Saturday, December 20, 2014

Caroline at 7 months

Dear CareBear,

You are starting to get into everything now! You're army crawling and scooting your way to every exposed wire and outlet in the house the moment I put you down to play on the floor. Something tells me you are going to be a bit more challenging than your brother was at this age, when it comes to keeping you out of trouble.

You're really enjoying your new solid foods. I was planning on just doing baby led weaning with you, but I typically give you some finger foods in addition to purees at each meal instead. You're getting quite proficient in getting little pieces of fruits and veggies into your mouth. Your favorite purees are pears and ...well, really anything other than apple. Yogurt is a big hit too. And as far as "real" food goes, you lose your mind around broccoli and bananas. Peas, rice, peaches and watermelon are all favorites too.

The jumperoo is getting more jumping action lately and you've been doing this funny thing where you lift one or both arms in the air as you jump. I tried to get pictures, but you're just a wild blur.

You continue to watch my hands as I sign the names of animals, foods and objects. I think you created your own sign for MORE, even though I've been doing the standard ASL version. You managed to get your pointer finger up and I swear you were trying to sign FAN the other day. You move your hands a lot and it looks like you're trying to communicate something to me, but I'm not sure what just yet. We'll keep practicing.

Nate is still your favorite person and pretty much everything he does, including spitting, is hilarious to you. You two have been able to play more together and it's pretty much the best thing ever. I love you both so much that I can hardly stand it.  Daddy and I created some pretty awesome humans (through magic, obviously).

 I love you more than tongue can tell.

 ~Mama (oh and you've been babbling Mamamama too. I hope one day soon you'll figure out that that is my name!)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Speaking of gratitude

This is a bit late, but I had to share it anyway. Nate did this completely on his own, with no prompting or supervision. Pretty sweet.

drawn to scale

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Gratitude journal

I've always wanted to be one of the gratitude journaling people so that I could focus on the positive. I can't seem to get that together, but I will tell you that I am grateful for these tiny dimpled hands with rubber band wrists. They are always warm and often sticky. I love them and the little lady to whom they belong.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

All is calm, all is bright

When I was little my mom used to sing Silent Night to me at bedtime. I'm not sure if it was year round or just around Christmas, but it has always been one of those huge little kid memories for me. When I thought no one was listening I would sing it to myself and try to hit the notes exactly like my mom did. Because of that connection to my mom and my childhood, it's one of those songs that really hits me in the feeling bone. (Yeah, I don't know what a feeling bone is either, but I didn't want to say "the feels" so there you go.)

For years now I have been singing it to Nate as a lullaby and he still requests it often. Since my mom died last year it's been incredibly hard for me to get through it without choking up. And let me be clear. I have an awful singing voice anyway. So it becomes even more special when I go into this weird monotone rendition so that my mind can disassociate from the special connection. I've felt bad about it and occasionally wonder if Nate notices.

Last night I asked Nate if he wanted to change his current CD and put on Christmas music at bedtime. I could only find classical Christmas music and Nate wasn't in the mood. He told me he would prefer to have a CD of Silent Night instead - with me singing it.  On loop. So apparently if I literally create you, you love my off key, nasal singing even though most everyone else would rather listen to David Hasselhoff. (Even the non-Germans.) Must be some biological thing because I think all babies love their mother's singing, don't they? I know I did.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Anything to make sister laugh

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Little ones

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

That elf

Remember how I hate the whole "Santa's good list/naughty list" thing? I don't care if others do it, but it's just not for me, especially with Nate getting anxious over the whole thing. So then this happened after Nate went to school and he found out that ALLLLL of his friends had that piece of overpriced commercialized cr er, delightful scamp in their home:

So what did Santa do? Well Santa sent one, obviously. BUT our Elf on the Shelf does not report back to Santa like a creepy tattletale-r. He's only here to play magical hide and seek as long as Nate is cool with it. His name is Jimmy. I already had to promise Nate that Jimmy would not be hiding in Nate's room at night. I mean, I can't imagine why that would make him uneasy or anything. I would be totally comfortable with a tiny child like man sneaking around my room at night as I slept. (And no, I am NOT going to make a joke here about my husband, even though I set that up PERFECTLY. Because it is almost Christmas, and I need to stay on the nice list.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

School notes

I put a note in Nate's lunch every day. On the days he buys lunch (twice a week), I put the notes in his snack. It's surprisingly hard to come up with different things to say 5 days a week that he can read. Sadly I am not usually feeling super creative late at night when making lunch and often write weird things like, "Happy Dinosaur Day."  He doesn't typically comment on them unless I ask about it. I didn't think he really paid much attention to them at all until he mentioned one day (in response to my note "I am Batman. Love, Mom") that his friend told him that I could not be Batman because I am a girl. After clearing that up - because HELLO...I *am* Batman - I questioned him on how his friend saw my note. Apparently he and his buddy always show each other their notes. Cute. I later learned at a birthday party that the friend gave his mother very specific instructions so that her notes would be just like my notes to Nate. Cute stationary is no longer allowed for lunch notes in their homes, and must be written on a paper towel instead. Here is a typical sample...

I still have these notes because Nate doesn't typically use them (I mean he does have sleeves) and they usually come home in his lunch bag. And then I save them because I am a obsessed with not wasting paper towels. So if you come over and have to use an old, crumpled, written-on paper towel to dry your hands now you know why.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

5 Cousins

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Baby sign of the week: Orange

Nate shows CJ the sign for "orange."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Easy Kindergarten math game

When Nate comes home from a long day of school, I want nothing more than to hold my first baby and learn all about his day. But since Caroline still needs three naps, the last one falls inconveniently between getting Nate from the bus and eating dinner. The last nap is challenging to get, so I usually end up just holding her so I can be sure that she gets the nap, rather than put her down awake (and risk a missed nap), like I normally do. If she misses the nap, she becomes over-tired and wakes up at night. And that is brutal for me. Nobody likes Angry Zombie Mommy. Just ask Dave.

Nate will often watch television and have a snack after school while I give her a nap. Since he's not watching any tv the rest of the day, the television doesn't really bother me like it used to over the summer. But I do feel badly if I have to spend time putting her down soon after Nate gets home and don't get to really connect with him. Lucky for Nate, my guilt sometimes translates into games. If I know Caroline will need a nap soon after school, sometimes I will try to set up a new activity to keep him busy.  It's amazing how excited he'll get when he comes home to find something new sitting out for him. 

Last week I adapted an envelope sorting game to make an addition game. I wrote equations on little die cut papers we had left over from years ago. And then I set up envelopes with the answers on the outside. So for example, he would pull out a leaf marked "6+6" and the goal would be to put it in the envelope marked "12."  He loved it! But, it was a little too easy for him and he went through the cards pretty quickly. He wanted a more challenging version, so I wrote subtraction equations on the backsof the cards. By that time I finished updating the cards, though, he lost interest and had moved onto some other exciting project in his art corner. Luckily, I don't think it involved "Poop Man!" Or should I say, "Poop! Man!"

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bunching of the small clothes: Christmas edition

You know what really bothers me? When my sweet five year old asks out of the blue one morning before school, with a sad little worried expression, whether I think he will get presents from Santa this year. The reason he's anxious, it turns out, is because he knows he doesn't listen to me all of the time. Particularly in the morning, before school. Mind you, this is mid-November. And I have never told him that he needs to be good to get presents. (Although I did send him a creepy video card from Santa that said he was on the "good list" last year. Despite what my husband tells everyone in the chat forums, I'm not perfect.) And as tempting as it would be to milk the Santa thing for cooperation, I find it despicable to get your kids to behave for a month out of fear. But that concept - be good to get on Santa's list - is everywhere. In songs, on shows, in movies. Even before Thanksgiving.

Maybe that's too harsh to say I find it despicable. Tons of excellent parents do it and I'm sure it doesn't destroy their children. Mine probably did it too. I don't remember. But I hate the idea that we teach children that they should get presents because they deserve it for "behaving." How about the idea that he is getting presents because he is loved and he needs to try to be on good behavior ALL year long?

To be clear, I'm not above bribery when it comes to parenting. Sometimes parenting is about survival. But Christmas is a HUGE thing and that sort of emotional black mail disturbs me. I don't have any lawn signs that tell people to put the Christ in Christmas, but I do want to preserve the true spirit of Christmas. Love, family, giving, homemade cookies and all of that important jazz.

In other news, I found this on the back of one of Nate's school papers. So obviously, I have this whole parenting thing under control. I cannot wait for my parent-teacher conference next month.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

All of the cool kids are born on the 23rd

Thinking about my mom today, as I do every day. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

First letter to Caroline

Dear Sparkle Eyes,

Hello my sweet little girl. I have so much I want to say to you that it's been intimidating to even start a letter to you, knowing I rarely have the time or energy to write all of my thoughts down. So I'll just start small and tell you what has been going on lately.

The most exciting new development is that you've already started signing back to me! I kept thinking you were just flexing your hand a lot until it dawned on me that you were signing milk. And at first, since it was the only sign you could do, you signed it for everything - essentially babbling "milk, milk, milk" all day long with your hand. But I see you try practicing "light" too and getting so excited when I acknowledge your communication attempts. You also already created your own sign for "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" which you request every diaper change. At least I think that is what is happening. It is amazing to me that a baby so young is already capable of "talking" to her mommy.

You're very strong and mobile. You've been rolling both ways for months and can get across the room to investigate little bits of fuzz on the rug with no problem. You can sit for longer periods of time, but can't get into the sitting position on your own. You've just recently been getting on your hands and knees and trying to crawl. When I put you on the rug to explore, you love playing with your ball, feeling the texture of the rug under your fingers and slapping any nearby books. And there are always books nearby, because Nate likes to set up your play area so that you are surrounded. Like a princess in a book castle.

I would not say you are always quick to laugh (you've been making us work for it!), but when you do start, you often have a laughing fit that is incredibly adorable. These belly laugh episodes are most often triggered by your brother, but your dad and I have managed to get you going on occasion too and it is the sweetest thing ever.

Your other interests include sucking on fabric, pulling hair and practicing your fine motor skills. I've been slowly introducing solids over the past month and you've impressed me with your ability to pick up small bits of food and get them into your mouth. You get frustrated that the process is difficult, but you are pretty determined. Bananas are your absolute favorite.

As long as you are well rested, fed and have a little something to play with, you're a content little monkey.  I am so glad you are here. I love you more than tongue can tell, sweet girl.

Love, Mama

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Caroline Jane at 4 and 5 months

Time is flying...

And now she's rolling and scooting all over the place, getting better at sitting and paying very close attention to any signs I'm using. She's pretty easy going in many aspects and quick to laugh when you blow on her belly or big brother makes a funny face. We love our sweet little monkey.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Weird Science

Apparently some crazy stuff happens in the middle that transforms animals. And we haven't even shown him The Fly yet...

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

7 non-plastic gift ideas for small children

It's almost Halloween. Which means it will be November in like a second. Which means that everyone will be holiday shopping. And I will be thinking of all of things I want to get people. Endlessly brainstorming for gifts that are the perfect blend of thoughtful, unique and fun - yet affordable. But then I won't pull the trigger and before I know it,  it will be a week before Christmas and I will be Amazon Priming (yes, that is a verb) crap that sucks, just because it's available. Don't be like me. Here's a list of fun gifts for little kids that aren't made primarily of plastic so you can start buying now and get it over with before you have to start Priming it. Because plastic (and all of its toxins) are way scarier to me than Ebola.

1. For the builder. I loved my wooden blocks as a child. I found these Haba wooden blocks for Nate last Christmas. They have all kinds of cool shapes, which are perfect for building castles.

2. For the creative. These Seedling kits are very cool. They combine crafting with pretend play, so it's like 2 gifts in one. I got the Superhero cape kit for my girlfriend's son. I haven't heard back on the quality yet, but it looked adorable up close, in the packaging.

3. For the silly. I found these magnet animals by Djeco for Nate a couple of years ago and we STILL play with them. You can mix up the animals or do it the boring way and complete the 3 piece puzzles.
4. For the dramatic. This  Tabletop Puppet Theater is on my list for Nate this holiday season. He always gets very excited when he has the opportunity to play with a puppet theater, but I don't want it to take up too much space, so this is perfect.

5. For the aspiring chef. When we moved this summer I gave our kitchen toys a prominent placement in the new play room and Nate started playing kitchen and restaurant every day. It kept him entertained and didn't require a lot of energy from me, which was perfect, since I had a newborn. We gave him this little pasta set from Hape for his birthday and it was his favorite gift!

6. For the baby. I found a single soft block (that crinkles) from an old set of Nate's and Caroline LOVES it. So these Taggies Big Soft Blocks are on my list for her this Christmas. Of course this organic set is pretty cute too. 

7. For the young toddler. Toddlers love stacking things up, knocking them down and stacking them up again. This set of wooden stacking bowls is beautiful and looks like something that will really last. I have my eye on them for one of my nieces or nephews.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hand model

They say you can tell a woman's age by her hands, right? Or is it her neck? I don't know, but I'm going to go put some rubber bands on my wrists so I can look like Caroline. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Must be in the genes

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Three things in our sleep routine

I've been a baby/toddler sleep consultant for three years. This means that I work with families all over the world to improve the sleeping of their children. There are a wide range of issues that families face. Common problems include severe sleep deprivation (from waking hourly every night) to early rising and short naps. Anyone who knows our family also knows that we had A LOT of challenges with Nate's sleep when he was younger. It is one of the defining characteristics of his infancy and toddler years. His temperament and my inability to let him scream for hours made it hard for me to stay consistent and make the changes we needed in order to get sufficient sleep for the whole family. Sometimes it was hard to interact with the outside world without fear of completely sabotaging our progress. As a result, my husband and I pretty much suffer from PTSD when it comes to naps and sleeping. Of course, I've learned a lot since then and have gained a lot of perspective regarding Nate's sleep issues. When I had Caroline I was confident that I would start off on the right foot and get this child sleeping on her own as soon as she could, for the health and happiness of the entire family.

Read any book out there on baby sleep and you'll likely learn about the importance of establishing a routine. So when Caroline was two months old, the first step was to establish a routine with her before bedtime and naps to signal that it was time for her to fall asleep. Here are three things that I have included in her routine that I would highly recommend:

1. Stories. We have always included books in Nate's routine and I wanted that for CJ as well. At nap time we read something short and sweet like Peek-a Who, an old favorite of Nate's as well. For bedtime we always read the classic Goodnight Moon.  I am sure we'll mix it up as she gets older, and start reading classic literature from Stephanie Meyer, but right now she seems to enjoy these and I like them too.

2. Loveys. It's funny how some kids are really drawn to comfort objects and others are not. Nate didn't really connect with anything (other than his hair and mine) until he was older - maybe around 3 years old. CJ, on the other hand, LOVES grasping and sucking on fabric. So I embraced that natural inclination and got her these blankets from Aden and Anais. Since she is only 5 1/2 months, I haven't put them in with her at bedtime. But she regularly uses them to fall asleep and while she's in the car.

3. Music.  Nate still starts the night with a round of music, often U2 (obviously). For Caroline, I've been using her mobile as a way to signal the shift to sleep. We started off with this mobile, which is portable and really easy to use. But the song was 30 minutes, which I felt was too long. We now use this mobile, which was Nate's, because the songs play for 15 minutes instead.

We are working on Caroline falling to sleep independently at nap time right now. It's so interesting to see the ways in which she is similar to Nate and the ways in which she is different - so far anyway.  One thing is for certain...

Few things are more precious than a sleeping baby.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ghostbusting (a sight word game)

I think we can all agree that those Pinterest-y moms are a super annoying breed of mom. AmIright? You know - the ones that regularly come up with creative ways to engage their children in movement and learning and then brag share via social media - giving the rest of us a bad name. Ugh. I can't even keep on top of regularly cutting my toenails lately.

Okay, fine. I'm not fooling anyone. I am completely envious of those moms. There are some really great ideas out there on those crafty blogs. And I would love to get it together and do fun things with Nate. So forgive me if I want to copy their ideas and then document the one day out of 30 that we did something beyond watch television and collect items for our Doomsday closet.

So here is our Halloween themed, get your kid moving (and learning!) activity from the other day - "ghostbusting."  Not sure where I saw it originally, but no doubt it was through the Toddler Approved Facebook page, which is awesome. I tossed Caroline in the stroller 10 minutes before Nate got home from school, found a soggy piece of chalk in the garden (I'm not even exaggerating) and drew some simple ghosts with some sight words on them. The idea is that the parent calls out the word and then the kid finds the appropriate word and blasts the word away with a water gun. When Nate got home he was very excited to discover that I was not just sanctioning, but encouraging, the use of his water blaster.

Once he blasted away all of the words he drew pumpkins and wrote his own words. Then he turned the tables on me and called out the words for me to step on (since I was holding his sister).  It was a fun change of pace. Now excuse me while I think about cutting my toenails...

Friday, October 17, 2014

"The Book With No Pictures" totally lives up to the hype

I've been hearing a lot of great things about B.J. Novak's jump into kiddie lit with his newest, The Book with No Pictures. I ordered it for Nate and it is indeed adorable. Reading it is almost like spending time with that crazy uncle that's silly, yet smart, and completely gets your kid. I'm going to try my best to save it for Christmas. Eh, who I am kidding. I'll be luck to make it through the weekend without bringing it out of it's secret hiding place and reading it to Nate.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nate's 5th birthday party

Natey turned 5 this summer and we celebrated with a party at a bounce house. He had the time of his life!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Little loves

Saturday, October 4, 2014

My hairy children

A lot of people seem to think that they don't really look alike, but I definitely notice a resemblance.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sensory bins

I get stuck a lot with CJ sleeping on me, and I inevitably spend a good chunk of that time reading articles on my phone. I've been reading a lot about sensory bins, which is really, usually, just messy play, often with household objects. I wanted to get in on the action, so we made our first sensory bin today. First, I took a large plastic bin and filled it with dried lentils from our Doomsday Prepping closet. Next, I attached magnets we had laying around the house to small balls I had made from homemade silly putty. I dipped half of these in glitter and the other half in fur I collected from my dog. I hid all of the magnet balls in the lentils and gave Nate two scented magnet wands. I made those by dipping regular magnet wands in essential oils. Since this sensory bin clearly had an autumn vibe to it, I chose apple and pumpkin oils for this project.

Nate had a blast using his sense of vision to look at the lentils. And his sense of touch and smell was on overload with the magnet balls and the wands. He ended up playing with this bin for four hours while I cleaned the gutters and weeded the garden. It was wonderful! After he grew tired of the lentils, we put the balls  in a ziplog baggie with some clear soda water.  We squeezed all the air out and then played with the bag on top of our homemade  light table. This is when Nate got to use his sense of hearing (when the balls chemically reacted to the soda) as well as his sixth sense! Woohoo!

Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the activities today because the battery in my camera was charging. But we sealed everything up in the plastic bin for next time. It's our first sensory bin and it has it's very own shelf now in the Doomsday prepping closet, where the lentils and bag of fur used to reside. I will need to get pictures next time!

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Dee, who has been my wingman, wind beneath my wings and person I would most like to high five after doing a jumping toe touch off a stage.

Friday, August 29, 2014

CJ at 3 months


At three months, Caroline is very interested in rolling onto her tummy, smiling at her brother and any book you put in her front of her. She loves trying to eat any fabric within her grasp and has an adorable, husky little laugh.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Monkey Dinner Picnic

It's totally normal to have a picnic dinner in a costume (2 sizes too small) on a hot summer night. Right?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


We lost my mom a year ago today.

I know that parents are supposed to go before their children. But I never, ever want my children to experience the absolute heart ache that comes with losing a parent before their time. After a year, the pain is still so great that I think of it as this separate "thing." This thing that I sometimes peak in on and prod it a little...but only for a second or two. Any longer and I won't be able to stop crying. I never want my kids to experience anything like this.

I hope I live so long that I become a huge physical and emotional burden to my children (like they need to wipe my 100 year old butt & change my diapers or feel guilty because they missed their weekly visit to the home type of burden) and they are relieved when I finally die.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Belly Sleeper

This little monkey is obsessed with rolling over onto her stomach. But hasn't figured out how to roll back yet. This is fine during the day, but it's freaking me out at night as I keep finding her sleeping on her tummy with her face smushed into the mattress. She is sleeping wonderfully at night since finding this new position. I, however, am not.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bubba time!

Over the fourth of July weekend, we had the privilege of hosting Bubba, one of my top two favorite Davids, as our first overnight guest in our new home. It was so nice for Nate to have one on one time playing with his grandpa.  It's not often he can run his superhero questions by an official expert. It was the first time Caroline met Bubba and he read her her first book. She was quite taken with his rendition of  Baby Animals Black and White.  His visit meant the world to me. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sad park

Moving is tough.
Especially right after your world has been turned upside down by the birth of your sister.

And it can be really challenging when your mom doesn't know where the good parks are yet.
So she takes you to a sad park where there are no other children.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

So this is almost a month late...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sibling love

This was taken when Caroline was about 1 1/2 months. Nate adores his sister. He'll say, "She's adorable!" in the cutest way and his voice is just filled with so much love and adoration. He's getting so much less attention now that she's born and we have to split our time between our two babies. Yet he never seems to resent her. He just wants to kiss her and hold her and get in her face to make her laugh. Of course things might change when she's less blob and more interactive toddler. But so far, so good...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

CJ at 4 weeks

So, I am wee bit behind in my blogging, as usual. Photo credit goes to Auntie Rachel.

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