Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Free-range toddler

I know we are beyond spoiled to have a fully fenced backyard.  When the weather is nice, I have a happy "free-range" Nugget all afternoon and evening.  I slather him with sunscreen so he smells like a delicious coconut (like I need another reason to kiss those luscious baby cheeks), then turn him loose.  We play fetch with Doggie.  We blow bubbles and doodle with chalk.  We scoop, dig, and splash in the sand/water table.  I push him on his trike.  We lie on our backs under the tree and look up at the squirrels and birds - the danger of being pooped on is minimal compared to the moment of peace.  The best part is when I retreat to my lawn chair and watch him continue to explore and discover on his own.  Ah, this is the life.

Except now that he is used to his free-range afternoons, of course it's been raining for 4 days straight.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nuggety Goodness

I think it's easy to dwell on the unpleasantness that's associated with the toddler years.  Tantrums, violence, dictator-like demands, voices that have no volume control....

So here's a list of pure Nuggety-goodness to offset my complaints:

-While enjoying an evening snack, the Nugget smiled at Daddy and gave him a hearty pat on the back.

-The Nugget has not figured out the art of pedaling his tricycle but enjoys being pushed (it has a spiffy handle for an adult to push) and nodding to his fellow cyclists.  

-The Nugget usually needs a 5 minute snack break during his 45 minute Kindermusik class.  I indulge him because he is easily overwhelmed by the formal class setting, especially when there is a lot of lap-sitting activity, and the breaks help center him.  He started by taking 4 of these breaks each class, and now after 2 months, he is down to just 1 in the middle of class.  Today, he asked for his break several times before I gave in...he ran out to the couch, delicately munched a single goldfish cracker, then signed, "All done," and raced back to class for more fun!

-Many days, the Nugget wakes up in a happy mood, and I can hear him yammering through the monitor.  It goes like this, "Ah-boooo.  Dizzz yeah.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Ooooo.    Oh deedeedee." 

-The Nugget is trying to say his own name.  He can't quite pronounce it yet.

-The Nugget is fascinated with hair, and likes to pet people's heads.

-The Nugget knows many signs now.  If he sees an object he knows the sign for, he will drop what he's doing and sign it.  One of his funniest flubs is that he knows the sign for gorilla and will sign it if he sees any sort of non-human primate or if we say gorilla.  He will also sign gorilla if we say umbrella or if he sees an umbrella.  It's the -ella/-illa thing that messes him up, but I crack up every time he proudly points to an umbrella and beats his chest!

-While at Fazoli's last night, he noted the ceiling fans were turned off.   He asked me to turn them on, but I explained I couldn't.  Instead of continuing to fuss, he then walked boldly over to the family eating at the next table and signed for them to "Please" turn the fans on with his biggest smile!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I was reading Mom-101 the other day and this post totally struck a chord.  Not the class mom part, I would rock at that, but about occasionally feeling inadequate.  My truth is, I have a finite amount of energy, and like so many parents before me, I have prioritized and let go.  In the spirit of full disclosure and so not to seem self-deprecating, here are the things that I care about the the things that I let slide (and that's putting it nicely).  But I've come to realize that slacking a little makes me a happier, calmer person.  What things do you care about most?  Least?

My Mommyhood Priorities:
1.  Teaching the Nugget kindness, gentleness, and compassion
2.  Helping the Nugget play outside whenever possible or finding indoor physical activities
3.  Reading
4.  Limiting TV (1 educational show a day)
5.  Exposing the Nugget to a variety of music 
6.  Scheduling social activities for the Nugget
7.  Making sure the Nugget has enough downtime and opportunity for sleep
8.  Cloth diapers when we're at home

Ways I Slack:
1.  Housecleaning - no white glove awards in my future EVER!  
2.  Cooking - it could be healthier.  I like cheese.  A lot.
3.  I do not iron the Nugget's clothes, nor do I change his outfit when he gets a little yogurt on the sleeve or a grass stain on the knee.
4.  I don't have the patience for cloth wipes anymore, nor do I cloth diaper when the Nugget is sleeping or when we travel.
5.  I usually bring store-bought snacks for playdates.
6.  I should email more pictures and make more prints for friends and family, but instead I direct them to a photo website.
7.  I refuse to even consider potty training or a big boy bed at present.  My philosophy on these issues is to wait until the last possible minute in the hopes he will be so overdue that he'll train himself on both.  I would so much rather change diapers than play restroom roulette when we're out and about!
8.  I don't cook breakfast on weekdays.  It's hard enough for me to brew my cup of coffee, that magical elixir that makes me a half-way decent person in the morning.  Yogurt and cold cereal are my friends.
9.  Walking the dog - I used to be a faithful 3 a day, rain or shine, walker.  Now Doggie gets a walk with Hubby in the morning, and if she's lucky, some fetch in the backyard.  Walking a wayward toddler and a crazy-for-squirrels herding dog is just too much effort.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A good kind of chaos

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity for our little family.  My in-laws were in town April 1-7 (my parents were also here for April 4-5), then we went to my folks' house for Easter from April 9-12.  Much fun was had over the past two weeks.  Here are just a few highlights:

10.  The Nugget took his Grandma and Papa to the park, where he showed off his new-found climbing and running skills.

9.  The Nugget took Grandma, Papa, Grammy, and Grandpa to the zoo.  The peccaries and prairie dogs were notable favorites.  He also got to ride the zoo train, which is a special treat since it's an extra $2 per ride and Mommy is a cheapskate.

8.  Grammy and Grandpa treated us to a hibachi dinner, where the Nugget got to see the chef slice, dice, and cook right at the table.  He was momentarily seized with terror when the chef set a stack of onion rings on fire, but calmed down to enjoy eating his fried rice with chopsticks.

7.  The Nugget enjoyed two egg hunts - an indoor hunt at a friend's house and an outdoor hunt at Grammy and Grandpa's.  The candy and coins inside the eggs went largely unnoticed, but great entertainment was found in just putting the eggs into and out of the pail and bag.

8.  The Nugget took an entourage of relatives to a neighborhood park.  How many adults and tweens does it take to watch one toddler?  I think it was 10....

7.  Aunt B taught the Nugget how to roll the stacking rings across the room.  He is still practicing.

6.  The Nugget tested the ceiling fans and light switches at Grammy and Grandpa's about a zillion times.  We may owe them some new light bulbs.

5.  The Nugget became smitten with cousin M.  Wish we could have her commute for weekly babysitting!  Maybe we can convince her to go to the local university.

4.  Aunt B treated the Nugget to homemade brownies and her legendary butter cookies.  He has been hopefully signing "cookie" and checking all our counters for more.  

3.  The Nugget played an enthusiastic game of catch with cousin F and uncle R.  About half the time he throws a ball, he releases it too early and it drops behind his back.  It's a hoot to watch him try to figure out where it went.

2.  The Nugget elicited about a dozen hisses and a couple swipes (don't worry, she's declawed and all cat-toddler encounters are heavily supervised with toddler kept out of batting and biting range) from Grandpa's cat.  You would think he would become more cautious, but each encounter just made him shriek with delight and he'd try to go right back in for a big smooch.  

1.  The Nugget got to pet neighborhood doggie Casey.  You'd think he'd met a rock star.

So now that we are home, we have some much needed downtime.  The Nugget is adjusting to not having doting grandparents present.  This coming Saturday, I'm going to Chicago with friends and I will spend my very first night EVER away from the Nugget.  I am simultaneously overjoyed to have some time away and very sad and mournful to leave my precious boy.  He'll be in the good, skilled hands of Daddy, whom I will attempt not to call every 5 minutes while I'm away.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Humble Pie

Dear Nugget,

At this stage in your life, you are a force with which to be reckoned.  A little like an F-5 tornado.  Your feet are constantly stomping, running, jumping, climbing, dancing.  Your arms are constantly reaching, grabbing, poking, hugging.  Your mind is constantly absorbing, applying, bending, growing.  

Your mood changes like the wind, recompense, no doubt for my naive comment on a friend's daughter, "It's so funny how she goes from tantrum to happy grins like that," not thinking that it is not as funny when switching the order.  

You are humbling me by turning me into "That woman".  That woman who hasn't brushed her hair today and is plying you with fruit snacks to keep you from shattering the windows at Target with your screams.  That woman who takes 30 minutes to prepare to leave the house.  That woman who just doesn't have the time or energy for Doggie even though she swore she would make time for her after your arrival.  That woman who lets you play at the park with an occasional snot bubble inflating and deflating from your nose.  I used to be the girl who sneered at "that woman", and now thanks to you, I AM "that woman".  Touche, Nugget.

Daily, I am choosing my battles, trying to help you make your way into civilized society.  It was hitting one week, pushing the next, getting you to drink water instead of milk between meals, now it's keeping you from climbing on the bookshelf to reach the TV.  It's funny how each stage seems endless but quick as a flash, it's over, and I'm left wondering how to deal with the next challenge, the old battle we waged a distant memory.  

I try not to let these battles define your entire toddlerhood and after you are in bed, I think hard about the big grin you gave me when you woke up from your nap, the way you pointed to flowers on a playmate's pants and signed flower to me, your laughter when we played peekaboo, the way you held me so tightly when you fell down at the park and although I was sad that you got hurt, it still felt so good when you held me that way.  That's what I'll choose to remember (not the 500 times I pulled you off the bookshelf).

I love you, Nugget.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

5 Things

This is a game started by Her Bad Mother.  I think we moms do a disservice to claim that motherhood is all butterflies and ponies.  It's great, hard, incredible, and awful at the same time!  I wouldn't change it for the world.

5 Things I Dislike about being a Mom
1.  It's easy to feel isolated.
2.  I miss my pre-mom friendships, which have all changed, slid through my fingers despite my attempts to preserve them.  Some are still hanging on, but I know they won't ever be the same.  
3.  Vomit.
4.  No time off duty.  Even when I go out courtesy of wonderful Hubby, I feel like I've lost a limb, and I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the phone to ring with a crisis.  Not that he's ever had one while I've been out, but IT COULD HAPPEN!
5.  Schlepping the weight of the world in my diaper bag or worse, forgetting a critical item when we're away from home!

5 Things I LOVE about being a Mom
1.  The warmth of my son when he cuddles under my chin.
2.  The way he looks at me as if I hold the key to understanding the universe.
3.  Feeling profoundly important, fulfilled, and loved.
4.  The ease of befriending fellow moms, even when we have nothing in common except children.  
5.  Rediscovering the world each day, from a toddler's perspective.