Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Family Fun Time Recap

A couple weeks ago my mom called me saying she'd found a stellar deal to fly out for the last weekend in March. Did it work for us to have her out? YES! My step-dad Philip decided to come along, too, since the fares were so cheap, and then when I told Jenny she was so excited (and thankfully, free of work obligations) to come on down for the weekend as well. Our guest quarters are kind of nonexistent, but we made it work, and we were all quite glad to be in such cozy arrangements together. Sort-of random aside: I am yet again reminded of how great it is to have family that I not only get along with but enjoy being around, and how lucky I am for that.
Mom&Philip visit-1
Mom&Philip visit-17
Jenny arrived via Caltrain mid-morning on Saturday. Mom and Philip were delayed somewhat but got her shortly after noon. D was sleeping at the time, and woke up a bit cranky-- I was worried he'd be in a bad mood for receiving his new guests. But, he cheered up after a few minutes and in no time was happily showing off his walking skills, going from Grandma to Papa to Aunt Jen with a big grin on his face, only occasionally coming over to me for a quick security break. I kinda felt like the "home base" in a game of tag. ; )
Mom&Philip visit-31
Mom&Philip visit-25
It was a gorgeous, warm, sunny afternoon so we all headed outdoors to a local old-fashioned-styled outdoor mall area to grab some food and walk around a bit. D got to play with the large chess set and pieces there, and we spotted a Bernese mountain dog (traditional swiss) which was a kick for Zach and I. I took a few pictures there but don't have them up yet b/c they're on the point-and-shoot camera. After heading home we hung out on our front patio, where D discovered Papa's spoon and the cool sound it makes when clinked against the sides of his glass and proceeded to repeat that activity for a good half hour or so. That night Zach and I each had plans, me for a girl's night and Zach to go watch a local soccer game. The grandparents put D to bed, without too much of a fuss apparently. When I got home after my dinner out I was greeted by the warm scent of fresh-baked oatmeal cookies, and silently congratulated myself for having bought that tub of Quaker Oats a few weeks ago as a breakfast alternative.
Mom&Philip visit-38
Mom&Philip visit-64
Sunday D woke up very early (4:30 or so...), as he's been doing the past week or so. It was nice to have some reinforcements for once, with Jenny and Mom waking up just about right away and letting me get back to bed to sleep in a bit. We made a late-ish venture over to the farmer's market where Zach and Philip shopped while Jenny, Mom, D, and I walked past all the booths to let Mom see everything, and then strolled into the cute "green" yarn shop along one block to show Mom. Eventually we walked back home, where Philip prepared omelets for lunch and D got a chance to nap before we walked on over to Cyrus and Julia's to watch the UNC v. OU game and so Zach and Cy could brew some beer. Bejamin and Karen also stopped by, so it kinda turned into a nice little party. We experienced yet again how strong D's jealous streak is already-- at one point he was eating a snack in Sophia's high chair and I was holding Sophia in another room. D was fine and happy until the moment I walked into his line of sight holding Another Baby, when he spontaneously combusted into a torrent of tears and screams. It was truly a site to see. He had to sit holing my face for a few minutes before he was reassured. We later on decided to test if he'd have the same reaction if he saw Zach holding another baby... and the answer is yes. Which I think made Zach feel pretty good, actually.
Mom&Philip visit-55
As 6pm approached, and the beer was mostly ready, we walked back home to get D started on his dinner and bedtime routine. Philip whipped up a fabulous meal (that's part of the reason we keep him around, really, he's quite the cook, and then Mom always cleans up after him so they're kind of the perfect pair to have as guests), and then once we'd all had a nice dinner and some wine, Zach drove Jenny to the Caltrain station for her return to SF.
Mom&Philip visit-62
Mom&Philip visit-67
Zach stayed home a bit longer than usual Monday morning, allowing us all to have breakfast together before he left at about 9am. It hadn't hit me till the night before that having grandparents around meant I could ditch the kid leave D with them and go have some time to myself. Before leaving for Switzerland one of my favorite little personal treats was going to a local Borders during a weekday (since it's packed on weekends), grabbing the latest round of celebrity gossip mags, buying a yummy drink and then sitting at the cafe reading the magazines. So I decided that would be my treat for the day. I think it was the first time I'd really left D for an unspecified amount of time, not needing to feel like I had to rush back, and I have to say it was pretty darn nice. Now if I could only convince them to move out here so we could do this all the time... ; )
Mom&Philip visit-70
Mom&Philip visit-76
Eventually the afternoon wore on and it was time to take them to the airport. Too short of a trip, really, but so nice to get to have it anyway. It was their first time out since we moved back, so first time to see our new place, and while they saw lots of D at Christmas he's still changed so much since then. They have another trip planned for the summer, that time for 3 weeks, and I think we're all pretty eagerly looking forward to that.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Move Over, Picasso

Mom and Philip left today. We had a great, if too-short, weekend. It's always so fun to watch the grandparents playing with Donovan, and he had such a great time with them, too. I have lots more to say about their visit, but think I'll hold off on writing about it till tomorrow when I'll (hopefully) have pictures ready to post along with it.

Instead, today I will present you with Donovan's first piece of artwork!

A couple times I've handed him a pen/pencil/marker and a piece of paper to see if he'd make any attempt to draw, and he's never had any interest at all. Then today I was trying to measure his feet so I could know which size of shoes to order for him (think I'll be getting him a pair of Keen sandals for summer-- pricey, but I love the anti-toe-stubbing coverage, and Zach also has a pair and how cute will it be for them to have matching shoes??? Ok sorry). So I grabbed D, the sizer print-out, and a pen to mark off his size and as I was trying to position his feet on the paper he grabbed my pen and made a few marks on the paper-- I think accidentally at first, but then he started getting more into it. I tried turning the paper over to the blank side for him, but he got upset and turned it back over--he wanted the printed side. The funniest part was that every few minutes he'd stop scribbling and slap his foot on the paper, in immitation of how I was trying to get his foot on the marks to measure! Then he'd scribble some more.

It was awesome. And of course, I have written his name and date on the paper, and we will be saving this as a keepsake. =)

I'm so excited to get him started on art projects, so this was just really cool. I keep wanting to buy him crayons or sidewalk chalk, etc, but they're always listed as for kids way older than him... but I don't know, maybe we'll just try it anyway. Julia was also talking about doing a baby finger-painting experiment with D and Sophia sometime this week, which would probably end up being a huge mess... and completely awesome.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

quick post

Mom, my step-dad Philip, and sister Jenny all arrived today, from both near and far. It's a glorious summer-like day, so we've been out and about. They're all loving being with Donovan, and he seems to think they're pretty cool, too. I'm about to get ready for a girl's night, and Zach's gonna go to a local soccer game, while the 'rents (and Jen) baby-sit.

Life is good. =)

Friday, March 27, 2009

moments of homesickness

Most of the time I'm so happy to be back here in California. I love living here. I love the glorious weather and sunshine that graces us 80% of the year. I love the friends we have here, and planning playdates with them and their babies who are all within a year of Donovan in age. I love calling my sister or mom without having to think about what time it is there and if I'm within that short window of time during which it's reasonable and appropriate to call. I don't doubt or regret our decision to move back.
Donovan playing in the dirt here at home.


But then there's moments like two days ago: sitting on our front step watching D play in our enclosed patio. A patio that I suddenly realized was very similar to the one in our house in Switzerland. And I started to think about what it'd be like if we still lived there, picturing D playing just outside that house instead of this one. I thought of how fascinated he would probably be by the frequent buses and horses that passed by just outside our front gate. He'd play with the plants and the dirt there, and likely play with the slugs that always came out when it rained. Geneva got tons of snow this winter, so we would have barely needed to step outside our front door for him to experience it firsthand. There was a playground at the school down the street. It was right across from the horse stables. I probably would take D to that playscape most sunny days. We would go walking along the trails, and probably go visit Michelle and Gerard often-- who would probably teach D quite a bit of French.

Our patio in Switzerland, in the spring and below after a snowfall.
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Winter Wonderland

I think of these things, and of course miss them all. It'd be nice to live parallel lives sometimes, get the benefits of both worlds. But, that's not possible, and here we are, and again I am very happy with the choices we've made. My mom and step-dad are flying in tomorrow for the weekend, a trip planned just a few weeks ago thanks to cheap airfare. Jenny will be joining us for the weekend, coming down from the city. This is exactly why we moved back, to be closer to these people and make it easier for all of us to get together. And the life we had in Switzerland was "fake" in many ways-- we could have never afforded that house had we not had a healthy expat package. Still, it'd be impossible not to miss that life sometimes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Swim Class

*
Today was D's first swim lesson! I've been super excited about this for a while. Once he got over some initial issues with his bath (or the getting-out-and-dressed part, anyway) during his first 3ish months, he's ever since seemed to LOVE water. Bath time is great fun, giving him water out of a regular cup is tough b/c he loves to stick his fingers in it, and the few times we've made it to a pool he's had loads of fun splashing and just enjoying the water. Just the other day he discovered small puddles of water outside from runoff after water some plants and he was fascinated by slapping the wet ground with his hands. So I figured swim lessons? This would be a BLAST!

Unfortunately it may take a big more getting used to than I'd anticipated. He did fine, really, just I think a bit overwhelmed. When we got there and the class before us was finishing he seemed excited and was pointing at the water, but when we got in he got a little nervous. His thumb stayed in his mouth almost the entire time, and he kept trying to smoosh his face against mine, which is what he does when he needs comfort. It was a bit loud (our class was only 2 other kids, but across the pool was another class with older kids) which I guess did it a bit. He also was tired-- woke up an hour earlier than usual this morning, which meant his first nap was earlier than usual, and thus by 11am he usually is awake and fine but today was getting pooped. He even fell asleep in the car on the way back, which he hasn't done in a while. But, overall there was only a couple of minutes of whimpering and at the end he even gave a few giggles, so I think after a week or 2 he'll be loving it.

The class was 30 minutes long and fairly basic to begin with. The age range for the class is 12-24 months. One girl who I think was a bit older than D had clearly been taking lessons for a while, and was putting her head underwater and everything. Another boy about D's age was also just starting, and loved the whole thing. The teacher was super nice, and showed us how to get in and out of the pool safely, and we worked on trying to teach the kiddoes how to kick, start showing them how to float on their backs, and also just did some games.

Part of me wonders if I should've signed D up for this sooner-- mainly thinking how I'm trying now to teach him to kick, and remembering his first time in a pool (at about 4-5 months old, in Texas) how he was kicking instinctively. But I also doubt long term it'll make any sort of difference, and he'll probably be getting the hang of it all pretty quickly.

Meanwhile, I'll take D's cue after his interest in the water puddles from the other day, and find a shallow tupperware box to use as a water table for outdoor play, since it's getting warmer now. Am pretty sure he'll love that. =)

*No, the pictures aren't of him at the pool, but I figured him in the bath tub would be close enough...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Uh oh... picky eater on the horizon?

We've been pretty lucky so far in that D's been very open to most foods that he tries. He eats a combination of toddler snacks, "real people food" (our leftovers, etc), and some pureed food, and could usually be counted on to eat most of what's presented to him.

However in the past few weeks he's started to show signs of... picky eating. Foods that used to be absolute favorites before (sweet potatoes), are now getting turned away. He's started doing this thing where if we give him a bite of something he deems "unworthy" he'll open his mouth wide and let it fall out. And more and more, I'm finding myself scrambling to offer him 4, 5, 6 options to find something he'll actually eat for snack or meal time. This is most disheartening when I know he's really hungry, and I've got something that I thought he'd absolutely love (like last night's pasta, usually a winner) and he then rejects it.

I've seen lots of advice about how to deal with picky eating-- offer a limited variety of foods, try to make sure there's always something you know they like, don't fall into always giving the few favorite foods, etc. But as usual, knowing these tips and implementing them are two quite different things. Not to mention that I have nothing against the idea of teaching him to eat what's offered to him, it's the grumpy, hungry toddler I have to deal with afterwards that makes me cringe.

All part and parcel of this parenting gig, I suppose. I'm trying to plan better to have a variety of foods stocked at home at all times (I'm pretty bad at planning that sort of thing out, so will take some effort) so I have a decent arsenal from which to choose and offer. And I'm trying not to get frustrated by the whole process, as I don't want to associate that sort of negativity with eating (for either of us). Part of me thinks it'll maybe feel a bit easier when he's a little older and I have a better sense of him at least understanding me and the rules I'm laying down. However I think that same part of me's possibly underestimating the Power of Toddler Will Power...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Two Things

Am tired and don't have much to report today, so instead I'll leave y'all with two quick things:

1. This uber-adorable photo of Zach and Donovan (seriously, does it get any cuter than this?)


2) Go to my sister's blog and read her solution to the AIG bonuses debaucle. I think we can all agree it's the way to go. ; )

Goodnight!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Improvements


Well, D was actually in a much better mood today. And, he showed off all sorts of cool new tricks, like signing "more" back to me for the first time, and repeating it at a few different meal times today (he may also have signed "all done" but I'm not as positive about that one). And he's starting to figure out what a spoon and fork are for. Also at one point today I was laying on the floor by D and he lifted my shirt up and tried to tickle my belly. So cute! Oh, and we scored some great loot for the patio (two kid-sized plastic chairs, a toy truck, toy shopping cart) from a neighbor down the street who was getting rid of it all. Woot!

AND! I'm very excited about this-- I signed us up for swim classes, which start Thursday and will go on for 12 weeks. D has been a big fan of water the times he's encountered it, both in the bath rub and the few times we got out to a pool last summer/fall, and I'm pretty sure he's gonna love getting in the water for the classes. I'm psyched. I need to make sure the swim suit I bought him last month fits well enough, and also get him a pair of swim diapers (must be cloth, as per class rules, which is fine by me), and then we'll be set. =)

All that aside, I still feel dead tired today so I think I'll be heading to bed early tonight.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Terrible Just-Over-One-Year-Olds


By the end of each of the past several days, I have felt so exhausted, achy, and drained of energy. Donovan has become a bit, um, difficult to deal with. Everything seems to set him off. He's not throwing tantrums, just gets whiny and cries when things don't seem to go his way, or when he falls one too many times, or when he feels a shift in the time-space continuum. Or something. Zach's had a slight cold for the past week, and D's had a runny nose off and on as well so maybe he's feeling sick. Or maybe he's teething (I thought I saw a molar under his gums but it's hard to tell since he's not too keen on letting me get a good look in his mouth). Or maybe he's just getting a head-start on the Terrible Twos. I prefer to think it's one of the former causes, b/c those are temporary whereas the Terrible Twos option means I'm in for a few years of this unbelievable crankiness.

I think I've found a few tips that help minimize the grumpiness. Sometimes, D just wants to snuggle and that alone will calm him down. Other times he seems to need to go outside and play, or just going somewhere and walking in the stroller will do. I also think I need to get more serious about using sign language with him-- I've used a few signs off and on but haven't been very consistent, and some of his current frustrations seem to come from not being able to express what he wants so hopefully if I get better at signing consistently he'll pick it up and that'll help. I know he's too young to expect much out of him as far as communication goes, but it would be nice to give him an alternative way to express things like "I'm hungry" or "I'm tired" or "I'm finished eating" that don't include tears and high-pitched sounds.

I know this is a phase and that it will pass. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later, but till then we probably should make an effort to goto bed earlier to make up for it.

six word sunday: The patient will have their reward.

The patient will have their reward.
six word sunday challenge

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Outdoorsmen

Donovan is turning out to be very much like his dad, at least in some respects. One of them is his apparent love of the outdoors. He has always loved going on walks, hardly ever fussing in his stroller (at least not while it's in motion), and Zach's been taking him out a lot in the backpack carrier which D seems to also adore. D has also started showing very clear signs of wanting to go outside when we're playing at home, and gets very excited when I put his shoes on and start heading towards the door with him. He may not quite have caught up with his father's history (Zach's first words were apparently "Wanna go outside" uttered before his first birthday) but I think he's following fairly close.

We've taken D on many short walks (~20mins) around the neighborhood in the backpack carrier, but have been wondering how D would fare on a longer hike. Last weekend we decided to try it out and took him out to a nearby hiking trail. As expected, D loved it. We walked up and down one trail for about half an hour, then came to a farmhouse where we took a short break to give D a snack and let him look at some of the animals (turns out they only had a pig out that day). Then he went right back in the backpack to finish off the hike. It all went really well, which I realize is no guarantee that it'll go well next time, but it's nice to know that we can try to take him out hiking again and he's got a good chance of having a good time.

Here's a few photos from the hike:





More photos over here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Good Day/Bad Day

Today was both a great day, and a not-so-great day. D seemed to have woken up on the wrong side of the crib, and has remained kinda cranky all day long. It didn't help that at snack time this morning he managed to PUSH HIS HIGH CHAIR BACK ONTO THE FLOOR. Yes, while still sitting on it. Luckily he was ok 5 minutes later, back to playing and babbling as usual, but hoooly cow. He had another couple semi-nasty falls today, but he always returned to normal after a few minutes of crying so I figure he's ok. Thank God for thick skulls.

We did meet up with a couple friends at a park today, including Monika and her daughter Audrey (6 months older than D), and Eugenia who's an old friend I haven't seen since before we moved to Switzerland. It was tough to truly catch up since every time we started talking D would run off, but hopefully we'll get together again soon and be able to talk more calmly.

D and I spent a bit of time playing outside in the late afternoon, and as I watched him walking everywhere holding various toys I realized that I haven't seen him crawl hardly at all the past few days. He's been walking tons, but up till recently if he fell he'd continue on on all fours. Now, he takes the time to get back up on his feet. Very cool. =)

About a week or 2 ago I pick up Diaper-Free Before Three again and started thinking again about trying to potty train D. I like the approach of the book, which seems pretty casual, laid-back, and open to following the needs of the child. The books lists 3 steps/phases for potty training: 1) get a potty and allow the child to become familiar with it, letting them sit in it for a few minutes at a time or whatever they feel comfortable doing, 2) start putting the child on the potty on a sort of schedule throughout the day (before/after naps, after meals, about every 2 hours...). When the child seems to be "getting it" and actually going on the potty some of the time, put them in cotton pants at least part-time to help the process, and 3) maintaining good habits (go to the potty regularly throughout the day, not waiting for child to "need to go").

I went ahead and got a potty chair, curious to see what D would think of it. I tried sitting him on it before his bath a few times, but he wasn't at all interested. Then one day I was in the bathroom and D came in with me as he often does and I thought to sit him down (pants on) and he actually liked it. Like, a lot. He kept sitting, then standing, then sitting on it again. Very cute. Since then I've sat him on it a couple more times and he's seemed cool with it, and then tonight Zach was getting D's bath ready and shouted out to me that D was trying to sit on the potty all on his own, no prompting. Then he stood back up, started playing with the potty chair... and peed on the bath mat! lol

I have no idea how quickly we may or may not progress with this-- I'm certainly not going to push this very hard, and will just follow his lead on how interested he is. I am intrigued by the fact that up till a few decades ago most children in the US were fully potty-trained by 18months-2 years of age. I'm thinking that maybe in the summer when it's warm, if he seems ready for it, we might try going with cotton pants/pantsless for part of the day while we're at home. I'm in no particular rush to do this before he's 2, but if I wait till February it'll be too cold to let him go unclothed at home (we have a decent heater, but this house has incredibly crappy insulation so still gets quite cold). So, we'll see. It's an adventure with no set timeline.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

the wheels are turning...

D and I went to the mall today, mostly to browse and get out of the house and give D a chance to rest up in the stroller a bit. His nose is still a bit runny and seems slightly warm to me (though no fever). He did great, just chilled in the stroller hardly ever letting our a peep, gathering lots and lots of compliments along the way.

And I was actually pretty good, considering how many super cute things there were at the mall today. Like when I walked into Pottery Barn Kids and wanted to buy half the store, including lots of very cool wooden toys and Easter baskets and a pair of bunny ears that I might just have to go back for. And then there was GapBaby, where the boy clothes were OK but ohmygoodness the dresses! The little girl dresses! It is insane how adorable girl clothes are.

I also really want a shelf like this one (didn't see it in the store, but brought home a catalogue to drool over) for D's room, someplace to have a few books on display so he can actually see the cover. There's a couple bookshelves in the Michael Olaf catalogue, too, they're a bit bigger, so I'll have to send some time comparing and deciding which style makes more sense for the space.

And while I've got home decor on the brain, I'm looking out to our patio and thinking I want to set up a play area for D out there. We actually have a little sink and some cabinet space out there which would be perfect for housing some toys. I have a couple things that I think could be relegated to outdoor equipment, but I'll also want to get some buckets and balls, and a little table and chairs for him, too. I know I'll probably have to take my time setting it all up and getting all the stuff, but it's really fun and exciting to think about. =)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

playing hooky


Zach came home early yesterday b/c he didn't feel well. This morning he felt better, but stayed home anyway to give himself a chance to rest up and get all the way better. It was kinda nice having him home today, got in a nice family day together. D's also got a runny nose and might not be feeling so hot, but wasn't too bad mood-wise, so we all stayed at home and didn't even get out of our pjs till 3pm. We did go for a walk in the afternoon to soak up the sunshine-- and also it's a good way to get D to rest, as otherwise when he's awake he's constantly walking back and forth across the length of the entire house. So that was nice, and then we came back and all lounged on the bed together for a while before dinner. D loved it, he's such a cuddle bug so having both mom and dad there to snuggle with was heavenly. =)

I think I'm gonna sign D up for mom-and-me swim classes, starting as early as next week. Just need to figure out which day to do it. One of our friends is gonna have her husband take their daughter as a father-daughter thing on Sundays, which is such a cute idea, but Zach's not too into water or swimming so I think it'll be me taking him sometime during the week. I'm excited, D has loved water so far and I want to take advantage of this phase while he's still in it. And it probably isn't a bad thing for him to learn any basic water skills they might teach him (not that we'll be throwing him in the pool to fend for himself any time soon). But yeah, I think it'll be fun. We'll see how it goes. =)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

six years

It was six years ago tonight that Zach and I got engaged, or as some people put it, decided to "quit breaking up and just get married already." Think it might've been the best decision we ever made. ; )

PS- Is it fitting that after getting engaged on St Patrick's Day, we then named our first kid "Donovan?" Didn't really do either of those on purpose, just funny how it works out... especially since neither of us actually has that much Irish in us...

Monday, March 16, 2009

the saga, resolved: Part 2

At the last Car Seat Shopping Debacle Update, I had just bought the Britax Roundabout online and was waiting for a CPS Tech to come check the installation of the Cosco Scenera we already had. Well, then the tech came, and she was really helpful and super nice, and I mentioned that I'd just ordered the Roundabout and she looks at me and says, "Is there any way you can trade that for a Marathon, instead?"

And she convinced me to try it. She actually had a Marathon in her car that her son uses, so she was able to pull it out and put it in the Fit to show us how it would workj space-wise (quite well, actually). Then she explained that although both the Roundabout and the Marathon can rear-face up to 35lb, but the fact that the harness slots of the Marathon are higher than the Roundabout (and that most kids outgrow their seats by height before weight) means that D could potentially sit rear-facing even longer in the Marathon. I'm not sure I'm crazy about the idea of D sitting backwards till he's potentially 4+ yrs old, but then again if it really is that much safer then it seems a small sacrifice to make, right?

My biggest reason for opting for the Roundabout was a concern for the size of the seat so being able to actually see it in the car and see that it would fit fine did it for me. Luckily Amazon hadn't shipped the Roundabout yet so I was able to call and cancel the order, and then we found Marathons for sale at Costco.com for $230 (which btw includes 2-day shipping) and now lil' D is riding in style in his Britax Marathon car seat.

If that whole story seemed totally confusing, it's because it is and I'm very impressed with anyone who's actually kept up with the whole saga.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the Marathon so far. It was ridiculously easy to install with LATCH, and I even got the rear-facing tether attached. I'm having slight issues getting the harness as tight as I'd like (and having to untwist the supposedly twist-free straps), but I'm pretty sure it's safe enough as it is. And D seems pretty comfortable and happy in it. =)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Random Thoughts on a Saturday Night

  • Goodness, I think I need to get working on a new profile picture. I took the current one in September or October, I think, and D looks so different to me now.
  • I got the new issue of Real Simple in the mail yesterday, and flipping through it already seems like a great one. I love that magazine (even if the name isn't grammatically correct).
  • One of the articles in the magazine was a list of one woman's eco-friendly beauty & skincare products. I've been debating for a while about ditching my current gear and switching to more natural products. Recent articles about formaldahyde in baby bath & lotion products, and the apparent lack of regulation of beauty products in general (not to mention the 13 month old that constantly smushes his face up against mine all day long), is kinda pushing me over to maybe make this change sooner than later. Hmmm...
  • Little Mister's been kinda cranky today (and woke up once at 3am last night, and has already woken up once tonight since going to bed at 7pm), which means that Zach and I have also been somewhat cranky today. So I think we'll be going to bed early. Or, at least we meant to, yet it is somehow already 10pm. Oh well.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Proud Mommy Moments

Quick story-- so you know that sound you make when you go "aaaaaaah" but lightly tap your mouth with your hand to break up the sound? The past month or 2 I've done that for D every once in a while, and he always finds it funny. Then I'll try tapping his mouth so see if he'll go "aaaah" along with it, but he'll just kinda smile and laugh and is probably thinking what a looney of a mother he has.

Well. Today we were at the park and he was happily swinging in a swing, and he was kinda babbling and I started going the "aaah" mouth-tapping thing... AND HE DID IT BACK. With his own hand and everything!! And we went back and forth like that 3 times, and he did it EACH TIME. The flirting teenagers sitting on the monkeybars must've thought I was nuts b/c I was so excited. It was just so unexpected, and it's always so cool to see him imitate something I show him.

Also, I'm counting "mama" as D's first word. It's funny, I'm not as excited about that as I am about the mouth-tapping thing, b/c this one feels kinda made up in a way. I mean, technically a baby's "first word" is when they make a certain sound and attach "meaning" to it. Seeing as he babbles constantly, and is also constantly pointing at things and doing stuff, it's kinda hard to figure out when he means anything with the babbles and when he's just babbling. "Mamamama" is probably the most common sound he makes. But today, he said a fairly clear "mama" while reaching his arms to me as I was changing his diaper. So I have made the executive decision to call this his "first word." He later went "mama" at the cat, and at his toys, and at his food, but still, I'm claiming it. Because I can. After all, I'm the Mama. ; )

Tomorrow I'll have to see if I can get him to repeat the mouth-tapping thing and catch it on video. And maybe a high-five, too...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In utter awe, as usual

Time always seems to kinda slow down right at 5pm-- I know Zach'll be home soon, but it might still be a half-hour (or longer) till he's home, and D is often a bit crabby by the end of the day. So the past few days I've started taking D out on his wagon along our street. First I'd just take him up and down our street, yesterday we also went around the block a couple times. He'll kinda just sit there, looking super-serious while looking out at everything, which I think means he likes it. I haven't wanted to venture too far b/c I don't know how long he'll sit before trying to climb out, but so far he's been great about it and has only tried to stand up when the wagon is stopped, and I have the handle leaning up against the wagon side and he tries to reach for it. I'm hoping that eventually we can take the wagon down to the park, or even to the farmer's market as he gets a little older. =)

Yesterday we came back wit hthe wagon and since it wa still nice and light out, I figured we'd stay in the enclosed patio. I left the wagon out, and D walked over to it, picked up the handle, and started pushing. He pushed the wagon, little by little, about 5 whole feet till it was up against the fence! He's definitely entered that stage of wanting to hold/push very heavy things as he walks around. Pretty impressive. It's also so cool now that he's walking almost exclusively, and I can take hime outside and trust his blance pretty well. It makes outdoor time so much more feasable and enjoyable, letting him walk around on his own without worrying about what he's getting on his hands (and then into his mouth, as he inevitably goes to suck his thumb) as he crawls.

Today D was playing in the living room and then I noticed that he grabbed both his shoes off the table, and was walking around with them in his hands, and then went over to the front door and started banging it. Could he be trying to tell me he wants to go outside? I think he was. I put his shoes on and we walked outside and we blew bubbles a bit, then spent about 20 minutes just opening and closing the gate door. It's so very cool to see him expressing himself more, to see him have an idea (wanting to go outside), try to get it across to me, and then see him be delighted when we actually do it.

I keep looking at him as he walks and babbles and points and goes about his business, so obviously having clear ideas of exactly what he wants to do and seeming so grown up, and I try to remember how small he used to be and it's just... incredible. That this:
Baby's first trip into Genevaday9
Has become this:

What amazing creatures we human beings are. To think of all the complex processes that are going on to help produce this growth and change, all the factors that need to add up right, etc... To think that one of the most common, every-day occurrences in the world-- a child growing up-- is also one of the most awe-inspiring.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

saying hello, from over there

Meg over at SewLiberated kindly asked me to be one of her guest bloggers this week. Honored and excited, I of course said yes. So if you have a minute, head on over to read my post on thew topic of the week, "Motherhood is..." I've been reading Meg's blog for a while, since back when she was living in Mexico working as a Montessori teacher. Now she's in North Carolina and just a few months away from being a mommy herself. I love looking through her photographs and taking inspiration from her Montessori ideas, and can't wait to hear about her adventures as a mother. So while you're at it, check out the rest of her blog, too, and for those of you who can sew, her awesome patterns shop! =)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

When to start teaching table manners?


Following in yesterday's train of thought, I'm trying to think of what changes I might want to make to D's eating routine. The Tripp Trapp chair seems to be working out nicely-- D seems to like it, it's nice having him closer in to the table, and it's actually kinda nice not having to deal with that massive tray anymore. Things are a bit messier (his high chair kinda trapped most of the food that fell so most of it wound up under D's butt... now it falls straight down to the floor) and he has much more freedom to move and wiggle around. I'm not sure if the last one is a good thing yet.

So now I'm wondering when is it that I should start teaching and enforcing table manners, or really just overall dinnertime behavior. There's 2 things I've already been putting my foot down on-- intentionally dropping food onto the floor, and (now that he's eating at the table) playing with his plate or place mat. If he does either of these once I look him in the eye and give him a stern "No!" then if he does it again I'll end that meal (if he's playing with the plate but still seems interested in eating something I'm spooning to him, I'll take away the plate but keep giving him food with the spoon). He seems to have gotten the message about dropping food as he very rarely ever does it (on purpose) anymre. Still working on not messing with the plates, but considering he only started eating off a plate about a week ago anyway I'm pretty impressed with how he's been doing.

But now, what about other things, like how he often starts wriggling and turning around in his chair in the middle of a meal? He'll still seem hungry and interested in eating, but is squirming all around while doing so, turning around in his chair or staring and even trying to grab food that's fallen to the ground. Also, he'll sometimes start playing with his food-- squishing cheese with his fingers, dipping his hand in his yogurt. I debate between letting him have that experience with texture, versus teaching that food is not for playing with. I hate to cut meals short before he's full (he gets really whiny when he's hungry), and I don't want to turn mealtimes into a struggle, constantly having to say "don't do this" and "don't do that." But I also don't want to set up bad habits. It's hard to know what to expect of him, to know what he's capable of and not expect too much (or too little).

So I'm asking you guys, when do you think it's appropriate to address different behaviors at the dinner table? How much do you expect of a 1yr old kid? At 18months? Two years? Etc. I'd also love to hear suggestions for how to go about teaching/encouraging these things. Thanks! =)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

six word sunday: At least we get pretty flowers

At least we get pretty flowers.
six word sunday challenge

I realize I am being such a spoiled Californian, and having spent a year and a half in Geneva I should be more used to this, but the rain is just bugging the crap out of me this year. Yesterday was sunny (and there's gorgeous flowers blooming everywhere), but today's clouded over again and probably going to bring more rain. Maybe it's just having a kid and nowhere around with covered parking, and getting so annoyed to get the both of us wet every time we want to go out to do anything. Yes, there are people all over the country dealing with multiple feet of SNOW right now, which would be quite a bit more inconveniencing, but hey we moved to California for a reason, and that was sunshine.

the saga, resolved


Donovan in the Fit, in his Scenera. Seems comfy, and he looks so cute and grown-up in the bigger seat. =P

So we finally decided to go with a Britax Roundabout car seat. I'd wanted to go with a seat rated up to 65lb, but after looking at the various options (well, online anyway... couldn't find any stores nearby with Recaro convertibles, or the First Years True Fit) I just kept wondering how well any of these seats would fit rear-facing in our cars. I'd like to put the nicer seat in the Fit, as I want that to be our primary vehicle-- we're figuring Zach can drive it when he goes to work, I'll have it the days he rides with Cyrus, and we'll also use the Fit on weekends unless we need the extra space of the CR-V (the Scenera will go in the CR-V). Having a smaller car seat means we'll be more likely to keep D rear facing for as long as possible without making the front passenger sit right up against the dashboard (hopefully). So he might outgrow the Roundabout sooner than the Marathon or True Fit, but for these next 2-3 years it should work well, and when he outgrows it we can find either another, bigger convertible seat or a high-backed booster (I'm assuming that by then there may also be more booster options that keep kids in a 5-point harness past 40lbs), and since he'll be facing forwards by then size won't be as much of an issue. And, he may by then have a younger sibling to pass the Roundabout down to for another couple years' worth of use.

As an added bonus, I found the Roundabout on sale at Amazon for $175 (and no sales tax, plus free shipping-- gotta love online shopping). Unfortunately we just have to wait the nearly 2 weeks for it to get delivered...

Friday, March 06, 2009

TGIF

The car seat search continues, but I will spare you more ranting and raving about it. Actually, the whole thing's making more sense finally, and I think I'm actually getting somewhere. Yay.

D and I went to a new playgroup today. It's a big organized local group, where playgroups are divided up by area and age. You have to pay dues to be a member, but allow a 2 month trial period so that's what I'm doing right now. It went pretty well today, lots of cute kiddoes and the moms seemed nice. They have events almost every day of the week and often meet at parks that are within walking distance so I'm looking forward to trying ti out a few more times and then we'll see. There were several kids within a month or 2 of Donovan in age, and many of them were boys, which is nice b/c everyone he knows around here currently is girls. Nothing wrong with that, but it'd be nice to get a little diversity going. ; )

In the afternoon we took advantage of Gymboree's free play time. It was pretty busy, I guess to be expected for a friday afternoon. D had a good time, though at one point he got totally run over by an older kid. No one's fault, and D was ok after a few minutes of crying. He spent the rest of the time cluthing this one purple ball that he seems to adore. They have a lot of their toys for sale and I kinda want to buy him one of these balls as he likes them so much in class, but I have the feeling if I do so and bring it home, he'll have no interest in it anymore (I've heard more than one story of this happening already). So maybe we'll save the super cool purple ball for Gymboree time.

Zach's been riding to work with Cyrus the past couple days so I've had the Fit to myself. Pretty fun to drive. And D looks so cute in his new car seat. =P I got in touch with a local car-seat-checker-person (the official name escapes me right now) and she does at-home visits so I'm setting up a time to have her come by on Sunday to check our installation of the Scenera. I'll feel better getting an official opinion on the installation, and I'm very excited to find someone willing to come here to do it. I'm looking forward to soon deciding on a 2nd seat (and getting that one checked, too) so we can have one in each car.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

mindboggling

I'm still shopping shopping around for a car seat, as I would like to get one that lasts up to 65lb (or whenever he outgrows the height limit, which apparently usually happens before the weight), and it would be nice to have a seat for each car so we can use the (more efficient) Fit as often as possible. So far I'm liking the Scenera-- it seemed easy enough to install, feels sturdy (need to make appt to get it checked by pros, tho), and D seemed to like it when I took him out in it today. I'm still utterly baffled by the lack of information on safety ratings. I signed up for a 1 month membership to the Consumer Reports website b/c they claimed to have crash test ratings, but the little information they had online seemed worthless (had a single crash test scale for all of about 3 convertible car seats). I just don't understand how this information is not out there. I have no problem with paying for better safety, but I also don't see the point of paying 4 or 6 times the money for something when I don't have any data on whether or not it's actually safer. I'm tempted to either go super simple (maybe just get another Scenera) or if I'm gonna look at spending more, go all-out for something like this. I know that doesn't necessarily make sense but then again a lot of this car seat shopping business doesn't, either. Sometime this weekend I plan to make it over to a bookstore and read the Baby Bargains chapter on car seats again (my copy's lent out currently) and see what they say. Their advice always seemed pretty trustworthy so I'm curious to see what they have to say.

For now, I'm going to bed. But first, to appease Cristina, here's a cute photo of D (see, even he's confused and concerned about the lack of information on the safety of his car seats).

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

a new throne for his royal highness

I've been putting off looking into the next level of car seat for D for months, figuring I had time b/c his current seat is supposed to be good till 26+lbs and he's barely 20-21lbs now. However his head's starting to poke out above the top back of the seat, and while there's nothing in the owners manual about a height limit it's started making me a bit nervous (and btw apparently it's illegal for us to use a European car seat in the US, woops). I love the side protection on his infant seat and in many ways it feels very secure and safe, but it's only a 3-point harness and at times I question how well those straps would stay on him in case of a crash.

So, I've spent the past couple days scourging car-seat.org and other sites, trying to make sense of the overwhelming smorgasbord of options, ranging in price from $40 to $300. By the way, while all car seats in the US market have passed the US's minimum safety standards, there are no published safety ratings to let you know if one car seat performed better than any other one. So parents get to get all bogged down pondering such things as EPS vs EPP foam and top tethering while rear-facing and seat recline without knowing whether any of these features make any significant difference in how well our children would make it through a crash. If anyone has a decent explanation of why the system is set up this way I'd love to hear it, because this makes ansolutely no sense to me whatsoever.

After reading multiple forum threads and amazon.com reviews I compiled a list of what seem like the most popular convertible car seat models, then went to Target and Babies R Us to get a look at them. Some of these things are gargantuan monstrousities that I don't know how people manage to fit into their cars. Then I noticed the Cosco Scenera, one of the cheapest models out there, and also one of the simplest-looking. I came back home to try to find some safety info on it (Is it any safer than comparable car seats? Is there a significant safety reason to choose a more expensive seat? WHO KNOWS!) then went back this afternoon to buy it. I actually like the design, it fits well in our car, and while it's not the most well-padded seat out there, well, it's got at least as much padding as the infant seat D's been using for the past year. I figure at $50 even if I decide I hate it it's not much of a loss to then buy a different one and use this as our spare if/when needed. Really, the biggest safety advise I kept finding was that any of the 5-point harness models on sale today is safe as long as it's installed correctly, the child is buckled in correctly, and is rear facing for as long as possible (this seat goes to 35lb). So we'll see how it goes, how D likes it, how safe and sturdy it feels (so far so good but I should take it in to get checked by professionals to be sure) and I can spend a bit more time looking into the other, more expensive models to see if they truly seem worth the extra cash. I wouldn't mind investing in one that can hold a child up to 65lbs, but it'll take some time to wade through the different options and try to figure out what extra features seem worthy, what kind of seats will work well in our cars, etc (it's mind-boggling, seriously).

But at least for now I feel better knowing D will be in a 5-point harness seat, well within both the height and weight limits.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Quick photo post before watching The Office and going to bed.

The new car (I think we'll call it Jazz):
NewCar

D's "new" high chair, borrowed from a friend (doesn't he look so much more grown up in it? BTW he is strapped in, the blue strap just blends in with his jeans):
New High Chair (sort of)

And pictures of flowers taken on a recent walk, b/c they're pretty and I'm quite proud. =P




Monday, March 02, 2009

The Fit is Go!

So Friday morning Zach leaves for work, then calls me 10 minutes later to say that the car (2001 corolla, bought 5 months ago, admittedly in pretty beat-up condition-- this was the car that'd just drive Zach to work and back, didn't need to be perfect and we were kinda in a rush) was making a god-awful noise and so he took it to the garage down the street to see what was wrong. Apparently, there was no oil in the car (the seller mentioned the car ate some oil-- the oil lamp had just come on that morning), and the noise was the engine. Zach asked what he could do to fix it. The answer? Get a new engine. Right. Zach got the car back home, but not before it died on him once in the parking lot first.

Needless to say, we were suddenly not too confident about driving that car and getting anywhere with it.

So we started talking about what to do. We figured we should buy a new car, and try to sell this one (not sure who to yet-- we'd both feel pretty shitty about selling it to anyone without clarifying that it is quite likely to die on them at any time). Zach had just been joking the past few months about how maybe we should've waited on buying a second car till now, as the deals are so good. We think about doing our usual routine of looking at civics/accords/corollas/camrys in the 4-6 yr old area, but then we started thinking about the Honda Fit...

Now, we've got a bit of a history with the Fit. When we were car shopping right after moving to Switzerland we saw this super cute little cars called Honda Jazz. We'd never seen anything like them in the US, and they were not only adorable but also very roomy (I swear the trunk space is about the same as in our CR-V, for a car that seems so much smaller from the outside). Unfortunately, as with most things in the Geneva market, these cars were scarce and expensive, and we were unable to find one in our price range. Then we moved back to the US and discovered that those cute little Jazzes? They're the Fits that were rband-new to the US. Instantly, Zach wanted one. The problem-- they've only been sold here for a couple years. And with their cuteness and usefulness and high gas mileage and gas prices skyrocketing, these were popular little cars, to the point that used listings for 2008s were at the same price if not slightly higher than what dealers were quoting for 2009s. So we gave up on the idea of owning one quite yet.

Zach and I have always had a bit of a moral aversion to buying *new* new cars, mainly b/c the initial depreciation is just so high that it doesn't seem worth it to us. But in a classic case of the reptilian brain convincing your consciousness of what it wants, we decided we wanted to get the Fit after all. Sure we would've preferred to buy one that was a few years old already, but then again if there's ever been a time to buy a new car it would be when car makers are tripping over themselves trying to sell anything they can, right?

All in all this was possibly the most painless car-buying experience we've ever had. Sunday morning we looked at a 2008 Fit sold by a private party. It was great, though a funky lilac color that is either really cute or really weird. We then stopped by a dealer on the way home to look at the 2009s to judge how different the new models were, then came home for lunch. Zach spent a while on the phone calling the various local dealers and comparing quotes, negotiating more fiercely than I've ever seen him do before (turns out not being face-to-face makes it a lot easier to just ask for what you want). He got the assurance from one dealer of the price we'd wanted (which several other dealers claimed they didn't believe possible), and while Benjamin and Karen kindly watched over Donovan, Zach and I headed out to pick out a color (storm silver), fill out the paperwork, and hand over a check. The exact car we wanted was at another location, but Zach got to pick it up today on his way home from work.

Kinda crazy, all of it. Before this, the youngest car we'd ever bought was I think 5 yrs old at the time. Not to mention that just 4 days ago we were in no way thinking of buying a new car. But that's life. The nice thing is that we had the cash saved up to justify this, although it does cut into our house-down-payment-fund. Then again I'm starting to wonder if this whole home ownership bit is perhaps overrated, but I think that's a different post altogether... Hopefully this car will last us for many years. And our other car, a '99 CR-V, seems to be in great shape despite its age (my only complaint has been a wonky radio), so hopefully we'll get a good 3-5 years before there's any talk of upgrading.

For now, Zach and I will have to fight over who gets to drive the Fit. ; )

Sunday, March 01, 2009

busybusybusybusy

A restful weekend, this was not.

Fun? Yes. Exciting? Sure. But restful and relaxing? Not so much.

Yesterday we went up to SF to hang out with Jenny. We had lunch at a cute little Italian place in Cole Valley, then stopped in at a nearby playground to give D a chance to play a bit, and afterwards walked up Tank Hill for a nice view of the city. On our way back we stopped by Ankur and Subha's to see their super adorable house, and so they could meet D. It was great to see them, although we didn't time things out too well and thus got home past D's bedtime still needing to get him some dinner. So he had a bit of a late night, but dealt with it well. Zach and I then proceeded to have our own late night, watching The Office till 11pm.

Today was dominated buy car shopping. We've kinda gone through this process way too many times in the past 2 years, but here we were again, after Friday's discovery that Zach's car was, well, about to die. So we went out and bought a shiny new Honda Fit today. As in, *actually* new. Our first new car ever. There's lots to tell of this story, but I'll have to write about all that tomorrow. Right now I'm struck by what a complete wreck our house is at the moment, and so am off to try to see what I can do to minimize the damage.

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