Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Eyebrows and other Stuff


Noodle can now wiggle and waggle his eyebrows along with my other boys. It is great fun watching him relax and feel at home here.  Noodle and Nugget often go into squeal-laugh fits with each other.  That said, the Nugget has already started the, "I don't want him to look at me," complaint.  I think most parents find that super annoying, but after waiting so long to hear the laughter and squabble of siblings, it is (practically) music to my ears.

Nugget:  What is my placemat doing on my chair?!
Me:  I don't know...
Nugget:  Maybe the night wind blew it!

The Nugget invented a new game and dubbed it "Hurry, catch-catch."  To play HCC, you take turns throwing a frisbee, then you both race each other to fetch it.  It is important that during the race portion, you both yell, "Hurry, catch-catch, hurry, catch-catch, hurry, catch-catch," until the winner triumphantly grabs it off the ground.  Repeat about a zillion times, or until one of you steps in dog poop, or until the adult tires and requests a water break.

Hubby gets the Best Dad Ever award, as he took both boys to Zoo Boo when I felt too feverish to attend this weekend.  I am so lucky!  With the Nugget missing Trunk or Treat due to croup, I am knocking on wood and hand sanitizing like crazy, hoping that we are all healthy for the 31st!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What is it like?

I continue to gather my thoughts and build my philosophy on fostering.  What is it like?  It's like nothing else I've ever experienced, but it has familiar components.  It's sort of like:

-Being a parent
-Being a nanny
-Babysitting a niece or nephew
-Hosting an exchange student
-Participating in the witness protection program
-Being a student
-Being a substitute teacher without a lesson plan
-A desk job involving lots of paperwork and phone calls, but you can only work during nap time
-Being a bus/carpool driver:  Noodle to visit, Nugget home, Nugget to preschool, time for a 5 minute errand, Noodle pickup to home, oh my!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Gifted


A couple more Nugget thoughts:

"I'm going to be a big daddy someday.  I'm going to name my girl James Lou.  Or Melissa."

"I had a dream that I was running with you (Daddy) and Grandpa.  I was bigger, I was almost a grown-up.  We were running on a trail at the place that was a little stinky."



There's this quote I've seen a lot since we started the fostering process:
"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift."

 Right now, there are four pumpkins on our porch.  Our home, car, laundry baskets, and calendar are ridiculously full, and I'm feeling pretty thankful for the gift of today.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Alternative Halloween Treats

On our October line-up this year:  Trunk or Treat, Halloween party, Zoo Boo, and traditional Trick-or-Treat in our neighborhood.  Clearly, Nugget and friends are in for a sugary October.  I hand out fun-sized chocolate bars on Halloween, but for the rest of the festivities, I like to distribute alternative treats.  But I remember clearly how much I abhorred raisin boxes on Halloween, so here's a list of kid-appreciated alternates.

Little bags of salty:
Goldfish crackers
Pretzels
Pirate Booty

Sweet-but-not-candy:
Fruit snacks
Fruit squeezers
Animal crackers
Mini graham crackers
Granola or cereal bars

Toys:
Stickers
Temporary tattoos
Mini Play-Doh tubs
Glow bracelets (get a tube of them at Dollar Tree)
Bouncy balls
Lego Mini Figs (buy them in bulk, give out 1 per kid - will only be cost effective if you have a small group)
Pencils and erasers

To bring to parties:
String cheese and crackers
Bananas
Yogurt squeezers

Care packages:
Cute snappies - I especially like the orange swiss dot because it will have a useful life beyond Halloween
Ghosts in the House - I flipped through a copy at B&N, and the illustrations are amazing!  Looks like hard-carved woodcuts plus sheer tissue? fabric?  Whatever it is, this book is a thing of beauty, and the story is sweet, not scary.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything - Disembodied clothing tries to spook a little old lady, but she won't fall for it.
The I'm Not Scared Book - Not exactly Halloween-y, though there is one page with costumed children.  Todd Parr validates common fears but then empowers children with solutions that will make them feel braver.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Quotable Nugget


To Doggie (he has just learned she is part Aussie, part BC):
"Go downstairs, Australian Shepherd."

"That's a funny word!"  These words cause the Nugget to spontaneously combust into wild giggles.
-Pipsqueak
-Gourd
-Blimp
-Petite

(Holding up a pretend measuring stick)
"Let's see, I think this water bottle is 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 miles tall."

This week, the Nugget declared, "I want to make a fancy bat.  A very fancy one."  I wrapped some foil around a piece of cardboard, drew a bat shape on it, and the Nugget went to town with some homemade Modge Podge, colored tissue paper, and glitter.  It is really fun to watch him create.

Please note the small glitter smudges on the bat's feet and off to the side.  "These are his shoes.  And here are some slippers for him to wear later."

Today, the Nugget admired his bat but stated that, "He could be even fancier."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Noodle Bowl



Noodle has a big gummy smile, and when he smiles, he makes tiny fists, shrugs his shoulders up high, and crosses his arms over his chest.  Noodle startles and stares whenever I get the camera out, so it's hard to catch his joy on film in this phase, but it is something very special that I want to remember.

When he eats, Noodle wants so badly to hold the bottle by himself.  He grunts and grasps, pushes my hand away.  If I comply, the bottle slips, and he wails.  Or sometimes he will triumphantly get just the nipple into his mouth but can't tip it properly, so he sucks air.  The Nugget likes to help feed him, so I try to hold Noodle's hands so that he doesn't pinch or scratch the Nugget.  He has a mighty belch that comes right out the second you turn him right side up.

Noodle falls asleep in quite a remarkable fashion.  I haven't seen anything quite like it before.  Sometimes during a bottle, other times in the midst of fussing, he will go from awake to totally out in 10 seconds.  You can feel him turn from squirmy baby to limp sack of potatoes in the blink of an eye.  The car seat is another guaranteed nap for him - even on 5 minute journeys, the motion lulls him to sleep.  Quite the contrast from the Nugget, who was like the valedictorian of the Moro reflex.

Noodle loves Doggie.  He lights up whenever she's in the room.  With baby Nugget, Doggie was always up in his grill, wanting to sniff, lick, rebreathe his air.  Older and wiser now, Doggie gives Noodle a wide berth but comes to check on him when he cries, looking at us balefully as if to say, "You're not doing it right."

It's an interesting dance of affection and attachment.  We're letting Noodle steal a part of our hearts, but that's ok, because he can take that with him if/when he goes.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to do this, but now I feel like I'm right where I'm meant to be.  Things might change, but if today they told me that Noodle's home and family was made safe for him, I could hand him over with a hug and a kiss, with his new bear and some onesies to-go.  And I'm not sure that it would break my heart the way the failed adoptions did, because if he was able to go home, it would mean that we accomplished our goal, that we kept him safe and loved while he needed it.  And on the other hand, if something went wrong and we were asked to become Noodle's forever family, we would say yes in a heartbeat.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Sibling Experience

Day #3, and the Nugget is beginning to let his ambiguity show.
"Can we drop him off?  At the baby kennel?"

But then hours later,
"I need Noodle to come see me.  I can't wait for him to wake up!"

Every day, we are reviewing his options when Noodle cries.  I might draw him a cheat sheet, since he is a visual learner:
1.  Headphones
2.  Find another place to play
3.  Turn on music
4.  Help us figure out what Noodle wants

Somehow, Noodle and Nugget have already synched up their meltdowns and their hunger.  I realized today that I cannot prep and give a bottle while peeling and slicing an apple.  So Noodle waited impatiently while I gave Nugget cheese and crackers.  Then Nugget waited impatiently for his apple while I made a bottle and fed Noodle.  I narrated the process, trying to demonstrate to Nugget that they both have to take turns, not just him.  When Noodle was down for his nap, we took the monitor handset out into the backyard and had some "Mommy-Nugget time."  This is not easy, but it's also what I wanted - a real way to teach Nugget how to be patient and to grasp that while he is an important valued part of the world, the world does not in fact, revolve around him.  He's not always going to like it, but that's part of the sibling experience.  This is big brother boot camp.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Noodle

There are three boys in the house.  Hubby, Nugget, and a newcomer.  I got a call yesterday afternoon, "Could you foster a 4 month old baby boy?"  Our littlest houseguest has a big round noggin covered with nothing but brown peach fuzz, round green eyes, a cute little chin, and 10 tiny toes.  I'll call him Noodle.  As previously mentioned, we are not allowed to post pictures nor share any backstory, but we can describe our new life as we know it.

Doggie initially gave me a look like, "Are we seriously doing this again?" But she can't resist his charm, nor her maternal/herding instincts to serve and protect the littlest member of our pack.

The Nugget is equal parts enchanted by the baby, upset at the sudden upheaval of his world, and thrilled by his new round the clock role as big brother.  Today, he wanted to show Noodle off to all his friends, "This is my baby."  He knows that it's only for awhile and that we don't know how long.  He wants to know why Noodle can't go home right away.  "He needs a safe place for now," I tell him.  "I will protect him!" the Nugget replies.  We could not be prouder of our big boy.

Hubby and I are waking up latent memories of what it feels like to snuggle an infant in your arms, to mix formula and wash bottles, to bathe a slippery baby, to wrestle tiny limbs into cotton sleepers and snap them up before those wiggly toes escape again...finding that our fingers are clumsy but that they remember how.

Expect blog posting to be light over the next few weeks as we find our footing as a for-now-family-of-four.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cousins in Kalamazoo

We lived in WA for the first 15 months of the Nugget's life.  My mom always said, "Anytime you are east of the Mississippi, we will come see that baby!"  And indeed, they traveled to the southeast when we came for a wedding to sneak in some extra Nugget time.  We took a page from their book and joined them when Cabbage and Co. were in Michigan this weekend.  We took the Nugget out of school, boarded the dog, and packed up the car...all worth it for some precious cousin time.




The hotel was amazing - nestled in a big beautiful building with multiple restaurants, stores, and a coffee shop.  The kids were awestruck by 2 sets of escalators, a fountain, and a long hallway with a giant fish tank.  Empty conference rooms flanked the opposite wall, so it was perfect for letting the children run off some energy.  We spent several hours watching them run and play in that hallway, where their squeals didn't bother a soul.  Best of all, a hotel pool and 3 adjoining rooms.  It was like a college suite, with Grammy and Grandpa's room as the central hangout.

Cabbage is walking now, still on the tiniest feet imaginable.  Her hair has changed to a caramel color that women would spend big bucks to get from a stylist.  She is starting to talk in earnest, and like her mommy, she uses her hands expressively.  One of my favorite Cabbage moves is when she walks with her hands clasped behind her back, demonstrating her advanced walking skills.  Also thrillingly adorable is when she places both tiny hands over her mouth in dramatic fashion and exclaims, "Oh wow!"



The Nugget sees himself as her mentor.  "Look at me, Cabbage!  Can you do this?  Can you drum like this?  Can you say, 'water'?  Come here, Cabbage, come play hide and seek!"  He was her willing pawn in the "throw the cup/flower/etc on the ground" game that 1 year olds love to play, fetching it for her over and over again with a big loopy smile on his face, golden retriever-style.  He invited her to sit on his Trunki while he pulled it from room to room, both of them squealing in delight until Cabbage was removed for a diaper change, her face red and her legs kicking in indignation - a foreshadowing of her toddler years.  So in love with that girl, and we can't wait until we can see them again!

Product Reviews: Kids' Sunscreens Group 2

I found some new sunscreens to recommend!

Babyganics Cover up Kids Sunscreen - great consistency, unscented, easy to apply, does not leave a visible chalky film. Retail about $8.99 at BRU, which is fantastic!  Use a 20% off store coupon (they give these out with every purchase) to make it $7.19 a tube for a 6oz bottle - that's competitive with store brands.  I also found a BOGO deal on Babyganics at Diapers.com.  They carry it for $11.99, but at BOGO, that's $5.99 per tube. At this price point, it's going to be our family's regular sunscreen.

Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Sunscreen Stick - I have always liked the California Baby sunscreen stick.  All natural minerals, easy to apply, and it doesn't melt in your bag nor drip into your kid's eyes...but at $15-20 (the price has dropped since I last reviewed it), it was a tough price point to swallow.  I'm happy to say that Aveeno came out with a similar stick format made from just Titanium dioxide and Zinc oxide, but it's only $9.  Score!