Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Beast That Ate My Living Room

I have been redecorating our upstairs landing/ foyer/ office for many months. The redecorating takes only a few minutes; the getting rid of years of paperwork and crap takes long hours of sorting, shredding and sneaking things out of the house to the thrift store after H-Mama has left for work. The shredding my kids warmed right up to. Monito is afraid of the little shredder, but is happy to collect scraps of any paper to hand to his braver sister who sends it on through the machine with glee.

In the original space design, only now beginning to be realized, there is a desk with my computer on it, a gas stove that looks like a wood stove but is on a thermostat, a book shelf for kids books and some comfortable seating for kids to snuggle into as they hunker down and read for hours like I used to. Lets set aside the fact that my kids are, at this age, so very uninclined to sit and read to themselves that it is a folly to design around the future book addictions that I want them to have.

So I posted on Freecycle that I wanted a bean bag or two for my kids to snuggle into because they cost twenty dollars or more at Target and I'm cheap. What I received has me crying for mercy. I fetched one today from a lovely woman a couple miles from my house; she was so ecstatic to see me arrive that I should have known something was up. She pulled from underneath her ping pong table one of the two bean bags that I agreed to take off her hands, and I stopped short. "Um, I'm going to have to return tomorrow for the other one" I said one I caught my breath. It is massive, and according to the Interwebs it is around $257 per bag. I was barely able to fit it into my Volvo wagon back end; note the stroller mashed against the side of the car in the picture below.I'm sure Sandy got them on sale, but still. The one in my living room is so big that it will make 4 or 5 kid-sized chairs when I make attractive covers out of a nice neutral linen I've selected. The other one? I've committed to go fetch it tomorrow. I'm looking for a home for it. Speak up if you want it. I can't sell it, since I got it for free, but I'm not sure I know anyone who has room for it.
It took the kids a few minutes to figure out how to get on it, but Pequita decided that launching off the full-sized wing back chair already in our living room would work. She then figured out that getting out wasn't an option, and asked me to bring her the babies so she could play with them in the chair.

Groundhog Alternative

Who needs Groundhog day when I have snowfall for the last few days to let me know that spring is pretty far away? Even my hyacinth is taking pity on me and sending out a whole new shoot to keep us entertained and my kitchen smelling good. See it peeking through?

The birds are also flocking to the feeders. We have greedy blue jays, hungry cardinals, huge crows, and many squirrel scavenging at our kitchen window. I highly recommend getting feeders if your kids are at the right age. They love love love to fill the feeders and then watch the birds eat. We will be making craft projects with pipe cleaners and cheerios to hang out there for the squirrels as well. I think they'll like to see something they actually created helping feed their creatures.


$1 per 8 pack. I got several.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Brolly/ Tushy

It isn't clear to me which is the star of this picture, Monito's new umbrella or the adorable tushy peeking out underneath it.

Sick, Homestead Style

I was assuming we brought our colds back from Canada [and the trip would still have been well worth it] but everyone in our town is sick, too, and it can't ALL have been from my Typhoid-Homestead family.

When our family falls sick at the same time, it is actually pretty enjoyable. There is lots of quieter playing on the new rug in front of the fire. Pequita is perfecting her tower building technique, and her brother is working on the restraint required to let her.
There is lots of rolling around in blankets, hiding underneath them and zoning out in a pile of warm coziness. Monito asked to have the tunnel and playhouse built. He then curled up inside it with his blanket and relaxed to the Teletubbies. There is also lots of laundry folding, as evidenced by the pile on the couch, because the kids are quiet enough for me to actually get it done in daylight hours.

There is lots of napping, woozy waking, and being nursed back down to sleep for an extra half hour.

There is lots of comfort food. The kids got sherbet cones for breakfast the last two days to soothe their throats. I found tiny kid cones that are about 2.5" tall; difficult to fill with frozen ice cream, but perfect for a special treat medicinal-sized serving. Popsicles and macaroni and cheese have figured more prominently in our diets than usual, alongside homemade chicken soup and kale with brown rice to balance it all out. After the kids went weepily, clingily down to bed last night, Homestead Mama and I had a battle of the breads. She started a batch of Bittman's "no-knead bread", a sure-fire recipe I've written about before. It is a chewy, crusty french peasant bread style loaf. To complement that, I made a loaf of sandwich bread in the bread machine. My favorite recipe is called Anadama bread, and it is in the recipe book that came with the machine. It has oatmeal, cornmeal, and molasses in it, and wheat gluten is added so it is chewy and soft. It is perfect. If anyone wants the recipe, comment and let me know.
This morning I woke up and punched down the no-knead dough and set it up on the top shelf in the warm living room to finish rising in the green milk-glass bowl. This bowl is over fifty years old and brings me joy every time I use it and think of how many other women have baked bread with it. I put away most of my Fire King dishes when the kids were born, but kept a few most used pieces out to keep me happy in the kitchen.Then I served us all slices of my bread with butter and honey. Hot coffee for me, and water with a splash of juice in it for the kids in baby bottles, their cup of choice when sick. Homestead living at its best.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kiddie Motorcycle Gang

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Canadian Trip

We had a delightful time up on the edge of Canada. I love wintery beach, and our friends live a few short blocks from a lovely one. We spent a long cold time exploring and playing on the beach and nearby playground. You can see Toronto across the lake.
Canadian geese, possessing home court advantage, are bolder up North. Monito, a veteran fowl-chaser, got a little surprise when the tables were turned and the hungry geese came looking for food. He broke into a run right after this shot was taken.

We were visiting a house inhabited by a 2.5 year old, and much of the time she seemed equal parts amazed, delighted and horrified at how Pequita and Monito interacted in her previously peaceful, tidy space. The marauding! The screaming! The fighting, hitting, biting! The time outs! The humanity! There was a truly remarkable amount of sharing on all fronts, given the ages of all three kids.
There was a lot of parallel play, and a good amount of cooperative play as well. Ball rolling in a circle had to be set up and monitored by adults, but was fun for a couple minutes.

As always, I wish we lived closer to our loved ones with kids our children's age.

And I made a mental note of an item for the "3rd Baby: CONS" column. Travelling to other people's houses with 3 toddlers? Near-impossible. I think the only place we could visit without staying in a hotel is to Grandma's house. Although my kids would be at least a year older, more mature and more independent by the time of birth...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Like a Bee to Honey

My father is a technology junkie, a communication addict, a man so tuned in to news, politics and happenings that he barely sleeps.  And now, at my urging, he's joined Facebook.  My mother will never forgive me.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

And We're Up!

7:07 am. My boy, he is regular like clockwork.
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Oh , Goddess, Shoot Me Now

I'm awake at 2:53 am reading the NY Times on my cell phone and crafting clever FB status updates to counter my boring SAHM chronicles.

Pequita was up with me until 11 I think due to her new phase. Or she is sick, or just jazzed up at being in Canada. Monito keeps waking up and staggering across the room in which we're bunked on the floor to press his dream-stated little body against the closed French doors and reprise Dustin Hoffman's church scene in The Graduate, except crying out his sister's name instead of "Elaine".

I'm fumbling through all this with numb fingers because contorting to keep my son on the boob while sleeping on a mattress on the floor while clutching my Blackberry and typing is, somehow, cutting off the blood supply to my hands.

Whoever said that we mothers can't have / do it all?

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Off to Canada

My beloved friends moved just over the border into Canada several years ago. (This is a sad but common problem in a college town.). We try to see them as much as possible, but this has manifested in once or twice a year, given all the babies/ toddlers in out lives. They were to come here this week, but had to cancel. The need to see them was so great that we are currently on our way up to St. Catharine's for the long weekend. We are all terribly excited.
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Monday, February 9, 2009

First Playground Day

February 9. Not bad for this neck of the woods. It is just warm enough to play.

We sat down for snacks in the back of the car where it was dry. After inhaliing a whole banana, Monito kept repeating something that sounded like 'yayo' which for the life of me I couldn't understand. Pequita looked at me witheringly and said, "Mommy, LOLLY!". Yay! She's bilingual.
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Two Hours

In a lifetime, two hours is nothing. To a mother of young kids, it can feel like a week. I have 2 hours of time to myself this morning because Monito has graduated to joining the nursery coop we have going on. I held him back until recently because his nutty developmental phase rendered him volatile and less likely to play well with others. I am sipping earl grey tea in a coffeehouse with music playing and I intend to knit and read the NY Times and maybe call some friends. I am quietly pleased.
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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Everything Old is New Again

Some new used toys are making two very happy kids.
If you have a kid around 2, run - do not walk - and get a Viewmaster. Pequita carries hers with her everywhere now, even on the changing table. I'm expecting to get some mileage out of these on the long car trips this summer, too.
We also found the Rodie bouncing horse, which they adore and like to sit on while playing, watching a DVD, or eating. Both have bounced vigorously enough to fly off and hit their heads on the coffee table, and now the rule is that Rodie has to be ridden next to the soft couch only.

I remember spending hours playing with Connect 4. Clearly, my kids aren't playing by the rules, but totally love the plink plink of dropping the chips into the slots and then letting them crash to the table. Pequita plays longer than Monito, and once he has stepped away she starts sorting the colors and making patterns with them in the rack.

We also found a chainsaw with batteries that makes a wonderful scary buzzing sound. Monito runs through the house waving it over his head and giggling maniacally like an extra from a slasher film. I was a little surprised that Pequita found a way to enjoy it as well. Her doll Lia was purchased to renew the spark of interest in potty training. Lia has her own batteries, bottle, and potty and she cries to be fed and then to be put on the potty. Pequita LOVES her, and amusingly, frequently doesn't turn her on since it is stressful to have the demands of a baby. No headway on the potty training, though. Lately she's been peeing through her diapers a few times a day, so we're changing her more often than ever and hoping it is a phase of sorts.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Milestone Hell

Monito has figured out how to escape public toilet stalls by crawling under the dividers, dragging his pacifier on the floor the whole way.

I'll never be able to go to the bathroom easily in public again. Dagnabbit.

Baby-free zone

It is official. No more babies here, just toddlers. When we go to the local science museum, they are no longer amused with the blocks, mini-vacuum, or the tame baby water pool. Now, Pequita rushes to the craft table and cuts, glues, and tapes up a storm. Monito watches the big boys and tries to help them make dams in the big water tank, clambering up to perch on the slippery lip of the tank that is 2' off the ground so he can compete for floating toys. They are both wearing size 3 and 4 clothes. Wherever did my babies go?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pequita Growing Up

Oh me oh my, my daughter brings joy to my life. She is in a very 'big sister' phase in which she loves to help and teach and take care of others. During her brothers recent flu, she was happily on call. She was willing to drop her activity instantly when I called her to help. (So much of a sick toddler is managing vomit spread, so someone needs to hold the puke-covered kid still and comfort them while another brings cleaning supplies.) She gladly grabbed towels and trotted them over to me, or brought her crying brother a toy or cup of water when he cried and crooned 'Buuuubbuuuuh' to him while touching his cheek. Saturday night at around 11 pm H-Mama was downstairs putting our pukey sheets in the laundry and I had to fetch clean jammies for Monito. Pequita was awake with all the hubbub, and we pulled her out of her crib and asked her to sing to her brother and comfort him for a couple minutes. She lay down alongside him, held his hand and sang her favorite song to him, the ABCs. Her version goes like this: O-ayayay, I-ayayay, A-ayayay, I. U-ayayay, O-ayayay, (etc). Monito quieted right down and lay still with her while we cleaned up. I am ever grateful that we have two kids when I see them like this.

Her favorite ASL sign right now is 'I love you', taught to her by Auntie Kiko. It really illustrates this stage for her, which is so filled with love and affection.

Not so much blogging these days, eh? I'm a bit swamped and stressed.

I believe I forgot to post Monito's 18 month stats; one drawback of blogging on my blackberry is that it isn't easy to go back and check old blog posts. Lord knows my memory isn't going to be much help. Chronic sleep deprivation makes it hard to separate intention from actual action.

We went to the new doc, who is still working out just fine. Monito has a little PTSD surrounding medical procedures. Between his sister's blood draws for lead checks, her recent fingers-crushed-in-doorway scream fest and ensuing x-rays, and his own painful venipuncture for lead testing with accompanying crying, he is understandably wary. He tolerates well visits by sitting on my lap as the doc checks him over, but starts crying as soon as he sees vaccination syringes. He is running about dead even with his 8 month older sister, and at 31 lbs and 35" tall he is firmly 95th percentile for his age.

Monito's fun fast-cycling phase is easing up a bit. We go a full hour sometimes without a meltdown. H-Mama and I realized recently that we are regularly expecting too much of him, mostly because of his sheer size and physicality. When we observe him alongside another kid who is 19 months, differences are apparent. He has gotten so much from his older sister and totally keeps up, but the age difference is profound when watching him NOT play nicely and quietly with small motor skills. He is a bashing, crashing, whacking, loud, whiny, mischievous, sweet snuggly boy. He would rather take everything apart, throw it all on the floor, destroy block towers instead of building it up. He is, in a nutshell, a 19 month old boy. He is able to count to 3, sing a version of the alphabet song, carefully pour water or lentils from one pitcher to another. He can turn on the DVD player by himself (we're so proud), dismantle most child-safety locks, and tell a whole involved story in fairly understandable vocabulary mixed with funny pantomime.

It doesn't matter how annoying he gets. His Mama and I are head over heels amazed by him.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sick. Again.

We had a very nice day yesterday. We brunched and hung out with a family we really enjoy, shopped a bit and then had play time and pizza with another favorite family. More socializing in one day than we usually get in a week.

Monito woke me up at 11 last night to be brought into my bed and then greeted me by throwing up on me. His first real big boy vomit-fest versus a baby's spitting up. We changed the sheets once, but both the sick boy and I had six outfit changes each. And to think, our washer/dryer had been out of order due to a frozen pipe until yesterday morning. Homestead Mama did 4 loads to get us caught up, and in one bonanza of illness Monito blew through almost all the newly fluffy jammies. Thank god for working plumbing. I got almost 4 hours of sleep; we'll see how the day goes.