Thursday, October 30, 2008

three days away

Early tomorrow morning I am leaving by myself for another flight to Boston. I will be apart from Denis and Sam for three days, by far my longest time and farthest distance away from Sam. I plan to check in with the blog to see some pictures of my little boy while I am away. These are the images I want to see...taken two days ago, goofing around after nap, doing what we do every day, just having fun together.

playgroup birthday bash

Sam is almost 2! We celebrated with one big party for all the kids in playgroup, since their birthdays are all so close together. It was a gorgeous day in a festive backyard with a sandbox, slide, bubbles, presents, and ice cream cone cupcakes. I am especially pleased with the group photo above...Sam stayed sitting in his spot! Two kids ran away from that picture, but Sam stayed put. At last year's 1-year group birthday party, and for group pictures in general, Sam has typically been the one out of frame or out of focus, always on the move. It's awesome to see him lined up with his little friends. I am so proud of him.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


These pictures were taken in September, but tomato season is still with us. The end of October is approaching, and yet temperatures reached the mid-80s last week . Harvests have slowed, but we still have baskets on our counter piled high with tomatoes, cukes, basil and beans from our community garden plot. This week's favorite salad paired cukes and feta cheese, with a dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, red onions, and s&p.

Sam's favorite crop has been the one plant we have at home: a potted sungold cherry tomato. He's helped with planting, watering, and harvesting, and whenever we pass by, he asks for a "day-doe" or two or three. There are fewer ripe ones each day; Denis and I don't even eat them anymore so as to save them all for Sam. I am starting to explain, when he asks for more, that tomato season is slowing down and pretty soon there will be none left until next summer. It's pretty abstract for a toddler, I realize, but I'm hoping some of the concept gets through. We'll pull up the plant and put it into the compost together when the time comes. Little does he know that at our new house the entire front yard will be planted with food. We'll have a bunch of sungold plants next summer for him to fill his belly if he wants to. And in the back yard, we'll have berries. My dream of seeing Sam run outside in his pj's and barefeet to pick berries for breakfast has just gotten a lot closer to coming true.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

pumpkin patch

If you didn't have a child, you might not realize that our town is a pumpkin patch destination. We have many to choose from, and this year we discovered a great one: organic, mellow, and fun. A couple weeks ago Sam and I visited with some friends, and today we went back as a family.

Our visit started off with a hayride, but Sam was eager to get down to pumpkin business, so we hopped off the wagon and hiked out the the fields. We picked out 3 pumpkins and of course Sam helped.

We thought the sunflower maze was really cool.

Sam climbed right up this strawbale mountain.

Sam learned how to say "cheese" during a photo session at playgroup the other day. Perfect timing for his Pumpkin Patch '08 headshot.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Today started before 5am with a little squirmy boy who wouldn't go back to sleep. At some point this afternoon, too tired for activity, I was lying on the couch reading the New Yorker. Sam had finally given up crawling on my head and was sitting on my shins reading a magazine of his own. Hidden as I was by my propped-up magazine, I allowed my eyes to droop closed. I really wanted to keep drifting off to a sweet sleep, but in order to completely relax, I would have to lower my arms and thus my cover. It was an internal debate for several minutes: enjoy the peace and quiet indefinitely but without being able to "go all the way," or allow myself to drift and risk everything. The pull towards rest was strong, and eventually my arms and magazine dropped. Not 2 seconds passed and I realized it was all over; Sam was on his way up to my head and the peace was broken. Of course.

Sleep-deprivation casts a powerful spell, and my coping mechanism today became a rare mid-afternoon treat: ice cream. We don't even buy ice cream usually, but we had it around this week to celebrate impending home-ownership. Dog-tired and desperate, I pulled out two little bowls and the ice cream scoop. Told Sam to climb into his highchair for some ice cream, and miraculously, he complied at first request. Did mommy just say what I think she said? he was probably thinking, looking hopefully at the unfamiliar carton on the counter. I put the bowl in front of him and he recognized its contents right away. I-beam. No little tip of tongue tastes required; a big spoonful went right into his mouth. For a few minutes things were quiet again...until the bowl was empty. "Mo i-beam?" Of course.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

sale pending

When we first saw this house, the owner, a stay-at-home-dad with a two-year-old son, told us that five years ago he and his wife looked at 139 homes before finally picking this one. As if on cue, our agent said, "We may have you beat."

I actually stopped counting a few months ago, when the number went well over 50. We have been seriously looking more than 6 months, and casually looking for a year or so. This was our 6th offer, but it was the first one I really wanted. With all the others, I felt like I could walk away, like I knew something else would come along if it didn't work out. Here, though, I could not stop myself from really wanting it. I felt like now it was our turn.

Apparently the owner liked us...maybe it was Sam's Scotland jersey (coincidentally worn that day--they are Welsh), or maybe they just liked the idea of another 2-year-old buying their home...I'm sure the credit goes to Sam somehow. Apparently there were at least 4 offers on this property, and we learned later that one of them was identical to ours. They picked us. We had to agree to a shortened contingency period, but after such a long haul, the choice was easy. Move in by Thanksgiving? OK! We found out the day before my birthday. Yesterday we removed contingencies. In 3 weeks we'll close. Time to start packing!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


One of the new words Sam learned last month on our cross-country trip was "airplane," and it has become a favorite of his. His pronunciation of it has evolved; just today I noticed it sounded like "ay-bame!" whereas for awhile it was more "bay-bame!" which sometimes reminded me of Fantasy Island from the 80s.

A few days after our return flight, Sam and I took a walk up the street, as we often do before dinner. Our street ends in a cul-de-sac on a hill, with a wide open view of the sky. To the East lies a flight path, and Sam spotted two planes on that walk (one a bi-plane), completely on his own. Ever since, his ears seem to be constantly attuned to the sound of planes overhead. One time, during a full-on screaming fit at the carseat, he suddenly stopped, turned his bright red and tear-streamed face to the sky, pointed straight up, and, with only the slightest quiver of his still down-turned lip, screamed "BAY-BAME!"

Last week, amid increasing activity on our real estate search, I brought Sam to our local city airport to watch some small planes take off. I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with such a killer activity for the little guy; I mean, I had been carting him around to house-showings and document-signings, and Denis and I were quite preoccupied with all the drama in the world and in our life right now. I was amazed how many small planes are parked at our small town airport. In the space of 20 minutes we saw two of them take off. We'll definitely be back.

Sam's airplane-love continues. Every time we're outside, looking out a window, talking about leaving the house, or even at random moments indoors, he is listening for that distant hum, and looking for that flying object in the sky. It doesn't matter if it is a lawnmower, a turkey vulture, a tree trimmer, or an actual plane; Sam's focus on, attention to, and enthusiasm for planes are expressed with a big loud "AY-BAME!" every time.

Monday, October 6, 2008

developmental update

This post is more of a record-keeping tool for myself, perhaps not so interesting to others. Consider yourself warned: lots of toddler detail ahead.

Language is the big thing these days. As of today (one week shy of 23 months) Sam speaks over 110 words, including nouns, names, verbs, onomatopoeias, expressions, a few adjectives, and at least one pronoun (this). He also has just started putting 3 words together, such as "open garage door" or "mommy daddy phone." He was 20 months when he first put 2 words together, and 21 months when word duos were happening regularly. For the past couple of months he has acquired approximately one new word each day, and I am relatively conservative about counting them...meaning that if he only says it for part of one day and not again the next day, I don't count it.

Physically, I am totally curious what his stats are. Folks tell me all the time how tall he is, though at his last checkup (18 months) he was only around 75% for height (much less for weight). It will be interesting to see if he's moved up in percentage. He loves to say "RUN!" when we are holding hands and taking a walk together, and then we run together and he giggles the whole time. He still enjoys stroller walks, though he will often ask to "walk walk walk" for a portion of our outing. We rarely do ergo walks anymore. And now that I think of it, since our regional parks pass expired (and house-hunting ramped up), we haven't done as many hikes.

As for food, he is much more picky now. I have taken to hiding vegetables, something I had hoped never to do. He still loves his breakfast of oatmeal that he's had every morning for over a year now, and fruit is a big hit. He also enjoys brown rice, tofu, whole wheat pasta, sunbutter and jam sandwiches, yogurt (his after dinner staple), eggs, crackers. Sam still sits in his highchair, though those days are numbered...we really need to move him to a booster, if we only had a third chair. Waiting to see where we're living before investing in new furniture; that's the story there. He uses a spoon pretty adeptly by now and still uses his hands for some things. With a new or potentially hot food, he will test it with the little point of his tongue before committing. And when his hands get dirty with food, he sticks them out to be wiped. Sometimes he even asks for his own napkin too (and puts it in his lap!).

Emotionally, we are seeing more meltdowns lately, in proportion to his growing awareness of his own strong desires. Our previous technique of simply explaining what we are doing before we do it (for example, "It's time for a diaper change now Sam. Mommy's going to pick you up now and change your diaper.") is no longer enough to prevent protest. These days, I often give 1-minute or 5-minute warnings, which helps sometimes, but not always. He certainly has a mind of his own!

Sleepwise, Sam has been getting up on the early side lately, before 6 sometimes. Nap is creeping later, starting sometime between 12:30 and 1:00 and lasting 2 hours usually. Bedtime was 8:00pm but we've been making it earlier, 7:30, to see if that helps with his early wake-up (counter-intuitive yes, but the concept has been right on in Sam's sleep life since birth). Overall he sleeps really well. We have the same routine we've had for quite awhile, and although I am a bit concerned with his pacifier attachment (I was told it intensifies at 18 mos and that is exactly what happened! should have weaned him of it earlier), I really have no complaints about his ability to fall asleep on his own.

Sam's play is still very focused on doors and keys. We finally gave him his own ring of real keys, which he carries around, loses regularly, and (recently) successfully slides into locks around the house (though they don't turn, being the wrong keys for the locks). When we were staying in an inn in New Hampshire, Sam locked us out of the bathroom twice! We had to call the front desk and it was a little embarrassing.

I would say that he is slightly less interested in books than he used to be, though he still "reads" every morning for a half hour or so, and loves storytime before nap and bedtime.

There's more to say, but this will have to do for now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

that's funny

If there's one thing I love about my child it is his sense of humor. He laughs so easily and so sweetly, it is enough to make anyone feel like an amateur comedian. I remember being a quite young and very serious and principled 20-something, reading about the importance of sense of humor in relationships, and I protested internally that a sense of humor could not be nearly so important, and that an agreement of ideas and principles absolutely superseded anything else. Well, as I got older and more free with my own joking around, I finally realized its importance. And when I found my husband I marvelled that I got such a perfect match of ideals and sense of humor in one person.

Sam makes us a perfectly, happily, laughing threesome. Just the other day I was watching the VP debate while feeding Sam dinner; I actually had it streaming live on my new wireless laptop since we don't have tv. The next morning at breakfast Denis and I were enthusiastically mocking Palin's performance, not as well as Tina Fey of course, but we were cracking ourselves up. And Sam? He had only heard about one-third of the debate, but it was enough to put his political views in order. He knew exactly what we were talking about, and laughed right along with us. "I will answer that question, Gwen, and the answer is no. No I do not like jam with my oatmeal. But let me talk about something else: (look directly at imaginary camera) I am a maverick and I will stop this corruption on Wall Street for all Americans!"

When we were on the east coast recently, on a long drive from the mountains of New Hampshire to the narrow, map-defying streets of Boston, Sam began to fuss. When I exhausted my usual arsenal of distraction techniques (singing, reciting favorite books, telling stories of all the fun things we've done recently, pointing out the passing trucks and counting wheels), I got a novel idea. I began musing about what our cat (whom Sam adores of course), Taimi (pronounced tie-me, it means seedling in Finnish), might be doing right now. "Sam, do you think Taimi is at home right now, sitting in your highchair?" Quizzical look from Sam. "Sam, do you think Taimi is playing with your blocks?" Unsure upturn of the corner of his mouth. "Sam, do you think Taimi is...(big emphasis) brushing his teeth?" Non-committal short chuckle. "Do you think Taimi is reading a book?" Definite laugh. "Do you think Taimi is going for a walk in the stroller?" He gets it now. Laughs and laughs. "Sam. Do you think Taimi is at the park going down the slide?" Ha! Mommy's funny. Hearty laugh. "Sam. Do you think Taimi is getting his diaper changed?" Omg! Can't stop laughing! "Sam. Do you think Taimi is using his keys to open the door?" You're killing me! Keys and doors are my favorite things!

And this kept going with constant laughter from all three of us. Brushing his hair, eating yogurt, playing with mirror-pound-a-ball, washing his hands, all these crazy things Taimi was probably doing at home in our absence. And then, at one point I realized that Sam had said something in the middle of all his giggles. "Bath," he said. And I knew. Sam was making a joke of his own, "Bath! That's right! Sam, do you think Taimi is taking a bath right now?" Giggles and giggles and more giggles. Let me tell you, I CANNOT WAIT for Sam's next joke. Bring it on, little boy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

late afternoon soup

An overused phrase I like to share with non-moms to describe my new life is: "the hours are long, the months are short," and the longest hours of the day are between 4 and 6pm. By 4pm, Sam has been up from his nap for a couple of hours, had his second lunch, and exhausted the day's favorite toys. If it's a day we're staying home, I can count on extra crankiness and neediness during these hours, often causing me to curtail dinner preparation and just throw together something easy. Obviously I'm not alone in this; I have new appreciation for the previously-snubbed concept of 30-minute meals. Where I once spent considerable time and attention on dinners with multiple dishes, perfectly paired and totally from scratch, I now focus on a good healthy toddler dinner for Sam, and whatever scrap of energy I have left goes towards something pretty simple and/or store-bought for us adults.

I do realize that things would be easier if I made everybody the same food. As summer salads evolve into fall soups, I'm hoping to find more crossover. With that in mind, I spent this morning peeling and chopping veggies for a huge pot of fall soup. Inspired by our (still) healthy supply of homegrown summer squash and 5 leeks grown by a fellow gardener, I incorporated leeks, celery, carrot, ginger, garlic, zucchini, yellow pattypan, and two butternut squashes, with some white wine, butter, canola, salt and red pepper flakes. Blended it in a flash with my new immersion blender and it is not only yummy but also quite pretty! For Sam's serving I added a splash of half-and-half, for flavor and extra fat and protein, which caused some excitement. Sam saw the cream carton and started pointing and exclaiming "Coffee! Coffee!" In his toddler dialect this actually sounds like, "Boppy! Boppy!" but it is no less exciting since Sam continues to try to get sips of our morning coffee no matter how long we've been refusing. Adding "coffee" to something he could taste? Oh, yeah. I served it with homegrown tomato slices (rejected) and leftover sunbutter and jam sandwiches (rejected). As for the soup, Sam tried it, liked it, and even had seconds...amazing.