Friday, September 27, 2013

Gender Reveal Party!

I seriously wasn't sure about doing a gender reveal party... I mean, does anyone really care that much?  Is it self-centered to assume that people would come to a party just to find out what we're having? 

But in the end, I figured we hadn't really had a party in our new house yet, so I seized onto the excuse to have our friends over.  And I'm so glad we did.  It wasn't anything extra special or fancy, just a bunch of families with kiddos over, but we all just had the loveliest time. 

Everyone voted!

 I'm pretty sure Cole asked me when he could have a cupcake about seven million times.  He was THAT excited.  This boy has a major sweet tooth.
 Cutting the cake...the inside was dyed blue for our Baby Brother!
 Blue cake!
So much fun - kiddos running around playing, mamas talking, and husbands chatting around the grill.  Its just what a pictured when we moved into our house - I'm so glad we had everyone over!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Christmas Planning

I literally am not sure I can wait for Christmas this year.  The decorating (in our new house!!), the gifts, the parties...oh my, it's going to be a blast.

So, here's some of the gifts we're thinking about getting for Cole this year:

1. A tool bench

Cole just LOVES to help Dad fix things - he'll use any excuse to run out to the garage to get a tool to "fix" something.  So when I spotted a tool bench like this one at a yard sale with a bunch of wooden screws, I thought he'd really enjoy it - and you can't beat $12 for the whole set!

2. Wee Sing CD

We have all the Wee Sing songbooks, and one of my favorite things to do is cuddle up with Cole and sing through all the songs.  While Cole hardly ever sings along, he does enjoy listening to music, so I thought I might order him one of the CDs so he can listen to along with his Raffi music...also might be nice for ME to not have to listen to a single Raffi CD on repeat all day long!

3. Bilibo

Rated as the best toy by several different parenting groups, I've wanted to get this for Cole for a while...but at almost $30, I just couldn't see spending the money.  But then I found one at a yard sale for $3! how am I supposed to wrap this one??!  I love the open-endedness of this one (there's no "right" way to play with it) and I can't wait to watch Cole and see what he decides to do with it!

4. Wooden Puzzles

Cole received a set of these puzzles for his birthday and he just loves them!  There's just the right number of pieces to keep him challenged without frustrating him, the wooden ones are sturdy for his little hands, and the bright designs are easy for him to put together.

5. Legos

I have seriously been looking forward to buying Cole Legos since I found out we were pregnant.  They are truly one of the best toys out there, in my opinion - and with how much Cole loves to build things, I can't wait to see what he'll do with these!  I've been putting off buying them until he's old enough to use them independently, and I think this is the year.

6. "Steam Train, Dream Train"

Of course I'll probably get Cole a few more books, but this one is at the top of my list.  "Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site" is one of Cole's very favorites, and I know this one by the same author and illustrator will be just as fantastic.

So there we go!  As always, I've been trying not to overwhelm Cole with too many "things" gifts, keeping close to the "something you want, something you need, something you wear, something you read" philosophy.  Quality over quantity, without spending too much money.

What about you? What's on your must-have gift list for your kiddos this year?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Disappointment and Guilt

I'll be honest, I debated for a long time (seven weeks to be exact) if I should write this post or not.

I like to think this little bloggy-blog of mine serves a dual purpose: to keep friends and family updated on our little lives and as a baby book of sorts for my kid(s).  I want to be able to share this blog with my children, to look back at photos and stories that tell about their lives, about our hopes and dreams for them, and all those details that get forgotten in the business of living.

So I never wanted our next child to look back and read this post and feel as though he wasn't wanted or loved or cherished dearly from the very beginning.  But I think it's important to write these feelings down, if for no other reason than that I want my sons to both know that emotions are meant to be FELT, not ignored - processed and felt and then we can move on.

Yes, it's a he.  Baby Brother, Boy #2, arriving in January. 

To tell the truth, I still feel just a little choked up when I think about having another boy.  I desperately, desperately wanted a little girl, a daughter.  I hoped and prayed and wished for a girl.

And then the ultrasound tech announced, "It's a BOY!"

And I felt an almost instantaneous crushing sadness, a grief that was simultaneous with joy.  A boy?  But I wanted a girl! I was so sure it was girl!  But another boy will be fun! But we wanted to be done having kids after this one - will I ever be able to have a daughter?  And then guilt...the incredible guilt at feeling disappointed.

Guilt because - especially after losing our baby last year - we are finally having a healthy baby...I shouldn't care boy or girl.  People suffering from infertility would commit murder to have this beautiful baby boy - how can I possibly feel disappointed when I am actually so blessed?  Am I ungrateful, horrible person?  Can my precious baby son feel my disappointment, is he going to think he wasn't wanted?  What would others think of me if I confessed my less-than-thrilled feelings?

Truly, Cole has been the most amazing little boy I could ever have dreamed of.  He's wonderful.  And the thought of another fun little boy truly IS exciting... if only it wasn't my last chance for a daughter.  This is our last pregnancy, it was my last chance to have the daughter I always wanted.

More important than pink, more important than sewing and crafting and painting toenails, is the simple fact:  In our family, Chris' best friend is his dad.  My best friend is my mom.  Not that we're not close with our opposite gender parent or anything - we both have wonderful close relationships with them.  But nothing, NOTHING compares to my relationship I have with my mom.  And I desperately wanted that same kind of friendship and closeness with my own daughter. 

Cole loves his daddy more than anything.  Several times a day he'll announce to me lovingly, "DADDY IS MY BOY. I LOVE DADDY."  Chris is literally his hero, his favorite playmate, the person who matters to him more than anything (unless he needs his bum wiped.  Then, of course, only I will do).  While I love their beautiful relationship and take so much happiness in the thoughts of future boy bonding time like campouts and sports events, I feel a little left out. 

I will never make my daughter's Halloween costume or throw her a girly birthday party.  I will never french braid her hair.  I will never go prom or wedding dress shopping with my daughter.  I will never watch the tears in her daddy's eyes as he gives her away.  I will never hold my daughter's hand while she's giving birth to a grandbaby.  All the dreams and hopes and plans I had for a little girl were gone when we heard those words: "Its a boy."

And yes, I'm grieving for that loss.  I always, always thought I'd have a daughter.  I couldn't wait to see Chris holding a precious baby girl in his strong arms, to have that relationship enhance all our lives. 

Having had some time to reflect, I have started to get a little excited.  Boys truly are fun (and probably easier than girls).  I'm blessed with an incredible and wonderful responsibility to raise two amazing boys into good men - kind, loving, tolerant, respectful men.  The world needs more good men and it's a privilege for me to be a part of the process.  Chris and I have discussed possibly having adoption be a part of our future, which would be nothing but positive for everyone involved. 

I know that once Baby Brother arrives, I will love and adore him for just who he is.  I will revel in the joy in his uniqueness from his big brother.  I will anticipate all the growing love we will have for him.  I will watch my three boys (one big and two small) wrestling on the floor and shake my head. 

But yes...I do wonder if I can truly feel as though our family is complete without the little baby girl I always dreamed of. 

Right now, I'm working hard to remind myself that life will unfold just as it should.  Even though I am struggling with disappointment right now, there is a plan at work - I'm just not seeing the whole picture right now.  Maybe we're meant to adopt a beautiful baby girl who wouldn't have a loving home without us.  Maybe we're meant to use our time and resources and parenting in a different way than I had planned.  I'm trying to trust and keep my heart open to all possibilities - and most importantly, to remember what a miracle this baby boy is and how much we all love him already.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Soccer Playing

Cole and Chris, taking advantage of the evenings finally cooling down to kick a soccer ball around:
 Sticking out his tongue while concentrating like a true Brown:

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Every word is truth

Reblogged from the blog A Magical Childhood:

"I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.
Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to ...
write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

 It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our pre-schoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

 So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

 She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.
She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.

 He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.

 She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvellous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

 But more important, here’s what parents need to know.

 That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.

 That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.

 That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.

 That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like lego and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.

 That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Breaking the "Rules"

I'll admit it: I'm somewhat of a Type A personality.

Things - especially in regard to parenting - are very black and white for me.  I don't do halvesies when it comes to my parenting.

Mostly, this is because of my desire to be consistent.  I truly feel as though consistency is the most important aspect of successful parenting - how else can a child learn if the consequences and rules are not always the same?  It's why I strive to always keep my word, to keep consistent expectations regardless of location or situation.

But... something I've learned since becoming a parent... every once in a while, rules were meant to be broken.

Last week, Cole dumped out his entire box of train tracks on the living room floor.  Totally not a big deal - when it comes to Cole playing, I'm super easy going about him being messy.  Creative play takes messiness, you know?  But we were going on Day 3 of having train tracks all over the floor and Cole hadn't played with them all day, so I politely asked him to pick them up.

Sidenote:  I totally lucked out, you guys - Cole is the BEST cleaner upper ever.  I ask once, he does it, every time, without complaining or cajoling.  Not sure how that happened...

Five minutes later, he was STILL patiently putting each train track back into the box.  "WOW, THIS IS A LOT OF TRAIN TRACKS, MAMA! SO MANY!" he sighed once.

As I watched him work so hard, I had a little thought war inside my head.  "I warned him when he asked to dump them out that he would be responsible for putting them all back...maybe he won't dump them all out next time."  "But there's so many of them...would it really hurt for me to help just a little?"  "He has to learn to be responsible for taking care of his own messes and mistakes." 

But I went over and knelt down next to him.  "Would you like some help, son?"

"OH! YES PLEASE, MAMA!" - with the biggest, sunniest smile on his face.

"It will be much faster if we both clean them up, won't it?"


A few minutes later, the mess was cleaned up.

Cole surveyed the room with a proud smile on his face, then threw his arms around me in a completely unprompted hug.  "THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME CLEAN UP MY TRAIN TRACKS, MAMA!  THANK YOU!"

"You are so welcome, darling.  You are so very welcome."

Afterward, I thought about all the times Cole helps ME out, even when it's not "his" mess - unloading the dishwasher, cooking dinner, taking care of the dogs, watering the plants, taking out garbage and recycling, sorting laundry.  Cole is always, ALWAYS a willing (if not always able) helper.  If I want him to stay that way, such a cheerful and willing helpful spirit, sometimes I need to break my rules a little.

And I'm positive I got the better end of that deal...the look on his face as he hugged and thanked me, the slobbery kiss of gratitude - those little moments will stay with me far longer than a lesson in clean up would have stayed with Cole.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Playing Catch

The older Cole gets, the more Chris especially has enjoyed playing with him.  Teaching him to catch and to throw has been high up on Chris' must-do list with Cole - and I'm thankful to announce that Cole has so far NOT shown any sign of my athletic genes (or lack thereof).  While it remains to be seen if he is as freakishly coordinated and athletic as Chris is, we are at least grateful that Cole will not be breaking any windows while throwing a hammer up to anyone on the roof (I really must tell you that story sometime) (yes, I seriously did that. It's right up there in my top ten most embarrassing moments).

 Here's my favorite part of playing with Cole: He never, ever gives up.  He never, ever gets frustrated.  Seriously, NEVER.  He'll make mistakes and the ball will go flying in a crazy direction - he'll run to it, laughing hysterically - it makes no difference to him how "well" he plays, he simply finds the joy in playing.  What a lesson this little boy is teaching.
 ...and, he caught it!
 Daddy's giving some pointers:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mama of Two

Of course, we are thrilled beyond belief about the impending arrival of Baby #2.  We planned and hoped and waited to get pregnant again - and after a few months of seeing those negative pregnancy tests and then unexpectedly seeing those two pink lines - well, there were happy tears.

But I don't think it takes away from our happiness to admit that I'm a tad nervous about being a mama of two.

Let's face it, we've got our family dynamics DOWN.  Cole is sleeping awesome, we have a great routine going on during the day, I feel in control and like an amazing mom the majority of the time.

But now we're going to throw a whole 'nother kink into the mix.  A baby who is not part of the routine, who will change our entire family dynamic.  I'm trying to picture myself taking TWO kids to the park, on walks, to the museum, to the splash park, to the grocery store. 

I know there will be times (FREQUENTLY) that I will have to prioritize myself, when I will only be able to take care of the needs of one of my children.  I remember when I nursing Cole, how I couldn't even get up to answer the phone when he was on the breast - how will I manage that with a demanding toddler as well? 

I remember so well those sleep-deprived early days - how will I have the patience to deal with two children at once?  Will I ever be able to read a book, unload the dishwasher, vacuum my house again?  (Well, honestly, if I never have time to vacuum again, I won't be too fussed.  I actually might be a little relieved.  "Oh shucks, just didn't have time to vacuum AGAIN today.")

Most of all, I'm worried about how Cole will handle this transition.  He's my buddy, he's with me 100% of the day.  He has my full attention whenever he needs it.  He has never known what it is like to feel left out or sad because he doesn't have any experience with that.

In that spirit, we've been working hard to prepare Cole for the realities of Big Brotherhood.  I've been resisting the urge to say, "Aren't you excited to be a big brother?!", because I want him to know that it's ok to NOT be excited.  A huge change is about to take place in our family, one that he had NO say in, and above all I want him to feel whatever he's going to feel without any expectations placed on him.  I've been telling him about how babies cry a lot, how I'll have to pay a lot of attention to the baby and he might feel a little sad or frustrated about that.  I've promised to read to him a lot to help him feel better (something I can do while nursing).  I'm also planning on several one-on-one dates with Cole after the baby arrives.

Tell me, mamas - what are some of the best tips you have for transitioning from one child to two?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Summer in our Back Yard

Without a doubt, I can sum up our summer with memories from our backyard.  Truly, a house with a backyard is the absolute BEST investment we've ever made.  We've spent countless hours back there, getting dirty, running through sprinklers, playing with the dogs - it's been worth its weight in gold.

I adore sitting on our back patio, reading a book and keeping an eye on Cole while he enthusiastically plays with the dogs or in his sandbox.  He doesn't have a playset (yet) or even more than a couple of toys, but he is out there for HOURS with just sticks and balls and mud.

 Using his "lawnmower".  I often think I should get him a toy lawnmower, but then I realize how much better it is for him to use his imagination and pretend.  Why buy him something else when he is perfectly happy with what he already has?
 Oh, this face.  This is Cole's "concentration" face:
What about you?  Where was the majority of your summer spent?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...