Monday, June 23, 2008

portland vacation

Before we left town for our roadtrip to Portland, I quizzed the other playgroup moms for tips and warnings concerning 24 hours of total driving time with a toddler. Nobody had yet attempted anything of this magnitude, but optimism was high. Offers of portable dvd players and various videos were abundant. Various tricks and ideas I had planned and shared with them were met with approval and encouragement. I wasn't dreading the drive at all; in fact, it was my bright idea to do the trip this way, allowing us to save some money and have more flexibility and fluidity.

We survived. We drove our small subaru imprezza for the gas mileage, and Sam had never ridden in that car before, so we had a novelty factor there. Plus we decided to turn his carseat around to forward-facing for the first time, figuring that he would do better if we could all see each other. Sure enough, as soon as we pulled out of the driveway and around the corner, Sam let out his characteristic single-syllable laugh of surprised amusement. That moment turned out to be the highlight of the drive.

We split the drive into two-day segments each way, leaving in the evening and driving as far as we could while Sam slept, then stopping for the night at a motel and continuing the next morning until we got there. This was a good plan, and mostly worked out as we had hoped. We did borrow the portable dvd player and put it to good use watching Elmo (so annoying and not so appealing to Sam), the Wiggles (captivates him), and Sesame Street Old School (he likes and we like). We took long lunch breaks during the day-journeys, giving Sam ample time to run around while we tried to feed him our picnic lunch.

Was it fun? No. Not fun. Crying, whining, even screaming, and difficulty car-sleeping about half the time. Worth it? Yes, absolutely. As one seasoned mom friend of mine looked at it: we're conditioning him for future long car rides. And believe me, there will be future Portland roadtrips...My new niece? I love her already! So tiny and cute and sweet. So many facial expressions, changing by the second, arms and legs waving, dropping off to sleep at all hours, so portable and compliant! She even smiled at me a few times. Sam showed some of his darker sides during our visit, but when he first met his new cousin, he gently laid his head against her. In the photo above he is gently touching her arm with his finger. I'm imagining lots of cousin-fun in the years ahead.

Friday, June 13, 2008

19 months!

Wow, the past month went fast. Sam is 19 months old today! He is making great leaps with language these days...speaking words he knows with glee, parroting us, talking to us with "words" we don't understand yet.

New favorite word: keys ("eeeez" this word prompted him to rediscover his old baby keys rattle, see photo).

Other new words: cheese ("eeezh"), yogurt ("oh-ur"), tofu ("wo-wu"), oatmeal ("oh-ee"), mama/mommy (perfectly pronounced), thank you ("ay-ooo" not on his own yet, but he says it a lot after we say it), hello? ("oh?" which he says when he puts something up to his ear like a telephone), Sadie ("ay-ee" his little friend from playgroups).

Words he says that mean something to him, but not us yet: "dee" which he says when he notices something that he likes; "aish" which he says when he wants us to do something different.

My favorite new word of his, which made my little heart grow 3 sizes bigger when I first heard him say it one night, in that sweet, clear, high-pitched voice of his: "nigh-nigh." He loves giving good-night kisses too, which, along with his strong hugs, pretty much makes bedtime the sweetest time of day.

Friday, June 6, 2008

baby fashion

I admit it: I like dressing Sam in cute outfits. For me, that means an earthy palette of greens and blues, jeans, cargo pockets, no slogans or obvious branding, minimal imagery (maybe a small tasteful animal or embroidered fire engine), the occasional rivet or leather, and absolutely no sports themes. I happily made a couple exceptions for gifts given by my Patriots-and-Red-Sox-fan brother, but nothing like the entire wardrobe of Patriots clothing that will be proudly adorning my new niece (I'm sure he'll make exceptions for my gifts of crocheted and embroidered sundresses too). I see a lot of toddler boys wearing sweatpants with racing stripes, white athletic shoes, and team shirts, but not Sam. He doesn't even own a baseball cap.

Then my mom gave him this Scotland soccer jersey, and I must say I am really liking it. Sam wore it for the first time yesterday, and I kept disproportionately admiring it all afternoon. Maybe it's the blue color that goes so well with Sam's beautiful eyes. Maybe it reminds me of my dear Aunt Gertrude, who loved Scotland (and me) so much. Maybe it inspires me to see into the future, Sam playing soccer, blessed with his father's good genes and skilled coaching, actually adept at sports, unlike his awkward and nonathletic mommy, who was painfully bad at every sport except swimming. I don't know what it is about this cute shirt, or what it says about my toddler fashion aesthetic, probably nothing. Just another small pleasure in my simple life of being mommy.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

order and chaos

About a year ago Sam started crawling, and with that milestone our home became a little matchbox of chaos. When he started pulling himself up onto furniture, the house ceased once and for all being the charming domain of adults, and became a realm of babygates, strategically propped pillows, strewn toys and weirdly half-clear table surfaces. Our sharp-edged coffee table was moved to the garage, and the couch was placed in an odd location in the middle of the room so as to block off the potentially deadly antique lawyers bookshelf and equally rickety antique buffet. Eventually my desk and computer were crammed into our bedroom, where eight pieces of furniture line the walls with no space between them. In the kitchen, we blocked off the open pantry shelves such that I have to move two chairs in order to reach the pasta. Table surfaces had to be clear the length of Sam's reach, so everything on them, like mail, books, coasters, diaperbag, and camera, was deposited in a messy pile at one end. Even with all this babyproofing, Sam got into everything. If there was a hole in our armor, he would find it. Reaching through the gate and around the pillows to fiddle with the stereo buttons, crawling under the table and two chairs to pull out all the cookbooks, squeezing between the wall and the coat-rack causing it to tip over, finding the one envelope poking out from the pile and using its leverage to drag the entire stack off the edge...and on and on. Going to other people's homes, even those with kids the same age, was always dicey. Sam was particularly curious, and therefore prone to cause chaos.

Dare I say it: I have recently become aware of a new trend towards order. Sam puts his cup back on the table instead of flinging it willynilly. If it tips, he rights it. He finds my shoes by the couch and moves them to their proper spot by the front door. After pulling out a book from his bookshelf, he puts it back, and if the spine is not facing out, he turns it the right way. I leave the diaperbag out on a chair, and it is entirely possible that it will not be immediately targeted and rifled through. He plays with the lipbalm I keep on my bedside table, and instead of finding it in a random drawer or under the sheets, I find it back where it belongs. Every day after dinner I wipe off Sam's hands and face with a washcloth and then carry it to the laundry basket on our way to the bathtub. The other day Sam picked up his dirty washcloth himself and carried it directly to the laundry basket in his room. Without being asked. Don't get me wrong, there is no ocd going on here; there is still plenty of mindless dropping, flinging, and misplacing, and our house is by no means orderly. But something has happened to my little whirlwind of chaos, and I like it. I am taking full advantage. We are working on picking up toys, putting away dirty clothes, and dusting mommy's knickknacks. Ok, not the last one, not yet.