Saturday, July 30, 2011

latest tricks, courtesy of Houdini

There have been lots of changes in our household recently. Our little man is getting SO BIG! (Just picture him raising his arms to the sky.)

First off, while we were on vacation, we awoke to a frustrated/terrified scream as E was precariously hovering across the length of the pack-n-play. He had swung his leg and arm over the top to crawl out, but got stuck like a leopard hanging on a tree branch. Only apparently less comfortable. So the hubs and I looked at each other and knew we'd have to do something about the crib situation at home.

About two weeks prior to vacation we'd seen him try to get his toes up over the top of the crib. He's still so young that we weren't ready to consider switching him to a bed. But after the episode at the beach, we weren't willing to take any chances that he'd try the same move at home and fall out. So, we took one side off his crib. (It converts to a toddler bed). Gulp.

The first day he took a nap and could SEE that the side was gone, he jumped right out of bed and cried desperately trying to get out of his room. I think he was afraid and didn't feel safe, despite the bed rail. I snuggled and assured him that he is okay and that this is still where he does his "nappies". I laid him back in bed and that was that. He hasn't gotten out of bed again since. (Knock on wood.) I'm sure when he starts feeling more confident about getting in and out of bed, it will be a new ball game.

So that's been a big change - the mental shift that our boy isn't in a crib anymore, but a big boy bed. (Okay, okay, he's still technically in his crib just with one side missing, but you know what I mean!)

That's not the Houdini part, though.

Before breakfast last week, I was doing some dishes while E was playing. I turned to see what he was up to and there he was - in his highchair. Mind you, I did not put him in! I was in shock as to how he got himself in. I took him out and then watched in amazement. He pushed the highchair away from the table, then scaled right up the front and turned himself around in the seat! While I was terrified at the sheer speed of his act, I was also proud of this impressive feat!

He's got another trick here lately involving his fridge magnets. The trick is to see if they will sink or swim in kitty's water bowl.
Where has my baby gone??? He's growing up way too fast! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

play date at Oregon Ridge Nature Center

Hmm, what's making that sound? Mom, can I pet the rooster?

Hey Conner, what's so funny?

We had a mellow outing at Oregon Ridge Nature Center this week. It was a mild day for a morning hike, plus E was ready for a change of scenery. Oregon Ridge is a HUGE nature preserve with a rustic nature center. There's always plenty to explore there, even for toddlers.

My friend and I met up and brought our babes. Not quite a year apart, both tots enjoy gazing up at the trees making sounds or waving to fellow hikers passing by. We wore our kids during the hike (so you'll notice I didn't take any pictures)...he's not as light as he used to be! I think it's safe to say I need to retire the bjorn. He'll be two in November and he's getting more solid all the time! Still, fresh air in the woods was peaceful for all of us.

A highlight for the boys was the chicken coop, complete with a rooster cock-a-doodle-dooing. There is also an old house that is used for archaeological studies, which E took a liking to.

Oregon Ridge is free for visitors, so if you're in the area, I highly recommend checking out the nature center and trails! There is a lake in the old quarry where you can go swimming, along with a playground (although there is a small fee for the lake). They are also planning natural play area, following in our footsteps at Irvine. It will be fun to visit once it's complete!

Monday, July 25, 2011

tweet boom bang: musical guest post on (cool)progeny today

I love the sounds of nature in every season. But summer is especially noisy with cicadas, frogs, woodpeckers, birds, and crickets going about their business. We love to listen to animals and try to spy where the sounds are coming from. That's a daily occurance in our yard. It's just something we naturally do.

But all this bustling sound is busy and full of energy, too. It makes me want to do something and make my own noise.

This, combined with recent research I've been doing, has me thinking about natural, musical spaces for children outdoors. My guest post is on (cool)progeny's blog today - it's full of ideas on how you can create your own space with household items and recyclables. If you've set up something fun in your backyard or at your school, I'd love to hear about it!

So now I've got one more item to add to my ever-growing to-do list. I will be sure to post photos when our musical outdoor space is complete!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

one nap baby

Last summer at the beach 2010, age 8 months old.

July 2011. What a big boy!
Now that my little schnookie is taking one afternoon nap it's seriously cutting into my blogging time!

Lots been going on here, namely we just got back from going 'downee ocean hun'. What a difference a year makes! Last year he hardly noticed the sand or waves (what with being confined on a blanket and all). This year, he had a blast with his daddy and me in the ocean! His cousins and aunts were there, too, which he loved! There was lots of activity every day to wear him out - one day he napped for 3 1/2 hours!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

boost of NYC energy

Leave it to NYC to spark positive energy in me. I needed a break and I jumped at the chance to mooch a free hotel room from my sister. I met up with her on Saturday morning after a scrumptiously relaxing train ride there. Have you ever heard of a "quiet car"? Oh yes, they exist, but only on trains. We're talking coffee and a journal writing session that was totally uninterrupted. For hours. I think I could have stayed in that quiet car all weekend!

From Baltimore, it takes under three hours to get there, so I've got no excuse for not visiting more often.

Anyhow, my sister greeted me at the station rearing to go. We grabbed a bite to catch up before catching a matinee on Broadway. We saw "Catch Me If You Can" (yes, like the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks). It was AWESOME! I loved every minute of it. Too bad you can't take pictures inside. The grouchy lady beside me was quick to point this out.

We got our shopping fix all afternoon and then found a great Cuban restaurant with live music for a late dinner.

The highlight came on Sunday went we spent the day at the Met. What an incredible collection! I barely scratched the surface because you could spend days there and not see everything. Being the modern art girl that I am, I made a bee-line for their modern and contemporary art wings. Don't worry, my gracious sis was happy to wait in the HOUR LONG LINE to view the special Alexander McQueen exhibition.

I took tons of photos of my favorite art, which I'll share here. (Artists, please forgive me for photographing without your permission!) These works are too amazing not share. Which is your favorite?

Classic Cezanne - father of modern art by some definitions.

De Kooning's Easter Monday. This is newspaper and oil on canvas. I find his work incredibly expressive and free. This is a huge influence on my own painting.

Klimt here. A piece that appears unfinished but still rich in colorful pattern. Gorgeous.

Another hugely important figure in art, Braque's The Studio. Braque played a pivotal role in the cubist movement, having a profound impact on Picasso.

Quintessential Matisse.

Aren't these sculptures the best? They are right at home among the Warhol and Lichtenstein pop art.

A sweet and classic portrait by Renoir.

Barnett Newman. I love color field paintings. They are so direct. This really celebrates the nuances of the paint hues and the subtle textures of the paint on the surface.

This is a breath-taking piece (center) made by Anselm Keifer. It depicts a field of poppies with a road cutting through the center. Also note the incredible Chuck Close portrait on the right.

A seascape by Paul Signac. This gets at the heart of the pointillist movement.

Just another fabulous day in the big city.

Friday, July 8, 2011

volatile toddler cocktail

Feels like a long time since I wrote. What can I say? The 4th of July was wonderful here - great food and family at our place. No fireworks since we don't want to scare E and spoil our fireworks for the next decade. E noticed our neighbors' flags lining the yard, which was his first formal introduction to the USA flag. I summed it up for him: "This is a very special flag. This is the American flag. You are a very lucky boy that you were born in America."

Despite all the fun we've had here in the last couple of weeks, I guess you can say I'm not my usual peppy self. This is because I'm fighting to keep my cool! I know I'm being too hard on myself but I can't help it. E has a mind of his own and I'm finding it hard to stay patient. (I'm sure experienced moms are getting a hearty chuckle out of my novice anguish!)

This is definitely a change of pace from my calm, cooing infant. E is so busy! I spend my days chasing him most of the time. I've read all there is to read about toddler behavior and talked to everyone I know that's survived it. Everybody's got an opinion. Some suggestions are out of the question and others insinuate that I am not firm enough or that I am overly concerned. It's so frustrating!

So, again, like in my "smack down" post, I'm just trusting my gut. And ignoring any annoying people that may be judging me. I'm doing the best I can people!

What's the big deal, you ask? Well, here's what I'm working with:

 The honeymoon of two naps is over. Just one. Seriously, need I say more?

No More Bottle. Our doctor suggested by 18 months he should be weaned off the bottle. (I'm still mourning our time nursing, which we concluded at 14 months.) So finally, at 20 months, we've made the transition to exclusive sippy cups. Which means he's not my snuggle bunny with a bottle anymore. It's so sad!

Running. He's doing his damnedest to run, or something very close to it. Heaven help us when it's in full effect.

Busy, Determined, and Curious.
These are all excellent and productive traits which may serve him well someday. But as a toddler...good grief!

It's time to install that lock. Fingers splashing in the toilet (and kitty's water bowl) every chance he gets. Ewww.

Climbing. Much like Mount Everest, our house is apparently full of exciting ledges to scale. Window sills, baby gates, book shelves - all sorts of dangerous things. I'm worried the crib could be next!

Smacking and Throwing. Ah yes, a personal favorite. The smacking continues. I've tried to be firm and raise my voice to let him know that "hitting is not nice. We don't hit mommy!". Unfortunately, all this does is give him my undivided attention (which is generally what he wanted) and in a negative way. So now when I sense a smack coming on, I get down on his level and ask him what he needs. Then I try a tickle match, game, or quick story if there's time. Or I let him up to see what I'm making in the kitchen. We've also taught him how to "high five" which can satisfy his need to smack in a positive, appropriate way. This has curtailed some of it, thankfully. But when he gives me a good smack out of defiance, I still feel like I need to be firm and let him know I'm serious - it's rude, disrespectful, and not acceptable - but again, when I let it anger me, it only feeds his need for attention. So therein lies the dilemma. Another tactic that is proving effective is to take his hand and show him that hands are for being gentle. Then when he starts to smack I ask him to show me "gentle hands" and he starts rubbing my arm or leg.

This volatile toddler cocktail is largely responsible for my need to take a break. Time for mommy to step away, even if only overnight. (I wouldn't be comfortable leaving him for more than one night anyhow!) My sis is going to be in NYC this weekend so my plan is to meet up with her. Hallelujah! It's been four years since I've been to the MOMA and I'm dying to go! I haven't seen my sis since Christmas, so it would be a great little trip if I can swing it...I am in desperate need!

Yes, peas are delicious - and funny!

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