Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Our Halloween didn't go quite as planned. We had Nico's class party in the morning, which was very cute even though he was a little overstimulated and also refused to wear his costume for the party. The forecast called for severe thunderstorms right at trick-or-treat time, so the city moved trick-or-treating to Friday night. Since we have previous unchangeable plans for Friday evening, we attempted the indoor trick-or-treat at the mall. It was HORRIBLE. Hundreds of kids standing in long lines for lame candy. We blew through to the end of the building, let Nico ride the carousel once, and then got the hell out of there. It also didn't storm and in fact barely rained at all the entire evening. As we were driving to my parents' to visit, I noticed that a few houses in our neighborhood had their outside lights on, so Nico and I went rogue once we got home and walked around for a little bit. I'm so glad we went out...the neighbors we did see were happy to see a trick-or-treater and he didn't know that it was a minimized experience compared to most years. After our walk, MB and I agreed to let Nico eat a whole (fun-sized) packet of M&Ms and watch Spookable Pooh, and then I got in my yearly viewing of The Nightmare Before Christmas. I spent all of yesterday feeling really, really cranky about how badly the weather messed up our plans, but now that it's over it really wasn't a bad day at all.

The boys were bats for two parties last Sunday...Elliott's costume is a hand-me-down from Nico's first Halloween, and I made Nico's to match from a store-bought hoodie. I'm really proud of how it turned out, though hopefully no one will ever inspect the hand-sewing up close. MB really wanted to dress up this year so we resurrected the samurai robes that my mom made us back in college. Elliott had another Nico hand-me-down to wear, and Mom made Nico his own buttery yellow samurai robe. It wasn't until the end of the evening that I noticed I hadn't snapped any solo photos of Nico in his robe. I asked him if he'd put it back on over his pajamas for a picture, but he declined. I'll have to try again tomorrow.

Friday, October 25, 2013

baby's first camping trip

baby's first camping trip

We did have a really nice time camping with the ankle-biters last weekend. We were supposed to go with another parents / two kids family, but they bailed the night before due to the weather. It was forecast to get down to 40F and to rain Saturday morning, but the campsite was already paid for and we were looking forward to it, so we went anyway. We did pack All the Fleece for the kids as a precaution and that turned out to be a very good idea. It rained between 2:00 AM and about 9:00 AM Saturday which was probably the best possible scenario. All we had to do to avoid it was hang out in the tent a little longer than we would otherwise on Saturday morning. It was chilly Saturday but not miserably so, and we took a nice if very short hike in the woods. Our friends came out for dinner and roasting marshmallows and a little bit of hanging out on Saturday evening, which was nice. It did get down to 39 degrees Saturday night and I was somewhat concerned…only 7 degrees above freezing! But I layered the kids in everything we had for them and it worked out fine. Poor Elliott looked like the little brother from A Christmas Story and couldn't bend at the waist to sit up in his four layers of fleece jammies, but he stayed cozy! Our new fancy-pants tent was worth every penny we paid for it, as we stayed 100% dry, even though our stuff was touching the edges of the inside. Mountain Hardwear is where it's at, for real.

The trip did solidify my feeling that state park camping is not for us. We were basically packed into a big open field with a hundred RVs. Not very woodsy or outdoorsy, really. We quite literally would've had more space, privacy, and quiet if we'd pitched our tent in our backyard in the middle of the city. From now on I think it's tent-only campgrounds for us, and even better if we can find remote or primitive type sites. It'll be easier once both kids are old enough to pee in the woods, for sure. We're camping again the weekend after Halloween, so I'm crossing my fingers for another great trip.

our camping-mate got this hilariously woeful shot of Elliott

Reading:  Slow Getting Up: a Story of NFL Survival From the Bottom of the Pile by Nate Jackson

Playing:  The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack

Monday, October 21, 2013



We camped with the boys this weekend and while overall it was a really nice experience, there's one thing that I'm still stuck on, still stewing over when I should probably just move on and forget about it. On Saturday afternoon we walked over to the playground and there were four boys playing with construction toys in the sand pit. Nico's yearning to join in was palpable, but he ignored my suggestion to ask the kids if he could play with them. As he hovered around the edges of their play, hope shining from him like a bright little beacon, I felt it wring at my heart. He asked me if he could play with their extra dump truck and I know they heard him, but all I could say was that he'd have to ask them. I wanted so badly to jump in and do it for him, ask the kids if he could play, ask the kids to ask him to play. But I didn't jump in and he didn't ask and they steadfastly ignored him, while my hope of them being kind enough to invite him withered moment by moment. They all knew each other, it was obvious, and some might've been brothers or cousins. I could feel the wall separating them from my lone little boy.

After waiting and watching and waiting, Nico finally took his little matchbox snowplow and started making tentative tracks in the sand near the younger pair of boys. One of them crossly patted every track Nico made flat, so Nico tried the other pair, the older two. Even though the oldest kid was probably eight years old and maybe should've known better, he was pretty flat-out awful to Nico. He kept making increasingly irritated protests to Nico being nearby. I would've been a little more understanding if Nico had been actively disrupting or destroying his play, but all I could think was how Nico would've happily taken direction to help with whatever project he was working on that was so important that the mere presence of a three-year-old was ruining it. Finally Nico's tiny little plow track got too close, I guess, and the older kid knocked Nico's toy out of his hand and sneered, "Why don't you go somewhere else?" He pointed across the playground, far away, and said, "Go play over there." And I was done, then. I seated myself on the edge of the sandpit near the unclaimed middle and called Nico to play by me. "Come play here," I told him, firmly, loudly. "They are not nice kids." Maybe that was immature and low of me, to stoop to insulting an eight-year-old, but I don't really care. They weren't nice kids, and two days later I'm still upset about it.

I get that even the parents of well-raised children struggle to teach their kids not to be assholes, but generally by the age this kid was I'd hope to see some results if that effort had been expended. I know it's not all kids that are like this - we ran into a pair of brothers at the neighborhood playground when Nico was barely two years old, and the older, five years old, was wonderfully kind. He literally embraced Nico, running over to give him a big hug before announcing, "I like you!" and inviting Nico to play chase with him. And, oh, how Nico glowed under the attention. I came home and wrote him a schmoopy letter on his baby book blog, telling him how I hoped he'd be as kind to little boys when he was a big(ish) boy. So I know there are sweet kids, good kids…we just weren't lucky enough to meet one this time.

Probably it hits a little too close to home for me because I was not a socially-adept child, I was a perpetual hoverer at edges, and I suffered for it for years. I always have the fear buried inside that my sweet, sensitive boys will end up the same way - awkward, struggling to find friends, ostracized. I can still remember an incident from my own preschool orientation, something that happened when I was four years old. I was in my new classroom with my new classmates to meet everyone. My mom was there, but I don't know if she just hadn't left yet or if all the parents were staying. A little girl named Katie was playing with the classroom kitchen and I really wanted to play, too. As I hovered, hoping, wishing, my mom encouraged me to go ask her if I could play, too. I remember how hard it was to dredge up the courage to ask her, to walk over and say, "Can I play?" And I recall exactly how I shrank back inside myself when she snapped, "No!" Katie was not a nice kid, either. I don't remember much of anything else about my preschool classmates nearly thirty years later, but I remember two boys whom I was friends with and I remember that Katie was not a nice kid.

Nico didn't seem too upset by the older kids' rejection. He asked me later and again the next day why he couldn't go play with the other kids and their trucks. When I told him, well, they didn't want to share with you, they weren't nice kids, he said, "I thought they were nice." So he's fine, clearly. Maybe he's just too young to know he was mistreated or maybe he'll be like my sister and just be able to let kids' assholery roll off his back. Probably he won't remember that moment in the sand pit thirty years from now. I had to watch him be ignored and snubbed, though, and it still stings.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

this, that, and some other things

this, that, and some other things

First thing: We took the kids to a pumpkin patch on Sunday and had a really nice time. We took a hayride out to the pumpkin field and all the paying customers got to pick a pumpkin to take home. The only rule was that you had to be able to carry your pumpkin out, so some of the dads hauled out some ridiculously large gourds. I picked out a respectably-sized but not stupid-huge one that MB was nice enough to carry for me, and then we let Nico pick one for himself and one for Elliott. Nico also got to ride in a barrel train and dig in a sandbox full of seeds, so he was happy. Other than having a nice time, my only goal for the day was to get a photo of my cute baby sitting in front of some pumpkins. Accomplished!

Second thing: I don't usually listen to podcasts, but a friend sent me a link to this one and I really enjoyed it and now want to read the book:

99% Invisible: Wild Ones Live

Third thing: Nico has definitely inherited my uncanny knack for memorization and recitation. We checked out a great kids' book of poems about construction equipment, called Digger, Dozer, Dumper from the library. He loves it and can recite the entire book, big words and all. I haven't managed to record him "reading" the whole book yet, but here are two of the pages from last night…when his Ls finally come in someday, I might have a quiet cry over it.

Fourth thing: MB was trimming his hair with clippers in the bathroom earlier tonight while I rocked the baby to sleep in his nursery. From his bedroom in between Nico called out, "Daddy, I have something to tell you! You have been SO brave. You're being so good right now." It's sometimes hilarious to hear our words coming out of his mouth, like the time I gave him a little kid-sized broom and he went to the living room to sweep the floor after sternly telling the baby, "Elliott, stay out of my dirt!"

Fifth thing: I bought this on a bit of a whim at JoAnn at the beginning of the month. It was pretty expensive but then it was on sale for 50% off and I had a coupon for an additional 15% off so I went for it. I'm so very glad I got it because Nico loves it. Each day he flies the little wooden owl around, makes it say "whoo-whoo!" and carefully places it in the new pocket. Then he tells me, "On the last pocket, that's the day we go trick or treat!" I know I've said it before, but holidays are so much more awesome with kids.

Sixth thing: Brothers. Have mercy. 

Reading:  The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Playing:  The King is Dead and Long Live the King by the Decemberists

Saturday, October 12, 2013

baby's first road trip

baby's first road trip

During the summer of 2012 I hit it off with the mom of one of the kids who attended my work's summer camp. Our kids ended up in swimming lessons at the same time at the Y for 12 weeks running this past spring, so we spent a lot of time chatting on the bleachers outside the pool. Their family moved to Indianapolis in May and she insisted that we needed to come up and visit once they were settled. We took the boys the last weekend of September and it was so much fun. It was baby Elliott's first real road trip and he rocked it. We had a four-hour drive each way, and he slept all but thirty minutes each time. He slept well in the strange pack and play in the strange room in the strange house and was chipper and cheerful during our day trips out. All the ponies are now on order for him, so I hope no one else needs any. Unfortunately I didn't get many good pictures of him…since he's still not mobile he spent most of the time in the double stroller or in the Beco attached to me. Nico was awesome, too -- patient and pleasant in the car, well-mannered and polite at our friends' house, friendly to their six- and three-year-old kids.

On Saturday, we spent pretty much the whole day at the zoo. It was really big and really nice and the weather was nearly perfect. Elliott pondered life from the front seat:

Then later he rode along for a nap on the go:

Nico asked to feed the budgerigars in the walk-through aviary and then he actually did it. Trying new things is kind of a big deal for him so this was very exciting for me and MB.

We went back to feed them again later and he got spooked when a greedy one got a little too aggressive and hopped onto his hand, but I'm just so glad that he did it at all. I'm keenly aware these days that Nico is finally at an age where some of the experiences he has might find their way into his long-term memory, so every time something fairly awesome happens I feel like success baby. Also, fattest budgie of all! Hee!

Nico's favorite part of the day was reportedly the dolphin show, which was pretty neat. He kept asking why we couldn't swim in the pool. He was also very interested any time an animal had a big ball or toy in its cage.

Cheetah race:

Oh, just sitting up in a high chair at dinner…no big deal!

Playing with pizza dough:

We went to the children's museum on Sunday, reportedly the largest and best in the world. Unfortunately Nico was exceedingly tired from the day before and we didn't last long. It was really great and we barely scratched the surface of what they had to offer. We spent most of our time in the new, awesome playscape for kids ages 0 - 5. We tried to breeze through the dinosaur exhibit but there was a big docent presentation going on that we knew Nico wouldn't sit still for, so we ended up pointing at some skeletons and then going to to the cafeteria for lunch. One of my favorite moments of the day took place there, as I was carrying the lunch tray across the room with Elliott in the Beco. I had the tray held up as high as I could reach, but he had spotted it and was determined to grab it. So imagine me walking with a baby strapped to me, holding a tray out at arms' length, and the baby stretching his arm up as high as he can, swatting tater tots off the tray one by one. It was fairly hilarious. Luckily one of the employees saw us and took pity and carried the tray the rest of the way for me. I'm already thinking about taking the kids back to Indy, and next time I want to go the the children's museum for our first day / all day adventure.

Nico really hit it off with our friends' little daughter…here they are killing me with cute on the way into the museum:

Water clock:

This real Indy car is parked right in front of the elevators on the playscape level…when Nico saw it he absolutely lit up. It pretty much blew his mind that he was allowed to sit in it.

Seems low to me:

Reading:  Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Playing:  The King is Dead and Long Live the King by the Decemberists

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

October goals + September accountability

October goals + September accountability

September recap:

1. Frame and hang Elliott's hospital photo and footprints


2. Choose photos for living room and order

I really thought we'd get this one knocked out.

3. Basement storage organization / closet clean-out project

4. Catch up on boys' monthly letters


5. Call cable company for a quote

Done and woof…too high. We are not switching despite not liking our current provider very much.

6. Only drink soda at restaurants or when hanging out with friends.

This was a solid failure. I think choosing this as a goal during one of the two busiest months of my year was a mistake. Let's talk again in November. Or January. January sounds good.

7. Sort / cull 12 month clothes

8. Sort / cull / store 3T stuff

This isn't quite done, but that's because Nico is still wearing a few 3T things. I did pull out the stuff he's outgrown or just doesn't wear.

9. Frame and hang living room photos

10. Frame and hang owl print in Elliott's room

I took this fabulous print that evilducky bought for baby E to a local frame shop and had them mat it and put it in a frame I bought with a coupon at the craft store. It looks so great! I'm hoping to pin MB down sometime soon and have him use his superior measuring / leveling skills to hang it for me.

11. Read a non-bookclub book

12. Write to MIL twice

I only wrote once, though she did visit this month so I don't feel quite as bad as I would've otherwise. Also, busy.

13. Set up October playdate / girls' night / game night

14. Start Nico's Halloween costume

Sorta…I bought him a hoodie, pants, and the fabric needed to convert the hoodie into a costume.

15. Plan for Indianapolis trip

We had SO much fun.

16. Make reservations for October camping trip

17. Make reservations for November camping trip

I'm afraid to do this until after this Saturday has passed…we're planning a huge event at work and the rain date is the same Saturday as our camping trip. Once the event has happened, I won't feel superstitious anymore and I'll book the campsites right away. Swearsies.

18. Research and purchase family tent

We own and love a Mountain Hardwear two-person tent, so we got this one to use with the kids. I am pretty pumped to have a family-sized tent that won't leak if something touches the side while it's raining.

19. Bake a cheesecake for MB

*sad trombone* (I did buy a nice new springform pan, though. Baby steps!)

20. Make a Goodwill run

21. Sort and store / hang / donate frames behind bedroom door.

October goals:

1. Frame and hang Elliott's hospital photo and footprints

2. Choose photos for living room and order

3. Frame and hang living room photos

4. Catch up on boys' monthly letters

5. Hang owl print in Elliott's room

6. Read a non-bookclub book

7. Write to MIL twice

8. Make reservations for November camping trip

9. Bake a cheesecake for MB

10. Sort and store / hang / donate frames behind bedroom door

11. Set up November playdate / girls' night / game night

12. Finish Nico's Halloween costume

13. Get Halloween stuff down from the attic

14. Get craft together for kids' Halloween party on 10/27

15. Take the boys to a pumpkin patch

16. Start 2013 Nico / Elliott photo books

17. Fix dining room buffet crapmagnet