Saturday, October 31, 2009

Day 207

Happy Halloween! I took the boy - in costume, of course - out to run errands in the late morning. (I thought it wise to wait until today to pick up any Halloween candy, given my pregnancy-induced sweet tooth and Tom's ever-present one.) We got a fair number of trick-or-treaters in the evening, and Soren got to dress up again to greet people at the door. Since he wore the puppy suit on Thursday, we put him in the bear suit today. It just barely fits him anymore! When we got it, it was pretty huge on him (granted, that was nearly a year ago). He's a string bean, our lad.

Here he is digging through the candy bowl. He was actually more interested in pointing out all the letters on the candy bars than anything else. Silly guy.

And then the Ducks beat USC in a rather serious smackdown. Booyah.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Day 206

Friday! Sweet Friday! Playdate in the morning. Apparently, the way around Sir's food finickiness is to take him to someone else's house. He chowed down on apple slices and cheese and crackers and even some banana (which he's all but refused to touch for a couple of weeks now). Crazy little bug. Afterward, we tried to go get vaccinated for the swine flu, but the Health Dept clinics (all 5 locations) had run out of vaccine earlier in the day. Frustrating.

Oh, speaking of frustrating, Soren then fell asleep in the car when we were 5 minutes from home, despite my best efforts to keep him awake (and keep us safely on the road, of course). I knew better than to hope he'd just take his whole nap in the car, but I decided to give it a shot anyway and just sat in the parking lot after we got home. Naturally, he woke up 10 minutes later and refused to nap again for the rest of the day. He was, however, surprisingly pleasant for only napping for 15 minutes all day. In fact, he was downright jovial. He happily played in his room for a long time, then wandered around being all sing-songy and cute. He still didn't want to eat much dinner, but there was less of a fight about it, and he did deign to eat some bunny grahams (as you can see above). Here's hoping he sleeps well tonight!

Day 205

Thursday morning was another playgroup meetup at the library. This being Halloween week and all, most of the kids came in costume. I put Soren in the cute little puppy suit we got as a hand-me-down from Charlie. The hood's lined, so it doesn't stay up for very long when Sir's running hither and yon, but it's still adorable. And! Progress! He only tried to escape from the meeting room 3 or 4 times, instead of his usual 9 or 10. He played and played and then napped hard for over 2 hours. Whee!

Day 204

Wednesday was another day without any planned activities. The little lad was kind of a maniac in the morning, so we went and ran a few errands, mostly just to get out of the house. He does like to be out and about.

Here he is sitting in the little chair Tom got for him. It's incredibly cute, especially when he and Leo sit in it together.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The more you know...

I never thought it would happen to me, but it seems I have come down with that dreaded know, the one that rhymes with fine and shine and line?

No, not the swine.

The pine! I've got Pine Mouth.

It started yesterday. I began noticing that everything I ate was leaving a slightly bitter aftertaste in my mouth. I bit into an apple for Soren and immediately threw it out because I thought there was something horribly wrong with it. Then the cheese was "bad" and the bread was "bad" and I started thinking...hmm, beloved foods, perhaps it's not you, it's me? I thought maybe I'd been brushing my tongue too much and had somehow offended the taste buds responsible for detecting bitter flavors.

The bread and cheese were still "bad" this morning, so I decided to see what the almighty Google had to say about such things, bearing in mind of course that at least half the websites I found would tell me I was dying. (Turns out it wasn't quite half, but I'm pretty sure I don't have undiagnosed malaria, and I'm not in the throes of a very extended but otherwise uneventful case of anaphylactic shock. Nor am I s-l-o-w-l-y slipping into a diabetic coma.) What I did find, which seemed more plausible, were several references pointing blame at...pine nuts?

"Nut" is one of Soren's newest words. We've given him some pine nuts on occasion, and he's really developed a liking for them. And now, at his pickiest, toddleriest extreme, they're one of the things he'll pretty happily eat. So when we ran out of the last bag, I picked up some more, and for the past few days, I've been snacking on them right along with the lad.

Turns out, sometimes pine nuts have the devil in them. According to Wikipedia:
Risks of eating pine nuts

A small minority of pine nuts can cause taste disturbances, developing 1–3 days after consumption and lasting for days or weeks. A bitter, metallic taste is described. Though very unpleasant, there are no lasting effects. This phenomenon was first described in a scientific paper in 2001. Some publications have made reference to this phenomenon as "pine mouth".
I know, right?! Weird. I also found this blogpost and was amazed by how many people commented, saying essentially, "Ohmigod, me too!" I guess this is not a terribly uncommon phenomenon. I don't seem to have it as bad as some, but I'm not overly thrilled at the prospect of spending the next week or two second guessing all my food prep and wincing my way through some of the stuff I eat. I wonder if miracle berries would cancel out the effect and make everything taste normal...

For what it's worth, I got the offending pine nuts (Dry Toasted Pignolas) from Trader Joe's. The label on the back of the bag claims they are a "Product of Russia or Korea," so they're supposedly not the Chinese pine nuts implicated in most of these Pine Mouth accounts. Tom hasn't had any complaints*, but Soren hasn't eaten more than a bite or two of his beloved meemyas for the past couple of days, so I'm wondering if he's afflicted too. He does seem to still want to chow down on bread and cheese quite happily, so that's good at least. He does keep asking for pine nuts though; I'll have to get a replacement bag tomorrow.

Anyway! Just another friendly public service announcement. You may go on about your day.

*Seems I spoke too soon. Tom's got the Pine Mouth too, now.

Day 203

Tuesday was mostly a rainy, stay-at-home day. Not that we can't go out in the rain, but we didn't have any plans or places to go, aside from a short trip to the dry cleaner's. I made garlic roasted radicchio and linguine with sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce for dinner. The radicchio probably needed to roast longer than the 22 or so minutes I gave it (the recipe said 20-25), and I definitely overdid it on the marinade. But I'd be willing to make some adjustments and try that one again.

Soren woke up with a wet diaper an hour into his nap (he usually sleeps at least 90 minutes these days) and I wasn't able to cajole him back to sleep, so he was a cranky little monster in the evening. He steadfastly refused to eat hardly any dinner and so woke up hungry a few times last night. Sigh. You'd never know it though from the above photo, with the lad & Tom contentedly reading bedtime books after the boy had had a nice bath.

Day 202

Mid-morning on Monday, we went to a playdate. Sir had a fine time running around with the girls (he was the only fellow there this time) and getting nice & tuckered out for his nap. He's been taking his nap later in the day these days, around 1:00, which works out a little better for staving off the evening crazies. (Most of the time, anyway.)

Last weekend I bought this three-drawer plastic bin thing for the lad's toys. Before we'd gotten around to actually filling it with said toys, Soren figured out how to pull the drawers out and play with those instead. Monday evening he was playing in his room after dinner, and after a while we could hear him making frustrated little whining noises. Tom peeked in to see what was going on and immediately doubled over laughing. Naturally, I grabbed the camera and came running. Because we're awesome parents like that. ;) Anyway, the above photo captures what we saw. He'd gotten all the drawers out, tipped the entire frame over, crawled inside and gotten himself stuck. He was, of course, freed moments later. ;)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 201

Yesterday afternoon we made our way into the city to check out the last day of the Washington International Horse Show. They were having a "World of Horses" exhibition thing that was supposed to start at 1:00 and run for about 90 minutes; even though that's pretty much exactly when Sir's been taking his nap lately, we figured it was a toddler-friendly amount of time to be at the event and still see some cool stuff. Of course, when we arrived a bit after 1:00, we discovered that, like just about every other horse show I've ever seen, they were running behind schedule. Turned out they were running almost...90 minutes behind. So the exhibition finally started about 10 minutes before it was scheduled to end. Ah well. Soren was a trooper, and though he got bored a few times, we were able to see just about everything.

A highlight was the set of Jack Russell terrier races they had. Good lord, those were hilarious. The rest of the exhibition was decent. I was also extremely amused by the fact that they'd set up the stables right in the middle of the street. Of course, I'm not sure where else they would have put them, but it was still funny to see.

By the time all was said & done, we were quite a bit later heading home than we'd anticipated. The lad stayed awake until after 4:00! Then he could keep his eyes open no longer and passed the heck out on our metro ride home, still sitting in the backpack. It was pretty cute.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 200

Saturday I got to have some kid-free shopping time (Woo-hoo! Cat food and groceries! Par-tay!) while poor Tom was stuck at home with the nap that kept being interrupted by a fire truck. D'oh.

As I have mentioned, I have had quite the sweet tooth with this pregnancy. With Soren I craved things like Wheat Thins and miso soup. Oh, I did get the milkshake yen pretty bad toward the end, but it wasn't a constant thing. This time around? My abilities to resist cookies and ice cream and brownies and even sweet drinks have been severely compromised, almost from the very beginning.

Before I went out shopping yesterday, we had the TV on (English Premier League, Aston Villa vs. Wolverhampton, I think), and there was a commercial for Dunkin' Donuts. Observe the difference between Pregnant Sue's (PS) reactions and what Non-Pregnant Sue (NPS) would probably have said/done in the same situation.

Tom: Mmm. I want donuts.
PS: Yeah, me too.
NPS: We don't need donuts though. We've got ice cream and other stuff.
PS: ...

(Later, while out shopping, passing by the Dunkin' Donuts)
NPS: We really don't need donuts. Well...I mean, we don't eat them very often. I suppose I could pick us up one each, as a treat.
PS: I'll be good and just get us a half dozen...

(Full disclosure: Non-Pregnant Sue would not have been quite so capable of self control were the donut vendor in question a Krispy Kreme instead of a Dunkin' Donuts. Let's be realistic, here.)

Anyway. In the end, I actually found the donuts pretty unsatisfying overall. Once you go Krispy Kreme, nothing else quite compares. It's sad, but hopefully this experience will actually help me out. I'll remember next time that the Dunkin' Donuts treats are inferior and should be able to resist them. (Much like my most recent misadventure with a McDonald's milkshake, actually. The server apparently forgot to switch the machine from nasty pumpkin shake to vanilla until she'd filled about a quarter of my cup. Blech.)

In other pregnancy news, I finally dug out the giant U-shaped body pillow Tom got me when I was pregnant with Soren. We call it "the nest." It's really, really comfortable. Soren got to sit in the nest when we read his books last night, which he thought was pretty cool.

Day 199

Friday after Tom got home from work, he & Soren had their usual evening playtime extravaganza. At one point, Tom had Soren up on his shoulders and was jumping up and down, much to the lad's delight. It was otherwise a fairly unremarkable day.

Day 198

So, Thursday. Tom had an off-site work thing, so he took the car for the day. We hung around here, and I made...something interesting for dinner. (Thinking, thinking...what was it?) Oh yeah! We had this bulb of fennel that we'd gotten in our produce box last week, and I scoured the internets looking for an interesting recipe for which to use it. It actually didn't take much scouring at all. Almost right away I found this recipe for Heart-Attack-in-a-Pan (aka Potatoes Au Gratin with Fennel & Bacon). It was really...really...good. The prep was pretty time consuming (took about an hour to get everything chopped and assembled), but I'd say it was worth it. I also sauteed up a little spinach with garlic & ginger, so we had, you know, some greens on the plate too. ;)

As you can see from the photo above, Soren has kind of a love/hate relationship with his cozy footie pyjamas. On the one hand, they are cozy. On the other hand, they restrict access to his belly button, of which he is a huge fan. Now that he's figured out how to unzip his pjs, it can be tricky to keep them on him.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stuff I've been thinking about

I was looking back through my blog's archives the other day and reminiscing. I used to actually, you know, write about stuff. True, most of it was mundane, but some of it was funny or relevant or whatever. I know that if you're still reading here since I started the photo-a-day project, you don't necessarily care that it's become all-Soren-all-the-time (may even prefer it) but part of me misses having some sort of record that I actually think about things every now and again. So I thought I might try putting a post together once a week or so that would re-establish such a record. Feel free to skip these if you prefer the Soren-centric content. ;)

Fair warning - this first one may be a little long. It's been a while. This week's topic: I won't be a stay-at-home mom forever (probably).

Things I've Read Recently

Tom pointed out this Freaky Fortnight series to me a couple of weeks ago. The gist is, an editor for the online news magazine Slate (Mike) and his freelance writing, work-at-home-mom wife (Susan) decide to switch jobs for two weeks. Mike stays home with the kids, while Susan goes to the office every day in his stead, and they both write about the experience.

It was interesting to read both perspectives on the switch. Susan's reflections about the work/life balance are not earth shattering - she says that going in to the office and feeling like a productive member of society, interacting with other adults, was something of a vacation from the stresses of KidLand...surprise, surprise - but they still resonated with me. She articulates rather well some of the feelings and worries I have about re-entering the workplace after an extended absence to raise kids. I could also relate to a lot of the things Mike discovers about staying home, how you kind of fall into this relaxed (in one way) world of taking your kids to the park and watching them discover new things every day. Your day is unbound by time clocks or deadlines, yet punctuated by naptime battles and mealtime tantrums.

To be sure, Susan and Mike's situation is not a mirror of my own. Their boys (ages 4 and 1) have a part-time babysitter so Susan can work on her freelance writing. Susan hasn't had to step away from her profession entirely while she stays home with the boys. And both she and Mike really love the work they do. When I went back to work after Soren was born, it was to a job I wasn't particularly passionate about. The uninterrupted "me time" was nice, I'll grant, but I think at that point, burning the candle at both ends as I was, I would have just preferred the sleep. And had I been working during the day, handing off my 3 month-old to some other caregiver, that work time would have felt like a waste instead of a break. I would have spent the days obsessing over the time I was losing with my tiny new son instead of focusing on the work I didn't really want to do anyway. If my choices are to stay home full time or to work a job I feel is generally meaningless, I'll stay home, thanks.

(This is a little different now that he's older. I think he'd actually probably enjoy being in some sort of childcare situation with other kids at least part-time, and I know him well enough now to not feel like I was missing out completely, even if I didn't have the most perfect job in the world. But it was really important to me to be home during the day with him while he was still tiny and breastfeeding.)

Here's my dilemma. I've got this advanced degree in a potentially exciting and interesting field, one in which I could be doing meaningful work. I've never had the chance to find out, since I didn't land a job in said field before Soren came along. In a way, I don't know what, if anything, I'm missing. I would dearly like to get the opportunity to use my degree at some point, presumably after the kids are both in school at least part time. But that's a few years off. I suspect that I grow less hireable with each passing year, especially jumping into a new profession in which I have no prior (direct) experience. And that is a scary, scary thing.

I've kind of gotten sidetracked from the Slate article here, which is worth reading, even if the situation isn't particularly realistic for most people. Especially for those of us in the sciences, there's not a lot of opportunity for part-time work from home (short of getting involved with a professional journal of some sort, which I believe my cousin did successfully for a while). Susan does concede that she and Mike are fortunate to have the sorts of careers that afford them the flexibility to even attempt the experiment they did; certainly, Tom & I couldn't pull off the same feat. At any rate, give it a read, or don't. But I found it interesting.

What I Have Been Doing (to keep myself at least somewhat professionally viable)

Continuing education is, of course, key. I'll fall behind less if I can walk into an interview a couple of years from now and have intelligent, relevant answers. So for starters, I've been spending some time finally learning calculus, or trying to. Actually trying this time, instead of doing whatever bare minimum was necessary to pass the classes in college. There's a lot of advanced stuff (hell, even just the semi-advanced stuff) in the physical sciences that you just can't do well without a solid foundation in calculus, and if I'm going to be home with the kids I might as well be educating myself, so it was time to bite the bullet and face the calculus beast. I am fortunate to have the assistance and tutelage of my brilliant and patient husband, for whom calculus is practically a hobby. I think I'm actually making some progress this time around. Once I've got this firmly under my belt, I'll retackle physics, P-Chem, and get moving through the VA State Crime Lab's firearms examiner curriculum. It's a lot to do, but hell, I've got a few years to do it! Ha.

Stopping to Smell the Roses (as it were)

I'm still home with Soren. We still play games and cuddle and have tickle fights. It's more stressful to deal with him right now as he's really started to assert his independence, most frustratingly in the form of refusing to eat anything without a huge battle. I suspect the difficulties I've been having with him are actually a pretty significant part of the reason I'm thinking so much lately about being back in the workplace. (Sweet, sweet escape!) But I'm trying not to let my worries about the future distract me from the present. For the time being, this is my job. It's the only one I've got, and it's a pretty darn important one. It's meaningful and fulfilling and challenging and the fruits of my labor are directly rewarded (most of the time). And I'll be heading up a new project in a few months (so to speak), so there will be a whole new set of challenges to tackle then. I'm not the first person in the world to go through this - not by a long shot - and I've got a wonderful and supportive partner to help me out and back me up. I haven't got really any room for complaint right now, and my anxieties about where I'll be in three or five years aren't a reflection of dissatisfaction with the current state of things. Insecurities, fears that I'll lose my professional edge and become obsolete once my kids don't need me for everything anymore - right now they're just phantoms. I'm doing what I can now, as best I know how, to set myself up to tackle them when the time comes.


To you! If you made it this far. I promise not to torture you so much next time. We'll go with a lighter topic, at the very least. ;)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 197

The fall foliage here has been in full vigor lately, so I figured I'd better get out and photograph some of it before the leaves all fall off. Wednesday afternoon, I took the lad out in the stroller for a walk around the grounds and brought along my camera. It was a nice enough day that Soren could be barefoot, enjoying the breezes between his toes. I'm still very much enjoying the variability of the weather here! It's great to have a true transition of seasons, with a few mild days in between the blustery ones, easing us into winter.

Wednesday morning was also our 28 week appointment with the midwives. It's kind of hard to believe I'm that far along already. I suppose when you're not obsessively tracking each day of progress, it's not so hard to lose track of things. Anyway, everything's still coming along basically according to schedule. I seem to have gained rather a bit more weight in the past month than I expected; possibly it is time to get the milkshake addiction under control. ;) From here on out, we start going in every two weeks for check-ups. January will be here before we know it!

Day 196

Since the lad got such a kick out of the magnetic toys at the Building Museum, my mom ordered him some of his very own. They arrived late on Monday, so we busted them out Tuesday morning for him to play with. Within minutes, he had them spread all over the living room and was reveling in magnetic fun. Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa! :)

In the afternoon, we did some erranding. The weather's been warmer this week, so we didn't have to get all bundled up to go out. Dinner was a super easy crock pot stew. Onions, yams, chicken stock, buffalo short ribs, and just a bit of garlic and brown sugar. Matched with corn bread, a fantastically tasty repast.

Day 195

I figured we were due for another tooth-brushing photo, and with jammies like these, who could resist? Also, could this boy be any more of a ham?

Monday, Monday. What did we do that day? Not a lot that I can recall. There was almost certainly laundry involved. I made a tasty pear crisp with cranberries and granola for dessert.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Day 194

Sunday was another family outing sort of day. After mister's morning nap, we went to Chipotle for lunch (Soren is a big fan of the cheese quesadillas, so what kind of awful parents would we be to deny him?). This was followed by a short duck into Trader Joe's for a couple of supplies, and then we were off to Ikea.

Now, this is a little embarrassing, but since we didn't have a chest of drawers for our non-hanging clothes, I've been just using a big cardboard box in the closet to store pjs and underclothings and the like, ever since we moved out here. Tom (somewhat more civilized than I) at least set up some shelves on his side of the closet to store his things, but I hadn't gotten around to doing the same. However, I finally (*cough* seven-plus months later *cough*) decided it was time to quit being a savage and get my stuff organized. When I mentioned my intentions to Tom, he suggested we make an Ikea run and get a couple of small dressers, and I agreed. So that's what we did.

It wasn't raining on Sunday, but it was still quite cold and windy. Soren permitted us to dress him in his fleecy cap with ear flaps, since he wouldn't be wearing his rain coat with the hood. The combined effect of the hat and the orange shirt Tom picked for him was a striking resemblance to Petr Cech, the goalie for the Chelsea F.C. See?

Tee hee.

Anyway, Ikea was good to us, as always, and we came home with some nice little Swedish dressers and a twin mattress for Soren's room. Weekend completed!

Day 193

Saturday we bundled up to brave the cold and drizzly day and made our way into the city to check out the Solar Decathlon houses. The Solar Decathlon is a biennial competition in which 20 teams from universities around the world compete to build the best, most efficient solar-powered house. The teams spend two years designing and building their houses, and then they come to D.C. and construct a solar village on the National Mall. The houses are judged in 10 categories (hence the name Solar Decathlon) ranging from architecture to lighting design to energy production. It's a really interesting competition, and we were excited to see the finished houses. This weekend was the last opportunity to check them out before they were dismantled, so we ventured out in spite of the misting rain and temperatures in the 40s.

I was kind of amazed by how many people turned out despite the weather. I guess I've grown soft & weak from living in Southern California because I expected most people would opt to stay indoors on such a day. And perhaps they did! Who knows how much more crowded it would have been on a less inclement day? In any event, we bundled up our little California-born-and-bred Sir and ended up touring about a quarter or so of the houses (whichever ones didn't have long lines). People were waiting up to 40 minutes to get inside winning Team Germany's house! We weren't quite that dedicated - there are plenty of good photos of the houses online - but we did get to see some neat and innovative things in the houses we did tour.

Soren was, for the most part, quite a trooper. He got a little cranky at one point, but it turned out he was mostly just hungry (no great surprise, since he refused to eat any of his lunch before we left the house!). Once he had some apple to snack on, he was a much happier camper. After a few hours, we decided we'd had enough and ducked into the Natural History Museum to get some lunch and warm up. We then spent a couple more hours wandering through the Gems & Minerals exhibit before making our way back home.

I wasn't about to bring my nice camera out in the rain, so here's a completely unrelated photo of our little Narcissus, happily looking at photos of himself on Tom's iPod. ;)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Day 192

It was chilly and drizzly all day again today. Sir got to lounge around in fleece clothes, and I didn't change out of my cozy pjs until after 2pm. Here he is adopting one of his favorite poses, kicked back against the couch with his feet up on the coffee table, milk in hand. Ah, such luxury. We went out in the afternoon briefly, and the little lad charmed a group of (what appeared to be) DC interns with his dino coat of extreme cuteness. All in a day's work, of course.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day 191

The rains started up overnight and aren't expected to quit until maybe Saturday. Time to bust out the rain gear! I've been waiting for an excuse to put Soren's rain jacket on him. It's just too frickin cute, with the little dinosaur spikes on the hood. There are few things more adorable than tiny kids in cold weather gear.

So the lad and I went to playgroup at the library again today. You'd think this would be something of a break for me, a nice opportunity for him to run around with other kids, get all his sillies out before naptime. The problem is that Soren has realized he's strong enough to open the door of the library meeting room and flee like a madman out into the main part of the library. I try not to be a helicopter mom, following him everywhere while he plays, so occasionally he'll just make a random break for the door and I'll have to sprint after him to keep him from escaping. Some of the other moms were commenting that I should win some sort of pregnancy fitness award for being able to haul myself up off the floor and high-tail it across the room at a moment's notice. Ha. When he's not planning jailbreaks, he's banging on the library carts (and inciting the other children to do the same) or trying to pull down books from said carts. So no, playgroup at the library is not exactly a break for me. ;) Still, he has a good time, and he usually does settle down and actually play for a little while at some point. He's getting more interested when there are books being read to other kids; he still won't sit through a whole book usually, but he'll hang around for a few pages before skipping off to cause more mischief. He's a wild one.

We both had ourselves a nice snooze on the couch after we got home.

Day 190

Wednesday was kind of a blur. We went to Target in the morning where, lo and behold, there were two huge racks of Soren-sized sweatpants and sweatshirts on display. I guess I was too impatient and should have waited for the weather to actually turn a little cold before attempting to seek out such things. Ah well. I managed to round out the winter clothes shopping for the lad with some boots, mittens, and a nice hat with ear flaps. Back at home, we had a nap, and then I made butternut squash soup for dinner (without destroying the garbage disposal this time!). I also made cinnamon corn bread, which sounded promising, but I probably shouldn't have used whole wheat flour. It came out a little dense and dry.

I didn't touch my camera all day, so I took this photo Thursday morning after we woke up. He's a cute little bug, ain't he?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 189

This afternoon we went to playgroup at someone's house. We've been to this particular house a few times now, and every time we go, it seems like Soren finds more and more things to be interested in. The first time he was still quite young, barely a year old, so most of the toys were over his head. The next time, he discovered the tiny slide and spent a good 20 minutes climbing up and sliding down, happy as a clam. This time, he discovered the Flinstones-style fire truck (you know, since you move it by moving your feet along the ground) and had to be dragged out of it kicking and screaming when it was time to go home. (Sadly, I do mean that literally. I am the meanest mom ever.) There's a little radio handset inside the car that makes siren noises when you push a button, which he thought was pretty great. Oh, he played with other stuff while we were there, but he kept on coming back to this thing. If we had a yard I might get him one, but having it in our apartment would be like trying to keep an elephant in a cottage. Besides, I'm sure he'll be over it and on to the next awesome toy the next time we go over there.

Anyway, not the greatest photo in the world, but it's the only one I took. You'll have to imagine the glee on his face. ;)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Day 188

While we were out on Sunday, we swung by the bookstore and picked up a couple more Sandra Boynton books for the lad. They're all very silly, and he seems to like them a lot. We accidentally left the new ones in the car yesterday, so I brought them upstairs this afternoon when I got back from running a couple of errands. While I was putting stuff away in the kitchen, I could hear peals of laughter coming from the living room, where Tom & Soren were reading through the new books. Apparently, Blue Hat, Green Hat is a real winner. It's all about colors and articles of clothing, but on each page, the turkey is wearing the item wrong.

Soren finds this absolutely hysterical.

Today was the first actually chilly day we've had so far this fall. The sort of day for hunkering down in cozy clothes and cuddling on the couch. Of course, Mr. Wild Man doesn't have a lot of patience for that sort of thing (for more than 10 minutes or so), so there were chase games and such instead. ;)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Day 187

Today we had a family outing to get lunch and do the grocery shopping. Soren didn't get a morning nap, but he was entertained enough to be in pretty fine spirits while we were out. Once we got back home though, he & I passed out on the couch. Tom snuck up on us and got this photo. (It's all I can do not to crop out my giant white belly, but there it is.) Looking at it got me thinking about a couple of other shots Tom caught of us not so long ago...

Some things don't change, do they? ;) (I, for example, continue to fall asleep with my glasses on. Heh.)

Day 186

Saturday was an incredibly lazy day. I'm not sure I even made it out of pjs. Happily, both the Ducks & the Beavs won their games, though we weren't lucky enough to have them televised out here. Here's the little sir having some naked time before bed, running around like the tiny savage he is. ;)

Day 185

Friday after an early nap we checked out a new park down in Springfield. It was quite nice! There is a great network of paved paths through a little wooded area, perfect for taking the stroller. There are a couple of tiny lakes visible when you're walking around, and a playground with a fun double slide. We were there with 2 other moms & their boys and had a nice time. (One of the other moms was kind enough to send along the pictures she took, since I forgot to bring my camera.) Soren got to see a super cool fuzzy caterpillar as well. We'll definitely be going back to that park!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Day 184

Thursday afternoon Soren had his 18 month checkup at the doctor's office. He's still a string bean - 80th percentile for height and head circumference, 49th percentile for weight. The doc said he's looking great. The only vaccination he was due for this time was the flu shot, so even though he was pretty anxious the whole time in anticipation of the stabbings, at least he only had to get stabbed once, and he got over it really quickly.

We took it easy the rest of the day, and then in the evening the guys had some super fun playtime. Evidenced above by the giggling. ;)

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Day 183

Wednesday we got up early to take Mom over to the metro so she could head home. Later in the morning we went to a playgroup meetup at one of the local coffee houses. It's a pretty neat place, very kid-friendly, and it even has a train table for the little ones to play at. Not long after we got home from that, it was naptime, and an epic nap it was. Soren slept for three hours! A rare occurence these days, to be sure. And I even dozed for a good 90+ minutes. A late lunch and an easy dinner of delicious leftovers rounded out the day.

Day 182

Tuesday was another city trek day. We went to the Building Museum this time, and I finally took Soren into the little play area they have set up in there. It was great! I can hardly believe we hadn't checked that out before. There were tons of things for the lad to play with - blocks and giant legos and these cool magnetic building toys (he was especially fond of those) and a playhouse. He had a blast. We made it another short day so as to get home in plenty of time for our final dinner extravaganza.

On the menu: southern tomato pie and baby back ribs. We were lacking a bit in the tomato department, unfortunately, so the pie was more of an onion and cheese pie with some tomatoes in it, but it was still insanely good. And you can't go wrong with baby back ribs. Not possible. All in all, a fine rounding out of a fine visit. I was really happy to have Mom around for a week. It was great being able to show her where we live, and Soren couldn't have had a better time playing all sorts of crazy Grandma games every day.

Day 181

(Sorry for the delay on the photo. Had to figure out how to pull it off the video file from Mom's camera.)

Monday we headed out after breakfast to show mom the sights in D.C. We metro-ed in to check out the National Museum of American History, which I hadn't been to yet. It's pretty neat, particularly if you're into pop culture artifacts (e.g., the C3PO costume from Star Wars, the ruby slippers from Wizard of Oz, Kermit the Frog, Apollo Ohno's speed skates from the 2002 Olympics, the chairs of Archie & Edith Bunker). There were also a couple of fun "Invention at Play" exhibits, with interactive stuff for Soren to do. And of course, there's the Julia Child's Kitchen exhibit, which Mom was excited about. Overall, lots of glorified "ain't America grand?" types of things on display, and not so much with the "killing the Indians" side of American history, which I suppose isn't actually all that surprising.

We went on a little walk afterward, saw the White House and the FBI building and the Old Post Office, then came back home to get started on dinner. Soren didn't nap until after we'd gotten home, so he was a little testy toward the end of our excursion. It was all right, though. Dinner was the fantastically decadent onion dip pizza, topped with prosciutto. Epic nom, and not all that difficult to make. Side dish was roasted veggies (potatoes, broccoli stems, red bell peppers and zucchinis). Also quite tasty and super simple.

Day 180

Sunday was another lazy-ish day. Soren and Grandma played and played all morning long. The lad's been waking up with so much to say, lately. He just starts right in on the day with a running commentary. It's pretty funny and beyond adorable. When it was time for his nap, Mom & I left the boys at home and ventured out to Trader Joe's for more delicious dinner supplies, to be used later in the week. Sunday night, though, we had a lot of produce from the past couple of weeks that desperately needed to be used up, so we grilled some portobello mushrooms, sauteed some spinach, and made broccoli-cheddar mashed potatoes. I blended up some broccoli florets with a little milk and melted butter in the food processor, which we stirred into cheesy mashed potatoes with some caramelized red onions. It was very much an improvised dish, but it came out rather well, I thought. In hindsight, I might have cooked the broccoli instead of tossing it in there raw, but I also kind of liked the crunchiness of it. Sadly, there turned out to be way less of the spinach and mushrooms than I anticipated, so we could've done with another entree to round out the meal, but everything was tasty anyway.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Day 179

Saturday we hung around the house, taking it easy. Soren & my mom played all kinds of silly games. The two of them are having a grand old time visiting. :)

Day 178

Friday morning we went for a walk, and then Soren & Grandma played and played and played all day long. In the afternoon we went to the farmers' market to get some buffalo burgers, which we grilled up for dinner. We had a couple of friends over and made animal style burgers (a la In-n-Out) which we ate with sweet potato fries, garlic parmasean potato wedges & one of Chris's famous desserts. The little scrab was up and crazy, well past his bedtime, so here's a quick photo as he was getting ready for bed.

Day 177

Thursday morning was spent cleaning and preparing for the arrival of my mom. She's come to stay with us for a week. It's amazing how much you can get accomplished with the proper motivation. ;) Out-of-town guests just have a way of inspiring the sort of productiveness (as far as housecleaning goes) I find generally lacking in my daily life.

Soren & I then made our way to the airport in the afternoon, via the metro. It's a nice short ride from here to the airport, and then we didn't have to deal with rush hour traffic. Convenient! While waiting for my mom at the airport, Soren (who had started to get a little antsy) deftly managed to snag my glasses off my face and fling them on to the ground...right as a guy was passing by with his rolling suitcase. The glasses got caught under the suitcase as the guy continued walking away, leaving me to chase after him, half-blind, with a wiggly toddler in my arms! Fortunately, I managed to stop him and retrieve my glasses, which were unharmed by their little excursion across the floor.

And then my mom was here, and we returned home to the pork shoulder I'd been cooking in the crock pot all day. I cooked it with some shredded red cabbage and diced red onion, a little balsamic & rice vinegar, a packet of onion soup mix with about half a cup of water, and a wee bit of sugar. Before I put it in the pot, I rubbed the pork shoulder with salt, pepper and honey, and pan seared it to get some nice browning all over. It was delicious! Paired with salad and a batch of cornbread, it was quite the delicious meal.

Day 176

Wednesday was a big shopping day. The lad needed bigger pjs and a whole bunch of warmer clothes for the coming winter. Much though I loathe WalMart, I do have to admit we managed to stock up on just about everything he required without breaking the bank. I find it particularly strange that it's so hard to find sweatpants for toddlers around here. The only place I've managed to find them has been Kohl's. Go figure. (Writing that one down for future reference, for the next time I'm all perplexed about where to find them.)

Soren was very interested in the cucumbers I was cutting up for our dinner salad, so I gave him a little bowl of his own to eat after he'd finished his own dinner.

As for those scratch marks on his forehead, you might expect Loki (or perhaps Wolverine) to be responsible, but it was actually Leo who wounded the lad. In a completely innocent (albeit not so bright) way. He jumped up on the changing table while Soren was getting a new diaper and wanted to cuddle. Soren, giggling, tried to push him off, at which point Leo scrambled for purchase...on Soren's head. Soren was, fortunately, not upset by his wound for very long. Resilient little sucker.