Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nugget-isms


'Gether = together
Used in a sentence: Duckie and Piggie ride stwoller 'gether!
Parent hack: Can convince Nugget to do an unfavorable activity by suggesting Mommy/Daddy/stuffed friend and Nugget do it 'gether.

Nogurt = Yogurt
Used in a sentence: I eat nogurt breakfast please.

Fwell = Smell
Used in a sentence: My turn fwell it please. (It is usually chapstick)

Klect = Collect
Used in a sentence: I klect pinecones in gween bucket!

P.S. Speech therapist sis-in-law, don't worry, when we speak to the Nugget, we do in fact give him the correct pronunciations.
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The Nugget, when awake, is talking. He likes to repeat the same sentence until one of the parental units acknowledges his token of wisdom. If said parental unit does not respond with the exact words he's expecting in the appropriate time frame, there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. If parental unit is unable to come up with the proper phrase in T-10 seconds, the wailing escalates to full-on tantrum until the correct phrase is uttered or the parental unit gives up and leaves the area for the Nugget to continue his tantrum solo. It's as if the Nugget has scripted the conversation yet his minions failed to provide the parental units with a copy. Is this what they meant by the terrible twos? I find it somewhat amusing, although the 14th instance in a day is somewhat less amusing.

An example...
N: A doggie - woof woof!
PU: Yes! That's right!
N: No!!! A doggie - woof woof! A doggie - woof woof! (escalating to yelling)
PU: Yes a doggie. A nice brown doggie.
N: (Throws self on floor. Face turning red.)
PU: The doggie says woof woof?
N: (Regaining composure, wiping tears and snot off face) Yeah.

Now, because these conversations have become so taxing and often do not yield Nugget-desired results, the Nugget has recently taken to prompting us with our correct lines.
An example...

PU: (Rubbing Nugget with lotion, which he despises)
N: No wike lotion! All better now! All better now!
PU: (Finished with lotion service) All better now!
N: Yeah!

Or, the more embarrassing scenario where the toddler's manners are better than ours...
PU: Nugget, come here.
N: Come here PWEASE.
PU: Oh you're right, I forgot to say please. Nugget, come here please!
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The Nugget likes a toy to "watch" him eat meals. Lately it's been either the camel from his nativity set or a wooden fried egg from his kitchen. The watching toy is expected to cheer the Nugget on when he buckles his highchair strap and pretend to munch foods from his plate. This sounds like a pain for the parents, but the watcher can frequently cajole him into tasting unfamiliar foods, so it's kind of a wash. I believe this habit started with his pumpkin friend in October. We just accept it as part of the mealtime routine now, but I recently realized that a mealtime watcher is an uncommon practice in most households.
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The Nugget does not use the words "am" or "is" yet, and I can't fully describe how adorable his sentences sound without these verbs. Some examples:

"I poopin'!"

"I counting, Mommy!"

He'll learn soon enough.


Christmas on the go





We have come to realize that with our bicoastal family, we will never be home on Christmas Day, at least not in the forseeable future. Of course, family is the most important thing to us, which is why we do all the travel in the first place. But in a way, it makes me a little sad that Nugget and Lil Sib won't have the kind of Christmas that Hubby and I had. Their Christmases will not be early mornings at home waking up to a lit tree, my mom's strata in the oven, a big beautiful children's Mass, the church aglow with twinkle lights. Their Christmases will involve packing, removing their shoes for the metal detector, nasty food at roadside pit stops, the free Continental breakfast at the hotel. Santa will either deliver their gifts at home either early or late, because he knows we'll have limited trunk and luggage space to tote presents home. We'll always have to take down our tree early. Asking our active toddler to sit and be quiet for a 2 hour Mass after traveling cross-country is something we skipped this year. Forgoing some traditions is a sacrifice I'm willing to make to give them more time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. But I do want some traditions that can stick, no matter our travel itinerary.

We wanted to build some happy memories at home for the Nugget. St. Nicholas came on St. Nick's day (Dec 6) to fill our stockings. We lit Advent candles each night at dinner and had our Nativity set out for the Nugget to play with all month (the camel often left the Creche to take meals with the Nugget). We took our annual embarrassing pajama picture.

We did our little family Christmas with Santa's gifts the Saturday before we left. We took the Nugget for pony rides. We got Chik-fil-A for lunch and ordered pizza for dinner, so I wouldn't be stuck in the kitchen all day. Santa hid a couple gifts in my carry-on for the Nugget to open on the plane. I know it's not the same, but I hope that the Nugget and Lil Sib will have just as many happy memories of Christmas. They are just a little more spread out over the course of December I suppose. I hope that extends the fun instead of diluting it. I suppose they won't know anything different until their classmates tell them that Santa is supposed to come to YOUR house on the 25th!

Do you have ideas for Christmas traditions for a traveling family?

Christmas Trip 2009






We just returned from a lovely 5-day Christmas trip to see our West Coast family. Our August trip felt so rushed that we decided to make this trip very uneventful and family-only. We spent our days bopping between Hubby's parent's home and the hotel and even managed to keep the Nugget on a fairly regular nap/bed routine. Hence, no big extravagant things to post, but here's a quick list of our favorite little moments.

10. The Nugget, upon disembarking from our 5 hour flight (the second flight of the day), spotted a purple and gold airplane on the tarmac and insists that "We ride purple plane now." He has a tantrum on the jetway upon hearing that we will not be riding the purple plane.

9. The Nugget tells each grandparent, aunt, uncle, and cousin who will listen, "Ride purple plane" about a zillion times. We have to start a countdown of days until we'll get back on a return flight.

8. The Nugget rips open his Christmas presents with gusto, exclaiming, "Ooooo!" Usually after opening it, he then asks, "Whazzat?", knowing only that it was ooo-worthy! (At home, when he opened a gift from Santa, he said, "Ooo, a box!" Oh the money we could have saved!)

7. The Nugget can now correctly identify his West Coast family by name and can approximate his own pronunciations of each name. I think some hearts were melted to hear his little voice calling for them.

6. Not to be left out, the Nugget also requested his Midwest family members often and was confused to find out that his entire extended families do not live in the same place.

5. The Nugget discovered a love for Grandma's fancy organic nitrate-free ham. He cleaned his plate of ham then polished off mine as well. The bite I got was delicious!

4. The Nugget tasted sparkling cider and was appalled by the carbonation. He made a really funny face (wish I had captured it on camera) and sputtered it out. When Uncle A encouraged him to try it again, he shouted "No!" and pushed it away. Whew, at least I won't have a pop junkie anytime soon. (He also doesn't like chocolate milk, which probably bodes well for his waistline.)

3. Our niece generously babysat for us one night so we could go out with the other young adults for dinner. She and her boyfriend entertained the Nugget for several hours and reported that he was angelic. The minute they left, he yanked off his halo and had a proper fit. This makes me both hopeful for preschool yet terrified for the daily aftermath!

2. We took the Nugget to the zoo for a quick bout of exercise and fresh air. While he loved the carousel, laughed at the goats nibbling food from his hand, and tried the slide, his absolute undisputed favorite part of the zoo was the automated paper towel dispenser.

1. Despite being a cautious soul, the Nugget remembered each and every family member right away and was so generous with his hugs and high fives. That was my favorite part of Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Contractions

The Nugget likes to make his own contractions. Here are just a few.

Cay'roll: carry the roll (a small changing pad)
Bob'mato: Bob the Tomato (a character on VeggieTales)
Gr'ish: Go Irish!
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Other tidbits of funny business:

1. I told Hubby that he might want to change his shirt after shoveling snow, since it was starting to smell a little locker room-ish. The Nugget looked him straight in the eye and added, "Yeah."

2. We've been attending church regularly for several months now. It is always a challenge. The Nugget just doesn't have the temperment or the maturity to sit still and quiet for an hour, but he tries his best. He does love going and asks if we can go on most weekdays as well. His very favorite part is the Sign of Peace. He walks up and down the pews, proffering handshakes like a politician on the campaign trail. Once he's shaken every hand in reaching distance, he starts over again. The kind souls behind us today got about 10 hearty handshakes!

3. When the Nugget gets ahold of any credit-card sized object (he has a beloved book of customer loyalty cards and expired train passes), he knows to swipe it and look for a pin pad. I realize this may not be funny to anyone else since we normally use our debit card and he's just mimicking us. But when I was little money = bills and coins with dead presidents. The fact that our 2 year old is swiping plastic just blows my mind! I mocked the new Monopoly Electronic Banking edition, but maybe it IS more appropriate for today's kids; I guess they should be practicing with the type of money they are going to carry. The downside to this particular behavior is that he "swiped" a paper parking ticket into the car's cd player and I think it's stuck.

4. The Nugget has recently informed us that all of his stuffed animals are "girls" and their names all happen to be "Church".

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What happened to the village?

You know, the one it takes to raise a child? Read this article! I sure do miss the OMP - any chance of resurrecting it?! I think it's still possible, but I think we have to work harder at building our own supportive communities nowadays. They're not just there for the taking, you have to find and create your own.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Traditions



This is our second year here in our home, and we are starting to carve out our own traditions. Our downtown has a lovely free Christmas celebration and yesterday was the perfect winter day. Crisp and sunny, cold enough to bundle, but without the painful bite that so often accompanies winter days here.

Pictured above, the Nugget receives a special treat from the chocolate company. I usually dislike milk chocolate, but they make the best - creamy and rich, not much sugar. The Nugget approved.

The Nugget and his T-Rex (who accompanies him everywhere these days) gave Santa a big hug. When asked what he wanted for Christmas, he replied, "A hug." Even the bitterest Scrooge is no match for the Nugget.

And best of all, the Nugget and T-Rex got a free ride on a special downtown trolley. The Nugget is well-acquainted with trolleys. He and I try to hop on the campus trolley about once a month, to help sate his craving for rides in exotic vehicles, especially now that the zoo train is closed for the winter. This ride was much shorter than the campus sweep, but he received a ticket to hold and enjoyed looking at the tinseled and lit city through fingerprinted windows.

There was also a Santa's Workshop in a local museum, but so we'll save that for next year. Little feet and big eyes just can't be rushed, and our free parking spot was only good for 2 hours.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An alternate storyline

I'm not sure which version of the Nativity story you subscribe to, but here, the Nugget re-enacts the classic, in which...

1. A wayward Triceratops attempts to pay its respects to the newborn Savior, but frightens the camels, who threaten to knock over the manger...

2. ...And the troublemaker is thusly removed by a giant toddler bearing tongs.

Verily, I say to you, it came to pass. So say we all. Amen, Alleluia.

Adoption Updates

It's been 9 months since we entered the pool, so we have started working on some updates for our profile. We were so lucky to not have to do any updates prior to the Nugget's adoption. We got the lucky blessing of waiting only 9 months in the pool for him, so this is our first update.

When we got the request for updates, I decided I could choose to feel angry and bitter about having to jump through more hoops OR I could choose to gladly complete my tasks and consider it a labor of love for Lil Sib. Why cry when I can choose to smile? It actually felt pretty good to have some work to do for Lil Sib instead of just waiting. So we very lovingly updated our Dear Birthparent letter, we signed 350 copies by hand for a personal touch, I gave them a kiss and we prayed over them before we sent them Priority Mail, that one letter from this batch might fall into the hands of the special angel who will choose us to be parents again.

We also decided to join another waiting pool, through an adoption attorney in Ohio who is also a close family friend. About 6 months ago, we were also asked to join a backup list for an agency in MO, meaning that if a birthmom doesn't like any of the families in their pool, they will present families from this backup list.

For the curious, no, we do not know how many times our profile has been presented and rejected. We can find out, but we choose not to, because I personally would find it too depressing. However, it doesn't really matter how many times you are "not-chosen", because it only takes one! Sometimes, I find it all very magical, like falling in love. There is a chemistry, a spark of trust and love when a birthmom sees the family she wants for her child, a seed that blossoms into a lifetime and a family for an unborn baby, the one that God has already chosen for us. I can't ask for that to be rushed or to meet a specific deadline in my mind.

The Nugget has done his part by making life challenging and amazing at the same time. I try to savor every day of "our time" together, because I never know when he's going to morph from our "only" to "big brother". It was actually really fun to update our photo collage - I got to see reminders of how he's grown so much over the past year.

My favorite things




I love these mini takeout boxes! I found them back when I was in the gift basket biz, and you can do so many things with them. Here, I filled each box with 3 hand-dipped Oreos (recipe below - so simple!), decorated them with a strip of scrapbook paper, a ribbon, and a mini ornament (purchased 2 boxes at Target post-Christmas last year for mere pennies).

Dipped Oreos - these are SO decadent!
1. Melt 1 bag of chocolate chips (semisweet, milk, dark, or white) as directed on package.
2. Dip an Oreo half-way to coat. Gently shake off excess chocolate.
3. Dip one side into crushed peppermint candies. I bought mine pre-crunched, but to save money, you can buy a 99 cent box of candy canes and either take out your aggressions manually or crush them in the food processor.
4. Lay on a Silpat- or wax paper-covered baking sheet with the peppermint side up. Cool on the counter (not in the fridge, it will make the chocolate bloom).

Monday, December 7, 2009

A dose of perspective

Stephanie Nielson's story has been everywhere lately. You might have caught her on Oprah or the Today show. I have never met her, but I continue to follow her story and pray for her. I first came across her blog about 6 months ago. She is such an inspiring example of motherhood and faith. Here is the first installment of her story. I dare you to read it and not be touched, to not feel blessed, to not be more aware of each breath.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Filling the stockings

Don't forget the stockings when you're doing your Christmas shopping!

Baby:
1. Baby Gap socks - they really stay on! This set is on sale, and the red stripes are so festive!
2. Bibs - Carter's makes the ubiquitous "my first Christmas" or go for the luxurious Bumkins organic cotton bibs that will last through a jillion washings.
3. Wood teether - Little Alouette makes beautiful hand-crafted options.

Toddler:
1. Her very own enamelware cup! Shatterproof, durable, adorable. Holds just enough liquid to satisfy, yet not enough to cause a full table flood when spilled.
2. Gummi vitamins - in lieu of candy canes, give something that will taste great and keep your kid healthy. They can vary widely in taste and texture, but Nordic Naturals makes a delicious tangerine gummi that melts in your mouth, but also packs omega-3s! Better keep it in a locked cupboard!
3. Mittens, because toddlers lose them. Here's the Nugget's most recent mitten acquisition - how cute are they?! Add mitten clips from the Target dollar spot.

Child:
1. Smencils are made from recycled newspaper, sharpen and write smoothly, and hold a scent! Your kid will be the envy of his classmates! Along the same lines, consider other art supplies like play-doh, rubber stamps, stickers, watercolors, or pastels.
2. Kitchen utensils - pair them with a kids' cookbook, a bag of baking mix, and a handmade apron for a bigger gift.
3. A Broadway Kids' cd for your aspiring singer. If you like showtunes, you'll be rocking out with your kids too.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Learning to share

Obviously, at 2 years old, the Nugget does not grasp the concept of sharing. I don't expect it to be a lesson learned or understood quickly, but I do hope he'll learn a tiny bit more impulse control with each passing month. One thing that has helped is the concept of "taking turns". He loves to give Daddy, me, and his stuffed friends turns. He even offers turns to his peers, which makes my heart swell with pride, even though when he expects their turn to last .25 seconds.

Here's my latest conundrum though...when teaching your toddler to share, what do you do when the other kids won't take turns and their parents aren't present? It's too much to expect the Nugget to be generous when another kid is hogging the swing/train/book. I usually tell the Nugget that we'll share and take turns and that the other kid is taking his or her turn now. Often, the child will give the Nugget a chance when they're done, or the kid's parent will step in and help negotiate the sharing. When that fails, I do nicely ask the kid to please let the Nugget take a quick turn. Sometimes they do, sometimes they point blank refuse. I am not bold enough to physically remove someone else's child from a plaything (and basically that would be teaching the Nugget to grab toys anyway), so in these circumstances, the Nugget must be carried away, crying indignant tears, and I feel helpless for letting him down. I have nothing to say but, "Sometime life's not fair. I'm so sorry that you're sad, I know you wanted to play with X. We'll do something else fun and try to come back to it later."

One kid at a playground was playing catch with the Nugget's blue ball, then ran off with it instead of kicking it back. He even taunted the Nugget with it several times, while we politely asked him to return it and told him, "We need to share the ball. This ball belongs to Nugget," time and time again. I'm not mad that another child would do this, he is surely learning too - but where was his mother? What should I have done? Perhaps I should have cornered the kid and brought out the teacher voice. It's so hard to know how to deal with unknown children, when your role is not that of authority figure but that of parent to another tot.

I was the mild child on the playground, always willing to acquiesce to others. I don't want the Nugget to be that mild, he is not built to be that mild, but how can I teach him when to stand up and when to back down, given that my life experience was a constant series of turning the other cheek?

Why bother learning this sharing business if other kids won't play fair? Will being the underdog teach him compassion or inspire vengeance? What happens when I can't be there to police? We want to teach our kids that might doesn't make right, but sometimes it does, doesn't it? I hope these slights that feel so big today will fade away into just single stitches in the tapestry of his childhood. I hope the big picture remains beautiful and joyful.

Composer

Inspired by his Thanksgiving trip to Grammy and Grandpa's, where he received his very own keyboard and got to play their piano, the Nugget woke up this morning and composed a song, to be sung by his plush Allosaurus. Without further ado, here are the (understandable) lyrics:

"Uncle T, Uncle T, Uncle T.
Cross, church, cross, church, church.
Shamrock Doggie.
Grapes, grapes. Cookies."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Family Matters


We're basically a bicoastal family. Hubby grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and his whole immediate family still lives in the area. I grew up in the Buckeye State; my parents and one brother are there. I have a brother in the SW and a sister in the Big Apple. The Nugget's birthfamily is in the NW for now, but his Tummy Mummy is bound for the SW in December. We think Lil Sib's birthfamily will be in the NW too, but we don't truly know.

Once upon a time, I went to college, primarily to get a great education and have an incredible learning and living experience. But I would be lying if I said I didn't also hope to meet my future spouse there. And I'd definitely be lying if I said I didn't have a list of requirements in mind about said-future spouse. The number one requirement being, "from the Midwest". Well, life happens, I realized just how dumb my know-it-all-17-year-old self was for making that list in the first place, and thank God, I met my other half and fell in love despite his rainy birthplace.

After 7 years in the NW, we moved back to the Midwest for a myriad of reasons that I won't delve into too deeply, but that I can say was truly the right move for our family of 3 at the present time. Was it the right move for our entire extended family? I'm not sure.

Truth be told, I'm not sure there is a perfect place for us to live. If we decided to be truly fair in terms of mileage, maybe we'd set up camp in Kansas or Oklahoma, but then we'd be super far from everyone, and hello, Tornado Alley! I guess ideally, we'd convince both sides of our family to move to the same state, but even if we were both only children (we're not), that would be pretty unlikely.

One thing I love about open adoption is that it has made our family bigger. When people ask what our relationship is like with the Nugget's birthfamily, the best comparison I can give is acquiring more in-laws. Two families merging together over the shared love of an individual. It's a young relationship, one that will grow over time. But it's no less valid, no less true, and no less loving than the other branches of our family tree.

So my question is what happens when a Buckeye girl and a NW boy get married and adopt a son, acquire an even larger family, and are waiting for their family tree to grow even more branches, possibly in places unknown? I'm not sure. I know our future is riddled with frequent flier miles, hotel rewards, pack-n-plays, rental cars, toys rolling down the airplane aisle, scheduled Skype chats, and yards of packing tape purchased for care packages. I can guess that there will be tears shed from relatives who feel left out during one holiday or the next. I can definitely say I will have panic attacks about not being able to please everyone at once and then have personal growth from accepting that I can never please everyone at once. I fear a time will come when budget constraints and rising costs might affect our ability to purchase 4 plane tickets twice a year. I worry about what happens when our parents need more care than we can give them from afar. I wish all the Nugget could frolic with all his cousins on a random weekend (ok, so in reality it might be more like fighting over a single Tonka truck but this is a dream sequence in which all the cousins wear white outfits, and catch fireflies barefoot while miraculously avoiding grass stains while Life in a Northern Town plays in the background). I wish there were a clearer roadmap for navigating this life. And sometimes I am envious of those LDS families who all seem to live together in a commune in Utah (although not so envious of the underwear).

But what I refuse to wish away is our life together. Hubby, we may have given ourselves more challenges than necessary by choosing each other. But I'd never trade you for the world (or a fellow Buckeye boy). Nugget, I am so thankful everyday that your birthfamily chose us and that instead of being strangers, they've become our family. Family, always know that we want to be with each and every one of you, for every holiday, birthday, and lazy weekend, even when we can't manage our time or travel the way we want, when we want. And finally, dear scientists - please get a move on - we could really use that beaming technology. Really. Any day now.

Are any of you readers blessed with a bicoastal family? How do you make it work?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Robe




The Nugget has recently decided that he would like to spend most evenings lounging about in his robe.  "I wear robe please."  It is a very cute new habit.  Here is he, from birth to today, in an assortment of bathrobes.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Date Night

Hubby and I spent about 5 years seriously contemplating parenthood before our Nugget arrived.  We're planners by nature, but then adoption forced us to spend more time planning than we ever thought possible!  The thing we read and heard over and over again was the importance of setting and sticking to a weekly date night.  Experts say it's an investment in your marriage, and as cheesy as it sounds, I think it's true.   The way I see it, our marriage is the core of our family, and someday when the Nugget and Lil Sib go off to make their own way in the world, I want to know I'm married to my Hubby, not to a stranger.

Can you have a successful marriage without a weekly date?  Of course you can!  Millions of couples have done it, my parents included.  And truly, sometimes circumstances, like spouses who work opposite shifts, preclude it from the realm of possibility.  

But I wanted to share our tips with you so that the 95% of you couples who CAN and want to swing a weekly date can start getting yours!  Don't let money worries stop you - yes, it can be expensive if you hire a sitter and hit a 5-star restaurant each week, but it can also be FREE!  Read on...

Simple Steps to Date Night:

1.  Hire a regular sitter if you need one.  It needs to be someone your kids enjoy and someone you trust.  You won't enjoy date nights if you're stressed about the sitter in any way.  Having the same person come week after week is easier for your kids, it means you won't have to spend the first 15 minutes of your date showing the new sitter where everything is, and it means that you are "on the books" and won't have to call around each week.  If you are lucky enough to have family willing to sit for you, you're living the dream!  If you can't afford a sitter, consider swapping sitting duties with another family.

2.  Pick a time.  Weekday evenings are best for us, but for you, it could be a Sunday afternoon or a breakfast after you've dropped the kids at daycare.  Be flexible, because illness, business trips, and holidays happen.  But after a lapse, get back on the horse.  Remember, it's not a luxury, it's an investment!

3.  Eat on the cheap!  For me, date night is my one night off from cooking dinner and washing dishes, so eating out is a big factor for me!  We try to save money by using coupons (the Entertainment Book is so worth the money if you like to try new places), or meal deals. Tuesday is $2 burger night at Bar Louie.  Chili's (app, 2 entrees, dessert) and Applebee's (app and 2 entrees) both boast 2 for $20 deals.  Now that the holidays are coming up, many restaurants are going to have promos attached to their gift cards.  Buy a certain dollar amount in gift cards and get some bonus bucks at no additional cost.  Part of the reason we chose a weekday night is that the restaurants are less crowded and coupons are always valid!  You could go to Taco Bell and dine on 49-cent tacos, the point isn't fine dining, it's quality time.

4.  Mix it up.  Browse a bookstore without having to entertain munchkins with puppets.  Cuddle together on a couch at a coffeehouse.  Go for a hand-in-hand walk.  Hit the second-run movie theater.  Sit at a bar and flirt outrageously.  Check out a museum, art gallery, go clubbing, do whatever you want to do but can't with the kidlets.  Sometimes we even sneak an errand into our date night, but if you're stealing kisses and sharing stories over 1.5 inch nails at the hardware store, it can still be romantic!

5.  Make your own rules.  Some sources say not to discuss the kids at all during your date.  We tried this a couple times, but it stressed us out, so we dropped that rule.  Some say you absolutely must get dolled up for each other - we do that about 50% of the time.  It's fun to make the effort, but other times, Hubby is running late, the Nugget's been a pill all day, and I certainly haven't had a second to curl my hair.  Create your own rules, but drop them if they start making date night a stressful exercise.  It's all about having fun and enjoying your spouse.
No excuses, just date!

Do you have any date night tips to share?  Please add the to the comments!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Re-enactor

The Nugget came racing around the corner, a slightly disgruntled look on his face.  He kept saying (what we thought was), "A bok, a bok".  First we thought he was asking for a book but that prompted an angry, "NO!"  Then we asked him if he was thinking about chickens.  Frustrated, he reared back and head-butted the couch repeatedly, yelling, "A bok, a bonk, I bonk, I bonk!"  Translation:  He had bonked his head in the other room and needed a kiss.  End curtain on the Nugget's first re-enactment.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Choices


We give the Nugget simple choices (red shirt or blue shirt) throughout the day.  We find that empowering him with these little options makes him feel capable and more cooperative.  Of course, being a strong-willed toddler, he occasionally makes a 3rd unoffered selection or just delays too long, in which case we make the choice for him, saying, "Ok, Mommy/Daddy picks this one".

This evening, we noticed the Nugget offering Doggie a choice of 2 squeakies.  He lined up a squeaky cow and a squeaky lion in front of Doggie and asked, "This one or this one?" repeatedly.  Since she didn't choose, he picked for her, He said, "Ok, I pick this one," and tossed her cow across the room for her.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bacon-meat-cracker

The Nugget has just recently discovered his shadow.  At first, he tried to high-five it, unsuccessfully.  Today, upon waking from his nap and discovering it on his wall, he "ate" it.  He grabbed a handful of shadow, brought it to his mouth, made munching sounds, then said, "Mmm, good.  Tasty."  Today, when I asked him what it tasted like, he said "chicken".

The Nugget has recently been saying daily, "Hug Papa.  Eat yummy cookie."  At first, we thought they were disjointed thoughts, but then noticed that they were continually stated together.  So we assumed he meant that he wanted to hug Papa and eat a cookie with him.  Today, while thinking some more about our last trip to the West Coast, I realized that indeed, the last time the Nugget saw his Papa, he did indeed give him a hug and shared a cookie with him.  If he is recalling this specific event, I am amazed, because it happened 3 months ago.

On the same line of thought, I've been trying to ignore the barrage of Christmas merchandise and decorations already in the stores.  While it makes Hubby absolutely crazy-mad to see Christmas trees in October, I accept it calmly as the retail ploy it is...HOWEVER, at the campus bookstore yesterday, the super-friendly cashier was wiring festive ribbon to a faux evergreen wreath.  The Nugget asked what she was doing, and I said vaguely, "Making some decorations.  That's called a wreath.  Isn't it pretty?"  But the cashier, ignoring my throat-clearing and violent head movements, cheerily added, "It's a Christmas wreath!  Do you LIKE Christmas?  Santa is coming to bring you PRESENTS.  It will be so fun!"  If you have raised toddlers, you know exactly where I'm going with this.  He has already asked me about the presents and going to church for Christmas about 546,721 times.  Loved ones, you may start discussing Christmas with the Nugget on Dec 24, mmm-kay?!

I've been working harder to schedule at least one "down day" during each week, where I can just give the Nugget my full attention and let him choose the activities, within reason.  Today he chose to ride his bike, then abandoned it in the backyard, but wanted to keep his helmet on.  Then he helped me sweep the driveway, still with helmet on.  Then he decided to take a walk down the block WITH the push broom, still donning his bike helmet.  While all of this is totally fine with me, I had to wonder what the neighbors thought.

The Nugget now recognizes the aroma of bacon.  While heating it in the microwave, he caught scent of it and came running in from the other room asking for "Yummy bacon-meat-cracker, please!"  

The Nugget has been putting his toys to sleep for awhile now.  Lately, he's added a gentle back rub and "ssshhhh" to the routine, just like we do for him at nap/bed time.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From the mouth of babes...


Some tidbits of funny-ness.

1.  The Nugget says "bear" with a Boston accent.  "Beyah."  It's wicked funny.

2.  The Nugget used to call butterflies "buh-flies", then just "flies", and now he calls them "babyflies".

3.  When eating anything tasty, the Nugget says, "Mmmm, good."  He's like the Campbell's soup commercial.

4.  The Nugget just started saying "cool", which I think proves how behind the times his parents are, that this is our positive comment of choice.  It's just one step above "groovy".  What is the appropriate word now?  Tight?  Off the hook?  Not that I would ever be able to say either without dissolving into fits of laughter and immediately thinking of Eugene Levy in American Pie 2.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bribes


I have a confession - I started bribing the Nugget this week.  One of my pre-parent parenting philosophies is children shouldn't be paid for good behavior, it should be the status quo.  "Haha!" God said, "Another slice of humble pie coming up!"

While I don't want to make bribes a lifetime habit, for 2 year old Nugget, they are working wonders and helping get him to use gentle hands much more consistently.  I'm following the Love and Logic approach, so it's not really a true bribe per se (although it feels like it to me).

Before we go somewhere where there will be other children, I tell him where we're going and what we'll be doing.  I lay down the ground rules - quiet voice, walking feet, gentle hands, etc.  Then since the pushing has been a major issue, I make the statement, "I give treats to boys who use their gentle hands."  The treat part is pretty non-specific, so it could be a trip to the playground, a cookie, a soft pretzel, stickers, a ride on the merry-go-round at the mall, a free balloon from a restaurant, a new book, borrowing a video from the library.  The way I feel less guilty about it is that I only choose small rewards that I was planning to give him anyway; he just has to "earn" them with good behavior.  I also don't use anything he NEEDS as a bribe (he doesn't lose outdoor exercise time or his special bedtime giraffe), and of course, sometimes I give him nice fun things that he doesn't have to earn.  When he earns his treat, I make a bigger deal over his good choices than the treat itself.  When he doesn't earn his treat, I empathize that it I know he tried, I love him, and that he'll get to try again soon.

I love that it's working, and that he engages in monologues about the system, which makes me feel that there's something in his little psyche that requires positive reinforcement.  The time outs were a band-aid on the situation, but he wasn't learning or understanding.

"Gentle hands, special treats.  Push - no, sad.  No pushing.  I hug friends.  I pat friends.  Friends happy!  Treats!"

And now after he gets a time out, I don't tell him what he did wrong, he tells ME, "Time out because I push friends - sad."

It's totally working.  I also realize that this is the same positive reinforcement I used very effectively with the dog and lots of zoo animals.  But still, I hate that I'm bribing him.  

Are you doing anything with your kids that you swore you wouldn't do?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Please pray for our nephew

Our nephew, Alex, shown here holding newborn Nugget, is going to have a major surgery in early December.  Alex was born with Prune Belly syndrome, and we are praying that the surgery gives him a healthier, longer, happier life.  Alex, we are so proud of you, and we love you very much.

To learn more, visit Alex's website.  We appreciate any donations and prayers you can offer for our family.

Operation Christmas Child




Today, we went to Target and filled 2 shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child, run by Samaritan's Purse.  We included a note in each, made a small donation for shipping, and I will be dropping the packed boxes off at a local church.  Samaritan's Purse will ship and distribute the boxes to children around the world, including refugees and flood victims.  The video on their website is both gut-wrenching and inspiring.  Most of us don't have the means to save any of these children from their circumstances, but we can make their lives a little brighter.  (And yes, if the "Christmas" and "Samaritan" didn't clue you in, it IS a Christian organization, and each child WILL be receiving a booklet of bible stories with each box, so if you'd prefer a secular charity, this ain't it.)

The Nugget helped us by deciding which particular book/pair of socks/etc. to buy, then put our items in the cart, and pushed the cart to the checkout.  Although he is pretty young to understand poverty, we explained that today we were picking out some toys for friends who didn't have any.

If you wanted to get in on the action, The Dollar Spot had the perfect filler items!  Here's what we included:

In both boxes:
Book
Notebook
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Wet Ones
Slinky
Wood clapper toy (like a castanet)

Boy age 2-4 (fewer items but they were larger!):
Tin with stickers
Wood fire truck
Lacing beads
Alphabet blocks
Candy canes
Puzzle

Girl age 5-9:
Crayons
Color and activity book
Socks
2 pens
Stuffed bear
Lollypop
Folding hairbrush
Self-inking stamp
Soap
Bouncy ball
Magic towel (washcloth that comes in a pill form but expands in water)
Lip balm
Bookmark
Hairbows
********************************************************
I debated whether it was "holier-than-thou" of me to make this post (and the Baking GALS one), but then I decided that since I have struggled with finding doable, affordable service projects as a SAHM with a toddler, that there were likely others in the same boat, so that's why I'm choosing to share the service projects we do :)  Thanks to my friend AP for finding and sharing this project!

Does anyone else know of other inexpensive, simple ways to serve that are inclusive of small children?  I can't, for example, dole out hot soup at a shelter, tutor grade schoolers, or volunteer at a NARHA stable with a toddler in tow.  And we'd prefer projects that would cost $25 or less.  Please comment with your ideas!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2.25


Dear Nugget,

You are 2 and 1/4 years old.  You are simultaneously bright sunbeam and stormy raincloud, gentle lamb and aggressive lion.  Although you test my patience daily, you are also teaching me to accept our common humanity, to seek not perfection but unconditional love.  I love you fully, not despite the challenges you present but through those challenges.

Top 10 Things I love about 2.25:

10.  You narrate each day, each action.  "I going down steps now!"  "Red car coming fast!"  "I ride bike to church!"  You end each sentence in proud exclamation.

9.  You spontaneously count to 10, usually omitting the 5, then declare, "I counting, Mommy!"

8.  Your favorite place to read a story is nestled my lap.  I can't get more than a page without nuzzling your soft curls or planting a kiss on your cheek.

7.  I can often find you paging through books on your own, you whispering several words on each page.

6.  Your clarion call, "I DO IT!"  Yes, you can do it, from opening doors, to zipping coats, to choosing a spoon, pouring your milk, strapping on your shoes, and washing your hands.  Your list of abilities and accomplishments grows daily.  

5.  You are always ready with a hug.  You have just started to use your arms, whereas before you just leaned in with your head tilted sweetly.

4.  You can seriously play fetch with Shamrock now, with little to no assistance.  What a great way to tire you both out...errm, I mean, what fantastic exercise for you both!

3.  You have a sense of humor.  You especially love to play peekaboo when I pretend to look for you in silly places, like in a drawer or under my coffee mug.

2.  Your imagination is taking flight.  You pretend to be brachiosaurus chomping trees (broccoli) and you puff and chug your train belt all the way around your belt loop "tunnels".

1.  You can recount an event accurately from memory.  I love to hear your summary of the farm, trick-or-treating, or a recent outing to the park.  It's also fantastic that you can re-cap your weekdays for Daddy or your latest great adventure for the grandparents over the phone.

Top 10 Challenges of 2.25:

10.  "I DO IT!"  Yes, that was on the other list too.  While I adore your constant battles for independence, there are times when I really wish I could step in, or I do and am met with hysterics.   For instance, I am standing outside in the bitter cold and wind while you insist on buckling yourself into the car seat.  While I applaud your effort, your fingers actually aren't strong enough to do it yet without at least a finger from mom.  Last night, you locked yourself in the entryway, because you wouldn't let Daddy help you open the inner door.  Yet you were crying from exhaustion and frustration while you yelled, "NO Daddy, I DO IT!"

9.  You now understand ownership is 9/10 of the law, and by gum, you are going to protect your possessions with whatever force necessary.  And by "your", I am also including toys that don't technically belong to you, but that you claimed by picking them up first.  Or thinking about them first.  Dibs!

8.  Shrill screams, less often than this summer, thankfully.  But now you let them loose at very strategic times, such as the consecration at Mass, or during storytime at the library.

7.  You have figured out "gentle hands" for the Doggie, but you are finding ways around that, such as boxing her out like a pro basketball player, gently touching her in the eyeball, or trying to crawl under her belly.

5.  Kicking crawling babies.  Ok, I get you haven't gotten to experience many crawlers since you've become bipedal.  I get that you don't know exactly what to make of them and that you aren't being malicious, just experimental.  But oh my heavens, this particular experiment is most unpleasant.  Perhaps Lil Sib is waiting to come to us until you are past this special phase in your life :)

4.  Pushing your friends.  I swear, we don't let you watch violent TV shows.

3.  Pushing your friends.  I swear, we don't push you or each other.

2.  Pushing your friends.  Is this just a boy thing?

1.  Pushing your friends.  Am very glad that for the moment, they don't seem to hold grudges.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!



I feel these two photos are a fair representation of our Halloween.  

Picture #1:  The Nugget heads out in his wagon, reciting these instructions, "Pwess button.  Ding dong.  Klect (collect) treats in pumpkin!"  He did indeed have a fabulous time and made it to a respectable 15 houses.

Picture #2:  Upon returning home, the Nugget learns that he will not be allowed to eat all 15 treats in one sitting.  Commence drama.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Baking Gals






I'm officially a Baking GAL!  I'm thanking my lucky stars that there are good people out there protecting our country, but I hate that they have to witness such violence and suffering, be separated from their loved ones, and risk their lives each day.  They are earning my cushy privileged life with their blood and sweat.  A few batches of baked goods and a handful of prayers hardly seem like payment enough.  Here's my first care package, shipping out Monday:

white chocolate chip cranberry cookies
mini turtles - pretzels, melted Rolos, and pecans
peanut butter cookies with mini Reeses cups

Originally, I was also going to include Andes brownies, but they wouldn't fit in the flat rate box, so I'll keep them in mind for the next round.

The Nugget assisted by watching the Kitchen Aid spin hypnotically, dumping in pre-measured ingredients, and of course, taste-testing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Unpaid Plugs

Fellow parents, I need to rave about a couple things that have made my life better!  As always, these are unpaid (darn!) endorsements.

1.  Dinosaur Train - airs on PBS at 9:30am.  It has a very nice, strong adoption theme and positive adoption language too!  The main character is a baby T-Rex who was adopted by a Pteranodon family.  They ride a time-traveling train and meet all different dinosaur species.  There is absolutely no violence, despite the fact that there are both carnivores and herbivores featured on the show.  The scariest thing is a dinosaur roar, but no worse than hearing the lions at the zoo.  It sneaks in a lot of education, not only about dinos, but also about scientific method and animal classification skills.  I like the Nugget to have exposure to other adoptive families, and he fervently loves trains, so it's a win-win.  

2.  Diapers.com  I started ordering our naptime/travel disposables here instead of Amazon, just to use a coupon code, but now I'm hooked!  Free 2-day shipping with orders over $49, got a giant book of coupon codes with my first order, and right now they're having a super sale with lots of rarely-discounted brands like Mustela and Plan Toys.  I placed a second order that wraps up our Christmas shopping for the Nugget and a gift for an upcoming baby shower.  When I found that they included the wrong puzzle, I called Customer Care - they are sending the correct puzzle next-day and are letting me keep the one they sent (still worth $15!) for free since it was their error.  Wow.

3.  Toys-R-Us has a new grocery section with lots of organic, healthy options you can't find elsewhere at reasonable prices.  We snapped up some rice cakes with omega-3's, some organic fruit and cereal bars, low sugar granola bars, and some special squeezable snack packs of unsweetened fruit puree.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Snaps - Fall Fun Edition





He proudly pranced
And mugged for the camera
Like a good peacock should.

We took off our shoes,
Hoisted him onto the pillow;
He took flight.

Big trikes
Look like fun
But are awfully hard to pedal.

He grinned and giggled,
Rode like a natural,
Then gave the pony a hug.

He ran into the pile 
Tentatively at first,
Then crunched with abandon.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Befriending perishable goods


One of my strongest childhood memories was walking to a neighbor's house every October to pick out our pumpkins.  These neighbors had a pumpkin farm and would bring cut pumpkins out into their yard and sell them.  It felt like we took hours trying to choose the perfect pumpkin and carried them around until our hands were scratched raw from the stems.  Right by the cash box, the neighbors had little "impulse buy" gourds with googly eyes hot-glued on for instant personality.  Well, I always brought my quarters to buy one, and each year in November, there was inevitably a teary day when I had to bid my moldy gourd friend goodbye, while my brother taunted me for becoming emotionally attached to a vegetable.

See above, my son with his very own pumpkin friend.  He picked out the stickers for the face at a fall festival a couple weeks ago, but I swear I didn't push him at all to form an attachment to it.  We set it proudly outside on the porch, but the Nugget insisted that "Pumpkin go inside now."  Well, no harm in that, I thought.  We displayed him on a shelf instead.  But pretty soon, the Nugget wanted the pumpkin to watch him eat breakfast, to play trains with him, and the next thing I know, he is giving the darn thing hugs and pretending to feed it breakfast each morning.  He pulls it onto our laps when we read bedtime stories.  I have stopped short of allowing him to sleep with it, although he would if I let him.  It's a doomed friendship, which will end badly with poor rotting pumpkin in the compost bin.  But for now, it warms my heart.

Isn't it a strange and wonderful thing that although we adoptees don't share blood, bone, or DNA with our parents that we still take after them in some ways?  He will always have his Poppy's dimples, his Tummy Mummy's eyes, and their shared talent for music and dance - I am proud to be able to tell him that.  And now I am in awe that I get to be a part of his psyche as well - what an immense privilege and responsibility that is.  Too bad you don't get to pick what part of yourself your kids inherit though.  I better start writing a eulogy for that pumpkin.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Proud Peacock




It's probably the last year I get to choose the Nugget's costume.  So I picked the best one ever.  Here is our little peacock strutting his stuff and tasting his first m&m's at our moms' meetup Trunk or Treat event. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Intangible

I am surrounded by glowing pregnant mamas.  I know about a dozen women, both close friends and acquaintances, local and around the country, who are busy gestating new little bundles of joy.  As a waiting adoptive parent, it's both a comforting and an uncomfortable place to be.  Comforting, because I have others with whom to share this unparalleled feeling of expecting a new little human, of building a family.  Uncomfortable because my journey is full of intangibles.  
I don't have any morning sickness stories to share.  My belly isn't becoming rounder.  People don't hold open doors for me.  I have no due date, no ultrasound photo.  Even when friends ask how the process is going, I have nothing to tell..."Just waiting!"  You might think that I have it easy, and in some ways I do.  I don't envy the puking, that's for sure.  But some days, I want so badly for something tangible, something firm to hold onto while I wait.  It's like I'm missing my baby before we have even met.

Athletic coaches are always talking about the intangibles.  They are the qualities that players and teams just have that make them great, yet you can't really put a finger on it, place it, or give it a name.  You have "it" or you don't.  But sometimes, it's the intangibles that win the game. 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Goals

A very boring post, I'm sure, but I wanted to write down some housekeeping goals.  I think I have been improving in my housekeeping abilities and general attitude towards this noble contribution to our family, but there is always room for improvement, and I find writing down goals to always be helpful!

1.  Cook 6 dinners a week instead of 4.  (But feel no guilt or shame if a dinner fails and we have to get pizza, it's the effort that counts.)  

2.  Try at least 1 new recipe per week.

3.  Try at least 1 meatless dinner per week.

4.  Work on service projects:  Terracycle and Baking Gals.  Anyone out there looking for a from-home community service project, these are great causes!  You can help me or start your own collection brigade or baking team.  I am super excited about this one because I've felt that my service has been sorely lacking since becoming a mom, so pumped that I can help from home!

5.  Let Hubby help with sweeping floors, putting away laundry.

6.  Every day:  Laundry, dishes, counters, recycling, trash, tidy

7.  Every other day:  Bathroom, vacuum

8.  Every week:  change sheets and towels, mop floors, grocery shop

That's it for now!  A respectable challenge for me, the housework-impaired.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Bloggity-Blog

I was never interested in reading blogs at all until I became a mother.  Then, I think it was more of a desperation thing, like, "This parenting gig is really so much harder than anyone says - is everyone else lying or is there something wrong with me?"  Official baby websites showing smiling mamas hawking toothpaste and laundry detergent while cuddling immaculately washed babes in designer blankets sure didn't look like I felt, trying to heft around a giant sweaty, often-barfing (acid reflux) Nugget.  But reading other parenting blogs gave me a voyeur's eyeful that parenting is universally difficult, and that we ALL struggle.  Mom-101, Girls Gone Child, Finslippy, Dooce...I'll never know these women in person, but they gave me permission to feel challenged as a new mom.  I felt better.  The guilt lifted.  The joy of parenting increased.  Thank you!

Now, in the toddler years, I turn to blogs for a different sort of fix.  Not the commiseration of difficulties, but to feel inspired.  The backstory.

All around me, people, dozens of people ask, "When are you going back to work?  What are you going to do?"  I was above the heated debate when I worked from home - really the best of both worlds and inscrutable from either side.  I was both home with the Nugget and participating in the work force.  Since the move though, I closed the business and officially became a SAHM.  Now with a verbal Nugget preschool-bound next fall, American society deems it time for me to return to the work force.  Everywhere I look, there are articles discussing how my resume is becoming outdated, how as a college graduate, I am depriving the workforce of my education, how as a woman, I'm undoing feminism.  

I.  am.  happy.  Right now, as I am.  As a sometimes boring, housework-challenged, mom.  It's taken me awhile to be comfortable saying that's what I am, "just" a mom, but I'm so there right now.  Someday I think I'll be ready to punch a timecard again.  Right now, I want the Nugget's cry to be my alarm clock.  I want the freedom to work around his routine.  I want permission to feel satisfied, fulfilled, and important just as I am.  I never felt more important than when I was an educator.  Ironically, I mean so much more, give so much more to the Nugget than I did to any of the children I taught, yet I have never felt less important.  Heck, I am important!  I am helping to raising the future of this country, of this world!  I think it's fantastic that many women in this country can choose to work after kids, can choose to stay home, can choose to say no to parenthood altogether.  Let's celebrate those choices, and be confident in the choices we make for our own families.  Here's some blogs that are helping inspire me to feel that the motherhood I've chosen is a worthy calling.  Thanks, Nie-Nie and CJane.


Dialogue with the Nugget


The Nugget's vocabulary seems to triple in size each day.  There are stretches of time when he never stops talking.  An example from this morning.

Nugget (over the monitor):  *Dawa, Dawa, Dawa!  Ooooh.  Bouche.  Hop.  Hop, hop, hop.

Mommy:  Good morning, Nugget.  Did you have a nice sleep?

N:  Yeah.  Mommy happy?

M:  Yes, I'm very happy to be here with you.

N:  Good.  Yeah.  *Jaff happy.  Aww, nice.  Night night.  (Pretends to go back to sleep, then jumps back up.)  Hahahaha, all done!  Doggie?  Doggie?  Doggie?  Daddy?  Daddy?

M:  Doggie is downstairs.  Daddy is at work.

N:  Yeah.  Ok.  Eat?  Happysauce?  Juice?  (coming downstairs).  Down, down, down.  Plop.  Plop.  (Throws Jaff)  Oooh, jaff far!

M:  Pick your spoon, please!

N:  Bwooo.  No, pink.  (feeds Jaff) Num, num, num, num, num.  (Climbs into chair.)  I buckle.  Up, down.  UPPY, DOWN!  Plop.  (Points to food and dose of Prevacid set out on table.)  Wilk.  Bewwie.  Spoon.  Messin.   Cup.

*The cast...
Dawa - an approximation of his friend D's name.  He sees her a couple times a week but speaks of her daily.  He loves her, she tolerates him until he tries to make off with one of her toys.
Jaff - his bedtime giraffe.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Funny Stuff


A random collection of funny/cute things the Nugget has said or done recently:

1.  When he eats chicken, he calls it "bock-bocks", you know, the noise the chicken makes.  His friends K&K have a chicken coop in their back yard.  He also calls the live chickens "bock-bocks", then says, "Eat."  Grandpa says, "Well, he's a carnivore."  He is now offically eating any kind of chicken, not just the fried nugget variety - whew!

2.  Grammy and Grandpa brought the Nugget a stuffed moose.  He introduced himself to it like it was a new friend.  He said, "Hi Moose!", he waved at it, he pointed to its big grin and said, "Happy!", then gave it a hug and kiss.  Oh the joys of stuffed animals - I just wish they could be somehow deflated for storage purposes - we have a very modest number, and they are still filling 6 storage bins.

3.  He can say "applesauce" very clearly, but sometimes calls it "happysauce".  Eating applesauce does indeed make him happy.

4.  Every day since our summer vacation, he's been asking to go to "Ca-go" (Chicago).  When he sees a plane, he both names it, then asks if it is going to "Ca-go".  While Chicago wasn't our destination this past summer, we did spend several hours in O'Hare (and several more in a stationary plane on their runway), so apparently, it's the thing that stuck in the Nugget's brain.  We'll try to hit Chicago later this fall for a trip to Shedd Aquarium or another indoor pursuit.

5.  The Nugget got to Skype with his Grandma and Papa last week.  Since then, when he sneaks into the office, he immediately points to the computer and asks for Papa.  

6.  While not unusual, the Nugget is at the stage where he'll hear a number and immediately count out loud, from that number up to 10.  While watching the football game, they'd say the score, the down, or the yards to go, and he'd chant 4-5-6-7-8-9-10!  


Monday, September 28, 2009

Lucky 7

Dear Hubby,

I know this blog was meant to be about the Nugget and my daily struggles and triumphs with motherhood, but you must know that you are half the reason this family exists.  We just celebrated our 7 year anniversary, without much fanfare.  Neither of us had time to stop and get a card, we vowed to celebrate with dinner out this week instead.  While that would certainly have not flown our first year of marriage, it felt just perfect for now.  When our love was new, it burned so bright and intense that I could not picture it ever getting better.  Yet it has.

We were given the blessing in disguise of infertility so that we might have the ultimate gift of parenting our Nugget.  We have been to hell and back twice, losing an almost-daughter and an almost-son.  We hope and pray together that God will complete our family with the second child that we believe to be waiting for us.  I'm so glad that you have been, are, and will be my partner through it all.

You are the steady, balanced rock that grounds me.  Your patience and strength amaze me.  You work hard each and every day to provide for our family, yet you are home and present each night and weekend.  You seem tireless when I am weary.  Your optimism shines through my dark cloud of self-doubt.  Without further ado, here's your anniversary gift.

Top 7 Things I love about Hubby (the clean version)

7.  He announces toenail trimming time, "I think I'll trim my toenails today."  Like perhaps we'll all want to gather around to ooh and ahh.  Or maybe because it happens so rarely that it becomes an event of significance, like a solar eclipse.  Either way, it makes me laugh, and it does indeed, make the day better.

6.  He is not afraid to make a fool of himself to please the Nugget.  He marches, tangos, makes goofy faces, reads in a falsetto voice.  He is a pretty serious, thoughtful guy, so to see these moments of silliness is especially touching and speaks of his love - what he will do for a single Nuggety smile.

5.  He makes me a better person.  He is respectful, kind, and open-minded.  It is so very rare to hear him utter a single unkind word against another human being (unless that human being has cut him off in traffic).  

4.  His smile still gives me butterflies.  Lop-sided, with dimples.  My favorite moment of our date night?  When I come back from the restroom and see this handsome man sitting at the table, waiting for ME.  I am so lucky, the very luckiest.

3.  He truly is my opposite in many ways.  We need each other for balance.  He is thoughtful when I am impulsive.  He is calm when I am exuberant.  He is introspective when I am extroverted.  Together, we are a team.

2.  He changes diapers, sweeps the floors, does the dishes...even when I am so neurotic that I push him away, try to make him stop helping, deluding myself that I can do it all...he finds a way to help.  Thanks, honey - please keep trying to help me, and I'll keep trying to let you help me.

1.  Seeing him become a Daddy, witnessing him falling in love with the Nugget, is the most wonderful thing in the world.  It's like being present for a miracle.  I know that the Nugget will grow up to be an incredible man, because he has this incredible person to look up to.  


Licensed to Thrill


I have this kind of love/hate thing going on with the licensed characters that completely bedeck the children's toy and clothing departments.  I DO remember clamoring for licensed products as a child, as a hopeful Disney animator I had an obsession with all things Disney.  I still appreciate it in small doses - We did the Nugget's nursery in Classic Pooh (the muted storybook illustrations not the yellow/red version), we proudly bought him an Optimus Prime t-shirt.  I adore children's book characters on notecards especially.

I'm not sure why some of it bothers me so much.  It could be the fact that the owners of the characters don't seem to care what crap they put their names on - from flimsy plastic choking hazards coated with lead paint to nightgowns that are already unraveling on the rack.  It could be the way they market to children - buy me, you don't know what I am, but I have Lightning McQueen on me.  It could be the fact that in mass quantities, they are just an assault on the senses and totally unnecessary - the Nugget does not need to drink out of a Dora cup that costs triple the amount of the plain blue one.  Maybe it's just the disposable aspect of it all - you know that 12 year old carrying the Hannah Montana backpack will be horrified by it next year and will beg her mom for a new one with the latest and greatest.  Yes, I think that's the clincher for me, that licensed characters are rapidly outgrown and need constant replacing.  It bothers the core of my little tightwad heart!

However, I think the day is rapidly approaching approaching when the Nugget will insist on a character of choice.  His vocabulary now includes "Curros George" and "Melmo".