Monday, April 30, 2012

Great With Child

I'm so glad I took Courtney's recommendation and read Great With Child. I found myself nodding in agreement throughout the book, and there were a few moments that I nearly laughed out loud at Beth Ann Fennelly's observations about motherhood.

So many parts of this book resonated with me. When Fennelly says, "That's the other thing that happens when you become a mom. You feel more deeply. You become capable of a raw, scary fullness of emotion that tenderizes the hardened muscle of the heart." I couldn't agree more.

Then there's the part where she talks about her perfectionist tendencies and how they relate to motherhood. She said it so well when she said, "So that's the type of kid I was, and that's the type of mother I have to struggle not to be. Because that eager patch-earner still lurks in me, Girl Scout Guide in hand, pencil behind ear. And while being a Model Citizen might help in certain places, like airport security or bake sales, it's not the most practical training for the wild territory of motherhood." While I wasn't a Girl Scout, I can definitely relate to that feeling.

I like when she shares those little moments of motherhood, too. I really related when she talked about bringing her daughter to bed when she woke up in the midst of a thunderstorm. She said, "I carried her into my bed, which I try not to do often, telling her this was a special treat, but not telling her the treat really was all mine." A few weeks ago, I found myself in a similar situation. Craig was working late, and Liam cried out. He must have been having a nightmare or something. Normally, I would have just given him his pacifier and he would fall back asleep. I'm not sure if it's because I feel like my baby is growing up too quickly and I want to feel needed again, but for some reason, I felt compelled to bring him to bed with me.  I agree that the treat was all mine.

Great With Child wasn't originally intended to be published. It started as a collection of letters written by Fennelly to one of her former students, Kathleen. I'm so glad it was published, though, because even though I'm almost through my first year of motherhood, I still need the reassurance of knowing that I'm not alone in this journey.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bits + Pieces: Birthday Edition

Thanks to Lindsey at You are the Roots for suggesting Bob Dylan's books to me several weeks ago. He's getting Forever Young for his birthday.

Also, if you haven't entered the birthday giveaway to win a copy of Beautiful Oops, be sure to do that. Liam cracked open his copy tonight, and he loves all of the flaps and fun illustrations.

Also, Liam's not really into sippy cups anymore. We've graduated to cups as evidenced by the big spot of water on his shirt. 

We're hoping to have a small birthday gathering some time next week before Liam's big birthday party when we go to visit my parents on May 19th. We're going to have a fish theme with Goldfish crackers, these sandwiches, and orange ice cream. There's rain in the forecast, but we're hoping for warm enough weather to grill and enjoy a fire.

I've been fighting to urge to order these Liam the Brave Sheets (and just about everything else in this shop). I'm trying to curb my Internet shopping habits, but seriously -- Liam the Brave Sheets. Perfect for an explorer room. Don't you think?

Finally, since I missed Poem in Your Pocket Day, I wanted to share this poem. I hope Liam eventually takes this poem to heart and remembers it for many birthdays to come.

by Shel Silverstein

Listen to the MUSTN'TS child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me--
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Liam: Super Shopper

I'm not usually the type of mom who promises her kid prizes for being good (especially when he doesn't really understand that he's being promised a prize for being good.) However, Liam totally earned this Brown Bear Brown Bear from Kohl's the other day. (Plus, since it's Brown Bear Brown Bear, I feel like I'm promoting literacy.)

We had to pick up a few things after I got off work. I didn't plan to be gone past Liam's bed time, but we were. Yet, Liam was amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better kid, especially considering the circumstances.

This totally surprises me because last summer, Liam was the worst. shopper. ever. Then, this fall, things started slowing down for Craig and we either went shopping together so one of us could entertain Liam while the other picked up what we needed, or I just left the boys at home so I could pick up what I needed and head home. Now,  Liam's earning himself stickers for staying buckled in the cart, waving at people in line behind us, and dazzling little old ladies with his smile.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Alphabet Project Outtakes

I did a horrible job of taking monthly pictures of Liam. They were usually a day or two early or a day or two late. I didn't get any of those monthly stickers, I didn't have a sign, and I didn't take them in the same chair or with the same stuffed animal.

In order to redeem myself, I decided to put an alphabet book together for Liam's first birthday. I really enjoyed looking back at some of the pictures of pre-blog Liam.

Like this picture in one of the onesies my friends decorated for me at my baby shower.

And this picture of Liam in his new hat at five weeks old. This is the first time I caught his smile on camera. Even if it was just gas, I will always cherish this picture.

The Tortured Artist & A Birthday Giveaway

Last weekend, when we went to the art museum, there was a table with crayons. Liam didn't really know what to do with the crayons. I realized that I didn't really do a good job of exposing him to those kinds of things. I remembered that I had some of the Melissa & Doug triangle crayons at home from my evenings spent tutoring a third grader in the months before Liam was born, so I decided to drag them out over the weekend. Liam picked up a crayon and immediately threw it against the paper. "Really, Kid?" Craig said, "Are you going to become a tortured artist on us?"

While we were art museum, we also discovered the book, Beautiful Oops. It's a really cute book about the beauty and opportunity we can find in the mistakes we make. Liam is really into interactive books, too--flaps, die cuts, gears, he loves them all. I immediately went to the book store, where I ordered not one, but two copies because I wanted to share this book with one of you.

To enter: Just leave a comment below telling me your kid's favorite book or favorite project to do at home.

The winner will be chosen via next Tuesday, May 1st (Liam's birthday!) at 9:00 p.m. MST.

Monday, April 23, 2012

That Time I Thought I Almost Killed My Kid

Before I start this story, I need to share a story from a few weeks ago. Craig and I went to a barbeque with a few of our friends, who also have kids around Liam's age. When the conversation turned to milestones and food, I started to get really uncomfortable, because these are two things I'm pretty self-conscious about. At one point, I shared that Liam really likes strawberries. One mom chimed in, "Um, berries are one of the most allergenic foods. You really shouldn't feed them to babies until they're at least a year old."

I wanted to say, "Actually, I checked, and they're not." But, instead I just let the conversation proceed. I don't think this mom was trying to judge me or make me feel inferior. I think she just didn't know any better, and was trying to impart some of the infinite wisdom she had gained in the six months of parenting she had on me. I kept feeding berries to Liam, partially out of spite, but mostly because he likes them.

Fast forward to Thursday night. On Wednesday, he had started getting what I thought was a diaper rash, and I chalked it up to the fact that we recently switched diaper brands. By Thursday, when I got home from work the rash had spread down his legs, and little blisters had started to form on his elbows, his feet, his hands, and on his cheek. It had been Craig's day off, so I said, "Craig, what did you feed him today?"

"Oh you know, the regular things," he said before proceeding to list five or six things including this berry applesauce. While I tried to stay calm-- his breathing wasn't labored or anything, inside I was freaking out, "Oh my God, she was right." So, I called the on call nurse at our local hospital (the clinic was closed at that time). She told me she couldn't diagnose it over the phone, but I needed to be sure to monitor his breathing and make sure he didn't get a high fever. She said I could bring him in or wait and take him to the clinic the next morning, but he should probably be seen by a doctor to make sure everything was okay.

Craig and I continued to worry about what it might be, and we finally decided to run him to the Pediatric Urgent Care in a nearby town. It turned out to be Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, which in comparison to an allergic reaction didn't seem all that bad, and I got to spend an extra day home with Liam on Friday.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Reads

Liam and I picked up a few great Earth Day-related reads from the library recently, so I thought I'd share.

First of all, we read First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. This was a great story. Liam really liked the die-cut pages. He'd get really excited each time we turned the page. I also thought the simple words and illustrations worked well for this story.


We also grabbed The Water Hole by Graeme Base. As with most of Base's books, this had fantastic illustrations. I liked that this was a counting book, but it also had a story to it. It had die cut pages, too, showing a shrinking watering hole as it travels through various countries and continents. The book also had a lot of onomatopoeia, which Liam always enjoys.

Finally, we read Me, Jane by Patrick McDonnell. This was a sweet book about Jane Goodall. I liked that one of the pages had drawings that Jane had actually created herself as a child. Overall, I think it did a great job of sharing Jane Goodall's story.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fresh Squeezed

I keep hearing rumors of a warm weekend ahead. It makes me long for summer days spent lounging, sipping lemonade, and eating frozen treats.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On Defiance

"Oh, hey Mom. You didn't want all these books all over the floor? Here. Why don't I give you a cute look. Is it okay then?"

Last night when we got home from daycare, I put Liam in his high chair to eat his usual afternoon snack, Annie's Bunny Grahams. Liam started throwing the bunnies off the tray.

"No, Liam," I said.

He dangled one more graham over the side of the tray.

"Liam, I said 'no'," I said again.

He looked at me, gave me a little smile, and dropped it, as if it was his one last act of defiance before finishing the grahams.

Liam is a pretty good-natured kid, but after much debate, Craig and I decided it's important to set certain limits for him. I've had a hard time deciding where to draw the line, though. While I think it's important to allow him room to explore and experiment, at some point he needs to know which behaviors are acceptable and which ones are not. I try to avoid being that mom who's constantly saying "no." I don't want to be the mother who's kid defies me because I'm overbearing and authoritarian. At the same time, it makes me feel really good when Mae tells me how glad she is that he listens when she has to tell him "no." (Even though in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "At least he listens to you.")

What about you? Where do you draw the line?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Rainy Saturday

Saturday was the kick off for wedding season and a glimpse of what my Saturdays will look like for the next five months. Craig left for work early, and I knew that he wouldn't be home until well after Liam and I had gone to bed. When I saw the forecast for the weekend, I knew I didn't want to be cooped up in the house all day, so I planned a little shopping trip.

Liam slept in, so I took my time getting ready, listening to The Alabama Shakes and taking time to read a few letters in Letters to a Young Mother. We left just in time to catch the end of Wait Wait Don't Tell me on NPR, followed by a rerun of Radiolab.

We ate lunch at Qdoba, where Liam ate two Mum Mums while we waited in line. By the time we got our grilled veggie burrito, Liam was ready to dazzle the ladies with grins and high chair acrobatics and was not at all interested in eating zucchini or yellow squash.

After lunch, I needed to grab a few things at Target and Sam's Club. Every time I go to Sam's Club, I think to myself, "Remind me again why I allowed Craig to convince me to get a Sam's Club membership." I inevitably find myself in line behind someone who found it necessary to purchase 148 corn dogs and a three-year supply of toilet paper and paper plates.* When I realize I'm doing so only to save approximately $4 per month on diapers, my blood pressure just rises.

In order to calm down, I decided to take Liam to the art museum to play in the kids' exhibit. First we read Catch Picasso's Rooster and Beautiful Oops.

Then Liam played on the musical table. This kid definitely needs a drum for his birthday.

He also checked out a few different types of paint.

After the art museum, we went to the book store where Liam spent the last of his Easter money on Rockin' Babies.

I ended the day with a Bubble Up and some Razzles. When I saw the Bubble Up, I couldn't resist. I drank a lot of Bubble Up at the Round Up Drive-In when I was a kid. Pure nostalgia.

*This is hyperbole, but it did seem like a lot of toilet paper and paper plates.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

YA Reading Binge

I've been on a young adult reading binge lately. First, I picked up The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I had actually gone to the library to get The Hunger Games and ended up grabbing this book. I'm glad I did. It was a really great book about fate and how life rarely ends up as we expect.

I have a confession-- I have never read any of the Harry Potter books,  and I only made it through the first two books in the Twilight series before I got bored. I wasn't really planning to jump on The Hunger Games bandwagon, but I had read a review in which the reader felt the same way about Harry Potter and Twilight but enjoyed The Hunger Games. I enjoyed the book, and I may break down and go see the movie.

Finally, I reread The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. There's a part in the story when one of the characters, Gordy, is talking to the main character, Arnold about reading: "You have to read a book three times before you know it. The first time you read it for the story. The plot. The movement from scene to scene that gives the book its momentum, its rhythm. It's like riding a raft down a river. You're just paying attention to the currents." That was definitely true of this book for me. This time, I picked up on so many details that stood out to me, that gave me a different perspective on the story. 

Up next, I'm ready to plunge back into the world of adult reading. I'm hoping to read Great with Child: Letters to a Young Mother in the next week while I'm waiting for my copy of Zeitoun, our next book club pick, to come in via interlibrary loan.

Also, if you're a book lover, you should definitely check out Courtney's new Etsy shop. I may have already ordered a mother's day gift for my book-loving mom.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Aftermath

The first time I tried finger painting with Liam, he was so careful, so unsure. I was a little worried about trying it again, thinking maybe he'd just be the type of baby who wasn't all that into finger painting. Well, I was wrong.

This weekend I decided to try flour, water, and food coloring finger paint. Liam crawled right in. We ended up with more paint on the sheet that I had spread out on the kitchen floor and on Liam than we had on the paper. Honestly it was everywhere-- his diaper, his legs, his arms, his face, his ears, his hair.

When all was said and done, I put him in the bath to clean up. The cleanup had only begun, and he was not a happy camper.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Picnic

Craig had to work yesterday and we both have to work tomorrow, so rather than spending the weekend hustling across the state (most likely by myself), we decided to have a quiet weekend at home. Yesterday was cold and windy, so we spent most of the day inside. Today, however, was the perfect day for an Easter picnic at the lake. 

As we drove around a curve, Craig pointed off to the right and said, "That's one of my favorite spots in the world." Then, he pulled off onto the shoulder and asked, "Will you take a picture?"


Craig and I enjoyed rotisserie chicken and potato salad, and Liam devoured his mango chicken. We've discovered that his new word for hungry is "nanana." Each time I'd push the mango chicken aside, thinking he was done, he'd say "nanana."

After we ate, we spent some time enjoying the scenery. Then Craig and Liam decided to swing for awhile before heading home.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Little Bits and Pieces

It's Friday! Rumor has it it's supposed to be cooler this weekend (a high in the 40s on Saturday), so I'm definitely looking forward to a weekend spent lounging around.

I've had a few projects in mind for around the house, so I've been studying this and this. I'm not sure if I'm ready to take on painting our old walls and trim. They need it though. I'm pretty sure our hallway hasn't been painted in quite awhile. We're still not completely finished with Liam's bedroom. We've been thinking about restoring the hardwood floors in there. The carpet's really cheap, and I've been wanting to replace it. When I discovered the hardwood floors, I was convinced that was our solution. For some reason, somebody glued down the carpet pad, though, so it might be kind of a project to restore the floors. We'll see what we decide. It might be Christmas before we finally get his room done (my goal date was his first birthday).


I was thinking about trying this puree for Liam. It combines two things he loves-- mango and chicken. I was lazy this week and picked up some frozen mango at Target, so I think I have most of the supplies for this. Liam's also been loving coconut water lately. I was telling a friend of mine about my issues with Liam and sippy cups full of water, and she suggested that we try the coconut water. He really seems to like it. Who knew? (He's kind of a coconut water snob, though. He likes this Taste Nirvana stuff with the pulp way better than the other brand we tried.)


I also have all of the supplies for this hummus, which I've been wanting to try. In order to save money and streamline our grocery shopping, Craig and I have been trying to meal plan a week or two ahead of time. It's pushed me to start learning to make new things, and we really enjoy taking the time to sit down and eat something together. So, yeah, I'm on the lookout for any recipe suggestions.

Whether you're staying at home or traveling to spend time with friends and family, I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wind Gusts and Bee Stings

I have the worst luck with do-it-yourself photo shoots. Last weekend was beautiful. Liam and I woke up bright and early on Saturday, the sun was shining, and we were ready to get outside. I headed out, planning to go to the library, but we got there only to discover that it didn't open for another hour. So, we wandered around town soaking up the sun. As I passed the flower shop, it occurred to me that I had been wanting to take a few pictures of Liam for his first birthday party invitations, so I decided to stop in and see what they had.

We picked up five balloons, and I decided to take Liam out to the lake just outside of town to take a few pictures. I had these visions of Liam looking all cute and in awe of the balloons with the lake in the background. Well, it turns out it was a bit too breezy for cute balloon pictures with a lake in the background. Boom. Within seconds of tying the balloons onto Liam's wrist one of the balloons popped, so I turned Liam a different direction only to realize the parking lot was in the background and another balloon popped. I finally just gave up and took Liam home for a nap.

poor kid looks like he's about ready to blow away
I wasn't quite ready to let my balloons go to waste, so I decided to give it one more chance on Sunday. I tried a different approach--the city park. This way we'd have trees and picnic shelters to shade us from the wind. Another popped balloon, a flyaway, and a bee sting later (at least the bee got me and not Liam), I think this is the closest we're going to get to a cute balloon shot.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Liam Lately

Liam is officially (as of Sunday) 11 months old. He's so much fun and makes me laugh on a daily basis.

I'm not sure how it ended up in his bed, but one morning I found him snuggling with a burp cloth. Poor kid doesn't have a lovey. He's got a burp cloth. I couldn't take it away. So, for the past week or so, he's been sleeping with a burp cloth. In the morning, when I turn on the lights to get ready, he shields his eyes with the burp cloth.

You can see the burp cloth tucked up under his leg.

Please don't judge me for putting up a bumper. I know the American Academy of Pediatrics urges against them. We broke down and put it in his crib a couple of months ago after several nights in a row of prying his arms and legs from between the crib bars. He also insists on sleeping curled up in a ball on his belly. I try to roll him over on his back, but he does his best ninja-baby move and ends up curled back up on his belly.

Craig and I are trying to teach him limits, especially when things might be dangerous. Pulling books off the shelf so he can read. Okay. Banging his head over and over again on the back of his wooden high chair or attempting to pull the garbage can over. Not okay. He's started this new trick where he starts wimpering when we say "no," or he just smiles, as if to say, "Um, if I look cute, can I do it?"

He loves unstacking the ring stacker. It's so funny. The rings could sit untouched for 15 minutes, but the minute Craig or I put them back on the stacker, he crawls over and pulls them all off again. He also loves climbing all over just about anything, chasing Gus and Ollie, and opening and closing his board books over and over again. He can no longer sit still long enough to listen to the whole story-- he just prefers to open and close the book. He does that all the time, even when I'm not right there. He'll crawl over to his book shelf, pull a book down, and open and close it over and over again.

He continues to try new finger foods. Most recently, he's tried French toast and whole grain waffles. We're almost certain he's going through a growth spurt, because his stomach seems to be a bottomless pit. He finally outgrew his size three diapers and shoes, although the fours are still a little big.

I can tell he's taking in new things each day. One morning, I pulled him out of his crib and said, "Liam, who am I?"

"Mama," he responded. My heart melted.

He interacts with other kids more and more. Whenever we go to the playground, I catch him watching the older kids, trying to figure out how he can do what they're doing. He's not standing on his own yet, but I know it's coming. He'll stop crawling, put his butt up in the air, and attempt to stand, but his knees lock and he falls back to the ground.

This weekend, I told a coworker that I was taking some pictures to turn into his first birthday invitations, and she responded, "It doesn't seem like he should be having a birthday already."

"I know. I know," I said.

There's a part of me who's not ready for him to get older, who wants my snuggly newborn back. Yet, there's a part of me who can't wait for him to get older, who's looking forward to more days spent at the playground, watching him run up to the slide, listening to him giggle with delight.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Our Weekend

The forecast for this week calls for rain and cooler temperatures, so we spent the weekend soaking up the sunshine and 70-degree temps while we could. This meant long walks, time spent at the playground, and of course more barbequing.

a library run + more ya lit for mama

I've been on a binge reading/ young adult novel kick lately. Up next-- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I've actually read this one before, but our local library is hosting a book discussion. Since it's been a couple of years, I decided to reread it so I can remember all of the details.

bookmaking class + inspiration

A friend of mine, who used to teach art at the facility where I work and currently works as a counselor there, was offering a bookmaking class through the community education program in our region. I really enjoyed the class, and I'm inspired to make more of these bound journals.

more maps + let the birthday packages begin

The first of Liam's birthday packages arrived on Saturday-- it was full of maps. I'm looking forward to trying this, this, and this (and another book). On Saturday afternoon, Craig's parents called to let us know we should be expecting another birthday package in the next couple of days.

I'm going to let you guys in on a little secret-- I love getting mail. A package on my doorstep or a brightly colored envelope in my mailbox seriously brightens my day, so having a baby who gets mail is twice the fun.