Monday, May 31, 2010

Yes, it was another 3-day weekend but I haven't pulled Mondays photos off the camera yet

Saturday:

Day 52


Day 142

I admit it. As I drove out for my riding lesson Saturday morning, I was kind of dreading that I'd be assigned the evil pony again this week. I don't know if it's a coincidence or if it's actually her intention, but it seems like my instructor tends to assign us the same horse two weeks in a row. At least, I've almost always been assigned the same horse two weeks in a row. And while my ride on the evil pony wasn't all that bad, it wasn't super awesome, and if I never have to try to bridle him again and face his wrath, I won't cry about it. On the one hand I feel like a huge wimp (seriously, this week I saw some girls in his stall who had to be about 12 or 13 years old), but on the other hand, I also feel like I'm too old for this crap. I'm paying good money to go out there and enjoy myself, and while of course there's no question I'm also interested in improving my skills, my focus isn't on pushing for the next level or prepping for a competition or learning how to be a trainer anymore. I'm okay with a challenge, but not at the expense of ultimately having a good time.

Anyway, whether my absence last week caused N to forget whom she'd assigned me last time, or whether I'm just wrong about the two-consecutive-weeks scheme, whatever the reason, there was a different horse's name next to mine on the horse assignment list. And while breathing a sigh of relief may have been premature (I'd never ridden this horse either), I couldn't help but do it anyway. As it turned out, I had a great ride. N warned me that this pony tends to be a little speedy in his canter and likes to run out when approaching a jump (we weren't actually jumping, but practicing skills used in riding courses by going through chutes made up of parallel poles on the ground). Maybe the humidity of the day made him too tired, but while his canter was quick, it was super comfortable and super fun, and I never felt like I was being run away with. And he didn't get wiggly or anything when we took our turns through the chute exercise. I would definitely not mind being assigned him again.

Back at home, we took it pretty easy for the rest of the afternoon. Well, Tom went to the gym, which was pretty taxing, but I didn't do much for the rest of the day. The kids were cute, as usual, though I can't at the moment think of any specific anecdotes to relate.

Oh, okay, here's one. Soren and I made a run in the evening to Best Buy to get a couple of long VGA cables so we could hook up our TV to our computer. We watch TV shows online sometimes, and since our sweet new television has a monitor input, Tom suggested we hook that sucker up and watch stuff on the big screen. So we were at Best Buy, and Soren was "helping" me push the cart. I made a quick phone call to Tom to make sure I was getting the right cables, during which time Soren began filling the cart with different cables and connectors, counting as he put them in. Thanks, buddy! Hehe.

Sunday:

Day 53


Day 143

Sunday afternoon we had Max over for lunch. It was already scheduled to be a late lunch, but it was made even later due to the fact that Rolling Thunder had descended upon the city and caused traffic to be so snarled by detours that it took Max almost an hour and a half to get the 7ish miles from the district to Alexandria. And I think he said it took an hour and fifteen minutes to just get to the freeway. Yeah, yikes. He got here eventually, though, and Tom made delicious pizzas. Max had brought chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream soup, which we gobbled up for dessert.

Soren's finally at the age (well, he's been there for a little while now) where he remembers and recognizes people, so when Max arrived and I opened the door to let him in, Soren adorably exclaimed, "That's a Max!" Gaaaaah, so cute. Eleri did some babbling and grinning and drooling as well and was generally delightful.

In the evening we finally got around to watching the Chuck season finale online. That's such a fun show. Not even the tiniest bit realistic, but it doesn't claim to be. Just a very entertaining spy dramedy, with lots of laughs and good, likable characters. I'm glad it got picked up for another season!

All right, that's all I've got for now. Monday's post on the morrow. Thank you, and good night!

In which I disagree with They Might Be Giants


Day 51


Day 141

Fridays I do not detest, not even a little. Yay for Fridays!

We had Soren's rec center class in the morning, of course. Eleri's such a good baby. She slept in the car on the way over and woke up right as we got there. She chilled in the front pack the whole time, just looking around, not making a peep. Soren was not super well behaved, but he wasn't too bad either. He did a good job stringing (large) beads on to a pipe cleaner to make a bracelet. And he sure loves painting with those ink dot things people use for BINGO. Yes, he also did some running around and trying to open cabinets, and during the song-and-dance portion of the class, when the instructor had them doing an activity with bean bags ("Put the bean bag on your head...now on your elbow...now on your back..." etc.), all Soren wanted to do was take everyone else's bean bags and put them away. He even walked up to a little girl who had 2 bean bags, pointed at the orange one and said, "Orange one, please?" He was very, very happy to help the instructor collect and put them away when the song was over. And he had a grand time playing with the parachute. He's continuing to get a little better with each week, a little more engaged, while still maintaining the title of class troublemaker. ;)

After some running around with A after class, Soren was pretty filthy. The mulch surface of the playground was muddy and puddle-ridden, and the boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves scooping up big handfuls of sodden wood chips. I got him as cleaned up as possible (there is only so much you can do with wet wipes) and we made our way home. Tom got set free early for the holiday weekend, which was great.

On Wednesday I started this Couch-to-5k running program. My second workout was Friday, and halfway through I started feeling ouchy from my shin splints again. Frustrating! I'm tempted to stick with it and just back waaaaay off on my speed (more or less putt along at enough of a jog to get my heart rate up just a wee bit without putting too much stress on my legs) because frankly, I am not sure at this point if the shin splints will ever go away completely, no matter how much time I take off. So we'll see. If I can do the next workout on Monday without much discomfort, I'll keep at it. If not, I guess it's back to the pool or something.

Remember that video I promised?

Of Soren eating a lemon? Here it is.


(Let me know if anyone has trouble watching that, or if it's super laggy, or takes forever to load, or whatever. I'm hoping because it's up on YouTube that it won't be too slow or whatever, even though it's large.)

Friday's post, the weekend's post, more pictures, more videos...all coming soon!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hil-Eleri-ous


Day 50


Day 140

Eleri is one funny little lass. Since the discovery of her toes as the best chew toys EVER, she's been cracking me up in the morning when I change her out of her pjs. The moment her leg is free, she immediately grabs her foot and pulls it to her mouth, and I'm sure if she could talk she'd be saying something along the lines of *gasp* Toes! I haven't seen you all night! I missed you soooo much! Nom nom nom... It's hilarious.

She's also getting the whole blowing raspberries thing figured out, but she still looks so surprised every time she manages to make the noise. Tom & I find it quite delightful.

Thursday morning we checked out another new (to us) park. It's pretty neat, set down quite a ways from the street in what - according to the parks & rec website - used to be a large gravel pit. There's a big paved area to ride trikes and scooters and the like, and a nice sand pit, plus the usual assortment of swings and slides and jungles gym. And even though it was quite a warm morning, there was enough shade that we didn't all completely melt away.

All tuckered out from his morning gallavanting, Soren fought and fought and refused to take a nap. Until he fell asleep on his own at 3:45. D'oh. I let him sleep for half an hour, but even that proved to be too much. He's been doing really well at bedtime lately, falling asleep pretty quickly and staying in his own room for at least half the night. Last night, though, it took over an hour for him to settle down enough to fall asleep. Grr. He did, however, then proceed to sleep right through a rather intense thunderstorm. Eleri did, too. I was very surprised! And grateful. ;)

Soren versus the big boy underpants


Day 49


Day 139

Soren was really good again this week, playing at the mall after our stroller walk. There were some other boys there about his age, and he was very quick to go say, "Hi!" and try to play with them. Such a social little dude.

Last week, one of the times we were at the store, I had Soren pick out a package of "big boy underpants" to buy. We've been reading his potty training book just about every day, and he's seemed interested in the concept of wearing them, so I figured it was time to make the purchase. So we got them washed and put away in his closet, and I told him when he was ready to try them out, then we'd do that. Then on Wednesday afternoon, apropos of nothing, Soren asked about them. So on they went.

I set a timer, and every 15 minutes we had potty time. It worked pretty well for the first hour, but then I think he grew bored with the endeavor and seemed to stop trying. No outright fully soaked accidents, but the next 3 potty times we had to change his unders after. But hey, I'll take it for a start! We'll keep trying it a little every day or two and see how it goes.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Splish splash


Day 48


Day 138

Tuesday morning we had a backyard playdate. The hosts had some flat bins filled with water and a spray mat, so we put the kids in swimsuits and let them have some watery fun. It was a great day for it - overcast but not chilly - and Soren seemed to have a lot of fun. Eleri was in fine spirits and was perfectly content to let some of the other moms hold her when I needed to change Soren's diaper or get something from the car. She seems to be just as sociable as her brother, which is a good thing. :)

At lunchtime, Soren was sitting in his high chair apparently reliving earlier fun on the slides, as he kept repeating to himself, "Scoot, scoot, whoo! Scoot, scoot, whoo!" Goofball.

He's got several of his books nearly memorized and was going through some of them, one after the other, in the afternoon, "reading" to himself and Eleri. I got a tiny bit of it on video. Very cute.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ride-jer bike?


Day 47


Day 137

Language acquisition is funny. Because we tend to ask Soren, "Do you want to ride your bike?" he in turn doesn't say, "I want to ride my bike." Instead, he asks us, "Soren ride your bike?" though I think it's less of a my/your mixup than a simple misunderstanding, because he kind of slurs it together ("ride-jer bike"). Amusing, in any case.

Monday morning, A and his mom came over, and the boys rode their trikes outside for a while. A's had his trike for a few months longer than Soren, so he's got a pretty good handle on how to ride it. He's good at using the pedals and can actually get going pretty fast. I think Soren was a little in awe. They traded after a while, and Soren gave the pedals a try, but he still had a little trouble with the coordination.

When they got bored with riding, we went over to the playground (the one on-site) to play on the slides and swings. Some workers were doing a bit of maintenance, replacing one of the ride-on toys, and Soren ran right up and stole their shovel. He gave it back without a fuss though, and they seemed to think it was pretty funny.

Soren naps are still hard to come by around here, these days, so after A went home for naptime, we went out to pick up a few things from Target. Naturally - 4pm, warm, sitting in the car - Soren passed out less than 5 minutes from our destination. He perked up again in the store, though. As we walked around, he was singing a little to himself. Eventually, I recognized that he was singing "Mrs. Robinson," which was super cute. He and the cashier had a little "Hey-hey-hey, whoa whoa whoa" exchange that was also adorable.

3-day Weekend

Friday:

Day 44


Day 134

Since this week's video is actually from Thursday, we'll go ahead and start with that so as to somewhat maintain continuity. (Pardon the low quality; upon initial rendering, the file size was 100MB, but then I guess I overcorrected when I tried to reduce the size.)

video

Friday morning, Tom & Soren went to Soren's rec center class, while Eleri & I got laundry and packing done in advance of our trip. (More accurately, I got laundry and packing done while Eleri alternately napped and provided commentary.) The guys brought home lunch, so we ate and then hit the road.

It's about 180 miles to Chincoteague from here, but there was a fair bit of construction-related traffic just outside DC, plus the inevitable necessary delays with two wee ones, so it took us about 4.5 hours to get there. Not too bad, on balance. Some observations from the drive:

  • We passed a lot of roads called [some word] Neck Road. Cox Neck, Beaver Neck, Peggy Neck, Landings Neck, Sportsman Neck. I'm not sure if this is some kind of waterway reference (we were near creeks or rivers in many cases) or what.
  • At one point along the highway, we saw signs for Tips Lane in one direction and Fortune Lane in the other. We found it amusing.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is nothing to sneeze at. It is very tall and 4.3 miles long. I would not want to cross it on a windy day.
  • There is a NASA facility just across the way from Chincoteague. They do rocket launches from there and everything.

We eventually got to our hotel, got settled, and then walked to the little restaurant next door for dinner. Being in a seaside town, we felt obliged to sample some locally appropriate fare and split a crab cake sandwich and an order of seafood alfredo, the latter of which was extremely rich and probably allowed us to meet our butter consumption quotas for the next few months. Tasty though! After dinner we walked across the street where there were some real live Chincoteague ponies in a corral (two mares with babies). Soren was more impressed with the passing bicycles, but he did get a kick out of the foals laying down to rest ("Ponies sleeping!").

And with that, we retired to our room to get some rest in preparation for our Assateague day on Saturday.

Saturday:

Day 45


Day 135

I kind of can't believe we never managed to take Soren to the beach while we lived in California. I mean, he was born in the midst of Tom's big final push to graduate, so it's not as though we had a bunch of free time. But still, it's a little surprising we didn't get out to the coast at all. Anyway. This small fact allowed Soren and Eleri to get their first beach experiences at the same time. Go figure.

I am, of course, getting ahead of myself. We got up Saturday morning and went downstairs to get some breakfast, worth mentioning because I don't think I've ever seen such an extensive complimentary breakfast at a Best Western-caliber hotel. There was the usual assortment of bagels and danishes and fruit and juices, plus cereal and yogurt and bacon and eggs and two waffle irons (possibly three waffle irons). It was a little surprising, to me anyway.

Bellies full, we piled in the car to drive over to Assateague. We parked near one of the Visitors' Centers and then went on a nice little (4ish mile long) walk. We went part of the way around the Wildlife Loop, then out to the beach, where Soren gleefully threw sand and shells and rocks into the ocean. (Side note: I don't think I've ever seen so many shells on a beach in my life. It was absolutely covered with them.) Poor Eleri was a little overtired and was having trouble falling asleep in the pouch, so she was not a happy camper for a little while, there. And we were besieged by mosquitoes nearly the whole time we were out. Normally I'm a veritable mosquito magnet, but for whatever reason they seemed to be more interested in Tom this time. It was kind of handy to have my own personal "skeet sink," if you will. ;) Nevertheless, I was still assaulted plenty. Note to self: bug spray, next time!

True to its name, the Wildlife Loop provided many opportunities for viewing various wild critters (mostly of the feathered variety). We saw a bunch of snow geese, egrets, sandpipers, red wing blackbirds, and even a couple of bald eagles. There was also lots and lots of pony poop. They must come around at night though, because we only caught a few glimpses of wild ponies near the end of our walk, as they grazed far away behind a fence. Ah well.

We drove back over to Chincoteague for lunch, where I took this hilarious video...

...which I would totally show you if I hadn't just completely screwed up my video editing program by installing a software "upgrade." Grr.

The video involves Soren and a lemon. I promise I'll try to get this software issue resolved as soon as possible.

Back to Assateague after lunch, where we intended to check out the light house, only to discover that we'd missed the closing time by 15 minutes. (Why they close the thing down at 2:30pm is beyond me, but what could we do?) It probably worked out for the best though, since both kids were getting sleepy by that point and ended up zonking out for naps within ten or so minutes of each other. Which meant that the first hour and change of our drive home was blissfully silent! ;) All things considered, though, Soren and Eleri were both pretty good in the car both ways. Eleri had some (rather vocal) objections to her confinement, in addition to legitimate food- and diaper-related complaints, but she also spent a good part of the drive sleeping or giggling at Soren or kicking at Soren's little soccer ball.

All in all, a very fine trip! I'm really glad we went.

Sunday:

Day 46


Day 136

Sunday we mostly recuperated and got prepped for the start of another week. Eleri has, in the past few days, fully sorted out how to grab and chew on her feet, so this has become her new favorite pastime. Tom made tasty pizzas for dinner, before which I enjoyed an hour of escape to go grocery shopping all by myself. A winning end to a winning weekend!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Anniversary stuff


Day 43


Day 133

Tom totally won at gift-giving this anniversary. I got him a fruit pie and some ties, since the traditional 4th anniversary gift is fruit/flowers, and one of the modern options is linen/silk/nylon. Maybe it's silly, but I've had fun so far trying to stick to the standard gift lists.

But Tom went and got me a Flip camera. Um, winner! It's so cool. (Thursday's photos are in fact stills from video I shot using my new toy.)

We made it out of the house for the first time this week. Soren's just about outgrown his current stash of pjs, and with summer fast approaching, he's due for a larger pair of swim trunks & rash guard, as well. Off to the store(s) we went. And you know what was totally fun? Soren's old enough now to pick the things he wants, so I'd give him two or three things to choose between (too many options can be a little overwhelming), and he'd select his favorite. Way entertaining.

In the evening we went to Tom's soccer game. Soren was very amused at first, watching from the mezzanine. He eventually got bored and figured out how to get through the door connecting the two halves of the viewing areas. The other half looks into a gymnasium (like, for gymnastics), where a bunch of kids were flipping and spinning and doing other gymnasticky things. I was really surprised that Soren wasn't the least bit intrigued by all the goings on. Nope, he just wanted to get to the stairs leading down to the ground floor. So we wandered a bit, then watched some more of the game, then wandered some more. I got a little bit of the first half on video, though I was unfortunately in kind of a bad position to see Tom playing goalie, as he was more or less directly below us. But I think I caught a few of Soren's adorable exclamations ("Whoa! Ball! Yeah!") so I'll see what I can do about getting a snippet or two of that uploaded.

Eleri is making more developmental strides. Tom was remarking the other day that she's a little behind where Soren was in some areas at this same age. To be sure, Soren was better at sitting up and standing by now, but Eleri laughed earlier, rolled over earlier (though she hasn't been as consistent about doing it), and seems to be more of a talker. Also, I would trade all the early standing in the world for her ability to (not always, but a lot of the time) put herself to sleep.

In the wee hours of Thursday morning, when she woke me up for more food, I reached over to discover that she was not only spun around in bed, with her head where her feet had been, but flipped over onto her stomach. This was momentarily very confusing, as I thought her legs were her arms and couldn't figure out why they were stuck reaching above her head, and then Ohgodherheadisgone! (Hey, you try being immediately lucid at 4am.)

Also on Thursday evening, she managed to voluntarily direct her feet into her hands for (I think) the first time. Up to now it's been more like, "Hey, those things are cool. I wonder if I can grab them. Oh, here they come! Wait, where are they going? Come back! Oh, here they are again! And there they go." Hehe. I'm sure the foot-chewing will commence very soon, now.

Friday's post will go up probably sometime Sunday. We're headed out this afternoon for a fun overnight trip to Chincoteague and Assateague islands! Whee!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Potty training is for suckers


Day 42


Day 132

So, Soren's two now. He's 25 months, actually. We're obviously not going to be super pushy with him, but it's really time to start making some more headway with the potty training. I know, I know, it'll happen when he's ready, no one goes off to college still in diapers, yada yada. But you know what? He's also not going to spontaneously figure it all out (there's a reason they call it training), so we've got to start somewhere.

Peeing on the "big boy toilet" has been part of his pre-bedtime routine for a long while now. He's great about it. And sometimes during the day he'll actually ask to go pee in the "blaploom" (it's like the bathroom, only cuter), having not yet wet his diaper, which is awesome. More often, though, he's having far too much fun running around and playing to care about the state of his pants. As such, we've yet to manage the elusive "poop on the potty" milestone.

Without getting too disgusting, I'll just say that at one point on Wednesday morning, it seemed like we were going to have a perfect opportunity to take this next step. Eleri was napping, the timing was right, so I asked Soren if he wanted to go have potty time, and he agreed. And I figured, well, it's got to happen sometime, so maybe if we just sit and wait and wait and wait (and wait) we'll get lucky.

So we sat. We sang songs, we read books, we watched about 10 or 12 They Might Be Giants music videos on the iPod. And after 40 unproductive minutes, we'd both had enough. I was dreading the (likely, I thought) possibility that I'd be changing his diaper again less than 10 minutes after potty time ended, but he surprised me by not needing a change until much later in the afternoon. (Well, I mean, a change for something other than simple wetness.) So maybe he didn't have to go after all? I don't know. At any rate, I suppose this is going to end up taking quite a while. Yippee.

Eleri had some sitting up in the Bumbo time later in the evening. Many giggles resulted. It was super adorable.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

This'll be fairly brief


Day 41


Day 131

The germ-riddled little weasels are on the mend, but we still didn't go anywhere or do much of anything today. I'm hoping they'll be fit to go out in public tomorrow.

Last week I ordered a cute little head band for Eleri. The lovely and talented Carrie Jones, a friend from high school, makes them. You should check out her Etsy shop here. Anyway, the head band arrived yesterday, and it is adorable. I put it on the lass to get some pictures, and of course Soren was very intrigued and insisted on trying it on, too. Hehe.

While the kids both had nice, long naps in the afternoon, I did some calculus. Trying to keep the ol' brain from atrophying too badly, y'know. Tom's been helping me. I have a feeling if I'd had him around to tutor me in college, I wouldn't have had to take CalcII three friggin times. Might have done better in Physics, too. Ah, if wishes were grade points...

That's all for today. (I told you it'd be brief.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Adventures in Snotsville


Day 40


Day 130

Well, Soren's cold has begun to make its way around the family. No great surprise, but no less unpleasant for being anticipated. Poor Eleri could hardly sleep last night without choking on nose drippings. She didn't fare much better during today's naps. She's fine if she's relatively upright, but leave her horizontal for too long and she eventually starts sputtering and wakes herself up.

No other symptoms though, fortunately. It'll probably keep us home for a few days this week, just to be on the safe side, though the forecasted week of rain is likely to cancel all our outdoor playgroup activities, anyway.

Soren's been doing a funny thing. I've been meaning to mention this for a while but keep forgetting. Anyway, if I'm trying to get him to pay attention to me, and his mind is clearly elsewhere (on a toy, the cat, TV, what have you), I tend to gently take hold of his nose to steer his face toward mine so he'll meet my eyes. Recently he's turned this around on me; if I'm sitting at the computer, and he's asking for a snack or a book or something, and I give him a, "Just a second, bud," he'll reach up and grab my chin to turn my face toward his and then repeat his request. It cracks me up (and makes me feel a little contrite about wanting to finish reading a paragraph or typing a sentence before tending to him).

I think that's about all the excitement for today. I'll try to go a little easier on the snot talk tomorrow, but no promises. ;)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

There is a bonus video at the end of this post

Saturday:

Day 38


Day 128

Saturday morning we discovered that our fridge wasn't working. No light when we opened the door, and it definitely didn't feel as cold as it should have. Great. Everything else in the kitchen was working fine, so it didn't at first appear to be an electrical issue. Nothing screams "Weekend! Whoooo!" like having to call up your landlord on a Saturday morning to inform him you need a new refrigerator, like, fast (so all your food doesn't go bad).

However.

The subsequent discovery was made that neither of our bathroom lights were working. A quick call down to the site management office confirmed that there was indeed some sort of electrical problem with our building, but only certain lines were affected. Tom managed to get our fridge plugged into a different outlet, whereupon it started humming and doing its (chilly) thing again. Food spoilage crisis averted. I left for my riding lesson.

Traffic was worse than usual, and for no apparent reason. Fun. I arrived ten or so minutes late and hurried to get situated and out to the ring. I was assigned to a horse I hadn't met before, and when I entered his stall to put his bridle on, he immediately pinned his ears back, bared his teeth at me, and started striking out with a foreleg. Um, okay. I had already started to back out of the stall when he charged at me with hate in his eyes and, no doubt, murder in his heart. WTF, horse? I ended up snagging one of the working students, who was passing by at that moment, and asked if he was always like this. She offered to help and got him bridled for me. (He did not try to kill her.)

We ended up having a decent enough ride. Once I was on his back he either felt resigned to his duty or grew bored with thoughts of Sue-icide because while he was a bit of a stinker at times, he didn't do anything dangerous. He was a little tougher than the pony I'd ridden the past two weeks, so by the end of the lesson I felt like I'd accomplished something by getting him to more or less do what we needed to do.

Later in the afternoon, power was completely cut off to our building in order (I guess) to repair the busted transformer that was to blame for our earlier electrical woes. So we packed up the kids, headed out to run a quick errand, then picked up dinner to eat picnic-style at the park. It was a gorgeous afternoon/evening, really perfect picnicking weather. Soren & Tom played on the playground after dinner, while Eleri and I chilled on the grass. 'Twas very relaxing. And we were much relieved to find that all the lights/cable/etc were on when we returned home.

Sunday:

Day 39


Day 129

Today we did our usual chores and erranding. This was after sleeping in unusually late. We were all up for a little while in the early morning and then somehow managed to all go back to sleep until almost ten! I can't remember the last time that's happened. Poor Soren's had a bit of a cold all weekend, so I'm assuming his mild sickliness is to blame thank for his ability to sleep past 8am.

In the evening, Tom had Eleri giggling, and I actually manged to catch some of it on video. (Soren's listening to "The Bloodmobile" by They Might Be Giants in the background.) Enjoy!


Fridays are so full of fun


Day 37


Day 127

Another rec center class in the morning. This was, what, our fifth week, I think? Soren's tolerating the crafts a little better, and I've learned not to try and force him to sit up front at story time. He's happy to stay at his table, or maybe wander up for a minute or two and then come back.

His buddy A started a class this week that runs at the same time as our class, so the boys got to play on the playground together afterward. Normally Soren runs around for five or ten minutes, goes down the slide a few times and then is done. This week, though, the two of them played and played for a solid hour. (A's mom told me later that he took a 4 hour nap after they got home. Soren, on the other hand...took no nap at all.)

After lunch, Soren had some fun playing with his trike on the balcony while Eleri slept. I shot a little video and, for kicks, added some subtitles.


In the evening, we had a pretty nice thunderstorm (the first one of the year, I believe). I've never had much luck photographing lightning in the past, but I managed to catch a fairly awesome shot this time, if I do say so myself.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Some snippets of the day


Day 36


Day 126

Went to the playground in the morning. I was telling someone how cool it was that Soren's started listening to me a little more. Usually he'll go bolting for the swings, completely heedless that he's in danger of being clocked in the head by someone's shoes, and none of my shouts or warnings will deter him. But yesterday! Not just once, but several times he started toward the swings, and I called out to stay away from them, and he actually changed direction and continued on a less perilous trajectory! I was all pleased and proud. And then, when we'd been there about an hour, he opened the gate and bolted into the parking lot, completely ignoring me (and all the other moms) hollering at him to stop. Sigh. (At least there was no traffic in the lot at the time and he went directly to our car. Still.)

Later in the day, I was sitting with Eleri on my lap, and Soren was sitting beside us. All of a sudden, Eleri decided that whatever Soren was saying was very funny. He kept repeating some word (sight? slide? side? there wasn't really any context, so I'm not sure) and each time she'd give a little giggle. And he had figured out that she was finding this amusing, so he kept doing it. It was like the opposite of a vicious circle. Some kind of circle of cute. Precious is really the only word for it.

Positive reinforcement of good behavior has several benefits. For one thing, it seems to definitely help promote further good behavior. For another, it sometimes leads to moments like this: I was scrubbing a hairball up off the carpet, when Soren suddenly said, "Mommy! Good job!" Hehehe.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A little better all the time


Day 35


Day 125

Since my first rather ill-fated attempt to let Soren run around at the mall play area after our Wednesday stroller walk, I've been giving him another crack at it about once a month. Today, finally, he was incredibly well behaved! He didn't run away or sprint for the escalators once, and he played nicely with the other kids, and we were actually the last to leave because he played for a good half hour without getting bored. I was so impressed. (As were the other moms, who are well aware of Soren's penchant for running off.)

I didn't manage to get a nap out of the lad this afternoon, but he was in a pretty good mood for the most part. He happily sat on his tricycle out on the balcony with me while I restarted my little herb garden. He enjoyed it so much that I let him sit out there for quite a bit longer while I sat on the floor just inside the door and did some reading.

I've been better this week about keeping both kids in cloth diapers the majority of the time. It had gotten away from me for a little while. But Eleri actually does a lot better overnight in a pocket diaper; the disposables seem to leak really badly on her when she does her midnight gymnastics. It's just about time for the potty training to begin in earnest though, for the lad. I'm kind of dreading it. It'll be great to not have to change two kids' diapers, of course, but it's not going to be an easy road, getting there.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

So here's the thing. I'd kind of built up The Hitchhiker's Guide in my mind as this be-all, end-all of geeky hilarity. And I get the feeling that if I'd read it in middle school like everyone else, it would have been. But reading it for the first time now, I can't say I was blown away. I may have chuckled aloud once, but I can't be sure. It was amusing, yes, but just not what I was expecting.

Since everyone else but me has already read this, I'm not going to do a full run-down, nor am I going to keep from spoiling any major plot points. So, y'know, fair warning (on the off chance there's actually someone else out there who also managed to remain out of the Hitchhiker loop).

The book starts out in England, and we're introduced to Arthur Dent. And I have to say, from the very beginning, Arthur's voice in my head sounded exactly like Ricky Gervais. (He would've been a good pick to play that part in the movie, I think.) It didn't take long for me to start feeling like Douglas Adams is just kind of trying too hard. I mean, it's funny, but everything seems a little over the top. He's got characters named Zaphod Beezlebrox, Slartibartfast and Veet Voojagig (which, as Tom pointed out were probably more amusing said aloud on the original radio broadcasts). I will admit to being amused by the introduction of the first alien character, who had "skimped a bit on his preparatory research. The information he had gathered led him to choose the name 'Ford Prefect' as being nicely inconspicuous." But this wasn't as funny as it might have been were it not such a dated reference (I assumed Ford Prefect was the name of a car, but it's not one I'd heard of, specifically. No great surprise, as it was manufactured in Britain in the 1950s. I was perhaps more amused after the fact to learn that the name was changed in the French version of the book to "Ford Escort." Because apparently the French didn't get the joke, either.)

Adams destroys the Earth in the first 35 pages, under the premise of making room for an interstellar superhighway, drawing a parallel to the destruction of Arthur Dent's home to make room for an expressway. Yeah, there was another little chuckle-worthy moment ("All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department on Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you've had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it's far too late to start making a fuss about it now...What do you mean, you've never been to Alpha Centauri? For heaven's sake, mankind, it's only four light-years away, you know." This after Arthur Dent said, of the rather more local demolition plans that were supposedly on display at the city planning office, "It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard.'") but it still felt rather...I don't know, lacking in any finesse. The rest of the book kind of seemed to be trying to continually one-up itself in absurdity. Vogon poetry is physically painful to listen to! Arthur and Ford are jettisoned into the vacuum of space only to be rescued one second before certain death! This robot has feelings, but they're feelings of cynicism and depression! Inhabitants of this planet custom build other planets! ZOMG, the Earth was commissioned for a 10 million year experiment run by an alien race who made their appearance on said planet as mice! Mice are the smartest creatures on the Earth! (Or were, until it was destroyed by the Vogons.) And lo, it was destroyed a mere 5 minutes before the completion of the grand experiment! Seriously, Doug Adams, stop shouting, already.

I'm not sure why the whole thing felt more clunky than, say, Christopher Moore or Carl Hiassen, who are also of the absurdly outrageous/outrageously absurd school of humor, but it did. Maybe it's that I spent most of the time feeling like I was supposed to be blown away by the hilarity, so I never managed to be genuinely surprised by any of it. Maybe I'm a humorless snob. ;) In any event, I'm glad I finally got around to reading it, but I can't say I'm going to trip over myself hurrying to read the rest of the series.

B-/C+

Our little giantess


Day 34


Day 124

Following in her brother's footsteps, Eleri continues to ride the top curve of the growth charts. At her checkup this morning, she weighed in at 16 lbs, 4.3 oz (> 95%), measured 26 inches in length (90-95%), with a head circumference of 17 inches (95%). By comparison, Soren was about half an inch longer and half a pound heavier, at this age. We grow em big! The doctor said she'd be surprised if Eleri's eyes don't stay blue at this point, so that's kind of neat. And the lass was such a good girl getting her shots; she'd already stopped crying by the time I sat down with her to nurse her. She's a tough cookie.

We were originally going to see about going to the farmers' market after Eleri's appointment, but it was kind of chilly out and was due to rain later in the day, and I figured Eleri would be happier to go home and have a nap, so home we went. I was surprised and pleased when both kids took substantial naps in the afternoon. Score!

I wanted to preserve some of Soren's creative pronunciations, since he's getting better and better at saying words correctly. I'm not one for "baby talk" generally, but some of his early words and ways of saying things were damned cute. There was of course the classic "apple / meemya", and his backward(ish) "drink / kya." I loved that he used to say "munch" instead of "lunch," and it's taken him a while but he's finally got "helicopter" down (instead of "hah-pah-teh-tuh"). Currently in the Soren lexicon:

Motorcycle = (started as) Moseycycle -> (now is) Moleycycle
Tomatoes = Pah-tee-toes
Noodles = Noo-noos
Arriba = Abeeba (Thank you, Dora.)
Magnets = Mehmets (which is also how he says Monsters)
Juggle = Judgle

He's a cute one. :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Whoa


Day 33


Day 123

This morning, Soren was sitting on the floor by Eleri's chair, pointing at and identifying all of the animals on her pjs. He was actually remarkably sedate this morning, after sleeping until the unusually late (for him) hour of 8:30. Sadly, his mellowness was not to last.

It was an erranding day for us. By our third and final stop, he was just in that tired-but-wired sort of state where he was slightly giddy and very fidgety and completely unwilling to listen to anything I said. ("Stop spitting. Stop kicking your sister. Inside voice, please. Stop spitting!") We waited in line at the register, and when I started loading items on the conveyor, I realized that he'd managed to reach behind himself in the cart and pick a hole in the plastic wrap covering the steaks. Sigh. Back to the meat department to get the steaks rewrapped, then back to the register. Eleri had had quite enough by this point and was protesting rather strongly, so I was bouncing around trying to get her to settle down while trying to keep Soren from pulling things back off the conveyor once I'd set them on it. There was an older gentleman in the line next to us who used an electrolarynx to speak; he leaned over to Soren and said, "You're almost there." Soren momentarily stopped fidgeting and said, "Whoa." It was pretty funny. (The guy seemed amused, too.)

This evening Eleri made her first few attempts to blow raspberries. (It would seem that my endeavors to teach her this skill were the initial catalyst of my eventual "No spitting" conversations with Soren today.) Soren had raspberries well and truly figured out by this age, but it's taking the lass a little longer to catch on. She had him beat on giggling and rolling over, though. Not that any of this really matters; I'm just making notes for posterity, since I stopped updating Soren's baby book at 7 months and haven't even started one for Eleri. But what is this blog really if not one big, electronic baby book? Complete with pictures, videos, commentary from family and friends. Not bad, in the grand scheme of things.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day Weekend

Saturday:

Day 31


Day 121

Tom had lunch plans on Saturday afternoon, so the whole family accompanied me to the horse farm for my riding lesson in the morning. When we first pulled into the driveway and passed the fields, Soren's eyes got wide and he said, "Horsies!" Though it was still very dusty and windy out there this weekend, it was fortunately not as hot. I didn't hear any screaming or crying while I was riding, so I'm taking that as a sign that things weren't too difficult for Tom. ;) I wasn't quite as sore afterward, this time, which is also good.

We dropped Tom off on the way home and then puttered around for the remainder of the afternoon. Well, more accurately, I puttered around. Eleri napped. Soren bounced around the apartment like a pinball. In the evening we ate super tasty pulled pork sandwiches with sweet potato fries. Super delicious.

The little lass is four months old now! She'll have her next doctor visit early next week, so I'll have updated stats for you then. I'm predicting she's above 15 pounds now, though.

Sunday:

Day 32 / Day 122

Happy Mother's Day to me. :) We had a wonderfully mellow morning, then went to lunch at BGR. I tried The Wellington this time, and got the grilled asparagus "fries"...whoa. The Wellington is officially my new favorite burger of theirs, and the dusting of parmesan cheese was a really nice touch on the asparagus. Delish! After lunch we went to a playground so Soren could run around for a little while.

I finished The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (finally!) and will actually put up a review in the next few days. It wasn't quite what I expected.

Oh yeah, did I mention I got a haircut on Friday evening? I see that I did not, but I suppose it's pretty evident in the above photo. It is yet a bit shorter than before, on account of the approaching summer. (Naturally, it's been cooler out this weekend and is supposed to remain in the 60s for at least the next few days. Ha. Oh well.) Anyway. I don't really have anything especially interesting to say about it. So there you go.

That is all!

Someday you'll understand

"Someday you'll understand..." she told me, when I bitched about curfews or rolled my eyes at her request that I call to check in. When she told me to be careful, and I said, "I know, Mom, jeez." When I railed against the injustice of not being allowed to go to a concert or stay out late on a school night or get a tattoo. "Someday you'll understand."

Kids love their parents. (Yes, teenagers love their parents too, even as they rebel against them.) But children cannot fathom the depth of the love their parents have for them. Before you are a parent yourself, you might think it's like the love you have for a treasured pet, but it's bigger than that.

This little person who at times infuriates you, doesn't appreciate you, doesn't listen to you, is someone you would go to the ends of the earth to protect. If keeping them safe means sometimes having to make some hard choices for them, well...someday they'll understand.

You were right, Mom. I finally understand. I love you, too. Happy Mother's Day. :)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Resisting a rest


Day 30


Day 120

Soren continues to do a little bit better at his rec center class each week. At the beginning of class this week, each kid was given a packet of M&Ms to sort by color and then count. Way to pick a super distracting activity first thing! Heh. Fortunately, Soren's never eaten M&Ms before, so for a while I had him convinced they were just colored beads and not edible. And he did a great job putting them into piles by color. Eventually, however, he saw enough of the other kids eating their "beads," so I couldn't keep up the charade. I let him eat a couple of M&Ms at the very end of class, and he was quite impressed.

Back home for lunch, our little goof got beans all over his face. When I pulled out the camera to take the above picture, he made that face and held it for several seconds until I snapped the photo. Little ham. ;)

Our great two day nap streak was broken. Weirdly, it was Eleri, who usually takes to her afternoon nap like a cat to dinnertime, who was not feeling the naptime vibes. By the time I finally got her to settle down and fall asleep, Soren had gone past his window of tiredness. Oh well.

As I've more or less exhausted the supply of YouTube videos Soren watches on a regular basis, I'm going to do my best to post actual kid videos once a week on Fridays instead. Hopefully by making it a regular thing, I'll be more motivated to work my way through the backlog of videos I've got on our hard drive. ;) For this week, we've got Soren on his trike, being all cute.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Beach Park revisited


Day 29


Day 119

Just about 13 months ago (two days after Soren's first birthday) we attended our first playgroup event at a park near Old Town called Beach Park. Oddly enough, we never managed to make it back over there, until yesterday. It was kind of amusing, though not very surprising, to see how much more 2 year old Soren got out of the park than 1 year old Soren did. There was much more climbing and running this time, and no attempted eating of sand or mulch. My only real gripe with the park is that they didn't see fit to put the playground equipment in the shady areas. So the kids all got pretty warm pretty fast, as it was a very sunny morning. But we hung around for a bit more than an hour and had a decent enough time.

In the afternoon, miracle of miracles, Soren took a nap again! I went in and woke him up after an hour and a half so as to hopefully avoid any bedtime wildness, but he probably would have kept right on sleeping if I'd let him. I really hope this keeps up!

Eleri was super giggly and smiley almost all day. She's still freezing up when I point the camera at her, though, so I've had a hard time capturing the cuteness in video form. I'll keep working at it.

I bought a reverse mount adapter thing for my camera, which allows me to turn my regular 50mm lens into a macro lens by flipping it around and mounting it on the camera backwards. It arrived yesterday afternoon, so I had a little bit of fun playing around with that. By flipping the lens around, you lose the ability to use autofocus, so the only way to focus your subject is to adjust your distance from it. You also lose the ability to adjust the aperture, resulting in a super narrow depth of field, as evidenced by this picture:



I'm looking forward to playing around with it some more, though. Macro photography can be pretty fun.