Tuesday, April 29, 2008

lawnmower woman

As you can tell, I'm feeling a little unhappy with the way my blog looks lately. One day I will get around to figuring out how to overhaul my design, but until that day, we'll all just have to live with a nip here and a tuck there.

Technology is generally not my friend. I'd much rather have a hammer or glue gun in my hand. I can intuit how to hang a picture, how to sew a purse, how to cook a new dish (or if push comes to shove I can actually read the directions). Give me something to do with my hands and I will sing a happy song. But figuring out how the crazy guts of a computer works is like reading in Japanese. BACKUP how? HTML what?

My brain has no intuitive sense of technology. There's not a cell in my body that would know how to create a website or install a new program without step-by-step instructions and much hand-holding. And as much as I can appreciate the things technology gives me (easy access to email, new music at the push of a button, pictures of wicked cute critters) something in me is so put off by the whole idea of the secret workings of a machine, I'd rather sit in the corner reading a novel by lamplight than have to get a new computer up and running. (Do you have any idea how long it took me to figure out how to include a link or picture in my posts? MONTHS!)

Right now the idea of customizing my blog is paramount to carving out someone's spleen. Which means this technophobe is going to live with a crappy, generic template until I just get so sick of it I want to claw my eyes out (based on how I'm feeling now, that could be sooner rather than later).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

they're back!

Kevin and Crystal are finally back with little Finn, and we couldn't be happier. We all trekked out to the airport to retrieve them yesterday morning, and it sounds like Finn and Daddy slept most of the day after they got home.

At dinner at our house later in the evening the little cuterton was still sleeping, and I got lots of time holding him. The jury is still out on whether River sees this new person as an interesting toy, a non-entity to be ignored, or an actual threat. Fun days ahead!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ass Effects?


Monday, April 21, 2008

spring is here!

I've been spending quite a bit of time working on the house the last couple weeks (cleaning the garage, re-caulking bathrooms, doing touch-up paint, and de-cluttering) in anticipation of putting it on the market this summer. We've decided to find a new place, one big enough to accommodate a growing family, so I'm working working working like a busy bee to have our home ship shape and ready to show. (No, I'm not currently pregnant, but there may be news of that in the coming months...)

When I haven't been hauling boxes to storage or running to the hardware store, I've been taking advantage of the beautiful weather and making daily trips to the park with River. It's been so nice to be able to get him out of the house, let him toddle around playgrounds, and join other kiddies on swings and slides.

I remember last spring when he was still a little blobby thing and the outdoors were pretty much lost on him, so these past weeks have been wonderful! Here he is in action:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Today River...

... pulled mommy to the park (and when he got tired walking on the way, he pointed where he wanted to go)
... started using walking as a means of travel (rather than just a novelty)
... fell asleep without any help (this is a first)
... said "all done" at the end of dinner (we actually caught this on video)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

hunger strike comes to an end

River has officially started eating again. Not only is he eating, he's eating like a teenage boy. We can't seem to shovel it in fast enough. So far today he has nursed twice, had one breakfast, an after-breakfast snack, second-breakfast, lunch, and an after-lunch snack.

At this rate, he'll be 200 lbs by the end of the week.

I guess I really don't need to worry about the toddler starvation diet--it all seems to even out in the end.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

chip off the ol' block

In an effort to maintain some level of sanity, I am very particular about keeping order in my house (my father is laughing his head off right now). See, as a teenager, the piles and piles of crap that continuously littered my bedroom floor caused my very neat dad no amount of discontent. After years of living with the likes of my mother (whose natural proclivity for messiness rivals my own), he has been beaten down, resigned to live with stacks of books, unfiled paperwork, gift wrap, mail, newspapers, and a general array of misplaced things to trip over.

When Thom and I moved in together (into a space that was all of 450 square feet), I decided very quickly that two people with a similarly messy disposition could not survive the small confines of a minuscule New York city walk-up. He agreed, and ever since he has been on board with my endeavors to create organized spaces for all of our crap. (That means I do the work and he provides emotional support.)

The thing I've found that works best is creating systems for organization. We never lose keys or the remote because they go back to the same space every time we use them. There's a looser system for other things, like electronics, books, files, coats, and shoes. Everything has a home, and as long was we know their landing place, it's okay to leave them out, use them, enjoy them--but eventually get them back to their home. We allow for spontaneity, laziness, and special occasions--I'm not a Nazi!--but we don't let chaos reign.

The general rule is that we try to put things away before we go to bed--dishes, laundry (sometimes), toothbrushes, toys. This system gives us the freedom to live our lives but also the ability to fight the ever-creeping clutter that threatens two (now three) naturally messy people.

Which brings us to River. I made it a huge priority when we had River that we would not be engulfed by spit rags, sippy cups, blocks, board books, and diapers. The temptation is great--especially with a toddler who flits from legos to blocks to stuffed animals to legos...--to play, frolic, leave the mess, and worry about it when I have an extra five minutes or grow a third hand.

However the rule is the same: his toys are picked up by the end of the day. Generally, Thom lets the toys build up into a massive pile until it's time to go to bed, and then there's a mad dash to get everything back in place. Thinking of the work I'll avoid later, I like to clean as I go. Done with the blocks? Let's pick them up, then you can go pick out a book. No more books? Okay we'll go get your critters when these are back on the shelf.

He has taken to this system amazingly quick. He doesn't fuss when I pause from his desired activity to pick up the previous one. In fact, early on he started modeling my behavior, and ever since he consistently helps put his toys back in their designated boxes. At first I had to show him where they went, and then he figured it out all by himself. Often he would play the game of putting things away and taking them out and putting them away over and over.

I was excited about his budding understanding of organization. Then he started showing an interest in categorizing. First, he exhibited this by picking two yellow toys to hold, then three blue blocks, then he piled all of the bugs together away from the rattles.

Though I haven't actively encouraged his categorization obsession, I am his main model for behavior. Which means the following is probably my fault and the source of countless therapy hours in his future.

River seems to have become a bit obsessive-compulsive. He becomes visibly frustrated when a stuffed animal is put in the car box. He crawls across the room to retrieve a single lego that has been left near the books. He's even started showing me he's done with an activity by initiating the clean-up.

Granted, my boy is not a robot. He still craves destruction, making messes, and chaos. I'm glad to see those urges firmly implanted; otherwise I would worry that we're raising a little automaton.

I know some of this is developmental--he's learning the skill of putting things in (something he physically couldn't do until a few months ago), he's learning that some things are different from other things (books are not trains), he's learning patience and delayed gratification (we'll play with something new after the old thing is put away). Like any developmental leap, there is likely to be a high level of obsession as he first learns the new skill which will taper off as he masters it.

I hope so.

The last thing I want is for River to feel restricted, constrained, and fearful of messes. He's a kid! He needs chaos in his life!

(But my hope is that a little bit of order won't kill him either.)

Monday, April 07, 2008

what kid looks this miserable after eating a cupcake?


What it comes down to is this:

-we cannot force him to eat
-cheerios, fruit leather, & rice cakes are still food
-he wants to nurse more? so be it.
-as long as he has pudge to squeeze I will be okay

Thursday, April 03, 2008

River News: Month TWELVE!

Dear Mr. Rivertinibini (River-teeny-beany),

You are now ONE YEAR OLD! In a short 366 days (leap year!) you have changed beyond recognition. To get some sense of the momentous transformation you have made, let us look at the example of your new cousin, Finn:

Here we have a cute, tiny, limp, needy, tired newborn. He sleeps, poops, and eats--and that's about it. You were very much like this little baby. And look at you now! You're a strong, rough-and-tumble, funny, smart, curious, amazing, independent little boy.

It's almost as though you read the textbook that said your first birthday would mark your entry into toddlerhood. You're getting more and more snuggly, willful, coordinated, picky, and funny. You're learning all kinds of new skills and surprise me everyday with some new trick.

This month you've started using your first signs. For months and months at meal times you would watch your dorky parents waving their arms emphatically, saying "All done? All done?" or pressing their fingertips together for "More? Do you want more, River?" All the while you looked on like, You guys are such nerds. After some time you even imitated us, signing "More More" without the least understanding of what you were saying.

But finally something clicked and a few weeks ago you connected the gesture to the idea. We were at grandma's house eating some grapes and you pointed to the bowl of chopped fruit, then pressed your fingers together very knowingly, and the look of delight on your face when you got what you wanted was priceless. From your parents' reaction one might have thought you'd just invented the printing press. What an amazing baby! Oh, he's a little genius!

In addition to signed words, you seem to be on the verge of learning how to say words too. I know we're still a ways away from talking, but more and more the syllables you put together sound like they come from our actual language. Da-dee! is a common one, as is Dis! or Dat!

I hope your increasing grasp on language helps bridge the communication gap that is notoriously difficult for toddlers and parents, because mealtimes have indeed become an...er... challenging event. Gone are the days when we could give you a selection of healthy foods and you would gobble them down quickly and happily. Your immediate reaction to food these days is, Get that outta my face! It doesn't matter if you loved bananas yesterday, today they're offensive. That toast? No, no, it's much too food-like for me. We let you hold it, mash it, tear it up, and after a thorough investigation you just might take a nibble.

It's as though your appetite has waned overnight. I know this is a battle every parent has with their toddler, so we're trying not to put too much pressure on you. We know you'll eat when you're hungry, and if you have healthy options, you'll get the nutrients you need. (I just try to remember that when I'm covered in rejected food chunks and you haven't eaten for two days.)

One very nice change this month is your ability to be patient on outings. We've switch your car seat around to face forward and this has made a world of difference. You used to HATE the car, stuffed in the backseat with a horrible view, strapped in and unable to be a part of things. Now, at least you can see me and where we're going, and that seems to have given you a tremendous amount of tolerance for long drives.

You're also able to sit in a shopping cart for longer periods once we get where we're going. I know this won't last. I'm not under any delusions that you won't be having supermarket meltdowns over the candy at the checkout stand. But for now we're at peace.

We went to Las Vegas this month in hopes of seeing your cousin born, and as you can see from the picture of Finn up above, we were successful! I'm so excited for you to have a new little person in your life--someone to play with, to conspire with, to teach horrible horrible tricks to. As the older cousin it's your job to teach Finn how to fart with his armpits, tell silly jokes, and get into all kinds of trouble I can't even imagine (ask your father or uncle Nelse, they were ringleaders too).

This trip was so much better for you than other trips have been (for me, it was tough, because your daddy wasn't around most of the time--but for you it was awesome!). First of all, YOU DID NOT GET SICK! This is a River travel first. I was so greatful I did not have to take care of a sick baby, or delay our trip home, or stay up wiping a snotty nose (other than my own).

Second, you were such a little social butterfly. As usual, you took a little time to get used to the new space and warm up to people, but it was so short compared to previous visits. Your grandpa Terry and uncle Nelse really reaped the benefit of your friendliness. Right away you latched onto them, shining the full spotlight of your love on them, and boy, did they eat it up!

Some of the most fun you had in Vegas (and back at home later) was at playgrounds. We spent many hours swinging, sliding, and exploring. The weather was so nice, you would show your enthusiasm for going outside by banging on a window or door when you were ready to go. One time, you even brought grandma Julie her shoes to get her moving faster!

While we were there with family, we celebrated all of the March birthdays (Nelse, Thom, Finn, You, Mommy). It was a fun party, and you really got the hang of opening cards and tearing wrapping paper to pieces.

We also had a celebration on your actual birthday once we got home. All of your friends from our playgroup came over and you were a very good host. You flitted from person to person, making sure everyone had sufficient hugs or toys to hold. This party was pretty monumental because it was the first time you've made a significant effort at WALKING! I think you saw a few other little ones toddling around, and that gave you a boost of confidence. You kept moving back and forth across the room, traveling as far as 10 feet one time. I was overjoyed to see you testing your legs out and you seemed to love it too.

I can't believe how much you've changed this past year. You've grown into such a happy, giggly, sweet little soul. You know what you want and express yourself so well. You're great with new people and new spaces, and very rarely do we have to worry about public meltdowns. As parents, we'd like to take credit for your great nature, but I really think you're just a cool little man who's had space to grow.

Somewhere in the past twelve months I've grown into a woman who feels very comfortable in the "mommy" shoes. So comfortable that I have a hard time remembering what life was like before you came along.

I want you to know how very loved you are and how much I'm looking forward to the coming year. You are going to reach such great heights, and I am so happy to be there to witness it.

I love you love you love you (to the moon and back),