Thursday, June 21, 2012

friday photos

 We've been loving some hot summer weather lately. Last weekend we went to a nearby lake and spray park.

It took a long time to convince Genghis to approach the fountains, or "wa wa falls" as he calls them.

 Xena enjoyed riding on Abe's back this time. She is definitely a hand sucker. Sometimes a few fingers, sometimes a thumb. I suppose it's nice to vary it up.

Look out Xena! He's coming! 

I believe Genghis is pretending to be an airplane here. Later in the day, Abe took him out in the water for the "deeper and deeper" game. They would inch out (although my the end Genghis was running) chanting "deeper and deeper" as the water went to Genghis' belly button, chest, shoulders and neck.

Friday, June 15, 2012

friday photos

 Xena has been underrepresented in photos lately, so I wanted to tell you a little about her through photos.

She may look relaxed here, but she always has her hands ready to defend herself against aggressive sibling attention. 

She loves having matching hair with her mom!

She wants to be a pirate when she grows up.

A happy pirate.

Oops. This is her brother. What is he doing interrupting this series? Well, that's sort of part of Xena's life, too.

 Xena spends many family outings wrapped up like a little rucksack on her Mom's back. It's quite comfortable for both, although a bit of a production to watch her get hooked up. Also Xena often spits up all over her Mom's back in the process.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Real Men Open Man Crates

Last week, Abe got a Man Crate. Photos and video of the opening of the Man Crate below. 

In case you were wondering, this is, indeed, a shameless promotion: Abe's brother Sam works for Man Crates ("gift baskets for real men").

Sunday, June 10, 2012

home alone

I was just about to write about how much I am loving sitting in my living room with the door open, listening to the croaking frogs and chirping crickets, feeling a gentle nighttime breeze. But then I saw a 1-inch - I kid you not - black ant crawling along the couch toward my toes and, well, the magic's gone. Why does nature have to be so ... alive and crawly and unexpectedly large?

Anyway, I lured the ant onto my journal and was going to gently shake it out the door but it was moving so fast across the cover that I just threw the whole journal outside and then retrieved it when things looked safe.

It's probably just as well. The house is more boring with the door closed now, and Abe's out of town, so I'll probably just go to bed. I stayed up way too late last night reading Brandon Sanderson's Alloy of Law. An early bedtime would be good.

Every time Abe goes out of town, I get excited at the prospect of going to bed early. Wow, is that really as lame as it sounds? (Yes. Yes, it is.) One of the hard things about marriage is coordinating bedtime. It's much better to go to bed at the same time as your spouse because you can talk and cuddle your way to sleep (otherwise I either start counting numbers or try re-writing movie scripts in my head, both of which are surprisingly not very interesting). Plus, if your spouse goes to bed later than you, then he (I mean, he or she) may wake you up when he (or she) opens the door, gets a toothbrush, goes to the bathroom, or gets in bed. Sometimes this causes unpleasant feelings because you wake gasping, bolt upright in alarm, and then mutter something caustic and utterly unintelligible.

Anyway. What really happens when Abe goes out of town is that I stay up even later because the house is too quiet. And I've got an entire evening to myself so I feel the need to make good use of it. And it's more complicated to get to the bedroom because it's dark and I'm alone. So I have to turn on all the lights between where I am and the bed, and then go back and successively turn each of them off, following my little trail of light and goodness to my covers.

But I think I'm ready for bed now, not only because of my ruined nature soundtrack but because I'm done drinking a cup of cocoa that doesn't taste very good. The packet had been sitting in our cupboard for a while and had a "best by" date of November 17, 2011.

Good night.

Friday, June 8, 2012

friday photos: and one of the best ideas ever

The other day I was talking with a nanny at the park about creative play with kids. She said one of her favorite drawing activities is to put huge pieces of paper on the ground and let the toddlers sit on the paper and draw around themselves. According to her, being in their artwork gets them really engaged.

Luckily, we had on hand a household essential: white butcher paper.* One afternoon, Genghis, Xena and I taped down a few sheets of paper on our patio and went at it. Our inspiration was a trip to the petting farm that morning. I was thrilled that Genghis is old enough to start telling stories about what he's done. I asked him what he remembered seeing at the farm, he would tell me, and I'd draw it. We labeled each drawing and then had fun pointing to or stomping on the drawings.

Things I loved about this activity:
Little preparation. Genghis enjoyed helping me tape down the paper.
Great conversation piece. Not just for Genghis and I, but for him to tell others what he'd been up to. We kept the paper out for a few days and Genghis continued to refer back to it.
Fun for me. I loved the chance to try to draw the different things we saw that day. It helped me capture the memory of the whole day.
Indoor or out. We have an awesome screened-in porch for playing in, but we don't use it nearly enough. This was a fun way to have the whole family outside (but contained) to enjoy the wonderful weather. Xena particularly enjoyed being outside but out of the sun. This could also be a great indoor activity in the winter (like indoor sidewalk chalk).
Easy to be creative. I found it easy to be creative when we were drawing jumbo pictures and drawing stories about things we'd done that day. The jumbo pictures helped me feel less inhibited about drawing things "right" and setting up a few rules of the game (in this case, things we saw that day) gave me enough direction and constraints to then be creative.
Grow with me potential. I see this as something that would work with a lot of different ages, so we'll probably do it again and again.

*In my family, we kept a roll of butcher paper on hand to make things like jumbo "Happy Birthday" signs. I was shocked to find out that other families did not keep butcher paper in the closet. (I was also shocked to find out that other families didn't grind their own wheat. Go figure.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

baby product review: sippy cups that don't spill

Time for another baby/toddler product review. My favorite sippy cups: Tommee Tippee Explora cups. I don't know what it is about this brand - never heard of it before I got the awesome bibs - but they make high quality products for a reasonable price.

Things I love about this cup:

  • Really, truly spill proof. After trying many different "spill proof" cups, this one is the only one that really survives a toddler. Dumping upsidedown and shaking, throwing across the room, turned over in the diaper bag - all with no mess.
  • Easy to drink from. I have to take back what I said previously. I did find some other cups that were spill proof. The only problem was that my son couldn't for the life of him actually drink from the cup either (and I barely could). The Tommee Tippee cup was easy for him to figure out.
  • Cleans easily. There's a cup and a lid, with a 2-piece valve that comes apart easily for throwing in the dishwasher.
  • Durable. We've been using these cups for close to a year, and nothing has broken or been chewed off (and this is the kid who can open a granola bar package with his teeth in approximately 5 seconds).
Things to keep in mind about this cup:
  • It took me a few weeks to figure out exactly how the valve needs to be put together to ensure the cup is spill proof. It's easy to put the valve together, but if you do it in a hurry you can miss properly snapping a few key pieces of plastic into place and the cup will leak. Once you know what to look for, it's easy to get it right every time without any hassle.
  • The screw top lid can sometimes be difficult to align and screw on all the way. And if you screw it too tight, it can be quite difficult to get off.

Friday, June 1, 2012

friday photos

Xena: "Here we go again."