Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 236


Sunday was Tom's birthday. Happy birthday, Tom!

We had a quiet family day. Bacon & biscuits for breakfast, then a nice walk outside before naptime. We (finally) wandered over to check out the little playground here at our apartment complex (seriously, we've only been living here, what, 8 months now?). There were a few other kids already playing there, and Soren tried a few times to help himself to their shovels and sand toys. When I take him to playgroup, the policy there is just kind of "share and share alike" (or, more accurately, steal and steal alike). The kids are largely left to work things out amongst themselves, with some gentle reminders about the virtues of sharing and waiting one's turn. So he's a little bit of a savage about taking things that don't belong to him. He'll learn.

I'm not exactly sure why, but the lad was a wild man when it was time for bed. Just was. Not. Sleepy. At. All. Not particularly fussy or anything, just chattering happily away until about a quarter past eleven, at which point his exhaustion finally caught up with him and he bawled for ten or fifteen minutes before passing out. It was pretty crazy. And he'd been up every hour or two the night before. Pity, since we were making such progress with the sleep, but I'm sure this is just a temporary setback. I'm pretty sure he's not getting his 2 y.o. molars yet, since I can't feel any lumps or bumps on his gums back there, but I suppose they could be a'brewing. We'll see. Once he finally fell asleep last night he slept pretty solidly til morning, so that's good at least.

Day 235


Nice mellow Saturday. The boys went to the park, while I got some more work done on the stocking. Soren continues to mimic random words of ours, which we find hilarious. Saturday's word of note: hydration. Tom was changing a (very wet) diaper and said something to the effect of, "Well, at least we can be sure you're getting plenty of hydration," to which the lad immediately replied, "Dih-shun!" (His enunciation later improved somewhat with repetition.) Other words he's picked up recently include freaky, tasty, and delicious.

It's been a while now since I last gave the boy a haircut. I figured I'd let his hair grow out some in preparation for the winter, so he'll have a little more up top to keep his head warm. It's starting to get curly and unruly in the back again, and he's been having some terribly amusing bedhead after his naps lately. Tee hee.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey Duck Day

Since it was just the 3 of us for Thanksgiving this year, we opted for a smaller (and, one could argue, tastier) variety of bird. We got & roasted a duck. Mmm, duck.

On Wednesday afternoon, Tom steamed it to render a bunch of the fat. Then it was wrapped and stuck in the fridge overnight. Since it was only 5 and a half pounds, we'd be able to roast it in under an hour on Thursday. Nice!

Thursday afternoon, while Soren was down for his nap, Tom & I chopped up potatoes, brussels sprouts and pearl onions for roasting. Tom pre-sauteed the onions & potatoes, and the onions & sprouts, with a bit of duck fat & garlic. Then the roasting pans went into the oven, and we started on the basting sauce for the duck. Suddenly we heard a "Pop!" from within the oven.


The glass pan holding the potatoes had exploded! Apparently it had been weakened by the pre-sauteeing; the direct heat from the stove was too much for it. Once it went in the oven, it was only a matter of time before it could take no more. It showered the sprouts with glass and woke Soren up. So while I went to tend to the boy, Tom had to start all over again on the dinner.

Fortunately, we had enough food to make a second batch of each dish, so while it was something of a giant pain in the ass to basically make dinner twice, at least we would still be able to eat everything as planned. And at least the duck hadn't been in the oven at the time!

Here's what the finished meal looked like:

Roasty toasty duck


Brussels sprouts


Mashed potatoes & yams


Cheddar-garlic biscuits


Aaaaand, everything together on the plate


All in all, a very fine meal! We've plenty of leftovers for the weekend, too. Yum yum yum.

Day 234


Sing it with me now: It's the mooooooost wonderful tiiiiiiiiiime...of the daaaaaaaaay!

(In case I haven't mentioned it, I am a big fan of naptime.)

It was rather a lazy day today. It began with a pair of tiny feet shuffling quietly into our room at 5:30 this morning. Rather than waking up all sad, Soren simply took matters into his own hands, climbing out of his bed and coming to spend the remainder of the morning in ours. He woke up for good just as Tom left for work, a little before 8:00.

I set two goals for myself for the day. Two small chores to do. Didn't do either of them. Oh well. Tomorrow!

Tom got set free from work early again, arriving home about half an hour into Soren's nap. I managed to keep the lad asleep when the front door opened, but he woke up about twenty minutes later. Tom went in to settle him, which surprised and pleased the boy excessively. It took a little while to get him back to sleep again after that. ;)

In the evening, for no reason that I can determine, Soren spontaneously started saying, "Awesome!" It was very funny. He's a cute little bugger.

Day 233


I am thankful for this little guy.

(Especially his smiles and laughter.)

And his dad.

And naps.

And getting to experience a real autumn and winter this year.

And family cuddle time.

And a clean apartment.

And good friends.

And good food.

And Skype.

And sound sleep with full bellies.

Happy Thanksgiving to all! (Food summary & photo post to follow, a little later.)

Day 232


Wednesday we did have to make a run to the grocery store to pick up a few last minute items, but I was shocked to discover that, while crowded, it wasn't an absolute madhouse at either Trader Joe's or Giant. And I only saw one angry parking lot altercation (seriously, dudes, it's just a parking space; no need to get all freaked out).

Then Tom got let out of work early! Yay! He got home just as I was getting Soren down for his nap, so the little dude had to run around ecstatically for a little while before finally settling down to sleep.

After his nap, Soren spent some time pushing Leo around in the stroller, as you can see above. It was one of the more hilarious and adorable things I've ever seen.

In the evening, Chris & Sarah had us over for a tasty dinner at their new apartment. Soren was kind of perplexed by one of their cats, who looks like a longer and skinnier version of Loki. You could almost see the wheels turning in his brain - "What in the world is Loki doing here?" Hehe.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 231


It looks like he's throwing gang signs here, doesn't it? I didn't even notice until I pulled the picture off the camera and went to edit it. Ha.

So, this morning the house cleaners arrived bright and early. It was actually quite a bit too early for us to leave for playgroup, so we just went for a walk to get out of their way. (It had rained overnight but wasn't actively raining this morning; Sir had his jacket on more for warmth than anything else.) One slow loop around the complex, and we headed off to the library. It was a different library than the one we've gone to before. In this one, the doors of the meeting room have push bars to exit, so I didn't have to spend the whole time chasing after the little escapee. Convenient! I had a nice time chatting with the other moms - and the one stay-at-home-dad who brings his daughter - and Soren ran and played and was his usual cheerful self. It's always so great when playgroup actually goes like it should, with Soren playing and tiring himself out instead of making me chase him back into the room every few minutes.

He had a good nap back home while I worked more on his Christmas stocking. I'm continuing to hone my skillz, and I'm really pleased with how it's coming out so far.

Oh, and coming back home to our freshly cleaned apartment? Awesome. So great. So worth it. Of course, it made me want to be extra cautious during dinner preparation so I didn't mess up the kitchen too badly. Hehe. It'll be nice to have a good cleaning like this once a month for a while. Makes it easier to keep up on the day to day stuff, hopefully.

Anyway, that's it for Tuesday. Tomorrow we battle the crazies at the grocery store again (because of course I forgot to get some stuff) but I'll be amused to go through the line with my 2 or 3 items in the basket while I'm surrounded by people with their carts heaped. Heh. Good thing I'm easily amused. ;)

Day 230


I was totally amused to catch Soren in the middle of a very intense itchy-nose-rubbing here. Hehe. Going after that itch with gusto, he was.

Monday felt like it went by really fast. Once we hit 10:00, it was on like Donkey Kong. We braved the rain and the crazies to get ourselves a Thanksgiving duck from Whole Foods. The little 5.5 lb bird should suit the three of us just fine, with plenty for delicious duck-mashed potato-stuffing sandwiches in the days after. Whole Foods was a little packed, but nothing like I'm sure it'll be later in the week.

We got home a little later than Sir's usual naptime. It was a close thing whether or not he'd stay awake in the car on the way home. But we made it, had a quick lunch...and then I had to spend an hour getting him to agree that he really was still sleepy and needed a nap. Of course, once he fell asleep (and I did, too), we were both out for the rest of the afternoon. He was pretty confused to wake up in the dark a little after 5:00. Heh.

Cleaning flurry! After dinner I we worked on getting the apartment tidied up in preparation for...Tuesday house cleaning. Whoo-yeah. Since we're going to be having a baby here, it seems worthwhile to invest in having some professionals come to really give the place a couple of thorough cleanings beforehand. It feels a little decadent, but what the hey. It's also quite practical. So tidy, tidy, tidy we did. Tuesday morning would be interesting for sure.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 229


While the boys were out erranding today, I got some more work done on the stocking. It's pretty funny to see the difference in my embroidery skill just between yesterday and today. Not that I've magically improved all on my own, but I did sit down and watch a couple of tutorial videos online about the different stitches (something I should perhaps have done before I started). Hopefully Soren won't mind a few areas where my initial lack of proficiency was painfully obvious. ;)

We have begun to gather all our birth supplies. Mostly it's things like blankets and towels and cleaning supplies. I can put together a whole post about the preparations a little later if people are interested.

Soren's decided that the bars we installed on the bookshelves to keep him from pulling the books out are really fun to just grab & rattle. Hmm. He managed to pull one out completely from our small bookcase, and since there wasn't anything on that particular shelf anyway, Tom went ahead and just put the bar up out of reach so it wouldn't be a temptation. So what do you suppose Soren was doing within minutes? (Spoiler alert: the picture at the top of the post gives it away) That's right, he wiggled on up to sit on the shelf. Sigh. Toddlers.

Day 228


Ah, the weekend. His smile pretty accurately reflects my general opinion of weekends.

Mid-morning, we had a meeting with our birth assistant. She's the RN who will be taking care of the "nurse jobs" during the home birth (monitoring vitals, providing any necessary care, etc.), as well as just being an extra set of hands to help out. She mentioned that she has a labor tub that will be available for rent in January; I don't think any of us plan on doing an actual water birth, but I've heard nothing but good things about being able to sit in a warm tub during labor. It's supposed to just make a world of difference, comfort-wise. So now I've got to see about getting permission from our landlord to use something like that.

After she left, the three of us took a walk around the grounds. It's been a while since we all got out to do some walking together. No stroller for the Sir; he walked the whole mile with us like a champ, with energy to spare once we got back home.

While Soren napped, I started working on his Christmas stocking. My mom made stockings for Amy & me when we were little, and I thought it would be fun to do the same for my kids. So I got this kit and am stretching the limits of my crafting abilities to put it all together. It's perhaps a bit more ambitious a project than I initially thought, but I think I'll be able to pull it off. It's fun so far.

I played around a little with black & white photos on my camera in the evening (hence the shot above). And then we watched the Ducks squeak (quack?) by Arizona to win their game this week. Oh, the downside of living on the east coast...I was up til just after midnight watching. (Tom went to bed right as overtime was starting; crazy fellow said he just couldn't take another minute of football and wanted to go to sleep.) Anyway, that was that, and Saturday was done.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 227


Well, were it not for a diaper failure at 5:30 Friday morning, we would have been 3-for-3 on Soren sleeping through the night in his own bed! Oh my gosh, what a difference. Three nights in a row of solid sleep...heavenly, I tell you. Of course, the third night I was plagued with more pregnancy insomnia and actually slept terribly, but at least I didn't have to get up and tend to Soren a couple of times on top of all that.

Because I was so very tired on Friday, I did something I'm honestly not all that proud of. We had a couple of errands to run in the late morning and on the way home, I stopped at Wendy's to pick up lunch for myself. And I got Soren...some fast food chicken nuggets. He wasn't sure about them at first, but he eventually decided they were nommable and ate several. I know, I know, there are far worse sins I can commit as a mother than feeding the boy some nuggets, but it's just one of those things I didn't plan on doing, at least not just yet. Anyway. I say this in the spirit of slightly chagrined, somewhat amused confessional; I'm not fishing for reassurance or anything like that, honestly. Just sharing.

Anyhow. That's about it for Friday. Have a good weekend, everyone. :)

Day 226


Thursday was a long day, but a good one. Library playgroup in the morning; Soren only tried to escape once! He had a good time playing and mooching snacks from the other moms (since apparently the ones I brought were inferior...you know how it is). I brought along some of his fun magnet toys to share, which were a big hit with everyone.

After Tom got home in the evening, we were off again, this time to our 32-week appointment with the midwives. They were running rather a bit behind schedule; Tom was an absolute saint with the Soren-wrangling in the waiting area. We had a good talk with the midwife, got a lot of questions answered and settled on our decision to do a home birth.

Here's the lad snacking on some fruit, for once not mugging for the camera. I'm pretty amused by his skeptical little expression. ;)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 225


Horray! No more fire alarm testing today!

Double horray! Soren slept all night Tuesday night, straight through, in his bed. He was a little restless, made some whimpering noises a few times, but the couple of times I got up to check on him, he was fast asleep by the time I got to his room.

Since we've converted his crib to a day bed, he can get out of bed and come padding into our room in the morning (or, a couple of times, in the middle of the night if he's particularly agitated). It is the cutest freaking thing when he wakes up all happy and quietly and trots through the apartment to our room with a big ol' "Good morning!" grin on his face. Seriously, I might collapse from the cuteness if I were not already lying down in bed.

So, this morning I got up and checked online to see what time our playgroup stroller walk was scheduled to start. The one I specifically wrote down as our Wednesday activity. Turns out, it was at 11:30...yesterday morning. Grr. Accursed mommy-brain. So we played some games at home instead, caught an early(ish) nap, tried not to drive each other too crazy. When Tom got home from work, there was much rejoicing; Soren had been quite sad to see him leave this morning. The three of us practiced playing catch, which made Soren giggle and giggle. Dinner was teriyaki chicken and broccoli, which the boy happily ate. All in all, not too bad of a day.

Day 224


Tuesday, for the second day in a row, the maintenance folks at our apartment complex were working on the building fire alarm system. They began this work right after their lunch, which, coincidentally, is right before Soren's naptime. The fire alarms in the hallways of our building are old-school alarm bells, big metal things with a little hammer that makes them go brrrrrrriiinnnnnnnnng! So at least they're not buzzers or sirens or something like that. But they were ringing intermittently for a good hour and a half (or rather, a bad hour and a half). Fortunately, if the ringing starts before the lad's actually fallen asleep, he seems to be able to sort of tune it out and go on about his nap. So they're incredibly annoying, but at least mister's sleep didn't suffer.

For dinner I made spaghetti squash...spaghetti. Sort of. It was kind of a battle, but I managed to hack my way through the refrigerated squash to cut it in half for roasting. Once it was roasted, I scraped out the squash strings and mixed them in a pan with some garlic, stewed plum tomatoes, a little lemon juice, and a bunch of crumbled goat cheese. I was afraid it wasn't going to be enough food, but it was remarkably filling. Probably not worth the effort (I'd rather just boil up some pasta instead) but it was tasty enough. Soren didn't deign to try any, but that's okay. He's been a fairly good eater again so far this week.

Two cute moments from the day: when the cashier at Trader Joe's handed the lad a balloon, he responded with a very enthusiastic "Thank you!" Also, he's just starting to get the idea of counting. While pointing to four things, he said, "One, one, two, two!" Hehe, close, but not quite. ;) Honorable mention for cuteness: his word for yogurt is "ah-guuuuuung," with a very deliberately drawn out "gung." He's a funny one.

Day 223


It's awfully cute when these two sit in the morning sun together.

Monday was mostly a laundry day. Laaaame. I don't have any fun stories about Monday. Sorry.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 222


The guys went to the park this morning while I got Soren's closet organized. I went through all the bins of tiny clothes, getting them organized and labeled in preparation for the arrival of the wee lass. I pulled out all the newborn stuff, which looks SO tiny now. Holy criminy. It's hard to believe Soren ever fit in any of that.

Did some cleaning and tidying, lots of laundry, and Tom got our printer working again (yay!). Then this evening I remembered I needed to take a picture of the lad for the day. The above photo is the result of me holding the camera off to the side, just out of his reach, while he sat in my lap chanting, "Baby! Baby! Baby!"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 221


Well now I've done it. I've got myself some nice blackmail ammunition for Soren's teenage years. "Aw, look how cute you were, learning to use the toilet..." We're still not really potty training in earnest, but he gets to use the toilet several times a day now, usually right before we put a new diaper on him. He seems to think it's fun.

Yay, weekend! We didn't do much. Ate soup leftovers, lazed around, tried to keep the boy entertained, entertained ourselves by getting him to repeat new words. I may have mentioned this already, but he's become quite the mimic. We still can't get him to say "please" though. He's got "thank you," but we're trying to gently turn his demands ("Milk!" "Cheese!" "Kya!") into requests ("Milk please." etc.). So far he's not been so amenable to these attempts to civilize him. We'll keep working at it.

Day 220


Extreme close-up!

It's been a little difficult lately to get decent pictures of the boy. As soon as he sees me get the camera out, he's instantly harassing me to let him look at pictures of himself on the LCD screen. Little narcissist. So I end up with blurry pictures like the one above, as he's flinging himself at me too quickly for the camera to refocus. ;)

Friday we mostly stuck around at home. It was another chilly, rainy day. I made a halfway decent potato soup in the crock pot. The recipe was kind of unusual in that it called for me to mix flour and water (though I used vegetable broth) together in the pot before adding any of the vegetables. I expected it to be a huge pain to get the mixture fully homogenized, but it was only a little bit of a pain. More painful is the fact that I can't seem to peel potatoes without also peeling one or more of my fingers. (Yeah, I'm that good.) In the soup: potatoes, yams, carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic, milk & cream cheese. 'Twas tasty.

Soren's been a better eater this week, finally! He's fully on "real people" food now - hasn't had jarred baby food in weeks - eating what we eat, plus the random assortment of string cheeses, crackers, nuts and fruits for his snacks throughout the day. The grazing method seems to be working pretty well, which is one of the recommended approaches I keep seeing on parenting advice websites. It's just like you're supposed to feed a horse - little & often. But in the past week he's chowed down on pesto pizza, spinach ravioli, and a couple other things that are currently escaping my recollection. Oh, and yogurt. He's discovered an appreciation for yogurt. So that's good. We'll fatten up the little string bean yet.

Day 219


Thursday morning we went to playgroup at the library as usual. It was quite a chilly and wet day! Soren seemed to have a good time playing; he only tried to escape a few times. I'm starting to make friends with several of the moms, which is nice.

There was a strange episode near the end of the playdate. Soren came over to sit sedately in my lap and eat some snacks (very rare behavior...he's more of the eat-and-run sort, these days). He got to playing with his sippy cup and was very involved in methodically removing and replacing the lid, once he'd drunk all the water. One of the little girls there kind of sidled up and swiped the cup away from him at one point. Now, normally the lad will kind of roll with the punches if someone steals a toy from him, but this time he freaked out. He stayed in my lap but was very upset, to the point of shaking all over and starting to cry. The little girl's mom led her back over, and we tried to give the kids a chance to work it out themselves, for the girl to see she was upsetting Soren and just give the cup back on her own. There was a little bit of a stand-off, as she seemed to ascertain that this must be a very important cup, and perhaps she should hold onto it instead of giving it back. Eventually, the cup was returned to Soren, who slowly calmed down and stopped shaking. It was an interesting learning moment. It's hard sometimes, as a parent, not to just step in and deal with things directly, but they've got to learn the concept of give and take somehow.

Anyway. Yet again, I neglected to get any pictures taken on Thursday, so the one above is from Friday morning. Now that Soren's figured out how to Houdini his way out of his pjs, sometimes I'll turn around from checking email in the morning to see him sitting (or strutting) around in just a diaper. It's pretty silly.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Just a little Thursday morning amusement

video

Day 218


Why are we so smiley, you ask? Because Wednesday was Veterans' Day, and Tom had the day off work! Which was great because I felt crummy with a capital C for most of the day and was super thankful to be able to veg on the couch while Tom took over Soren tending duties.

So yeah, I don't really have much to say about Wednesday, except thank you to veterans for your service and to the federal government for the much appreciated mid-week day off.

Day 217


Most of Tuesday morning was spent in pursuit of swine flu vaccinations. First we went to the nearest Health Department clinic location, arriving right before they opened at 8am, to discover a line of people wrapping all the way around the building and no empty parking spots in the lot. So much for that! We drove over to another location, about which I'd heard good things from other moms. When we got there, around 9:00, there was a bit of a long line, but it was all indoors. A volunteer was coming by handing out numbered cards, which gave us the option of coming back later and being allowed to go to the front of the line at that time. Since the expected wait time was a good 2-3 hours, we opted to go on home. Turns out, we probably would have gotten through faster - there was absolutely no line when we returned at 11:30, and we were able to walk right in - but I'm glad I didn't try to wait with Mr. Wiggly even for an hour. It was a lot easier to just walk in, get our shots, and be on our way again. Sir was a trooper, too. He cried a little but was over it in about 20 seconds.

And then we went home and he slept for 3 hours. I napped for a good chunk of time as well. Neither of us had a fever or any noticeable ill effects from the vaccine, but I suspect being able to get a good bunch of sleep right afterward was helpful.

Later, I grilled some pork chops (to round out our pig-themed day), and the boys read some books. All's well that ends well.

Day 216


Here's an example of a really crummy (underexposed) original photo that I attempted to make less crummy. You could say I was going for a dreamlike appearance, kind of a sepia thing. I'm no artistic master, but I promise you this is better than the original was. ;)

Monday we had playgroup in the morning. Soren demonstrated yet again his willingness to eat all sorts of things at other peoples' houses, chowing down on pesto pizza and bruschetta. Go figure. It was the house with the super awesome fire truck toy, which he only discovered about ten minutes before it was time to leave, so we had another gloriously fun meltdown when I had to extract him from it. Sigh. I'd happily get him one of his own if we had the room for it, but we really don't. It didn't help that it was definitely naptime, so he was extra worked up from his tiredness. I will say though, he did nap really well once we got home. Heh.

That was about it for Monday. I made pizzas for dinner, and they were tasty.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Day 215


Soren slept basically all night Friday night again. This is a trend I would like to see continued! Things are so much better when we can all get some solid sleep. Saturday, around mid-morning, the fellas went out for a drive, permitting me the opportunity to take a nice relaxing bath and then watch three X-Files episodes in a row. The remainder of the day consisted of more resting, and in the evening Tom made some tasty soup for dinner, which Soren actually ate. So in that respect, Saturday was a resounding success. I, however, never took my camera down from its perch, and thus never got a photo of the lad for the day. D'oh.

Saturday night found me awake for 4 1/2 hours in the middle of it. Stupid pregnancy insomnia. So yeah, normally I'd just snap a photo first thing Sunday morning and call it good for Saturday, but I didn't wake up until almost 11 on Sunday, so there went that plan.

I didn't feel well pretty much all day on Sunday. Must've been the lack of sleep, because I'm doing better today, but yesterday had me worried that I was going to get the 3rd trimester resurgence of morning sickness, which I definitely don't want. Not interested, thank you! No need to add nausea to the heartburn and start racking up the rest of the symptoms from a Pepto Bismol commercial.

Since I finally remembered to snag my camera Sunday evening, I caught this quick photo of the lad exhibiting rare behavior and stuffing his face. We'll just ignore the fact that he's stuffing his face with a tortilla chip and focus on the fact that he'd actually eaten some vegetables earlier in the evening. ;)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Day 213


Friday evening we headed over to Max & Agnes's for dinner. We made chili and hush puppies and salad. It was cold outside! We made sure the lad was appropriately bundled. He played with Spork (M & A's cat) and kept wanting to give him kisses. He was up quite a bit later than usual, so it wasn't a huge surprise when he passed out in the car on the way home. More surprising was that he stayed asleep all the way back up to the apartment. (Lately he's been waking up not long after the car stops.) He was pretty cute, snoozing with his behatted head resting on Tom's shoulder.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Day 212


Wednesday night, Soren woke up briefly about an hour or so after we'd put him to bed and then proceeded to sleep uninterrupted all the way until after 6am! It was pretty amazing. Of course, I slept horribly, awake every few hours just the same. Blah.

Thursday morning, we went to playgroup at the library, as we are wont to do on many Thursdays. In spite of having slept so soundly the night before, Soren was all eye-rubby and crabby while we were there, which was unfortunate. There was one short period of happy play though that made me regret not bringing my camera. Soren and two other little boys had confiscated one of the library carts and were wheeling it all around the room. Then Soren decided to climb onto the bottom shelf of the cart and kind of hang half off it, lying on his belly, while the other two boys pushed. It was hilarious.

Back home, we both had a nice long nap. I'm glad that, even when I don't get enough sleep at night, I can almost always count on getting a decent nap during the afternoon these days. It helps.

In the evening, Soren snatched this shirt my sister got for him out of the closet and insisted on wearing it. It's still rather large on him (it's a size 4T) but actually fit all right over the shirt he was already wearing. Go figure.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Comparison bellies


On the left, we have the picture I took today, 30 weeks pregnant with the little miss. On the right, that was me 29 weeks pregnant with Sir. Amusing!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Day 211


It seems like no matter where we were today, Soren wanted to be somewhere else.

Before he had a chance to go too stir crazy this morning, we went to a playgroup meetup at the fun coffee house that has a little play area for the kiddos. He played contentedly for a little while, but before long he kept trying to make a break for the front door, saying "Go-go?" and "Bye-bye!" all the while. I made him stick around til I had at least finished my tea and made some attempt to socialize with the other moms. Next we made a run to Trader Joe's, then home for naptime. Practically as soon as we'd walked in the door at home he wanted to go out again, but he did eventually settle down and nap. After naptime, it was off to the midwives' for my 30 week appointment. They were running a little behind schedule, so we were stuck in the lobby a bit longer than usual, and it didn't take long for the chorus of "Go-go?" to start up again. He was reasonably well behaved throughout the actual appointment, fortunately, and we were soon headed home again. Back home, he was all about "Walk? Walk?" Never satisfied! Hehe.

Tom's been trying to teach Soren how to jump. It's kind of funny that this isn't an intuitive skill. The boy's starting to get the idea though, and oh my goodness is he ever pleased with himself when he sort of successfully gets his heels off the ground. This evening he completely wore himself into a panting exhaustion with repeated attempts of crouch-fling-crouch-fling-crouch-fling. Freaking hilarious.

Day 210


Tuesday was the big state election for governor & delegates to the state assembly and whatnot. Our designated polling place is at another apartment complex about a block away (weird, right?) so I packed the lad into the stroller, plied him with snacks, and waddled my way down to go vote. It's amusing, if not terribly surprising, that every place I've lived has a different system for casting ballots. Oregon exclusively uses absentee ballots; no polling places, no waiting in lines, just fill it out and mail it in. California has its Ink-a-Vote ballot (not to be confused with Inca Vote) and paper registry books that you sign when you check in for voting. Virginia has electronic voting machines. You check in with a volunteer, who hands you a "Voter Registration Verified" card. Then you walk over to another table where you hand that card to another volunteer, who prints out a ticket with your "Voter ID" number. Then you enter that number into the voting machine and commence voting. Pretty interesting.

That was really our big excitement for the day. Just walking down to the polling place and back (pushing the heavy lad in the stroller through big piles of fallen leaves on the sidewalk) left me pretty worn out, so I caught a nice nap with Soren in the afternoon. In the evening, after the usual games were afoot, I caught a photo of Soren sharing his new-found tooth brushing obsession with Tom. It was rather cute.

A Thousand Words

This week's topic of self-indulgent navel gazing: Photography as Creative Outlet

I take a lot of pictures. As well you know. Most of them, while much appreciated for their value as records of the little Sir's growth and development...


Newborn


6 months


1 year


18 months

...are not exactly what you'd call art. Cute as hell (let's all take a moment and say "Aww...") but not art. And I wouldn't mind elevating my photography a little, not because I have aspirations of "going pro" or anything, but because it's fun to work at a creative pursuit until you get better at it.

Creative outlets are valuable, I think. Mentally stimulating, emotionally satisfying, simply enjoyable. This isn't any sort of major revelation. I've written before about how much I liked playing a musical instrument back in high school. I used to enjoy creative writing but seem to have been ruined by years of scientific writing (sad). Photography's a logical choice of creative pursuit for me right now because it's pretty easy to practice basically anywhere, it doesn't have to be particularly time (or money) intensive, and I really do enjoy it. Plus I have a kick-ass camera.

So. How does one go about becoming a better photographer? Pretty much the same way you get better at anything (duh) - lots of practice, occasional advice and feedback from people who are better at it than you are. To that end, I've joined the online community of photographers at Digital Photo Challenge. There are official themed "challenges" every week, wherein you submit your photo to be judged (harshly) by the rest of the community, many members of which are incredibly talented. Right after I joined the site, I submitted a photo to a "Male Portrait" themed challenge (guess who!); I thought my picture was pretty good, but it was completely ripped apart by the voters. Among their criticisms and critiques were little nuggets of useful advice, and I've done steadily better in subsequent challenges, but I've clearly got a long way to go before I can even hope to land in the top 10 or 20.

More valuable have been the side challenges. These are unjudged and last (usually) for a month. Everyone's really supportive and encouraging, and while the idea is to try and post a new photo every day, there's no pressure or obligation to do so. September's side challenge was particularly useful for me because the theme was basically "What if?" Everyone was tasked with trying things outside what they'd normally do and seeing what sorts of interesting results they came up with. It was really interesting to kind of play around with camera settings and try things I wouldn't necessarily have thought to do otherwise. Some examples:

What if I intentionally overexpose the image?


What if I intentionally underexpose the image?


What if I kick the lens out of focus?


What if I start with the lens focused, but then kick it out during a long exposure?


What if I don't worry about holding the camera steady during a long exposure?


What if I zoom in during a long exposure?


Now, I'm not saying these pictures are any better or worse than all the Soren snapshots. Their artistic merit is still debatable. ;) But part of the process is taking risks and trying new things, which just might end up producing something interesting.

In any event, that's a little of what I've been doing lately in the pursuit of becoming a better photographer. Whether or not I'm actually improving yet, I'm having fun with it. And that's important too, right?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Day 209


It seems we've reached the super fun stage of toddler development I like to call the "Mountain outofa Molehill" stage, wherein every tiny affront is perceived by the wee one as a monumental injustice. Case in point: Monday morning the lad had a complete bawling meltdown because I wouldn't take him for a walk right that instant (all my maternity pants were in the dryer, and as happy as I am to oblige his desires for fresh air and the outside world, I'm not going out there pantsless). Once we did go out, though, he became as pleasant and happy a fellow as you could ask for. He reaffirmed my suspicions that the way to his stomach is through a change of scenery; once strapped in his car seat, he scarfed down the dried fruit bar that he wouldn't touch when we were in the apartment. And then he ate a decent-sized lunch while we were out. I suppose as long as I have an excuse to take him out and about every few days he won't completely starve.

From the time we left the apartment until around dinnertime, he was in a fine mood. We got back from our erranding, and he took a two-and-a-half hour nap! Sweet, sweet silence for two and a half hours. It was lovely. Then he found and played with my shoes for a little while (resulting in the above photo), which was way cute.

My big chore for the day was to convert the lad's crib to a toddler bed. It's getting too difficult for me to heft him over the rail and set him down gently. So off came the drop-side. I added a rolled up towel under the fitted sheet to act as a bumper and put some cushions in a pillowcase on the floor so he could climb up and down more easily on his own. All in all, I think it came out pretty nice.


(I also later wedged a pillow between the bed and the changing table, just in case the towel bumper didn't keep him from squiggling his way off the side in the night.)

He slept there for most of the night last night, so I'll consider that a success!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Day 208


Sunday was a catch-up day. Got (mostly) caught up on laundry, caught up on our TV viewing, and Tom cleaned both the bathrooms and the kitchen because he is awesome like that.

Soren's been on quite a tooth brushing kick lately. He asks to brush his teeth at least 3-5 times a day, which is almost as many times as he asks for a bath. Our lad is fond of hygiene, it seems. ;)

In other news, the Pine Mouth seems to be mostly abated. Thank goodness! That was really unpleasant.