Sunday, February 27, 2011

sunshine and a wagon ride

His shiny red wagon is outfitted to a tee. The fleecy color block blanky and soft throw pillow are perfect cozy companions. Off we go!

It took no time for E's eyes to get heavy, maybe from all the bright sunshine or the gentle rumble of the wagon wheels. Either way, he seemed to thoroughly enjoy his dreamy ride around the neighborhood.

What a great afternoon for fresh air and a snooze in the wagon.

Hey, can I get a turn?

Mom, why are you stopping the wagon?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

diaper optional?

Seems like we have better access this way, mom.
Today is off to a rocky start. My adorable, yet cranky, tot is irking my nerves! I feel guilty for even admitting that, but it's true!

Now that he has gained some independence, his personality is unfolding. Most of the time I am amazed by his genius, his tenderness, his focus, and his invention. But today I am amazed at his irritating acrobatics.

Add to the recent biting phenomena his strong-willed resistance to have a clean butt. I know it's a big world, baby! And you can't be held down by 'the man' (or in my case 'the woman'). But I REALLY don't like poo under my nails or on the bottom of your feet! There's no way that poo feels good in all your, um, creases, either.

Please, I beg you, PLEASE let me change you!

I've got lots of coping skills down. I belt out "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" like a cheesy dinner theatre singer. I shake rattles and tambourines with one hand while I try to maneuver around the poo with the other. I have even resorted to (gasp) giving him the telephone, remote control, or baby monitor to play with during changes. On many occasions, I call in the big guns: daddy. He provides comedic relief if nothing else.

Alas, the window of time he allows for changing is small and shrinking every day.

So today E won the battle, momentarily. "Freebird" as we often call him, got to fly commando for a few glorious, fleeting moments. Potty training? Sign me up.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the ultimate spring fever to-do list

I know I need to write another post, but things have been even keel around here lately so I haven't felt like there's much to comment on. We got another wallop of snow last night, which is exciting, but all in all, things are smooth and uneventful.

Last week's burst of mild weather fooled my little tulips into peeking up from the ground...I think the fresh snow may have insulted them.. I can't say I blame them, poor things. I was almost fooled into spring last week, too!

Sufficed to say now I've got spring fever and I'm already thinking about my grandiose garden plans once the weather hits fifty again.

The Ultimate Spring Fever To-Do List:
Remove the nasty English Ivy from under my hedge row
Re-establish a border for my front garden, use branches from our Beech tree
Incorporate a dirt-digging pile for E somewhere in the backyard
Build a sand box for E
Get plans for a cool fort/playhouse (if not this year then next)
Create a little table/chairs area for E to do outside art projects
Remove more English Ivy from the fence in the back yard
Rearrange and transplant perennials in the back garden
Pot several more herbs with E to use in our cooking (rosemary, tarragon, oregano)
Divide and share our Lemon Basil
Give strawberries and tomatoes another go and plant some more peppers
Relocate the crazy pumpkin sprouts to the back yard and up a trellis if possible
Convince my neighbor to take care of her horrible English Ivy situation creeping into my yard!

Little E, my nature boy, last May 2010. Remember those Bumbo days?

(Yes, I'll double-check this list in September to see what I can cross off the list.) What's on your ultimate to-do list?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

play date with (cool)progeny!

I'd like to thank Heather from (cool)progeny for hosting a great play date today! I contribute to her blog about once a month because it's such a fantastic resource for families in the greater Baltimore area. Her play date (the first of many to come) was an invitation for families to meet up and play!

We had never been to the Great Kids Village in Columbia but it was clearly an imaginary wonderland for kids ages 1 - 10. E seemed to have the most fun in the cooking and grocery area, but he also enjoyed playing in the huge sand pit, examining the real fire truck, and climbing on the dinosaur slide.

We can't wait for our next outing!

Friday, February 18, 2011

beautiful night for a campfire

Last night I had the pleasure of leading a campfire program for all of the preschool families at our school. The temperature finally broke - it was a mild fifty-ish degree day and it sure felt like a Spring reprieve.

I wish I could say I had planned the warm weather and the full moon. As the families arrived, the sun was going down. The sunsets are SO BEAUTIFUL at the nature center. I know I'm partial, but wow. The backdrop for the campfire was perfect.

What was even better was the smell of the campfire after months of being cooped up inside. Yes, there was smoke in my eyes, but the scent of it on my clothes was like summertime.

The children were mesmerized by the crackles and pops of the flames. One child said "it looks like fireflies!". I felt like a child, too, stoking the fire and breathing life into it from beneath. You'd be proud of my hybrid log cabin tee-pee fire. It started easily with minimal "cheating" using newspaper to get going. One dad said "looks like somebody earned a Girl Scout badge along the way". Yeah, it took a little more practice than that...but he's right. There was a Girl Scout badge.

For many of our students, this was their very first time ever gathering around a campfire. What an amazing impression to leave them. Can you remember your first campfire?

I love the community of families at our preschool and I feel grateful to share these kinds of wholesome experiences with the kids. I look forward to the days of building fires with my own son.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

too cute Tuesday

That's what I'm deeming today. Basically I just need a reason to share another adorable photo of E. Boy, he is such a happy, cute kid. He got shots today at the doctor's (daddy reports that, indeed, he was NOT happy about that) but still in a great mood by the time he came home.

He's a big boy you know...he's walking all over the place! It's hilarious! One friend aptly calls this "the drunken monkey stage". You know, stumbling and waddling, grasping for balance, falling in slow motion. He's so proud of himself now that he can walk - so maybe that's what all the smiling is about. Who could blame him?

Monday, February 14, 2011

environmental education conference - a change of pace

I'm not exactly feeling myself. I don't want to talk about my poor kitty anymore, but I'm still feeling sick about the loss.

No sooner did I have to put the cat down, then the very next day I had to go to a work conference, overnight. My first night away from E. I was so upset about the cat that I didn't have time to dwell on how hard it might be to leave E. The conference provided a distraction, that's for sure.

This work conference was the much anticipated annual MAEOE (Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education) conference in College Park, MD. Translation: giant convention of nature-loving geeks!

I mean no disrespect, I obviously count myself among the nerds. The goal of the conference is to educate and energize professionals in the field. Mission accomplished! To give you a sampling of my sessions:

-how to make an oyster reef ball (check out what they did when Memorial Stadium in Baltimore came down)
-natural history of bees (colonial versus solitary, it was the bee's knees :)
-how to use National Geographic's FieldScope with GPS to mark points, monitor watershed data, etc.
-natural history of frogs and how to participate in FrogWatch monitoring
-all about Maryland's DNR curriculum for finned fish
-how to use and create a Green Map
-a look at the Early Childhood Environmental Education Programs: Guidelines for Excellence compiled by NAAEE (North American Association for Environmental Education) - this was a glorious validation for our curriculum at The Nature Preschool at Irvine, and research-based at that.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend, you won't regret it. Even if your sessions turn out to be lack-luster or not as informative as you'd hoped, the networking opportunities are worth the while. If you are not in Maryland, I'm sure your state has something similar (try the NAAEE site above).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

sweet Dre's story

Notice Dre squished on the left, unwilling to give up his spot!
I've been caring for Dre for my entire adult life. Dre (named after Doctor Dre, the rapper) found me the way so many strays seem to find their rightful owners. I made the difficult decision to have him put down today, so I'd like to share his story with you.

When I came home from England after a 6-month study abroad during college, I found that my dear friends had taken him in as a coming home gift - complete with his well-suited name. He was wandering around the neighborhood, apparently left behind by some college guys that moved out. He was an unexpected but welcome gift. I loved him right away.

Dre and Cha-Chi, the brothers
He was a beautiful, long-haired "Maine Coon" cat, so beautiful that people would instinctively call him a "her". His silky charcoal gray fur and light, lime-colored eyes were striking. My husband and I always wanted to stroke his softest belly fur, but that was forbidden. After all, he had his reputation to keep up.

He always had some fight in him. Plenty of feisty spirit. I loved that about him. He had been abandoned but his spirit was never broken. He was so glad to be alive. Even during the most recent blizzard, he would race out the front door to smell the snow, feel it on his paws, and let it melt into his fur.

During the warm months he would join me in the garden. He would stretch out on the walk, roll around in the dirt, and quietly stalk the birds. And the pesky grass eating, well, that was a-given.

I grew to love and respect him that much more when, in his old age, our son was born. And still, Dre was tolerant and patient. E would shake the rocker as hard as he could just to get a rise from Dre (while Dre was trying to sleep). There were wet kisses on Dre's furry belly and fluffy tail grabs, but Dre kept his cool. Since our other cat doesn't let E get near him, Dre was E's first little friend. I doubt E will remember him, but I'm glad we have photographs.

Maybe the saddest part of his passing is that Dre knew so much about me. Dre lived through my party years, the single years, the traveling years, the broke years, the years with a dog, the years with another cat, the years with the live-in boyfriend turned husband, numerous moves, and the arrival of our baby boy. He could always just roll with life.

He knew me. He witnessed many highs and lows in my life. And he loved me unconditionally. Pets are amazing like that. They forgive us and love us no matter what. I guess I should take that profound lesson for all that it's worth.
So, if there's a kitty heaven, or a heaven at all, Dre is having blast. I'm sure he's prancing in fresh snowfall and chasing the heavenly birds. We will miss you, Dre. You were (and still) are loved. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

baby talk?

No words for the angry fists shaking...
It seems as if "eh eh" is a stand in for all kinds of two word phrases! Here, I'll translate for you:

All done (at the end of each meal, along with his hand waving, baby-signing arm motion) = "eh eh"

Bless you! (following sneezes, of course) = "eh eh"

Uh-oh...(like when he intentionally chucks his spoon on the floor) = "eh eh"

Love you! (when mommy shamelessly tries to get him to say it back to her) = "eh eh"

The End (as in, after each book we read) = "eh eh"

"esssssss" means many things, too:

Star = "esssssss"
Snow = "essssss"
Yes = "esssss"

But there are other, fancier words of noteworthy praise, such as:

Home = "OOOOHhhhhhh" (intonation counts for a lot when he squeals this happily from the back seat)
Fish = "ish" (first word, actually, next to da-da)
Flutter, flutter = "fa fa fa" (in a whisper, he repeats this when referencing butterflies)
Milk = "meh" (I am so thankful for that baby sign language...)
More = "meh" (see the difference from the one above?)
Sizzle, sizzle = "sa-sa sa-sa" (like when I'm frying his tofu)

And of course, drum roll please, DAD means dad, and MOM means mom. Got it?

This kid knows what he's talkin' about!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

man of mystery

He's not giving away any of his secrets...
Okay, so he's not a man. More like a wiggly, squishy larva. Like a tadpole. A tadpole that giggles, babbles, and can't swim or jump. And boy is he mysterious.

The latest mystery is why he has been sleeping like a hibernating bear all week. For five days he's napped for five hours a day on average. FIVE! (And yes, he sleeps through the night from 8:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) Now, I'm not complaining mind you. But it's strange! It's too soon for me to be seriously worried, but still, a mystery nonetheless.

My husband and I have brainstormed all manner of explanations for the gracious gift of naps he has bestowed upon us this week. On-coming virus. Teething. Growth spurt. What else could it be?

I'm going to enjoy the free time while our cub snoozes. Perhaps our mystery will be solved next week?

Friday, February 4, 2011

date night!

Nothin' like stepping out for date night! Even though I know him like the back of my hand, I always learn just a little more about him during our special nights out. Date nights are too few for us, so we cherish them. They are sacred.

I'm not even sure where we'll go, but I know I'll get dressed up and smell pretty (two things that rarely happen these days). I will get lost in the notion that we are still trying to win each other over like we did when we first started dating. And he will humor me like he always has.

Hooray for date night!

Yes, peas are delicious - and funny!

Yes, peas are delicious - and funny!
Our little guy at 15 months, February 2011.