Sunday, April 24, 2011

30DOB #11

Day 11: List ten things you are thankful for.

(in no particular order)

1. Sinus infection-killing antibiotics
2. Spontaneous snuggles
3. Good friends
4. Good health
5. Finding someone extraordinarily well suited to me, relatively early in life
6. Weekly pony time
7. Naptime
8. Two amazingly awesome children (yes, I do mean my own), and the option/opportunity to stay home with them
9. TiVo
10. Parents who nurtured, protected (but not too much), and supported me, allowing me to grow into the confident and capable person I am today

More photos

Day 12

Day 101

Day 13 / Day 102

Day 14

Day 103

Day 15

Day 104

Day 16

Day 105

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

All About Eleri

It's not at all surprising, yet somehow still amazing, how siblings can be so alike and yet so different. I think this is probably more striking when it's your own kids. You've known them their whole lives, you spend hours and hours with them (every day if you're a stay-at-home parent), you watch them interact with and relate to each other, and you know their quirks and peculiarities better than anyone else could.

Eleri is often a serious kid. She's just as likely to sport a furrowed brow as she is to let out a giggle. She's not quite as gregarious as Soren yet, though it won't surprise me if that changes over time. Neither, though, is she clingy. Set her free in a big room with toys (at one of the open gym times, for example) and she's off exploring, or finding somewhere to sit quietly by herself, without so much as a backward glance. She's starting to want to play with Soren and his peers, following around the "big kids" and observing.

Eleri is not quite as verbal as Soren was at this age, but it's clear she understands far more than she says. Her spoken vocabulary may be small still, but she's making progress. Cup, shoe, cat, Leo, Mama, Daddy, hi, bah-bye, uh-oh, bee bo, nose (which sounds like "new"), whazzat?, no, yeah, go, book (which she says with a 'p' at the end instead). Her little voice chirping a sing-songy "Hieee, Daddeeee!" when Tom gets home from work is just about the cutest thing ever. Possibly outdone by "Hieee Weeeeeoh!", but only slightly.

The only ASL sign she does is the one for food, and she does that one often, since she is far and away a better eater than her brother. Her palate is fairly adventurous; Soren was still largely eating jarred foods at this age, but Eleri eats basically whatever we do (Soren does now too, of course, but it took us a long time to get there). She is a voracious meat eater. Girlfriend can put away a whole chicken thigh and then ask for more. It cracks me up. She also loves black beans, cheese, raisins, grapes, tomatoes, yogurt, pbj sandwiches, hummus, pasta, and bananas. She'll eat vegetables, but they're not her favorite.

I'm incredibly thankful that both kids love books. I have to admit, I was terrified that we might end up with a kid who, inexplicably, just wasn't into story time. I know such kids exist (no patience for it, just not interested) but I didn't know how I'd deal with that challenge if it arose. I am glad that it has not. Her current bedtime book rotation includes a couple by Sandra Boynton ("Opposites" and "The Belly Button Book"), one by Dr. Seuss ("The Foot Book") and "Goodnight Moon." She would probably sit through those and five more before becoming restless. She also does a lot of looking at, flipping through, and carrying around books during the day. And of course, the perennial favorite, pulling all the books off the shelves in Soren's room. Hehe.

The assertion of independence has begun, delighting one and all. She has figured out the passive resistance technique of turning into a noodle if I'm trying to, say, get her out of the kitchen and she doesn't want to go. Being told to stop doing something is often a horrible affront. Thankfully, and I say this with extreme caution because I know such things can change at any time, she seems to be following Soren's example and reserving any tantrums mostly for home and keeping them largely out of the public eye. The majority of the time, she is a model of perfect behavior when we're out and about, and she is incredibly patient about being toted this place and that, riding on my back much of the time. If I had a dollar for every time someone has told me, "Oh! I didn't even realize you had another kid back there!" I might not be a millionaire (or even a thousandaire) but I would at least be able to go out to a nice dinner. ;)

Generous with her hugs, easy-going and sweet, Eleri is one terrific little girlo. Yes, she's got a healthy set of lungs and is not afraid to use em when vexed, but she is not a simpering, shrinking violet. I hear other mothers gasp whenever Eleri toddles into the path of a bigger kid and gets bowled over, but almost without fail she just picks herself up and continues on her way. I hope she retains that resilience as she grows up.

Another glut o photos

I discovered, when I added Soren's 3 y.o. birthday shot to his photo-a-day set on Flickr, that I'd missed a day somewhere. I knew that I'd missed one day completely, but I was still only coming up with 363 photos. So the hunt was on. I ended up finding photos for both Soren and Eleri that had been uploaded, way back in August, but never added to their photo-a-day sets. So, mystery solved. And that's why, if you're paying attention, the Day numbers for the pictures I've posted here are off, compared to what's on Flickr. ;)

(Not that I think anyone will care about any of this at all, but years from now I might wonder. So there you go, Future Susan. That's what was going on with that.)

All right, on to the photos.

Day 360 (Year 3)

Day 84

Day 361

Day 85

Day 362

Day 86

Day 363

Day 87

Day 364

Day 88

Day 365 - Happy Birthday Soren!

Day 89

Day 1 (Year 4)

Day 90

Day 2

Day 91

Day 3

Day 92

Day 4

Day 93

Day 5

Day 94

Day 6

Day 95

Day 7

Day 96

Day 8

Day 97

Day 9

Day 98

Day 10

Day 99

Day 11

Day 100

Monday, April 18, 2011

Flower House Field Trip

This morning we went to the Campbell & Ferrara nursery for a field trip. It ended up only being us and one other family (the other two in our playschool group couldn't make it), but Soren and L had a grand time anyway. They held hands and frolicked through the aisles between rows of flowers, following our tour guide, and were very excited when they got to pick out their very own plants to help repot and take home. The other highlight was getting to feed the koi.

I remember being a kid and going to a koi pond (I don't recall where) and my mom encouraged me to stick my hand in the water so I could feel the fish with their gaping mouths looking for food. It's weird, but two decades and change later, I really had to fight the impulse to do the same thing.

After our tour, the kids played a bit at the little playground on-site, until a very large dog from the neighboring yard burst through a heretofore unnoticed hole in the fence. The dog seemed friendly enough, but its sudden presence was startling and provided a convenient excuse to be heading on our way. We got some lunch, returned home, gathered some sand toys and some libray books that needed to be returned, and we headed out once more. I let the kids play a bit at the playground here, and then we went to the library. Old books returned, new books checked out, and then we made our way to another park. (It was a gorgeous day, and the next two are supposed to be rainy, so I figured we'd better make the most of it.) A trip to the grocery store rounded out our afternoon, and then we headed home again.

Soren's behavior, alternately whiny and defiant, has been tough to handle lately. I'd heard horror stories about parents pooh-poohing the "terrible twos" and saying that three was much worse, but somehow I'd hoped that we'd get lucky. Not so much, it seems. He also has his incredibly sweet and obedient moments (he was great on our field trip, for example) but that almost makes the tough times worse because I know he an behave better. I say almost though, because the good moments are made all the more enjoyable in comparison to the rest of it.

But yeah, by dinnertime these days I'm basically at the end of my rope. Doesn't help when Eleri is also in a mood and howls in outrage every time things don't go exactly her way. Ah, children. I adore them, but sometimes I want to run away. ;)

No plans yet for tomorrow, but I'll try to come up with something fun to do so we aren't all at each other's throats all day. For now, here's hoping for a good night's sleep, since that always helps make everything just a little better.

Keep on keepin' on

Last Wednesday, the afternoon brought with it a resurgence of unpleasant sinus symptoms, so after spending all of Eleri's naptime uncomfortably curled up on the couch under a blanket, I faced facts and made plans to go see a doctor after Tom got home from work.

We've lived here 2 years now, and I still have not managed to get around to finding myself a personal physician. All through my pregnancy with Eleri, of course, I saw the midwives, but laziness (and a lack of immediate need) had prevented me from getting my act together sufficiently to get myself a "regular" doctor. So Wednesday evening found me headed to an Urgent Care clinic.

The first two I tried (close-ish to home) were closed despite it being well before their posted/advertised closing times. My trusty GPS found me a third clinic, farther afield, which a quick telephone call confirmed was open late enough for me to make it, even in the face of horrendous Beltway traffic. I eventually made it, was seen, and left with a prescription and instructions to return in 5 days if I wasn't feeling better.

Fortunately, the meds did their thing, and I started improving the very next day. Thank goodness! That was one miserable cold.

Thursday I had to take both kids to the pediatrician for their 15 month and 3 year checkups. We went to the park beforehand, and they ran around a bit. Eleri was landed on by this 8 or 9 year old girl who, I guess, didn't see her below when jumping off a play structure. Obviously the oldest of several kids, this girl immediately picked Eleri up to comfort her. El, for her part, didn't seem at all upset or hurt, just a bit surprised, but she snuggled up against the older girl. A little while later, Eleri sought out the girl again on the playground, holding up her arms in the universal "pick me up" gesture. The girl obliged, and Eleri wrapped her arms around for a hug. The two sat on a bench together for a bit. It was pretty cute.

The past week was marked by a series of late naps for the girlo, who didn't want to fall asleep until 4pm or later. Thursday was no exception; even though she'd been up since a quarter to eight, she didn't fall asleep until we'd left the park and were on our way to the doctor's 4:30. She napped in the car, and then in the pouch, finally waking up as we were called back to the exam room but remaining kind of groggy and chill. It was the first time she's been checked out by a doctor and not been tense and nervous the moment she's out of my arms and lying on the table. The doc even commented, as he was palpating her belly, that she was completely relaxed. So that was good.

As for the usual growth stats, the lass has apparently recently undergone a growth spurt - no great surprise, given how much she eats! - jumping up from the 80th to the 94th percentile for height. She's also slimming out, dropping from 85th to 73rd for weight. (Still has a giant head - 96th percentile for head circumference.)

Soren got to do a lot of things for the first time this checkup. He had his blood pressure taken and his eyes checked. The eye chart for the 3 year olds uses shapes instead of letters, and Soren was pretty excited about "playing a game" with the nurse, identifying the shapes with one eye or the other covered. Every time he called out the next shape, he'd kind of crouch first, then jump up while announcing "Circle! Star! Glove!" It was amusing. He was also asked to draw a circle on a piece of paper, which he did (lefty), and stand on one foot. He chattered basically nonstop to both the nurse and the doctor's resident, who said, while going through all the standard developmental questions with me, "Well, I guess I don't need to ask you whether he speaks in full sentences!"

The doctor was impressed with both kids (smart, healthy, seemingly well-adjusted specimens). Soren's continuing his long-and-lean trajectory (54th percentile for weight, 76th for height). We did have one unfortunate moment with the vaccinations, when I didn't have a strong enough hold on Soren's arm and he swatted at the needle as the nurse was pulling it out, resulting in a scratch on his leg. I felt bad about that. But otherwise everything went really well.

Friday was an okay day. Eleri and I had a nice morning while Soren was at playschool, and in the afternoon we did some grocery shopping. Tom had to end up working quite late that night, and again on Saturday, so that was not so awesome. Saturday we had a very wet and windy storm, so there was, alas, no playing outside. Sunday we all kind of rested and played catch-up, though the boys did get out for soccer class. Eleri FINALLY broke her late nap streak, falling asleep around 12:30 and then sleeping for 3 hours! I suppose it's hoping for too much that she keep taking earlier naps again now. ;)

And now we're back to Monday! The sun is shining, and we're headed out soon for a playschool field trip to a local nursery. The kids are going to get to plant flowers. Should be fun!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Two more

Just a wee bit of silliness at the playground, and having a grand time at Zoom Around The Room.


Say. What if I told you that you could watch a music video of my adorable kids, kicking around the soccer ball(s), set to Weezer's song Represent (not one of their best, but plenty catchy, and soccer-themed)? Is that something you might be interested in?

If so, boy is it your lucky day! Enjoy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Still Here

Whoo boy, this cold has really done a number on me. I don't want to waste a bunch of pixels on virus-blogging, but man. Little kids and their germs, I tell ya.

There are plenty of other things to write about, though I'm afraid I won't be able to do them justice in my current state, doped up on NyQuil and fighting my way through the fog of sinus pressure. So I'll resort instead to bullet-form, so as to at least get down all the basics, which I will try to flesh out later.

  • Birthday! Soren turned 3 last Thursday, and though I didn't quite manage to deliver on all aspects of his "perfect day," we had a pretty good day nonetheless.
  • Friday was rainy and productive. After dropping Soren off for playschool, Eleri and I got some important car maintenance tasks taken care of, and Eleri was as good and pleasant a companion in the various waiting rooms as I could have hoped for. She's a keeper, that one.
  • Saturday at the barn did not go precisely as I'd hoped, but even a bad day at the barn is better than a good day doing chores, and this was far from a bad day at the barn.
  • Sunday, while the boys went to soccer class, Eleri and I took a nice afternoon nap, which was sorely needed and greatly appreciated.
  • Monday's playschool outing included a class all about turtles at the nature center. Soren certainly seemed to enjoy himself. It was also unseasonably warm, near or above 80 degrees, and muggy, leading me to conclude that I am so not ready for summer.
  • Today we had A over for a playdate in the morning, and then our Top Chef class was canceled, so we ran a couple of errands through the rain in the afternoon. (It rained, but we all wore short sleeved tshirts, as it was a rather warm rain.) Eleri refused to nap until after 4:00, so that was fun.

Check Flickr for recent photos, including the ones from Soren's birthday. I should be back to posting stuff here soon.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Hacking the night away

My germ-riddled little fiends precious, beloved offspring have passed along their latest cold to both Tom and me. Sunday evening, our apartment sounded like a tuberculosis ward, with the chorus of coughs echoing from every room. I very nearly bailed on our Monday field trip to the Building Museum, but in the end I decided to compromise. We went, but we drove (so as to avoid infecting the public transportation system) and though we did stay and play with the Legos at the Lego exhibit, we did not go in the Building Zone play room. Soren has been very, very good about coughing into his elbow lately, and since Eleri was strapped to my back, coughing directly into my shirt, I figured our risks of exposing the general populous were minimized.

Besides, mine were far from the only hacking children in attendance.

So we went, and Soren had a great time. Here he is, showing off his Lego creation:

It actually took him quite a while to get the hang of using and manipulating "real" Legos, which are quite a bit smaller than the Duplo blocks we have at home. Mostly he enjoyed the sensation of swiping his hand through the big trough of Legos in the middle of the table and was quite put out when I made him stop.

Monday afternoon, it warmed up significantly around here. I tried to get Eleri down for a nap after we got home, but she wasn't having any of it, so I took both kids out to hang out on the balcony for a little while. Eleri made herself comfortable on the back step of Soren's trike, and the two rode double for a little while, which was basically the cutest thing ever.

Tuesday it rained. Stormed, even, in the morning. And was about 20 degrees cooler than Monday. We dropped Eleri off to play at A's house while Soren and I went to his rec center class. The class is called "Magic Kitchen" but to us it's "Soren and Mommy get to go be Top Chefs" time. It's pretty great, and nice to have some one-on-one time together. I was thinking back to his first rec center class, just about a year ago, how he was absolutely not into it at all, and what a difference the experience is now. Also, back then, the few times that we left Eleri with A's mom and went by ourselves, he was totally distracted the whole time and just wanted to leave so he could play with them. Now he's excited to get back to play afterward, but he's still very into what's going on in the class. It's neat to watch him growing up. :)

Plus, this week, the kids took turns wearing an apron and toque so they could get their pictures taken for the cover of their "cookbooks." So friggin' cute.

Today, I seem to have hit the point of maximum unpleasantness as far as this cold and its symptoms are concerned. The kids, fortunately, seem to both be well on the mend, but I'm lagging behind. We didn't go anywhere today; I barely even moved from the couch. It's a miracle I got myself (and the kids) dressed. But I managed to get a decent nap in while Eleri was sleeping this afternoon (Thank you, Peep and the Big Wide World, Word World, and Super Why!, for keeping Soren appropriately entertained and allowing me the much-needed rest). I'm really hoping to feel better tomorrow because...'s Soren's birthday! Kind of funny, now that I think about it; 3 years ago today I also spent the day huddled and uncomfortable. Hehe. But yes, the little man is turning 3, and we're going to attempt something close to his "perfect day." (I spent much of the last 2 days trying to get him to articulate what that would be.) Picnic and playing - and possibly trike-riding - at the park with A, followed by a metro ride to the airport to watch planes. Quesadilla for lunch, mac cheese for dinner, "cake with candles, like A had for his birthday" for dessert. ;) (We'll be doing little brownie cupcakes again, but I'm sure that will suffice. And I did buy candles.) So we'll see how it goes. Wish me luck. ;)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

30DOB #10

Day 10: Write about something in the last 24 hours that made you happy.

Yesterday I was able to go riding again for the first time in a month. That alone fulfills the requirement for this assignment, but I shall elaborate.

Chaka was off and Stringbean had thrown a shoe, so I was assigned a horse I hadn't yet ridden, a chestnut mare named Annie. I don't know what her story is, but I haven't seen her used in lessons often. Anyway, her most notable characteristic is a canter that is, to quote my instructor, "godawful." It's really about as uncomfortable a canter as you can get - herky-jerky, jarring, extremely difficult to sit. N, bless her, only had me canter once in each direction, "just to feel it," and then we did the rest of the lesson at the walk and trot.

You may be wondering how this qualifies as something that made me happy. Here's how.

1) After warming up in the indoor arena, we got to have our lesson outdoors for the first time in months. The weather was lovely, if a bit windy, and all of us were shedding layers of clothes as the lesson progressed.

2) Even though Annie was difficult and kind of bratty at the start of our ride, I eventually started (with N's expert guidance) to figure her out. By lesson's end we were working together much better. It took me weeks to figure out Chaka. Months, even. To make progress like this on a new (to me) horse in 45 minutes makes me feel like I'm getting my game back.

3) Annie threw in a few spooks and bucks, probably in part to test me and see how much she could get away with. At first I felt the familiar apprehension that has plagued me with Stringbean, but I was able to successfully beat it back and ride confidently through the little displays of 'tude as the lesson progressed. So I haven't completely lost my nerve after all. Yay!

4) When I woke up this morning, my shoulders, abs, legs and seat bones were all sore. Thus may seem like a negative, but it's actually what's got me happiest of all. See, Annie spent much of the lesson leaning on the reins with her head, pulling forward instead of softening her jaw and shifting her balance more to her rear end (which is the ideal). Though I was eventually able to convince her to do just that, I apparently handled the earlier, pulling, portion as correctly as one can hope to. I used my shoulder muscles and abs, rather than my hands and arms, to resist the heaviness of her head. My sore seat bones mean that my position in the saddle was correct. My legs are sore simply because I haven't sat astride a horse in a few weeks, so that one doesn't actually speak to any kind of skill on my part. Rather, it serves as a reminder that, hey, I got to go horseback riding this week for the first time in a while!

The last thing about yesterday's horsing that made me grin? N told me that next week, I can ride Vanya, who is her own, personal horse. That is a huge compliment, to be one of the handful of students in the barn whom she will allow to ride him. I may never again be as proficient a rider as I was at my very best, but as the saying goes, I've still got it. At least a little. ;)

30DOB #9

Day 9: Write about your most embarrassing moment.

I'm not going to do that. I think the moments that are the very most personally mortifying have no business being posted on a blog. Well, maybe an anonymous/pseudonymous blog. Maybe. But I am just not gonna go there. Besides, the whole point of the "share embarrassing moments" thing is to be able to laugh, with others, at yourself. And the very most embarrassing moments, for me at least, are devoid of humor and characterized instead only by discomfort.

Fear not, however, for there have been plenty of times when I have indeed embarrassed myself rather hilariously, and I'm happy to share one or two of those with you. I'll even illustrate 'em.

So this one time, at band camp...

It may not have actually been band camp. Might have been pep band practice or something, but I recall that it was just FarmerMegan and me in the band room with our band teacher (Mr. H) and the college guy student-teaching there for the semester (Dan). I don't remember the specific context, but I was bringing up the song Vehicle in conversation (it was one of the songs we played in pep band). I said, "You know, Vehicle." And then proceeded to sing a bar while doing this bizarre, hopping-backward-on-one-foot, not-quite-dance thing.

"I'm your vehicle, bay-beh! I'll take you anywhere you wanna go..."

FarmerMegan and Mr. H were well accustomed to my occasional (okay, frequent) bursts of weirdness, and regarded me with patient bemusement. Dan, though, gave me a look that made clear the precise level of my dorkitude. Twelve or so years later, it's just another silly memory, but I was definitely embarrassed at the time.

Another humorously embarrassing moment was the first time I met Tom's parents. FarmerMegan again makes an appearance in this story, as it was the day of her wedding. I'd gone with her, and the other bridesmaids, to get our hair and makeup done that morning. Everyone else was made up in a nice, understated way - hair subtly curled or in an up-do, makeup applied without too heavy a hand. My stylist, however, must have thought I needed some extra "help" or something. She gave my short hair as much volume as she possibly could and hit me with lots of eye shadow, mascara, blush, and just for good measure, a nice heaping helping of dark lipstick. I looked about as unlike me as it's possible to look.

Tom and I were going to his parents' house directly after the wedding. I didn't have any makeup remover, so I did what I could to scrub off the worst of the caked mascara and ridiculous lipstick. Nevertheless, I was still hugely embarrassed and was sure Tom's parents would wonder what kind of trollop their beloved son had brought home with him.

(It actually all turned out fine, but my cheeks are still burning right now at the mere memory.)

I admit, as far as embarrassing moments go, those are pretty weak on the mortification quotient. But they're funny (to me, anyway) and were easy to draw. So that's what you're getting. ;)

Saturday, April 02, 2011

I have kids!

They are very, very cute. Would you like to see them?

Day 340

Day 65

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Day 357 / Day 82

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