Friday, September 19, 2014

To the Zoo!

For the third year running, we have made a trip to the zoo with my Mom-mom and Grandpop. It was Elliott's first time, and we had perfect weather for it. So perfect, in fact, that the zoo balloon was flying and we got to take trip up in it.

                      



We had some great views of the city...



...and a group photo.



Elliott, I do believe you are wearing the same sweatshirt your brother wore on his first trip to the zoo.


Yes, indeed!


After the balloon, it was onto the animals.











If there was climbing to be done, Colter did it.



Colter was excited about the hands-on exhibits at the kids' area, as well as brushing the goats and feeding the ducks. Next year, I hope he is ready to ride the camel and the carousel. 

Thanks for another great zoo trip, Mom-mom and Grandpop!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Who Had a Little Curl?

This is all Keith's doing. Do you see this head of hair, and all those curls?




This kids knows what's coming. And he's not happy about it.


Keith insisted it was time to cut his hair. (To be fair, all the men in the family agreed.) On went the 1" guide on the clippers, off went those lovely curls.


Where did my baby go? Oh, he is growing up too fast.


Haircuts were not a hit on the quarter-acre. And Colter said I needed a trim, but I declined the DIY 'do. Though it has been months since I got a haircut...


The saddest part is that Elliott likes to play with his hair when he gets tired and when he went to do it later that evening, it was barely long enough for him to hold on to. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The No-Text Table

There is something I really struggle with as a stay-at-home mom.

It might not seem like a big thing, but I do think it is an important thing.

It's something I did not even realize until one day last summer, as Colter and I sat at the kitchen table eating lunch, and I looked up from the book I was reading to find him staring at me. Completely silent, just looking at me, while I was completely silent, just reading my book.

I realized that I was pretty poor company over meals, opting to grab a book or a magazine, or the iPad, instead of interacting with my small, impressionable meal buddy. I got into this habit when Colter was a baby, eating meals by myself and reading or doing crossword puzzles. When he started eating at the table, I would often still have meals on my own, eating breakfast before he was up and waiting to eat lunch after he went down for a nap. As he got older and ate with me, I never really got out of the habit. So I decided last summer there would be no more reading at the table. No reading books or magazines, and no texting, "text" encompassing pretty much anything with written words.

Sometimes it is easy, because Colter is chatty or Elliott needs help eating with a spoon and there wouldn't be time to read anyway. Other times, I just want to disconnect for a brief bit of time. Isn't that what lunch breaks are for in the working world? A bit of a respite from the nose-to-the-grindstone nature of the day? Forget it when you share your lunch break with small kids.

I'm not always so good about it. Kids seem to eat at two speeds: devour and savor...every...last...morsel.  On those savoring days, I have been known to flip through the mail, look through catalogs at things I'll never buy, or go start on the dishes. As of late, I have found that keeping a knitting project handy encourages me to sit and engage with my little humans without feeling bored. (I can hear it now. Someone out there is saying, "She feels bored around her children? What a terrible mother!" They are precious and wonderful and all that, but I do not have an answer to the fifth rendition of "But why do I have grapes on my plate?", and even if I did, the exchange could never be mistaken for stimulating conversation.)

During meals when Keith is home, we are pretty good about not texting or answering the phone. Keith is actually better than I am; he typically sets his phone down when he comes in the door and doesn't touch it until the boys are in bed. I have started to leave my phone in the kitchen or on my desk during the day, where I can hear it if it rings but it is just out of the way enough that I am not inclined to check it frequently. Check it for what, I don't know. I'm not exactly a social butterfly. Even putting the iPad and the kindle away in a drawer helps me not to pick either up in a moment of restlessness.

My aim is just to be more present, more of the time with them. Obviously, I am here all the time with them, but sometimes after the seventeenth "uh-huh," I'll turn to see Colter looking at me and I know he knows I am not truly paying attention to him. I am prone to the distractions of good books and funny blogs, the news and what the neighbors are doing, the dirty dishes and the load of laundry needing to be folded (usually in that order too.) So the no-text table is simply about carving out a bit of time, limiting the distractions, and interacting with my kids.

Can we let it slide that the knitting patterns have words, though?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And That's That

For all the things I've written about on the blog, one I've barely mentioned is nursing. I know breastfeeding is the popular term, but truly I prefer nursing. Breastfeeding sounds so, well, like we are talking about my boobs as opposed to feeding my babies. And I really don't want to talk about my boobs.

Anyway. I'm done nursing. Rather, Elliott is done nursing. I can't even tell you what day was his last day. Sometime mid-August. Much like Colter, there was no active weaning. For awhile, he was down to only morning and night feedings, then I was out late one night and he went to bed without nursing, and without a fuss. So I stopped feeding him at night. The morning feeding hung in there for a few more days, mostly because Elliott and Colter don't always get up at the same time and I could nurse Elliott and then we would all eat breakfast together. Then there were a few days in a row where they were up at the same time and we just came downstairs and ate breakfast straightaway. And he never missed a beat.

Both boys were completely weaned, with no fuss, right around ten or ten-and-a-half months. Sometime after Colter stopped nursing, a friend told me about an article she read that most kids self-wean when they begin to walk, part of an evolutionary thing because they are physically able to move away from their mothers on their own. I don't know the science behind that, but it fits with my boys; Colter was walking steadily by the time he weaned, Elliott began cruising furniture and taking little steps around the time he stopped nursing.

I also heard, sometime between Colter and Elliott, about the weaning method "don't offer, don't refuse." Basically, don't sit down and try to feed the baby, but if he's looking for it, don't push him away. I think I pushed nursing longer with Colter, but was more along these lines with Elliott. I just let it be on their own time, and wasn't worried about the calendar or how old they were.

I am glad that nursing was, overall, a pretty easy and natural experience for me both times around. There was a bit of a rough start with Colter, but both boys took to it well and I got comfortable with it. It was a huge help to have Keith be so supportive, and extended family and friends that accepted and accommodated us while each of the boys were nursing. Keith and I both felt that it would be the best thing for our boys and our family, and I'm glad to have done it for them. I am lucky in that I didn't have to pump very much or very often, and I give a lot of credit to moms who go back to work and stick with nursing and pumping. I'm not sure I would have been as committed if I had to hook myself up to a machine instead of my baby.

Just like nursing bras, nursing is not one-size-fits all, and I'm not a lactation specialist, so my experience is almost certainly going to differ from any other mom's. Here's the little bit I can offer though, just in case it might be useful to someone else. It helps to mentally commit to it beforehand. It takes a couple weeks for mom and baby to get really comfortable with it, so stick with it. (Someone told me three weeks is the magic number; that sounds about right.) A Boppy is really nice to have. I never got the hang of a nursing cover but I've seen other people use them and really like them. Sometimes it was tough to always be the one on-call for feedings, or to leave a gathering to sit and nurse. I found when the daytime feedings tapered off, I missed that break built into my day where all I had to do was sit and feed the baby. And maybe read a book while I did it. Lanolin or some other protective cream is your friend. Watch out when the teeth come in. Don't worry about all the hype that sometimes accompanies nursing; I know people that are comfortable nursing at a table at a restaurant, and I preferred to sit in the car, a dressing room, or on a quiet bench somewhere when we were out and about. Find your comfort zone, and let it be about you and your baby. It doesn't need to be a statement.

With all that said, I am fine with it being finished. I am glad to not have to worry about where and when to feed a baby, and what to wear to make it easier and avoid flashing anybody. (Anybody who knows me and has been flashed, I'm sorry. I really tried not to go all National Geographic on anybody.) I guess the research says nursing creates all kinds of bonding chemicals that are important early on, but I did not feel any need to extend that bond by nursing beyond infancy. Believe me, these kids are bonded. They won't leave me alone.

All in all, nursing being over feels rather anticlimactic. I am not sad it is over,  nor am I ecstatic to be done. From the start, nursing my babies felt like the most natural and right thing for them, and for me, and it is only natural that it runs it's course.

I am going to miss that built-in calorie burner though. I will have to go a little easier on the nightly bowl of ice cream now.

And since a post wouldn't be complete without a picture, here's a little photo challenge for you. Can you guess whether or not I'm nursing Elliott here?


And the answer is: who cares? Look at the smile on Colter's face!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy 7

Seven years today. Seven years of being married to a wonderful man, a thoughtful husband, and an amazing father.



I'm so lucky to have found such a good man to put up with me. Happy anniversary Keith!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Grinching

I have been told a story of my brother and cousin piling every last one of my brother's toys on his bed, sitting on top, and telling my mom they were playing Grinch.

Colter has never seen the Grinch, but somehow he knew exactly what to do, all on his own.


And, like the original Grinch, he likes to be pantless.






There used to be toys here...


I think, perhaps, it is time to pare down the toy selection.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chatting with the C-Man

Ready for some more of Colter's wisdom? Here's what has made us smile recently.


Colter: Elliott had big hands. Now Elliott has little hands. Elliott took off his big hands and Elliott put on his little hands.

Colter: I'm just growing horns.

(Conversation about carnivals going on at the dinner table.)
Colter: That's what Carmela has in her belly. There's a carnival in her belly.

Colter: (to me) I'll get taller and you'll get littler and then I'll babysit you.

Colter: (after sneezing several times in the yard) Sometimes I just put my snot right in the grass.

Colter: Horseradish mustard? That's what the horses put on their cheese sandwiches?

Colter: (watching a truck pull a tractor backwards) The truck is going forwards and the tractor is going backwards. They are going in both directions at once.

Me: Look, that's a picture of your baby cousin in Carmela's belly.
Colter: I think Carmela just ate my baby cousin.

Colter: (stops in his tracks while walking) I just ran out of walking.

Colter: Dear God, please keep my family safe and happy and healthy. Almonds.

Colter: (slapping his forehead with his hand) I am just cracking my head and I will be a pistachio!

Colter: Why are your toenails red?
Me: Because I painted them.
Colter: Why did you paint your toenails red?
Me: Because I wanted them to be pretty. Would you like me to paint your toenails?
Colter: No, my toenails are already pretty.

Our friend Mego: How old are you?
Colter: Old enough!

(While at the pharmacy)
Colter: Who is that man?
Me: He's the pharmacist.
Colter: A farmer?
Me: No, a pharmacist.
Colter: He has hair like a farmer.
(The pharmacist had dark hair and a beard like Popper, the #1 farmer in Colter's life.)

Colter: (building a pillow castle) Elliott, come in! We'll cover ourselves with pillows and live happily every after!

Colter: (looking at Elliott's belly) He just has another baby inside him.

(Colter has been using the word "love" a lot..."I love this pickle. I love this cartoon. I love this tractor.")
Me: Do you love Elliott?
Colter: A little bit.

Me: (tucking Colter in) I love you.
Colter: Ok.
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