Saturday, April 25, 2015

Park Crawl

We've been doing a park crawl the last few weeks... you know, like a bar crawl? except for kids.  Fortunately, we have a plethora of parks in our area and we've had a blast exploring them all.

This is a recent favorite - Twin Creeks Park:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 My new favorite photo :)
Onto the next park! Reviews to come.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

All About Chase Face

This age is just SO fun with Chase.  He's sleeping really well, he's slightly more independent, and life in general is smoother and more relaxed.

Right now, Chase LOVES:

  • Food.  So. much. food.  He eats a lot and ENJOYS every single bite.  On the rare occasions I serve him with a plate or bowl, he tends to just skip over the middleman and lick his food right off the plate - takes too long to use his hands!  Absolute favorites include pasta, bananas (he would eat a whole banana for every meal if I would allow it!), prunes, raspberries, yogurt, blueberries, and peas. 
  • Brushing his teeth.  Not just brushing, but his toothbrush and toothpaste too.  First thing in the morning, Chase likes to snuggle on my lap for a little while, but only once he has his toothbrush clutched in one hand and his toothpaste tube in the other.  He seriously loves them both!
  • Hats.  Well, more specifically, putting things on and taking them off his head, whether they are hats or not.  He gets insanely proud of himself for putting something on his head, and gets the most adorable proud and funny look once he places a hat, bowl, or book cockeyed on his head!
  • Climbing.  Chase is going to be our little climber.  If I forget to turn over our rocking chair, he'll scramble up that thing and stand up and rock!  He still unfortunately manages to squeeze under our baby gate to climb as fast as he can up the stairs, laughing gleefully the whole way up.  He tries to climb just about anything he's able to reach!




  • Reading!!  I'm super super excited about this.  Cole loved reading from literally day one (I read him books as soon as I brought him home from the hospital and he loved them!), but Chase has been a bit slower to fall in love.  Waiting patiently has paid off, however.  Chase will now sit for several board books and one or two regular paperbacks.  The cutest thing ever is when he spies me reading to Cole and toddles over to climb onto my lap to see and hear too!  He just hops onto my lap, leans his head back into my chest (he likes to lounge), and kicks his feet while we read.
 




  • Being silly.  He is our little class clown.  Chase has funny expressions, loves to imitate and exaggerate our facial expressions, giggles with the most infectious little laugh, and does crazy gymnastics on the floor (leaning upside down on his head, rolling over hysterically, and sliding on the floor on his tummy) to make us all laugh.  He is just SO MUCH FUN and has so much personality bursting out!
  • Saying "THIS". or more accurately, "DIS! DIS!" He says about five words (MAMA, DADA, THIS, DOG, and BOOK) but "DIS" seems to be the favorite as he says it about five trillion times a day.  It's adorable.  He just wants to know what everything is!
Love this little guy so much!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mommy Wars

Open up any newspaper, blog, or computer and you're sure to hear the phrase "Mommy Wars" in regard to parenting at least once.  Breast vs bottle, working mom vs SAHM, baby-led weaning vs purees, co sleeping vs crib, cloth diapers vs disposable...  there's hundreds of so-called arguments out there.

But I don't believe a bit of it.

I don't think "mommy wars" really exist.  Not at all.  I think it's something completely made up and exaggerated by the media in order to make news out of something that's not all that newsworthy.

In my immediate and extremely diverse group of friends, we all have our differences.  Some of us have many children, some only one or two.  Some breast fed, some bottle fed, and some pumped.  Some use cloth diapers, some disposable, some both. Some work, some stay at home.  We all have made different and varied choices on how to best raise our families, with regards to WHAT WORKS FOR US.

And frankly, none of us really care about anyone's choice to formula feed or co sleep.  It just doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.  And, more importantly, because it doesn't help anyone to spout off unwanted opinions or advice.  But what DOES help is support and love. 

A couple of summers ago, a friend of mine was expressing her frustration at having to pump all the time.  Due to a bunch of unforeseen circumstances, her baby no longer would breast feed and only wanted the bottle.  My friend hated the pump and how time consuming it was, but felt horribly guilty at feeding her baby formula.  Another girlfriend jumped in quickly, though, saying, "But YOU have to feel happy and fulfilled too.  Your baby isn't the only one that's important here.  How YOU feel is an important consideration.  Feeding your baby formula isn't going to make you a bad mom - it's just one more way you are doing your very best."

I think, honestly, that's what motherhood really IS about, once we get past all the media headlines of so-called "mommy wars".  Supporting each other and lifting each other up, without judgment or shaming, because we know we're all doing the best we can. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

One of those days

It was one of those days.

Cole was demanding and arguing with everything I said.  Chase was whiny and clingy.  Neither one napped, the laundry and dishes were piling up, and nothing was going right.

But, as always, I took a deep breath and tried my best to be present and patient for bedtime. No matter how awful our day was, I try every night to dig down deep for my last crumbs of patience so we can end the day on a high note.

Last night, I held Chase snuggled in my arms while he drank his bottle.  I brushed his teeth and gave him one last hug and kiss before laying him in his crib.  While I tucked him in, Chase reached up his chubby little hand and gently caressed my arm, smiling up at me around his bink. 

Later on, after asking Cole over and over... and OVER again to get ready for bed, he came running into my bedroom excitedly asking me to come see.  I swallowed my impatience, noticing his enthusiasm, and followed him into the hallway.

"JUST STAND RIGHT HERE, MOM.  RIGHT HERE.  AND...LOOK OVER THERE!  THE BEAUTIFUL SUNSET!"

Cole pointed me in the direction of the gorgeous sunset streaming right in through our window.  It was almost as bright as his smile, beaming at me with pride.

"ISN'T IT SO PRETTY? I THOUGHT YOU'D LIKE IT!" he said, giving me a hug.

"It IS so beautiful, son.  I'm so glad you showed me! It's just what I needed to see today!" I told him.

Time and time again, I'm reminded to slow down, to be more patient, to give second and third and fourth chances to my boys.  It always pays off in the sweetest of ways.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bike Ride

It seems like such a short time ago that Cole went for his first bike ride with Daddy - and now it's Chase's turn!

 
 Cole's absolute favorite thing ever is riding his bike... he was BEYOND overjoyed to ride with Daddy!
 
 I foresee many, many family bike rides ahead of us!
 
 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bear Creek Picnic

Picnics are just my favorite.  Food, being outside, spending time with my family... it's just great.  A perfect way to enjoy the gorgeous weather we've been having!

Last weekend we topped off the day with a relaxing picnic at Bear Creek Park:

 
 
 Chase is obsessed with drinking out of water bottles:
 
 
 
 Chase literally will NOT let me put him down 99% of the time when we are at home and cries hysterically when I so much as leave the room... yet when we are in a strange open park with strangers all around, he apparently thinks it would be a good idea to crawl away and keep crawling!
 Here comes Daddy to bring him back to home base!
 
 
 Blowing kisses!
 
 
 
 

Monday, April 13, 2015

De-Cluttering

One of the biggest realizations since becoming a parent?

The best thing to do is not always the easiest.

Take, for example, the ongoing issue of de-cluttering.  With two little boys, that means two birthdays and two Christmases each year where they each get a bunch of STUFF.  While we try our best to give our boys gifts of experiences rather than more toys and, well, stuff - it doesn't always work out that way.

So, during our most recent bout of spring cleaning, I realized how much extra stuff we had.  Toys that weren't ever played with, or too many of one item (who can possibly play with twenty two matchbox cars at once? Ten is more than anyone ever needs).  Partially inspired by this article, I resolved to get us back to our simplistic, minimal, creative toy collection.  I'll be honest, however - the thought crossed my mind of doing it at naptime.  We had so many things, surely Cole wouldn't notice a handful of toys that disappeared while he was sleeping, right?  And I didn't really feel up to arguing and battling over which toys to keep and to donate.

But then I realized what a valuable learning opportunity that had just presented itself.  I struggle every day with keeping our house clean and neat and as clutter free as possible - not just of the boys' stuff, but of my stuff as well.  I work hard at constantly re-evaluating my things, making sure that anything I'm not using - actually, truly using - is immediately given away to charity so someone WILL use it.   I can't stand the thought of keeping an item just for the sake of keeping it.  Something that I was storing in a box in the garage, taking up space, could be actually USED in someone else's home.  I wanted to TEACH Cole to give and de-clutter, not just do it for him (even though that would be the easy route).

I really want Cole and Chase to have an understanding of the unselfish act it is to give unused items to others.  So that morning, during Chase's nap, I sat down and explained to Cole what we were going to do and why. 

"Cole, I've noticed lately that there are an awful lot of toys around here.  A lot of them haven't been played with in a long time because we have so many.  I have a bag here, and any toys you haven't played with in a long time or things you don't want anymore, we are going to put in the bag and give them to another little boy who will play with them."

And people - I was AMAZED.  We went through, slowly and methodically, every single toy in our house.  I gave Cole my full attention and allowed him to make the decision on every toy we donated.  "MOM, I DO HAVE A LOT OF THESE MATCHBOX CARS.  I DON'T THINK I'LL PLAY WITH ALL OF THEM. I LIKE THIS RED ONE A LOT, I'LL KEEP THAT ONE. WE CAN GIVE THIS WHITE ONE TO ANOTHER LITTLE BOY WHO WILL PLAY WITH IT, OK?"   For two hours, Cole and I filled up the bag with all the "stuff" he chose to give to someone else.  And then we filled up two more bags with my "stuff" - clothes that didn't fit, books I haven't read in a while (that's what libraries are for, anyway), and kitchen equipment I didn't need.  I walked through the house with Cole and thought aloud about what was useful and beautiful to me, and if it wasn't either one, into the bag it went. 

The best part?  When we drove to St. Vincent de Paul to drop off our donations.  Cole carried his large paper bag with all his unwanted things and proudly handed it to the volunteer.  I handed over my bags.  And as we walked back to the car, Cole told me how he thought another little boy was going to be so excited to have some "new" toys to play with.

I was so proud.  I want so much to teach my boys to be happy with experiences, not stuff.  To be content and creative with simple and minimal playthings.  To know that more is not always better.  And of course, to give to others. 

It was so worth the extra effort.
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