and talking to him about how he's feeling, while still explaining that I can't allow him to have cookies and veggie sticks for lunch, and that he can color on the paper, or a coloring book, but he can't color all over the table.
One day at a time people.
In January I watched my niece (2) while hanging out with Dan's little brother and sisters a few times (9, 11 & 13), when my mother-in-law had an appointment or something to take care of. On one of those mornings I took the picture above because for a moment it felt like I had things together. I felt accomplished. I had all these kids in my house and five out of six of them were busy and happy together, sitting at my dining room table, absorbed in an educational activity, not arguing. It felt like a glimpse into the future when my kids were older and more civilized and wouldn't need me so much all the time. Sometimes that kind of glimpse into my future makes me really excited, sometimes it makes me sad, makes me want to slow down time. Ahhh man, moms are crazy. Myself included.
My boys reaaaaaally love their little nephew Graham, and he does not stop smiling when they give him attention. They seem so big here, compared to that little guy, it's easy to forget that Louie is only 15 months older than him, and it's very possible that someday they could very well be thick as thieves, riding their bikes together all over the neighborhood, kicking a ball around in the back yard, skinning their knees in my driveway.
We've had such a blast at the children's museum this winter, we've been there a few times and it's remarkable how much easier it is to manage both kids this year than the last. Gus listens so much better when I tell him to stay near, he actually comes to me (usually) when he's ready to move on to a new room rather than just leaving, which as you would imagine, can be momentarily terrifying. He doesn't get feisty with other little kids like he used to, though he still can be overwhelmed by big crowds and gets frustrated when groups of kids gang up on him or try to boss him around. And Louie is so much more independent, his attention span longer, and his nap or bedtime can be stretched if needed, since the museum is a bit of a trip for us from the west side of the city. One-year-olds are very challenging in these settings, and I'm very happy to realize that I really do enjoy outings like the Children's Museum with my 4 year old and 2 year old.
I was inspired to make smoothies for the boys one day after a trip to Costco during which Gus BEGGED me for a smoothie from the little snack area. He loves him a Costco smoothie but they are so terrible for him, so much sugar, probably full of high fructose corn syrup, blech. So I promised him we'd make smoothies together when we got home. He was ecstatic and super excited about being able to help. So when we got home I busted out the unopened immersion blender my mom gave me for Christmas is 2012 and went to work. Banana, frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries, greek yogurt, a little soy milk, handful of spinach, voila! Immersion blenders are indeed awesome, I can now vouch for them after finally opening mine.
The reaction was mixed. First of all the bananas weren't very ripe, so I don't think they masked the spinach as much as they normally do, and 2nd of all, Mr. Picky Pants is now intent on thoroughly examining everything he consumes and hence was very disturbed by the little bits of "vegetables" in his smoothie. Blergh. Whatever. The next time he asked me to make it without vegetables and I did, and added a little maple syrup as well, and that batch was a huge hit. So whatever. He eats an insane amount of vegetables already, so it's not the end of the world, but his brother is another story. Would have been nice to be able to get some green vegetables in my meat-and-carb-only-eating 2nd born. I'll have to try again at some point. Maybe try it in an opaque glass.
The super hero stage has not let up, and the novelty for me is starting to wear off. I am a BIG superhero chick, total nerd and clearly grew up with two X-Men card-trading brothers. So at first I was soooooo excited when Gus started getting into this stuff. So excited that I even let him watch some questionable superhero cartoons that I later decided (after he started repeating a lot of really snotty and sarcastic age-inappropriate dialogue) were geared towards kids a few years older than him.
But the superhero play has taken over our lives and his imaginative play has gotten so.... specific and convoluted and detailed. I can't just run around shooting webs from my hands or pretending I can fly like superman. We've moved on from that child's play. Now there are these complicated set-ups that involve giant evil robots and force-fields and shrink rays and lasers that can either freeze or shoot fire or shoot glue. I am just so terrible about this kind of imaginative play. Or maybe I'm not so terrible at it, it just is a lot of work for me. But Gus's eyes gleam with excitement and happiness when we play these games with him, especially when we throw out something new that he's not though of, something he can run with and expand on.
It's so fun to see him exercising this intense imagination, experimenting with ideas and creating these worlds. But man. I am way better at playing house and zoo and farm and doctor. Thankfully he allows me to switch it up some days.
Oh and Louie gets in on the superhero play, but mostly just DESTROYS and SMASHES and delights in ruining the scenarios his brother has carefully put together. Typical. ;)
Oh yes, this was a particularly desperate below-zero day. By 3:00 in the afternoon Gus was asking me if we were going to go do something fun, begging to go swimming or to an indoor park. But it was also Friday, and I knew how absolutely against any of these outings his father would be after a long week, not to mention the fact that his brother was napping off a nasty cold. And as cooped up as I was feeling, it was SO COLD OUT and I had zero ideas as to what we could do...
So I emptied out the tub full of micro machines and went out to the backyard for some clean snow. We gathered up some towels and let them go at it. It was a hit, as long as their dad was playing with them. ;)
My dad's extended family had their Christmas party in the middle of January and Gus was enamored with my cousin's 6-year old son Evan. They chased each other around for over an hour playing "sheriff", taking turns being the good guy or the bad guy, and even Louie amused himself by running behind them giggling and shrieking, oblivious to the details of the actual game they were playing.
Louie missed his nap and neither kid ate more than a few bites all day long so we picked up Wendy's on the way home at 5:00 PM and I spent the entire thirty minute drive across town badgering Louie to stay awake. He very nearly fell asleep with a chicken nugget in his mouth, twice, so I got desperate and pulled out all the stops with You Tube videos on my phone for the last 10 minutes. What Does the Fox Say? to the rescue. It wasn't the first time, and it won't be the last.
There have been a few intermittent warm days this winter. (Just a few.) On this particular day we went sledding before naps and then went outside AGAIN before dinner! Over achievers.
My fancy Athleta leggings that Dan bought me for Christmas. His new thing is to buy me really expensive yoga pants and work out attire for birthdays and holidays. (Santa even gave me a sports bra.) I could be offended, thinking he's trying to tell me something with these purchases, but I'm not. I love it. I would never spend $90 (I know) on a pair of running pants, but as a gift I will take them. And they actually inspire me to work out, so total win-win.
Yeah, that's my baby ("I'm not a baby, I'm a big boy!") carrying around a really dirty snow ball.
Snowball fight! According to Gus, snowball fights are his favorite thing to do in snow.
Daycare lady's number one rule for winter play? No throwing snow. Bummer dude.
We are not prepared with snowman making materials. I couldn't even find any rocks for eyes. Dan gave me the dirtiest look when I came outside with clementines to use for his eyes.
Robots on roller skates!
Forts in the living room. Flashlights. Pajamas. CABIN FEVER.
My most favorite place ever this winter. The library. It is warm, it is quiet, there is sunlight, so many activities for the boys. A latte in my hand. I hear an Hallelujah chorus when I look at this picture.
More library goodness. Gus has been known to sneak away to the children's graphic novel section and pour over the illustrations for a good twenty minutes.
McDonald's play land. Yup, we have gotten that desperate.
More than once.
Celebrating Grandpa's birthday. These two are never far when it's time for cake.
They were obsessed with this Mouse Trap board game they found in the basement at my in-laws. Missing a few pieces, but that didn't matter to them. I wanted this game so bad when I was a kid.
Gus is into superheros and robots. Louie is still obsessed with animals.
Valentines day crafting! Coffee filters, marker, squirts of water from a sprayer, voila! Proven to be a hit even for little boys who hate nearly all crafts. (That would be Gus, Louie is actually pretty into crafts, THANK GOD!)
Made this lego robot all by himself, zero help. He was so proud.
A few Saturdays ago my girlfriends and I had our semi-annual girl's night (in the summer it's a whole weekend!) and in the above selfie I was lounging around the house, waiting for a few of the ladies who were meeting at my place. Dan had left with the boys hours earlier and I truly had no idea what to do with myself in the house all alone. I tidied up. Made a cup of coffee. Watched an episode of Downton Abbey. Read some blogs. Twiddled my thumbs. The silence was unnerving AND amazing. The morning had been such a whirl-wind, Louie up at like 5:15 AM, so I think I was just spent, and couldn't think of a thing to do even though there never seems to be enough time in the day to do everything that I want to do. So weird. Such is the curse of motherhood and sleep-deprivation I think. I need to keep a running list of all the things I wish I had time to do so that doesn't happen again. But on the other hand, why am I feeling guilty that I accomplished nothing in 2 hours of alone time? Maybe I NEEDED that nothing time, and I need to cut myself some slack.
Friends. Booze. Guacamole. Faux fur and faux leather vests. This is the life.
Low lighting courtesy of Barrio.
Horrendous flash courtesy of a waitress at The Local.
I took the boys to the Mall of America to go on rides and play in Lego Land. Just me and them. Usually I have my mom or Dan, or another mom and her kids with me on these types of outings, but this time it was just us. And you know what? It was awesome. I miss out on a lot during these experiences when there's another adult there. This time felt slower, easier, more intimate. We packed a lunch and ate peanut butter and jelly in the food court and the boys ate SO SLOWLY but I resisted the temptation to play around on my phone or hurry them along out of boredom. We just sat there. Talked. Giggled about nonsense. And I could tell they really appreciated the time with me, despite the fact that it feels like we're always together. We are together, a lot, but I know I'm often distracted or trying to get something else done, especially at home.
It was also one of those days with my first-born where I was a little overcome by how much he has matured. He was so polite, and inquisitive, and helpful, and talkative, and FUN.
Yeah, this was a really good day.
Babysitting Graham one afternoon, I realized he was wearing a t-shirt that my mother-in-law gave me, that Louie wore for sure, maybe Gus too. We lent our baby clothes to my brother and sister-in-law and this kind of thing makes me so happy. Dan's little brother (brothers?) wore that shirt, then my kid, then my brother's kid. Very sweet.
Trying to get ready for my work party (on outfit number 8?), in the middle of the process of trying to curl my hair, and this kid woke up from his nap, earlier than I had hoped. But so happy, so he was forgiven.
Ready for his sleepover at grandma and grandpa's! I guess the next morning he woke up at 7:15 (late for him) and yelled from the bed he was sleeping in, "Mom?! ... Mom? ... ... Everybody?"
Mardi Gras souvenirs from my work party. Ridiculous.