Thursday, June 30, 2011

Nassau County Museum of Art Sculpture Park

As an army brat (and indecisive adventurous adult), I have moved around a lot. And at each location - at least the ones I can remember - I've been able to find a place that felt magical to me. A place that made me feel serene and centered. One that held the possibility of something extraordinary happening - like maybe finally I would be visited by a supernatural being to be told that yes, I do have special powers, I just have to wait until age 16 21 30 35 for them to be activated.

In Massachusetts I found these places in my own yard and in nearby woods. In Texas, this spot was a path alongside the road. In Manhattan, I was shocked to find that space in The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. It has taken two years, but I have finally found a magical place in Long Island too - The Nassau County Museum of Art Sculpture Park.

Running like a "CHEETAH!"

There are acres and acres of sculptures, beautiful gardens and trails. So many hiding spots that I'm sure we could have been watched by mischievous teenagers and serial killers fairies tucked away in the bushes and trees and never have known. The perfect location for a grown woman who likes to play secret agent (um, not that I know anyone who fits that description).
Running like a "CHEETAH MONKEY" in the secret gardens

Oh and then there's the art. The sculptures. You would think that I'd have a better appreciation of contemporary art after working at the CCS Museum at Bard during college. But I don't really. I didn't care for installations that included feces in cans (true story) then and turtle people with backwards heads don't do it for me now. I can say that I did like a few and some were certainly very interesting. But Nate loved each and every one. 

Nate's "FAY-VERT" - Masayuki Nagare's Nagare Bachi
My favorite

Allen Bertoldi's Redbank 31

Nate informed me that this was a "PEN-WIN" (penguin)

Museum in the background

This would be the perfect spot for a wedding

We had the best time and plan to go back soon. Do you have a magical place?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Natey's book selections

Dave usually gets home from work just in time to read Nate some stories before bed. Nate has been picking out his bedtime stories for a while now and I am always interested in the choices he makes. It used to be a speedy process - we finished reading one book, he hopped down and quickly picked out another. But more recently he's been standing in front of his bookcase, browsing, browsing, browsing... and taking approximately five hours to pick each selection.   

Reading another favorite non-kid's book, 

So last night I asked Nate to pick out his three books ahead of time. He chose an Elmo book, a Boynton book and "SEASEN."  Seasen? Nate, what's Seasen? I don't think we have any book about seasons. Can you show me? And Nate grabs his new favorite book Ancient Rome Past and Present Guide with ReconstructionsOh, Caesar! Nathaniel's new favorite book is a little guide book about Rome I picked up eons ago during my one trip to Italy. He likes to point to the monuments and have us name them. Statue of Nero, Colosseum, Roman Forum. You know, really toddler friendly reading material.

Do your children like your books too?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Guacamole expressions

I've taken so many pictures and video of Nate throughout his life that now he requests -often- to be captured on film (er, digitally). "TAKE PIC-TURE. NATE."  Then he likes to see it. "NATE 'IDEO. BACK." As in, turn the camera around and let me see how marvelous I look in that video. I don't know exactly what this says about either of us, but I'm glad he'll have this blog to print out and take to future therapy sessions.

As I've mentioned, we've been talking about emotions lately. So when we were having dinner the other night, I started asking him to make faces for mad, sad, etc. He obliged, but made it clear I should really capture his brilliance on my camera. Please note that while I understand that the "kid with food on their face" is a classic picture for all parents to take, I normally despise those pictures and don't think people should subject others to them. I don't find them cute. I think they are pretty gross (um, except for that one you took of your kid - that was just precious). But, since Nate is my baby and I think everything he does is just amazing, I am breaking my rule today, big time. Prepare for the avocado...

I don't know about his portrayal of mad, but I think scared is pretty good.  And yeah, I know funny isn't an emotion, but he's not familiar with amused yet.  Sheesh.

What's your stance on the food on the face pics?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Typical summer weekend

Nate's weekend was full of walks, dips in the kiddie pool, conquering the "big kid slide" at the park, many rounds of hide-and-seek and even more rounds of BODY FAMs! (That would be "body slams" in Nate speak.) What did you do this weekend?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Baby sign of the week: FISH

When you begin using sign language with your baby or toddler, it's a good idea to focus on signs for concepts that play a big role in your child's everyday life. The more prevalent the concept is in your life, the more likely you'll have opportunities to talk about the concept while using the sign. That's why a lot of experts recommend starting with signs related to eating, such as MILK, MORE and EAT

One of the reasons baby sign language is so successful in facilitating verbal development in children is because conversations can be led by the child. It's easier and more fun to learn just about anything when you have a genuine interest in the subject. Consider what things around your house excite your child. Pets are usually a big hit. For Nate, it was our DOG, WASHING MACHINE and VACUUM.

Nate has an adorable little blue-eyed, blond friend (I may have kind of already arranged their marriage) who has a soft spot for her pet fish, Fat Bastard. Leena, this is for you:

Click here for the ASL sign for fish - the right hand waves back and forth while moving forward a few inches. This resembles the movement of a fish swimming through water.

What funny things around the house did your child love as an infant?

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Vroom, vroom


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I feel pretty, oh so pretty

Nate is in total toddler sponge mode. He has been absorbing everything we say and spitting the funniest phrases back out at us. For example:
  • We were running after a ball in the park the other day. He reached it first and with a smug smile said, "Nice try!" 
  • When he knows he is exasperating me - usually at mealtime - he'll say "Geez Louise" or "Sheesh."  I have no idea when I started using these phrases. And apparently I use them frequently. I really like four letter words. What has happened to me?
Oh sheesh!
  • One of his favorite phrases to whip out at random times is "easy peasy." He claims the rarely seen Prairie Dawn on Sesame Street taught him this term.
  • I asked him today what I could possibly do to get him to nap in his crib, he replied, "deep breaths."
  • But my absolute favorite thing to hear him say - which he says unsolicited and quite often - is "Mommy pree-tee!"  It makes my heart melt every time. No matter that he also thinks Elmo is pretty. No matter.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mad, mad boy: toddlers & emotions

Nate surprised me the other day by telling me he was mad. Over and over again. And not so much telling, as yelling. It wasn't surprising that he was mad (I was attempting to brush his teeth), but it surprised me that he's already starting to label his emotions correctly. Mad isn't a word we use a lot around the house (I prefer more colorful words when I lose my temper); I think he grasped the concept from this Sesame Street parody of Mad Men. I explained to him that it was okay to be mad, and it was okay to say he was mad, but it was not okay to hit or yell at Mommy. Ah, bratty toddler moments!

I realized that it was time to come up with some better ways for Nate to express his anger, so I taught him expletives in several foreign languages. Okay, no I didn't. But I did look up the ASL sign for "mad." Shockingly, it wasn't in the Baby Signing 1-2-3 book.  Here is Nate attempting to replicate it:


But if Nate really was angry, I don't know how cathartic signing MAD would be. It was nice of him to refrain from pointing out the lameness of the idea. I also suggested "BODY F'AMMING" a pillow (he's really into body slamming... future wrestling star perhaps? Awe-some!) but that's not practical if he's in his high chair or out in public. Dave came up with teaching him deep breaths, which I thought was pretty brilliant.

When Nate and I were walking to get Italian ices the other day, Nate jumped out of his skin when an incredibly loud motorcycle tore by. Before I could say anything he turned to me and said, "SCARE! MODO-CYCLE SCARE NATE!" It made a big impression, because he's been talking about it ever since. He laughs and recounts that "FAS' MODO-CYCLE SCARE" several times a day. Crazy times!

I had been planning to focus on emotions and even thought about getting some more books on emotions (the only one we have is Bear Feels Scared), but it seems Nate is picking it up as we go without a formal lesson. Maybe if I'm lucky he'll start noticing, "MOMMY ANXIOUS!"

What do you tell your children to do when they're angry? Can you recommend any resources for discussing emotions?

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

A very happy Father's Day!

...To my three favorite fathers (and all of the other daddys too).


Friday, June 17, 2011

Cold Spring Harbor

After a lot of recent falls and Wednesday's boo-boo/napping fiasco, I wanted to take the day off from injuries.  I couldn't find any open plays in giant rubber rooms and Dave's suggestion of a gender change was out of the question, so Nate and I took a drive to explore nearby Cold Spring Harbor.

Checking out the turtles at Cold Spring Fish Hatchery & Aquarium
Feeding the fish
Picnic lunch in the park with his PEE-BUTTER SAMICH
A rare car nap saving me from nap training hell for a day

I was thankful he fell asleep in the car. At least it was still another day without me putting him in the crib already asleep (one day closer to breaking our "bad habit" sleep associations). And at least he took a nap - even if it was only a short one. We resumed nap training today and he stayed in his crib talking/crying for forty minutes before I got him out. The only thing that gives me a tiny bit of hope is that he was talking in his crib more and crying a little less. It was also the first day he promised to go to sleep in his crib instead of crying. Obviously he broke his promise, so I'll have to ground him for the weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wicked awesome nap training

Like any sane parent, I really love nap time.  And after fighting for nearly two years to have a baby that naps for longer than thirty minutes at a clip, things have finally been going well.  Nate's been napping in his crib daily, sometimes as long as two or three hours - LIKE A "NORMAL" KID! It's been heaven...with one exception. I put him into the crib when he's already asleep. And I can't continue to do that for the rest of his napping life. So I decided that once again we would try to do sleep training for nap time.

The thing about sleep training for naps is that, unlike nighttime, Nate doesn't eventually get so tired he finally goes to sleep. He'll just push through and get his second, third, fourth wind until he's completely melting down at five o'clock. Yesterday was day 2 of nap training and it did not go well.

Now that Nate is older he understands nap time and looks forward to it (usually). I can talk to him about the change in his routine - it's just like nighttime...I put you into your crib while you're awake and you go to sleep by yourself like a big boy! I thought he would go willingly yesterday, but not so much. Day 1 reaffirmed that staying in the room with him won't work, so I decided I would be all cold-hearted and tough and have him cry it out yesterday. I let him cry for thirty minutes. Do you know what that's like? Listening to your baby call out for you for a half an hour? It's heart wrenching and I hate it.

After I got him out and held him, I decided to try to stroll him to sleep. At least we'd be breaking the sleep association he's used to, but he'd still be getting his all important nap. The day before he fell asleep in the car at 3:30 for an hour. At that time, we start interfering with bed time and he was still cranky, so I wanted to try to avoid that situation. And my plan worked spectacularly...for about five minutes. Then he wanted to get out and push the stroller himself. Fantastic.

Strolling didn't work, so I tried driving. That didn't work either, so I decided we'd go to the library and try a driving nap on the way home. We returned our books and I encouraged Nate to run on the big grass fields. He was a having a blast running and running, with his elbows pumping and his legs turned slightly outward. Until he ran over a concrete pathway. And fell on his face.

Nate falls a lot and his poor little legs are covered with scrapes and bruises. He has a couple of head bumps from indoor accidents too (bookshelf climbing and falling face first onto a wipe container top). But this time there was more blood coming from my baby then I had ever seen before. Pouring from his knee and mouth. I managed to not faint and carried him crying to the car.

I cleaned him up as best I could with a clean blanket and water. I keep a first aid kit in the diaper bag, but he screamed when I tried to use the wipe to clean his knee. I couldn't tell the difference between old scabs and fresh dirt. His little lip had shreds hanging from it and it started to swell into a big bubble. After I cleared the blood away, I realized he didn't actually have that much broken skin. Why do they have to bleed so much?!

The whole car ride home he cried, "DONE BOO-BOO. DONE BOO-BOO. MATTER. MATTER." I think he was saying his boo-boo was the matter, as if I had asked him, "what's the matter?" I felt so badly for him. I got him home and gave him an ice cube in one of those Sassy Teething Feeders to suck on while I bathed him. After he was cleaned up and the ice brought the swelling down a bit, all of his injuries didn't look so bad.

This wasn't taken yesterday (he was 19 months here).
We went to cuddle on the couch and the worst part of the day happened. He made me watch Barney. Two episodes in a row. The horror.

To cap off the awesome day, his total lack of napping interfered with his nighttime sleeping and he woke up many times throughout the night. Yay! Today is day 3. Wish me luck.

Did you sleep train for naps? How'd it go?

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Love letter to 22 month old Nathaniel

Dear Natey,

Hello, my amazing little boy. You're two months away from being two years old! I thought by this point I might be getting a little tired of our long days together, but nope. I love them. I love playing with you, teaching you and laughing with you every day. 

It has warmed up quite a bit and the park has now become a huge part of our lives. Our daily routine usually includes mornings at the park, where you have a regular group of playmates. You ask about certain kids by name and clearly look forward to seeing them. We always bring some cars and trucks and add them to the pile that is shared among you. You spend part of your time playing with the vehicles, but you also enjoy chasing your friends and throwing a ball back and forth.  The ball part seems to work best if the kid is a bit older, to keep the game on track. I know I've already mentioned this before, but you have terrific aim. You're also a big swing & slide guy too.

The rest of our day is usually spent playing in our yard (favorite activities include watering the plants, digging up my tulip bulbs and falling on the concrete),  in our house, taking walks and running errands. Your favorite new indoor games include "hide and seek" and "tell Ava."  Hide and seek goes like this - you cover your eyes for approximately one whole second while I hurl myself behind one of the three hiding spots in your room. Then you gasp and squeal with delight when you find me. I have no idea how this has managed to remain fresh for you. And "tell Ava" goes like this - we take turns commanding our dog in a stern voice to complete tasks that she is incapable of completing. Then you laugh hysterically (in her face). For example, "AVA! Iron my shirt. Heeheehee! AVA! Fly an airplane. Hahaha! AVA! Mow the lawn. Bwahahahaha!"

Oh, and we read a lot of books, like What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?

And you talk, and talk and talk. When you want to know what something is called, you say, "This is?" And when you don't know the answer to a question you'll say, (in non-question form, kind of like a disinterested teenager) "huh."  You speak in four and five word sentences occasionally, but most of your sentences are still between one and three words. You know all of your letters by sight and now we're working on the sounds they make. I think you know all of the numbers between one and nine by sight, but usually don't count past three.  As for shapes, you have a good grasp on triangle, square, heart and circle. In fact, about two weeks ago, you started drawing circles. The first time you drew one, I had my head down drawing circles and triangles for you. You said, "Mommy, CIR-CAL" and I looked up to find this:

I was so shocked and proud! Then you wrote "Ava" - okay, not really - that was me.

You're really into things that match and love pointing them out to me in your books (thank you, Sesame Street). You could survive on PEE-BUTTER SAMICHes alone if I let you. You're also in a naked phase and a screaming phase. At least I really, really hope they're phases. Especially the screaming one. In public. Nate in the grocery cart: AHHHH! Me: Nate, I'm right here, you don't need to scream. Nate (with glee): AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! RIGHT HERE! AHHH! Awesome.

You are awesome. I love you more than tongue can tell.  ~ Mommy

Monday, June 13, 2011


I haven't posted in a few days because I've been busy enjoying a fantastic visit from my mom. My family lives about 250 miles away, so we don't see them as often as I'd like.  This visit was especially nice because our time wasn't dominated by Nate's difficult napping/sleep schedule. We could all enjoy our time and each other much more without me stressing about Nate's sleeping. More fun outings and relaxation time. Gam was even able to put Natey to sleep one night with zero problems. That was huge for all of us.

I loved watching Nate's instant (re)attachment. He wanted Gam to be the one to put his shoes on, push his stroller & the cart at the store, lift him in and out of said stroller & cart. Mommy was old news (in a fantastic sort of way).

He wasn't fighting back tears like I was when we dropped her off at the airport today. But he did tell me several times during the ride back home - unprompted - "Gam fun!" I think it will sink in tomorrow when he can't jump on her bed in the morning. The air mattress did make for an awesome bouncer. Yes, I stuck my mom on an air mattress on the floor in the living room. Aren't I sweet?

Don't let that scowl fool you, he loves his Gammy

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Baby sign of the week: PEACH

As I've mentioned before, since Nate has become so verbal, the baby sign language lessons have slowed down considerably. After all, the main objective (for me) was to facilitate communication, and he's doing a
great job of telling me what's on his mind. But allowing Nate to communicate with us before he could speak wasn't the only benefit of sign language. Studies show that children who are taught baby sign language have higher IQs than their non-signing counterparts, it promotes bonding and it's fun.

compare to Nate signing WATER at 13 months

So now I teach Nate signs mostly for fun. He loves learning and practicing signs. Now that he's older, he even asks me to position his fingers correctly for more difficult signs.  In the video above I had just taught him a new sign - peach, and he practices some old ones too. Here are the official ASL signs for PEACH (we're using version number 2), AVOCADO and WATER.

Am I the only parent letting their kid eat topless in this weather?

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: White Post Farms


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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's Pat

I've mentioned that Nate's a talker. And the kid yammers all day, whether we're home or out. At eighteen months he pointed to his bottom and proudly told the clerk at Best Buy it was his, "BUTT!" Awesome. Then there was the time Nate let every. single. person. in Whole Foods know, "MOMMY STINKY!"  Fantastic. I couldn't help but laugh and wonder oh my god, what are we teaching him at home?! The only saving grace was that Nate's speech wasn't as clear as it is now and not everyone understood him. I hope. He got a lot of nods and smiles.

Now Nate insists on being acknowledged.  He demands to be understood. I can't nod and smile at him, or even change the subject. He'll assume I don't understand him and call my bluff.  And that works out really well with his desire to point at and label everyone we see. BABY! BOY! GUR! GUY! MAHN! WUH-MAHN! I usually try to quietly acknowledge with an "uh-huh" or a "yep."

But sometimes, actually more often than I would think possible, the gender of the person is indeterminate. Yesterday in the grocery store he pointed at a person walking alongside us, "BOY?!" Say hi, honey. "MOMMY, BOY?!" Why don't you wave and say hi, sweetie. "BOY?! Mommy, BOY?! Oops, honey, I think we forgot something in the next aisle over, why don't we just turnaround... "BOY?!" Oh look, there we are again. Say hi...  I really need to work on the pointing thing with Nate.

I couldn't confirm or deny the gender of the person because (a) the person was standing six inches from us for what seemed like an eternity, and (2) I really couldn't figure out the gender. Awkward, Nate. Awkward. I should mention that the person in question was a bit different. And my only hope, as we walked alongside this person (no matter how fast or slow I went or how many times I tried to switch direction) was that the person was mentally challenged enough to not realize what was going on. Have you ever wished a complete stranger was super mentally retarded? Um, yeah... me neither...

Does your child ever embarrass you in public?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Roscoe and friends

We had quite the action-packed weekend. Here are some favorites from Saturday...


It's Gordon from SE- SEEM (Sesame Street) at North Hempstead Beach Park's KIDSTOCK! While fabulous, this ranks only number two in our celebrity photo collection.  But really, what could outrank a picture of Dave with his boyhood hero Steve Sanders at a Mets game?
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