Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Leeching

Confession:  I completely and shamelessly take advantage of the knowledge, skills and experience of my parents and siblings.  My immediate family is made up of smart, capable people and I suppose I can't be blamed for badgering them constantly with questions about how they handle life.  For instance, I constantly resist the urge to call my brother Wally to ask medical questions in regard to the kids.  He told me once (before I had kids) that I was the person that called him the most with random questions...how embarrassing!! I wouldn't be surprised if there was a required course in medical school entitled "How to Manage Clueless and Relentless Family Members" with someone matching my description on the cover of the text book.  Sometimes, though I just can't help myself and I give in and call him out of the blue.  I do my best to carry on a conversation to make it seem like I'm not calling to ask a question, but that the question I inevitably ask halfway through the phone call just happened to pop into my head.  I don't know who I think I'm fooling, but it's certainly not Wally.  If I were him, my eyeballs would be sore from the constant rolling following any phone conversation with me.  On top of that, I do the same thing to Ivan (math wiz who can answer any question regarding finances) and Ben (computer genius). Not to mention my Mom (of COURSE.  Need I explain??), Jill, Rachel and Emily (amazing moms and incredible people in general...any one of them can field the most random and/or rambling life question you can throw at them), my Dad (another amazing doctor), and all the sickly amazing people my siblings all married (and are engaged to--yay!!).  Talk about hitting the jackpot, being born into such a crew.   Thank you universe.

Speaking of random, but also of marriage...Zoe asked me today:

Zoe: When will I get married?
Me:  Not until you're an adult...if you even decide you want to, that is.
Zoe:  I do want to..why not until I'm an adult?
Me:  Because when you get married, you promise to be with someone for the rest of your life.  You have to be sure that's what you want.
Zoe:......Maybe just for the rest of the DAY.

Now that Owen is finally feeling better (thank goodness!!) I've been having a lovely time with the kids again..I'm still really tired, because sleeping is still a struggle around here but the older Owen gets and the more they interact the more fun we all have together.  Owen took AWESOME naps today, so Zoe and I had some time to hang out quietly.  I realized that since I've become more interested in craft projects, I had completely forgotten how fun and worthwhile just plain ol' coloring with crayons could be.  Zoe talked me into it today and I was so glad she did.  She wanted to make some pictures for Daddy and we worked at it for a really long time.  She's always shocking me these days at how much more she's capable of when it comes to drawing...here are hers from today:
This is a map of where we live.  The blue squiggles are Boulder and surrounding it is Brooklyn.

This was her take on what I was working on (below).  She said the colors in the middle are our house "See?  It's getting smaller and smaller and smaller?"
I found this idea on the Idea Box for abstract doodle art.  I thought there was a chance she'd be into it, and she kind of was.  She helped me pick out my colors and did her own version (above).  I think this is a great activity for older kids and it really relaxed me to sit and work on it for a bit.  I'm showing you a picture of mine, not because I think it's anything to brag about (seriously, though I am GOOD, aren't I??) but so that you can get an idea of what it can look like...
This afternoon, we had our friends Cameron, Leisel and Marisa over to play.  Cameron and Zoe are really great buddies and apparently for quite a while now, Cameron has been telling his parents that he wants to build a house for Zoe (such a sweetheart!!).  So, they found this cool dollhouse at the craft store that you put together and then can color however you want.  It was so thoughtful and sweet and a great gift because she can just keep adding to it as much as she wants.  They worked on it a bit together while they were here and then after they left, Zoe and Nathan dove into it even further.  Thanks for thinking of Zoe, Cam!!
Teamwork!

Nathan helped her start getting all the accessories put together

I love all the eyes!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Thank you Easter Bunny!

So, we just finished a parenting duty that's caught me by surprise in a great way.  I discovered last year that being the Easter Bunny is really really fun!  I'm not sure why I didn't expect it to be, because I love that kind of stuff, but it's just the best!  This year was even more fun because Zoe is totally clear on what is happening.  Poor thing had a terrible time getting to sleep because she was so excited. ("How is the Easter Bunny going to get up the stairs?  Oh, I know!  He'll just hop!", "How will the Easter Bunny get over our gate?  He'll hop over it?  Oh yeah, cuz he's a bunny!")  We told her the Easter Bunny (just like Santa) has magical powers and can tell the moment you go to sleep, and waits until you are to come to your house.  That, along with the fact that she took a nap in the car today resulted in an hour of attempting to fall sleep before she actually did.  She kept trying to fool Nathan into thinking she was asleep by saying "Daddy, I'm asleep now."  Somehow, Nathan was able to see through the trickery, and we waited until she was snoring away to start stuffing eggs, hiding baskets and writing treasure hunt clues.  Fun!

After we were done, we started exchanging Easter morning memories with each other and I was relating a story about a dream that one of us kids had when we were little about seeing the Easter Bunny in our house and how he tripped on a pillow while hopping down the hallway.  I remember it as a very dramatic, scarring dream (even though I'm not sure anymore if it was me who had the dream or one of my 6 siblings) for some reason and recall it every Easter.  Nathan trumped it by a thousand, though when he told me about his recurring nightmare from when he was a kid.  Apparently he dreamed (8 or 9 times) that the Easter Bunny came to his church every year to kill everyone.  He looked just like a person in a bunny costume would if they were also holding a machine gun.  No one was frightened, they just knew that he wanted them to line up youngest to oldest, and since Nathan was the youngest he knew he was going to be killed first.  So, he went into the bathroom, opened the medicine cabinet mirror and found a box of heart shaped chocolates.  He grabbed them so he could give them to God when he saw Him.......WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT??????????????  Now, THAT is dramatic and scarring.  I feel quite sure it has something to do with his present-day outlook on religion but feel too tired to analyze it.

Anyway, we had a fun day today with our friends the May-Ostendorps.  We took a day trip to see a sculpture park they go to often in Loveland and to take a tour of the New Belgium brewery in Fort Collins.  It was pretty gray and cold but a fun day all the same...the sculpture park is really cool and pictures don't do it justice but here are a few attempts:
Wishbone



Two right feet




Then before dinner at home, we dyed Easter eggs.  For some reason, I don't like doing this but luckily, Nathan does.  I love the way they look but just don't like the process.  It most likely has something to do with heightened expectations, but feel too tired to analyze that as well.  Nathan is usually the one to rally us and get it done (along with cooking Thanksgiving dinner and decorating for Christmas...what would I do without him??) but this year I wanted to find a way to involve myself and have fun with it.  I was reminded by a couple of blogs that if you draw on the egg first with white crayon, your design shows up after you dip it so I did that (which I enjoyed).  My favorite, though was this technique I saw on Pink and Green Mama where you use a colander and food coloring and just sort of swirl it around.  Really fun and easy and I love how they came out!
Zoe put the finishing touch on all of the eggs by adding as many stickers as she possibly could to them, and just to see if she could trick the Easter Bunny, put a bunch on a clementine and put it in the egg carton along with the eggs.  Can you spot it?  :-)
Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rocks and Hard Places

I went to the dentist.  I hadn't been since we were trying to get pregnant the first time around and Zoe is now three, so...I know a lot of people go a lot longer than that, seeing how UNcommon it is for people to have dental insurance, but the last time I went was because I was concerned about a sensitive tooth and I was supposed to go back 6 months after that for a follow up...four years later and halfway across the country and I finally went.  The verdict is somewhere in between my best case scenario, which I figured was that my sensitive tooth was something I couldn't do anything about and was going to have to live with (in other words, $100 for a cleaning) or worst case, at least one root canal or cap or something (several thousand dollars).  The result was middle of the road....a cavity (a few hundred dollars). She also recommended that I get my WISDOM TEETH PULLED.  Ugh!!  Thought I'd dodged that bullet when we decided I didn't need them pulled as a kid....Anyway, I paid few hundred dollars for the full mouth scan (xrays) and a consult and I was sent on my way with an estimate for the cleaning and cavity filling.  I didn't make an appointment right then so that I could talk it over with Nathan and figure out a good day and time for me to go get that done.  What's crazy is that, considering the cost I actually didn't want to go back for ANY of it...even though my tooth has been bothering me for at least 4 years, and I am definitely due for a cleaning.  Not to mention the fact that getting a cavity filled isn't exactly FUN (am I the only one whose childhood dentist didn't give them novocaine until they were old enough to ask for it??) Why is it that dental work is so easy to sweep under the rug?  Even more mysterious and frustrating is why it's so rare for people to have dental insurance, and when they do have it, it's usually crappy?  At any rate, I'll go back and shell over the cash for the cleaning and filling but will just have to wait on the wisdom teeth and hope for the best.

On the kid front, we've had some interesting bedtimes lately.  When Zoe was an only child, she--for the longest time--insisted that ONLY MOMMY could put her to bed.  It was frustrating, but I kind of just went along with it because I didn't feel like dealing with the tantrum that ensued any time we tried to let Daddy do it.  Okay, looking back, I can admit that it probably made me feel good that she wanted ME so I obliged....When I got pregnant though, all I could think about was how that was not going to fly when the new baby came.  For the past couple of months though, Nathan has been putting Zoe to bed in her room and I've been putting Owen to bed in our room and she's barely complained.  Then when we started the sleep training with Owen, Nathan and I switched kids, and now that both kids are in one room, Nathan and I decided we should take turns putting them to bed.  On Daddy's first night of this, Zoe threw an absolute FIT.  I was at a complete loss as to what to do because, unlike when she was an only child, I have absolutely no interest in being the bedtime parent every single night, but it's a huge challenge making that a reality.  It's not that I feel bad for her when she's melting down, it's that she makes it impossible to ignore her...she follows me around screaming and crying and won't lie down in her bed.  So, anyway after some great advice from a friend, Nathan and I decided to go the route of not letting her get to us (which will involve Nathan physically restraining her, safely of course, in his lap while calmly reading and pretending everything is normal) and finding the humor in it all, which is why I took the following video at bedtime last night (by the way, the little twinge of guilt I feel when watching this today is attributed to the fact that we discovered today that Owen has ANOTHER double ear infection...ugh!):
video
In case you can't understand her, she is saying "I WANT MOMMY TO PUT ME TO BED!! I WANT MOMMY TO PUT ME TO BED!!"  Ah, these little buggers keep us on our toes that is for sure.  I've never had a more confusing job in my life.  Of  course, if it weren't for all of the entertainment they provide they would be in big, big trouble.  Zoe has been into putting on shows for us lately, and she teamed up with her friend Hunter (who is another show biz at heart kid) the other day...
video

I don't know if you can make out anything they are saying, but my two favorite parts are in the beginning.  Hunter tells Zoe they have to take a sip of water, so they do and then he says "Ready, steady GO!"  So silly.

Here they are checking themselves out...
Anyway, it took a really long time, but our little glue and bead sun catchers finally dried and are hanging in our window.  I'm really happy with the way they turned out and recommend the project to children and adults of all ages.  I enjoyed making mine and it was simple enough that Zoe stayed interested the whole way through and I didn't help her with hers at all.
Mine
Hers
Finally, I just wanted to share this picture of our patio because it makes me so happy.  Spring has sprung and even though we are still getting the cold weather mixed in with the beautiful, you can't ignore the flowers that are popping and the fact that I can almost always hang my laundry outside these days..  Yay!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sleeeeeep....?

I apologize to the non-parents who read my blog...this entry is one of THOSE.  The obsessive rattling on about something you probably can't really relate to (let alone find any interest in) because it seems so strange that anyone would willingly throw themselves into a situation like this.  To the parents out there who read, let me be totally and completely clear that I am welcome to, and am actually fishing for sympathy, similar personal stories, encouragement and/or compliments at this point.  If you can relate at all, don't be shy--tell me about it.  It's one of those times, folks.

I've been purposely not writing about the sleeping as not to jinx anything but I have to say things seem to be looking up.  Mind you, this is the most tired I've been since the early days of Owen and our feeding challenges at that time.  For those who don't know THAT story, Owen flat out refused the breast for the first three weeks of his life.  You would have thought my nipples were razor blades slathered in poison because he did everything he could to not put his mouth on them to feed.  Then after a week or so, he would "nurse" for as long as I would sit there with him, without drinking a single drop until he finally, FINALLY at three weeks old, got the hang of it and hasn't looked back since.  During that time, I would attempt a feeding, then pump and then feed him a bottle.  The whole process took about an hour and a half and since he was eating about that often I was just constantly working on it.  Trying to pull that off with a three year old in the house was quite a challenge and, since Nathan had to go back to school immediately after we welcomed Owen home, I relied on my ever beautiful and generous friends, neighbors, mother and parents-in-law to help me out and keep me company during the day.

Anyway, I was tired then and I'm tired again now in this phase of sleep challenges.  I have to say that in this past week, we have made progress in leaps and bounds.  A week ago, he was waking up every hour pretty much, and Nathan was sleeping downstairs on the couch.  Now the kids are sleeping in the same room and Nathan is back in ours.  Admittedly, last night, Zoe ended up on a sleeping bag on our floor because Owen woke her up in the middle of the night and we had set up her sleeping bag on our floor for that purpose, but the night BEFORE that, everyone stayed in their very own beds until the morning.  Well, everyone but me but that's to be expected.  He's getting up for a middle of the night feeding and then is tending to get up again super early morning and I'm encouraging him to go back to sleep for another hour and a half or so.  Sometimes that itself takes an hour but I can tell, even if he can't, that he's just not ready to be up for the day yet.  He's napping great during the day, too so it all seems to be coming together.

I know these bumpy days are natural and I'm trying to pat myself on the back for all of the progress we've made.  I was terrified of and perplexed about the idea of putting them in the same room.  I asked so many parents with more than one how they went about doing that and, as is always the case when asking parents to recall stuff like that (myself included), the answer was usually something like "I don't really know but I guess the first couple days were challenging and then they just got used to it.  I think? I don't remember!"  So, I'm just hoping we're in those first couple bumpy days now and that someday I'll be able to give someone similarly vague advice about it all because I will have forgotten that it was this hard.  Sigh......

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Just Fun!

Lot's of fun projects and activities to share today so I'll spare you the rambling!

Got this idea for an alternative way to play hopscotch from TinkerLab the other day.  I drew these shapes at random and just told her what to jump on...you could maybe draw the shapes on pieces of paper and draw them from a hat...draw them in different colors, too to add more options.  Zoe didn't stay interested for long, but I think I'll revisit it another day because it is right up her alley..



The other day, we were picking up her blocks by trying to throw them into the bin from far away and she got a huge kick out of it.  So, I decided to make a cardboard box into this little game.  She wanted me to make an alligator but I admitted I had no idea how to do that...this was her second choice but she didn't seem to mind!  We made the little balls out of loner socks from her babyhood that I had hung onto for whatever reason...

Then, she adopted it as her "sound monster" for "circle time" at home.  It's something they do at school and she was thrilled to have an actual sound monster to use in her setup...circle time has been a regular activity in our house ever since she started school this year....notice her buddies lined up there as the students...she was calling them up one by one to feed the sound monster.  The "teacher" tells you to choose something that begins with a certain letter and you put that in the monster's mouth...
Daddy and Zoe got all dressed up one day as pirates and were having a blast making mean faces at each other and saying "AAAARGH!!!"....

Zoe's mean face!  :-)
I mentioned awhile ago that I'm always looking for ways to use empty egg cartons and I found this great idea on the Frugal Family Fun Blog.  We made some and then Zoe decided she wanted to give them away to friends.  I love that she's always wanting to give stuff away these days, so I was more than happy to help her go around the neighborhood to deliver them!


My big project for the week was inspired by my friend Mariah.  A couple months ago she made some big paper mache snake eggs filled with goodies for her daughter's birthday party.  I decided I wanted to make little ones for the kids' Easter baskets and when I told Zoe that, she of course said "Let's make some for our friends!!"  Always wanting to foster that aspect of her personality, I agreed and just made as many as I could handle for some of our neighborhood buddies.  It was time consuming but really fun!
The work space

Stuffing the eggs

Ready for delivery!
Finally, we had an impromptu pizza party last night with some of our friends...we feel so lucky to have so many great friends as neighbors!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Memories

One of the major reasons I started this blog was to keep a journal for all of us to read when the kids are older.  We've all been advised (and advised other parents) to write stuff down because it just goes flying out of your head and your kids are adults before you know it.  I always MEANT to do it but just never found a way to make it a habit until someone suggested a blog.  I'm so glad because not only do I feel like I'm getting everything down for posterity (thank you grammar police!), but it's also been great therapy and a wonderful way to reflect on the days.

Getting it all down for posterity, though I have to admit, can sometimes cause me to spin into a sort of panic because I never feel like I'm able to describe exactly how everything goes down at our house.  Kind of like looking at the Grand Canyon in person and never really being able to capture the essence of the view with a camera.  The thing is that part of what makes the view so amazing and moving is that you are actually THERE to experience it.  The mind blowing size of the Grand Canyon is almost too much for your brain to take in and it's  hard to convince yourself that it's a real thing and not a backdrop for a movie set.

That's the way I feel when it comes to the kids.  I sit quietly and listen to Zoe read a book and I can feel myself trying to burn every part of the experience into my memory.  I know I'll always be able to say "You loved to sit and read to us all the time and it was just so priceless!" but I won't be able to recreate the exact tone of her voice, speech impediments and facial expressions.  I try whipping out the video camera but she's so hyper aware of it that it's never exactly right.  Or when I'm nursing Owen in the middle of the night and the nightlight in my room shines on his chubby, perfectly shaped little baby feet...or the way he smiles every time you look at him.  It makes my heart ache and I make the conscious effort to breath, relax and just take it in, right there in the moment.

I'm doing my best, but it's an ongoing project.  The pride (and relief) of the kids growing and changing is sometimes the most overwhelmingly powerful feeling I think, because it's coupled with the fear that you'll never get those amazing moments back.  I try to remind myself of one of the major aspects of the Buddhist practice:  mindfulness and non-attachment...where you take in every moment and emotion, (good, bad and worst) for what it is and move onto the next.  Surprisingly easy to do with negative stuff but really, really challenging with positive ones.

So, I'll keep writing and posting pictures (and try again and again with that damn video camera) because it's the best I can do and honestly, it's just plain fun.  I'll also keep working on living here and now and not worrying so much about getting it down exactly right.  I just can't believe I'm lucky enough to be HERE to experience it all.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Change of Pace

Man, it feels like I haven't written in a long time!  I guess it hasn't really been that long, but vibes are changing around here and that always makes things feel really time warp-y to me.

I finally hit the "This isn't working" phase with Owen and his sleeping.  Poor Nathan has been sleeping downstairs to give me and Owen more space in the bed and it just doesn't feel right to me.  It works for lots of families but it just isn't right for us.  Plus, it really seems like Owen's sleeping has gotten less and less restful and, even though I'm not sure it was possible, he's been waking up MORE often in the night.  So, the mother who said she wasn't going to buy a single book this time around because she was really going to listen to her instincts, realized that her instincts were telling her to buy a book.  So, I did.  Even though he's still waking up a lot, things seem to be slowly moving in the right direction and I have high hopes...I'll keep you posted.

Also, on Saturday I got to go shopping for four whole hours ALL BY MYSELF!!  It. Was. So. Awesome. We are all going to Cambridge, MA at the end of the month to celebrate the recent nuptials of my cooler than cool brother Ivan and his beautiful and (sorry Ikey) cooler than cooler than cool wife Sandy (YIPPEE!!).  Of course, we all need party clothes and I was more than happy to go out and get something suitable for me and both kids to wear.  Despite my high hopes for the local maternity/nursing clothing store, I ended up at Old Navy, where I ran into my friend (also a mom to a three year old and an infant) Gretchen who was also on her own!  What a happy coincidence that we were both out for a more rare than you can fathom shopping trip.  So fun to have a girlfriend there to help me pick out some party clothes.  We didn't have to tell anyone, even once that if they didn't put clothes back on the mannequin like they found it, we would have to leave the store right that instant.  What a treat!  What topped it off was that Daddy and the kids seemed to have a really nice day together too.  They went to cheer on the CU track team at the track near our apartment and stayed for quite a while.  Zoe's definitely a fan and loved cheering for the runners...even though at one point she yelled "GO YANKEES!!!!"  She realized her mistake right away and got a big kick out of herself.




Anyway, the other day I was walking on the Boulder Creek Path with both kids in the stroller and I had a happy reality check.  I remember a few years ago, when we were driving up to Vermont for a quick visit from Brooklyn (East coast family--remember the days? *sigh*) and Nathan told me he loved picturing all the funny conversations we were going to have with Zoe one day on those car trips.  It felt so far away and impossible that this little tiny baby was going to someday be a little person with thoughts and ideas and words to express them.  Flash-forward to present time and take this typical conversation on long walks in the stroller:

Zoe:  Mommy, can I be a fire-fighter someday?
Me:  Yeah, of course you can!
Zoe:  But, I don't have a fire truck.
Me:  Well, I'm sure they'd get you one once you became a fire-fighter.
Zoe:  Or, I could make one!  I could make our CAR into a fire truck!  I could paint it red and get a ladder and a hose and a siren and then....I'd have a fire truck!!....Mommy?
Me:  Yeah?
Zoe:  Did I start as a baby?
Me:  Yup!  We all do.  We all start as babies.
Zoe:  Why?
Me:  Well, that's just the way nature is...we all grow in bellies and then come out as babies.
Zoe:  Mommy?
Me:  Yeah?
Zoe:  Why are some trees dry and some trees not?
Me:  It's springtime, so all the trees are starting to grow their leaves back but they all do it at different times.
Zoe:  Oh....Mommy?
Me:  Yeah, Zo?
Zoe:  Where could I get running clothes?

This is just a little snippet of our conversation the other day.  I love these ones because it's not the stereotypical conversation with someone her age (although we have PLENTY of those too, thank you very much), where they are just mindlessly asking why? over and over again.  Sometimes, on days like these we have these lovely and precious conversations where she seems to be really taking everything in.  Not just what I'm saying to her, but what is around her at the time..she's so filled with wonder in these moments that I feel so peaceful and happy right then and there.  I could walk like that with her all day...

To top it off we did another little project that was perfect for her age.  I've been wanting to do these glue and bead sun catchers for a week or so, since I saw them on The Chocolate Muffin Tree and sure enough it went really well.  We are still waiting for them to dry but here are some pictures...I'll post them dry and hanging in the sun in a couple days...




On Sunday, I had a couple hours to myself with the kids while Nathan went to a rehearsal and I found myself a bit...ahem....bored while watching Zoe play out in front of our apartment so I picked up some sticks and started peeling the bark off....about a half hour later I ended up with this:
Not bad for a quick springtime craft I must say!  I just tied the sticks together with twine and cut the chick shape out of the white paper,  backed it with the colored paper and glued it on.  Easy!

Anyway, wish us luck on the sleeping front and be sure that I'll let you know how it goes....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sick Day Boredom Busters

Well, we had a sick little girl all night last night (again--UGH!!), so today was all about taking it easy.  I have to give a shout out to Nathan who, after tag teaming the first vomit episode with me, took care of Zoe the entire rest of the night so that I could concentrate on the still-high-maintenance-at-night Owen.  I am constantly thankful for whatever energy happened to be floating around in the universe when we met.  If we hadn't, I'm not sure I could have ever been matched up with someone more perfect for me than he is.  I have no idea what people do when they don't have such an amazing supportive partner as I do and I'm not sure I could be strong enough to do all of this without him.  THANK YOU NATHAN.

Anyway, to kill some boredom today I finished my "O" for Owen's window hanging.  Remember I made a "Z" the other day and wanted to make one for all of us?  While I love how they came out, I think I'll stop at the kids...not sure Nathan really cares about having one and I think an "S" would be really hard to make so I'm happy with the two...until I get inspired to do more, I guess!
Zoe and I wanted to show Nathan how proud we are of him for defending his thesis successfully.  He's worked so hard over the last two years and has spent countless lonely hours in the library working on his "baby" so we wanted to do something to commemorate the event.  Pink and Green Mama posted about this website called Wordle where you can take any text (as short or long as you want) or link it to a blog or something and it creates these really cool word clouds for you.  You can play around with the font, layout and color and it's free!  A really fun thing to mess around with if you're bored so you should check it out.  Anyway, I copied and pasted Nathan's entire thesis into the program and Zoe and I decorated an old picture frame we had lying around.  Certainly not the most sophisticated thing ever, but we did the best we could with what we had on hand, and Nathan really enjoyed looking at it.  We wrapped it in some butcher/freezer paper (which you can buy at the grocery store--a really great inexpensive addition to your arts and crafts supply) that Zoe painted and surprised Nathan with it when he got home today!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sunny Days and Projects

Am I the only one who feels like the only parent on the playground that stumbles and stutters when trying to explain stuff to their kids?  I feel like I'm ALWAYS thinking of just the right thing a few seconds after the WRONG thing has come out of my mouth.  In my case, I tend to over explain.  I'm convinced that the more clearly I can explain something to Zoe, the more she'll get it and remember it, but time and time again I'm reminded of the fact that short and sweet is really the way to go with young kids.

The kids and I spent a lovely sunny day at Scott Carpenter Park, or as we (and most people around here) call it, "The Rocket Park".  It's dubbed this because of the 30 foot rocketship that is the feature of the playground.  It has 4 or 5 levels and is a pain in the ass to go up if you aren't a kid, so you usually see a bunch of kids inside (crowded into the tiny top level) and a crowd of worried parents anxiously looking up, praying they don't hear their kid yell for them.  The last thing you want to do is to have to squeeze yourself up there to get them so you just cross your fingers and hope that they'll be able to go up and down on their own.

As I was watching Zoe climb up and down it today, I noticed that she was on the next to highest level looking a little concerned and kind of frozen.  I yelled up to her (of COURSE you have to yell) and asked if she was okay.  She yelled down to me and said that the kids in the top level told her she couldn't go up.  I told her to tell them that of course she could go up and when she did, they yelled "No you can't!!" and started to explain to her that she was supposed to be "crushing aliens" on the level she was on.  Clearly, they had some sort of game going that she didn't know she was a part of and the more they tried to explain, the more upset she got.  So, I was trying to tell her they were just playing a game, but between the kids (sort of aggressively) telling her the "rules" and me yelling up to her she just got overwhelmed and started to cry really hard.  Now, in hindsight I realize I should have at least told her to come down so I could talk to her or tell her to say something like "I don't want to play that game--I just want to go up." What I did say (yell), though was this:  "ZOE, THEY ARE JUST TRYING TO PLAY A GAME WITH YOU!  JUST TELL THEM THEY ARE HURTING YOUR FEELINGS BECAUSE I DON'T THINK THEY REALIZE!  THEY ARE JUST TRYING TO EXPLAIN THE GAME TO YOU HONEY, DON'T BE UPSET!  JUST SAY "HEY YOU'RE HURTING MY FEELINGS CAN I JUST GO UP?"  Why did I think that would be helpful?  I'm sure she couldn't even hear me anymore!  The poor thing finally made her way down, crying all the way (down the 30 foot twisty slide on the other side of the play structure) and ran to me for a hug.  Yeah, nice one Mom.

Anyway, as the weather gets warmer, I've had such a nice time being outside with the kids.  I've been reminded so often of all the wonderful sunny days we spent outside in Prospect Park in Brooklyn with Zoe when she was a baby.  I used to sit on the picnic blanket with her and watch the big kids play and just couldn't picture her being as big as those kids. Now here I am sitting with my second sweet little baby, on the very same picnic blanket watching my big girl run, climb, jump and swing without my help at all (most of the time).

One of my favorite things to do these days is quietly sit at our kitchen table with Zoe when Owen naps in his crib, working on little projects.  This is something I was working on today.  I saw it on Pink and Green Mama and loved it because Zoe loves storytelling lately.  I want to make a bunch of animals and a little stage eventually.
Here's what Zoe was working on while I was working on those:
Here are two of the pottery pieces we painted the other day at Color Me Mine for my birthday.  The sock monkey was Zoe's project and the little cup was one of mine that I made for Owen.  Okay, so I THOUGHT it was a little baby cup, but when I looked at the receipt on our way out, realized it's actually a shot glass.  How classy is that?  I made my 6 month old son his very own shot glass!  Oh well, something to remember his mother by while getting hammered at frat parties.  Maybe I'll get lucky and it'll actually keep him in line.  Yeah, right.
Finally, just a couple of cheerful Springtime shots...man, I love this time of year!
Sidewalk drawing of Daddy

Taking her babies our for a stroll/nap