Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rainy Days

Autumn fluctuates between gold and gray.  We got a little sun break yesterday, but the majority of our past week has been solidly in gray territory.  

I prefer the gold, but gray is the reason rubber boots and raincoats were invented.  The Nugget knows the fine art of puddle stomping, and verbalizes the wonders of dirt swirling around his lobster boots.  And there is nothing like coming out of the gray into a lovely dry bookstore and warming up with a chai tea latte (me) and a hot pretzel (Nugget).



The grayness means that we can't go to the playground but that I can entertain the Nugget for hours with a turkey baster, some food colors, and a few cups of tap water.  That $2.25 turkey baster might not ever see a turkey in this house, but it's going to get plenty of QT with the Nugget.  Maybe I will add a set of eyedroppers to this tray next time and tell him that the turkey baster had babies.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cooking show, cow song, and Colorado


When passing some new townhomes, the Nugget exclaimed, "That looks like Colorado!"  Indeed, they looked like Cabbage and Company's former residence.

"I was dreaming about harvesting blueberries.  It was a sweet dream, because the berries were very sweet."

The Nugget's preschool is doing a study on sports.  College athletes and coaches are taking time out of their days to volunteer at the school, running mini clinics on their sport.  The Nugget is inspired and now insists on playing both baseball and soccer in the backyard daily.  He forces includes us in the practice, assessing our pitches and kicks with authority.  "That was a nice one, Daddy."  "Mommy, that pitch was a little bit high."

We are borrowing lots of Mister Rogers dvds from the library these days.  The Nugget's favorite part is the factory tour under the special features.  So far, we've marveled at the creation of construction paper, pretzels, crayons, and teddy bears.

The Nugget likes to run his own cooking show at the sand table.  Today, I will share his recipe for Water Vapor Dough.
"Now, we are going to make Water Vapor Dough.  Well, we start with this wet sand.  Mama, can you put wet sand in your hand like I am doing?  You have a little too much, try to make yours look like mine.  Ok, that's it.  Now, we put our sand in the bucket.  And then, we add frown sugar.  Not brown sugar, FROWN sugar.  Now I crumble this yeast.  And one more.  A little bit of brown sugar.  There, now I smooth it out.  It won't be ready today, it takes a very lot of time.  When it's done, it will taste like milkshakes. "

The Nugget is fully capable of pronouncing Daddy, but he has a new slang title which is utterly adorable.  "Daa-eee!"  He is also back to calling me "Mama", which is sweet.

A new favorite song is Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5.  The Nugget calls it, "The Cow Song," because of the line, "Moo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-ooves like Jagger."  "It's a cow singing, Mama!"

Monday, September 19, 2011

Big Boy Bike


9/11 now holds a happier memory for our family.  It's the day the Nugget rode his big boy bike "all by self"!  We got him a new helmet (not pictured) to celebrate.  Well, he thinks it's a celebration prize, in all honesty, it was toddler sized and the plastic was slightly warped from sitting in a hot car on the Ohio Turnpike.

I have a little product review to go along with this milestone.  As always, I don't get money nor freebies, just sharing what worked/works!

Strider Bike - This 12 inch balance bike is what the Nugget has used to practice riding since he was 2.  It is very durable, lightweight, and it actually benefits the learning rider to swap back and forth from riding the big kid bike (with adult help) and riding the Strider solo.  We bought a floor model for half-price under the claim that the Strider would help the Nugget transition to big kid bike sans training wheels and for the fact that our practically pro-cyclist friend was putting his son on one too.  I wasn't sure if it would really work or not, but I loved watching him gain confidence and balance as he proudly scooted around the block on his own power.  So in love with this little bike and I will be sad to see it go.  Perhaps I can figure out how to get it to Baby Cabbage so I can enjoy watching her ride it too.

Balance Buddy - Since we skipped the training wheels, we progressed immediately to the stage where the parent hunches over, holds the seat of the bike to steady the Nugget, and runs like heck to keep up.  Hunching + running = ouch.  I ordered this balance buddy adjustable handle so we could skip the hunching and just run.  Grammy wisely pointed out that if your child is larger and does not have the balance mostly down, this aluminum handle might not be strong enough to help you catch all the tips.  It was perfect for the Nugget's occasional wobbles and the times when he spotted a squirrel and his handlebars followed his gaze.  It is also very easy to loosen your grip on the handle and gauge how your kiddo is progressing while still being right there to catch him.  I wish it were a bit cheaper, but I will certainly be able to either resell it or hand it down.

Bell helmets - The Nugget is pretty sensitive to having things touching his neck and chin, but we are sticklers for helmets.  Grammy and Grandpa gave him a Bell brand helmet with his first trike, and I love that it has a little lip on the clip that minimizes the pinching risk.  I think he's been pinched exactly 1 time, and that's saying something because he is super wiggly.


Anyway, back to the riding.  The Nugget tells me that he prefers to wait until Daddy's home, because Daddy can run fast enough to stay right by his side while he's riding for emotional support.  I tried riding my bike next to him, but he wasn't having it.  That's ok though, because isn't this just the sweetest father-son bonding activity ever?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Soccer


The Nugget started soccer lessons, and I didn't know that it was possible, but little shin guards and knee socks conspire to make him extra adorable.  The class itself is hilarious - 2 of the 4 children know how to play soccer already.  The Nugget is in the other half; he doesn't really understand what's happening, but he finds it all very fun and exciting.  "Coach, look at this!  Watch me doing this!"  He has got a great punt and dribbling skills already.  But he keeps trying to set the ball up with his hands, like a golfer teeing up.

I think years of drilling sharing and taking turns makes this whole concept of sports competition a little confusing though.  When Coach asked the kids to run a friendly 1-on-1 drill, the Nugget raced his friend K out to the ball, but when she got to it first, he totally stopped and cheered her on, "Go, K!  Yay!"  And when he got to it first, he passed it to her immediately,  "Here, it's your turn now."  It was all very chivalrous and heart-warming, at least better than him knocking her down to get the ball.  

One of the coaches brought her 18 month old to toddle around during lesson, which distracted both K and the Nugget, but for different reasons.  K wanted to go right into babysitting mode, and the Nugget was distraught that the baby was not following directions but instead rearranging the cones.  K's mom turned to me during the first 10 minutes and said, "I think Coach has his work cut out for him with this group."  He's going to earn his class fee, for sure!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Avenues Open

We raised our fostering age from 0-12 months to 0-2 years.  We are also having our profile presented for SNAP certification (possibly in October, possibly not til next year, you never can tell with the state), which means that we'd then be eligible to adopt waiting children with special needs.  I'm working towards my required foster license renewal hours at a snail's pace; I feel like the system doesn't need me, so my motivation is pretty low.

We just have not seen much action from the adoption side of the house, nor the fostering either.  Feeling peace with whatever comes, just not quite ready to pack up/give away the baby things yet.  At one point, I had looked into sitting for an 18 month old one day a week - it didn't work out, but perhaps offering professional childcare on some level will soothe my desire to nurture another little one and give the Nugget a faux sibling experience?  Not sure what life has in store, and for the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I feel like that's ok.

We finally got our tax credit for 2009 adoption expenses.  We really weren't sure if the IRS was ever going to come through, but are very thankful to have that.  If you are not familiar with the credit, it provides enough tax relief to make adoption financially possible for many adoptive families; we still are required to pay costs up front, but we receive some of it back with our tax refund.  This has been especially important with the number of disruptions we've faced.  Nearly every year, Congress debates about whether to extend the credit law for another year or discontinue it.  Removing this credit would put adoption out of reach for most would-be adoptive families and would limit the choices for birthfamilies, so I encourage you all to write your reps and tell them you support the adoption tax credit.  Write your Rep here and your Senator here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Beautiful Autumn



It's the most wonderful time of the year!  In my opinion, anyway; Andy Williams might beg to differ.  The sunlight has officially changed into my very favorite golden rays, creating roads dappled with light as it filters through the trees.  A few early-achieving trees have shed some leaves already; the Nugget and I plucked a select few from the sidewalk to become immortalized through crayon rubbings.  I see bits of yellow glinting and winking from the canopy.  The air is fresh and crisp, and I love flinging the windows open to bring it into the house.  I gleefully pulled out my jeans and down vest yesterday.  And my hot coffee mug seems more comforting in my hands during the fall.  Sweaters, corduroys, boots, pumpkins, red leaves, and mittens will be soon to follow but for now I will revel in this in-between.  The tug of war between chilly mornings and warm afternoons, of wearing hoodies paired with shorts and being able to complete a brisk 3 mile walk without breaking a sweat.

Football season is underway, which for our family means out-of-town visitors, tailgating, and the free entertainment of marching band rehearsals.  The band played Lady Gaga's "On the Edge", which brought a smile to the Nugget's Top-40-loving heart.  The Nugget marched, danced, and whirled with a new friend, and squeal-scampered back to our legs when the clarinet section suddenly came running off the practice field.  He snarfed several servings of whole grain Tostitos at a friend's tailgate, and spent a blissful day with his favorite sitter while we attended the home opener.  Our team is off to another rough start, but we are loyal fans nonetheless and will be cheering them on even if they finish the season with an 0 in the W column (but digits crossed for at least a few Ws, please!).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Downtime

One thing that is a healthy challenge for the Nugget and me is downtime at home.  I am always tempted to pack up and head off on an adventure, but I aim for one day a week where we sit tight.  It's good for the imagination - his and mine.


Today, we tried out a recipe for sidewalk paint.  We mixed equal parts cornstarch and water, then a couple drops of food coloring.  I loved the way it dried, smooth to the touch.  The Nugget found it ideal for painting cyclops.

 


We also made a batch of birthday cards.  I spotted this on Pinterest.   I tweaked the concept to make an easy preschooler craft.  I used double-stick tape to create a 4 on construction paper.  Then I let the Nugget hole punch a bunch of construction paper scraps, and he stuck the punches on by hand.  We sprinkled glitter on top to make it extra festive and use up the stickiness of the tape.  I had the Nugget glitter on a tray, and I used a lint roller to clean up the excess (also a Pinterest find; I'm addicted).  I also gave the Nugget several pieces of tape to arrange in a pattern of his choosing.  The Nugget usually has a short attention span for crafts, but he loved this project and spent a good hour on it.

One more fun thing - I didn't get pictures, but his sitter Miss A came up with the idea to make pudding with the Nugget this week.  I froze the extra into popsicles, and they were yummy.