Monday, August 31, 2009

Fuzzy Hair and Banging with Kitchen Utensils

My baby has some fuzzy hair. After sleeping in his car seat, it sticks straight up. I suppose mine would do the same thing, if it were shorter. Right now Nick is bouncing around the living room backwards on his butt, grasping two animal crackers. He isn't eating them, simply holding one in each hand as if each were a magical talisman.

Yesterday I spent a lot of the day in the kitchen, baking 3 loaves of bread and getting ready for the week. I've been making only one or two big meals a week, then having us eat from the leftovers. It saves us a lot of time, since I've been extremely tired in the evenings. It is so much easier to just pull out some leftovers from the fridge. Greg and I don't mind eating leftovers.
Then, for lunches, I use a whole loaf of homemade bread to pre-make sandwiches and salads for Greg and I to eat at work. While I was in the kitchen, Nick joined me and played with the pots and pans. He learned how to use a wooden spoon to bang on them, and this was really fun for him, although the decibel level was probably pretty high. A wooden spoon makes a horribly loud noise when banged onto an overturned pot. But Nick was having fun, so it was all good.

I was very proud of him last night; he really ate dinner with us for the first time. We pulled his highchair over next to us, and he ate exactly the same things. We ate broiled chicken with a mustard/basil/lemon topping, asparagus, and little baked red potatoes. Nick ate little cut up versions of the whole dinner. He seemed to like it; he grabbed fistfuls of the cut up food and stuffed them into his mouth.

Since Nick started with his new babysitter, he has wanted table food more and more. There are twin 2-year olds there, so I think Nick wants to be like them. Here he is eating chunks of tomato, carrot, and banana.

I like how he wants to eat whatever we're eating. I am desperately hoping to have a kid who will eat the kinds of food that we eat; I'm not willing to make two meals each night. So far, Nick seems satisfied with what we're feeding him. But I have a feeling this may change as he gets older. Hopefully he'll still eat asparagus, avocado, cottage cheese, cucumber, and lima beans when he gets old enough to be picky.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Teeny Weeny Zucchini and a Huge Bag of Babyproofing Supplies

Now that Nick is crawling, my life has become one long series of "No honey," "Not in your mouth," and simply "Arghh!" My baby has found freedom, and he is using this freedom to wreak havoc and destroy everything in sight. Yesterday he found our one remaining downstairs bookshelf and decided that the books would be better off on the floor, ripped. Thus the reason that our other bookshelves have been emptied of books and filled with toys. We will have to do the same with this shelf, it seems.

Because of all of the baby movement going on, Greg and I decided to do some additional babyproofing this weekend. Cabinet locks, bi-fold door locks, toilet locks, door handles: we needed everything. Most of all, we needed gates for the top and bottom of our stairs. I was lucky enough to have two of those 20% off on one item coupons for Buy Buy Baby, so off we went.

As our cart started to fill up and my wallet started to empty, Nicholas rejoiced in flirting with every baby girl who passed us in the aisles. The little girls seemed charmed by his wicked grin. Nick's little onesie says "Little Rascal," and he is, especially with that little tuft of hair sticking up.

Well over $200 later, we decided to head up to Yorktown. Greg was looking for some incense, and I was looking for baby clothing deals. I didn't find any deals, but Greg bought a ton of incense. He's really nice about only burning one stick per evening, though, because I'm mildly allergic to it. That or it irritates my asthma. One or the other. But Yorktown has a pretty fountain that Nick thought was awesome.

Nick and his daddy sat by the fountain while I scoured the clearance racks at Gymboree, The Children's Place, and Baby Gap. The clerks there must know that I am one of "those" people, because I walk in and go directly to the back of the store.

Unless I have a really good coupon or a gift card, I only go to one place. I quickly scan the final clearance rack, and if there's nothing good, I leave. I know how much things cost on ebay, so unless a store is going to beat that, I don't even bother.

Well, my squash and zucchini are finally up to something. It is probably too cold and too late in the season to get any nice-sized veggies, but my plant is making a cute little yellow squash. I think these are delicious, so it'll be okay even if it doesn't get too big.

It was in the 60s and cloudy all weekend. I think it's way too early for fall weather, but what I think doesn't matter.

The zucchini is slightly bigger, but we'll see what happens with the 40 degree temperatures that are due tonight. One thing I have to remember next year is to give my zucchini more room. I put too many plants in my little square foot garden. Notice how the strawberry plants were overwhelmed by the zucchini. These are the ever bearing ones that do two fruits in a year, but I'm pretty sure they won't this year; the zucchini are covering them all up. I might make one big bed of strawberries and then do a whole big vegetable garden next to it. Nick can help with the digging.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lovely Ivy Ambiance and a Student Driver

Nick went for a little drive around the cul de sac today. He's loving the freedom of his learner's permit as he honks the horn and turns the key. We need a sign on the back that says, "Student Driver."

Thank goodness for the handle on the back that lets Daddy push. In about 15 years, I'll be wishing his car had a handle on it. Kind of like the imaginary brake that my daddy used when he'd slam his foot down onto the floor while teaching me to drive.

Nick had his 9 month doctor's appointment this week. During the 15 minute wait for the doctor, Nick managed to tear the paper off the exam table and chew on it. He tried to pull out the childproof covers on the electrical outlet, and he nearly crawled off of the exam table.

Then, when the doctor came in, he bit her and attempted to steal her jewelry. (Nick loves bracelets, thus why I cannot wear them anymore.) She was a good sport about the whole thing, and was impressed with his crawling abilities.

Most importantly, though, Nick is very healthy. He's over his coxsackie virus, and he is wiggling around like a baby his age should. The doctor said that if Nick is driving us crazy, then he's being developmentally appropriate. I guess he is growing very well and is meeting his milestones, so that is great news.

Here he is trying to get into my purse in the waiting room. Nicholas charmed all of the nurses and the other patients, crawling over by them and cooing and grinning. This boy is a big flirt, and driving isn't the only issue I think I'm going to have with him at 15. I believe the ladies will be a factor for this flirtatious fellow.

This was the first full week of school for my students, and I spent the week immersed in paperwork, filing, and test administration. This year is so much better for me than last year, though, because of the simple addition of windows. I believe I must have a touch of that seasonal affective disorder, because I was moody and down last year while teaching in a windowless interior space. Everything seems okay so far this year, because have plants and fresh air and even sunshine, on occasion. The ambiance of the room is welcoming and homey, and everyone who comes in comments on the plants. Since part of my job is to get kids to talk, having the plants as a starting point adds to their value.

My original intention was to take pictures of all of my classroom plants, so that later on, when I kill them, I will have a record of how nice they looked. But after taking the first picture and trying to frame the second, I stopped. You see, I couldn't show the plants on my desk without showing off the mess. Folders were stacked hither and yon. Leftover lunch dishes mixed with student prizes and draft versions of service schedules. No matter what angle I tried, my part of the room still looked, well, disorganized and messy.

So I decided to highlight my favorite plant, this hanging ivy that I got for $4 at Lowe's from the nice lady who offered to give me an extra 50% off. I shall be returning to Lowe's for all of my plant needs; I got some real winners. I want to buy a few more pots and maybe one or two more hanging planters. Next week perhaps, when I have cleaned off all of the piles and such, I will take a picture of my wonderful work space for all to admire. But isn't just this one window corner lovely? I have a pretty tree, a hanging ivy plant, and tons of fresh air.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No Wonder I Never Got Raspberries. . .

I have been waiting for raspberries since my first spring in this house, back in 2007. That year, I bought two super-expensive, already big raspberry bushes guaranteed by the gardening center to create beautiful, plump berries. I planted both of them exactly according to the instructions. Then, I watered them and waited.

The last two years I never had any berries. That first year I guessed I had planted them too late. The second year I didn't take care of them very well; I was pregnant and didn't feel like messing with weeding or watering. Frankly, those raspberry bushes could've sprouted $100 bills and I wouldn't have noticed. I was too busy being pregnant and eating goat cheese and water crackers.

But this year I really paid attention to these plants. They were pampered and watered and mulched and fertilized. For mother's day, my husband went to the same nursery and bought me a third raspberry plant. Strangely, this raspberry plant looked different from the other two. I finally figured out why. I have blackberry plants. Either that, or my raspberry plants are having an identity crisis. Because I have the most gorgeous blackberries out there. Look at the picture. Are those not blackberries? Sigh.

I guess it isn't all bad. At least I have gorgeous looking blackberries. No raspberries, though. However, the tomato plant I got halfway through the summer for $0.75 (see link) is now absolutely huge and sprouting about ten green tomatoes.

I also filled my classroom with 15 indoor plants. I was very excited to do this; I actually went to Lowe's twice to fill up my cart. I'm still looking for some cool pots to replant some of them in and a cool looking watering can. I had a few students in my room today for testing, and they were commenting on my succulents and ivy. Kids are so funny. One little girl asked me if the ivy plant liked hanging up by the ceiling. I told her I'd never thought about it before. She said that she thought it did because it was like being on the monkey bars. Moments like this are why I went into teaching. Maybe I'll look for a few more haniging baskets.

Nick helped me pick out some of the plants, and it was a struggle getting him to not eat them. I ended up with small ferns, ivy, palm, succulents, bromeliads, african violets, and a bunch of other plants. I'll have to take pictures of them one of these days. If I don't kill them first, anyway.

I think I'm getting a lot more exercise just chasing Nick around. He is going from one end of the living room to the other, and destroying things in his wake. He dumped a bottle of formula onto the floor already, and tried to take the vent out of the floor. We have these long lacy curtains on the two windows flanking our front door, and he pulled down one set already. I believe he may have eaten a spider, as well, but it's hard to be sure.

But he is filled with joy as he discovers new places he didn't even know existed. Today he crawled into our downstairs powder room, and acted as though it were DisneyWorld. For him, I guess it was.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I believe this qualifies as crawling.

We can't deny it anymore. Nick is definitely crawling. We have expanded the baby cage to ten panels (see picture below), and there is trouble whenever Nick is out of it. So far this afternoon, he has tried to eat a library book, tore up a piece of my mail, attempted to climb the stairs, and clunked his head on the coffee table twice and the desk once. As I'm writing this, he grabbed a box of cheerios and dumped it over his head and all over the floor. I am having a battle between letting him have things that won't hurt him and making a mess. With the cheerios, as soon as I tried to take the box away, the bloodcurdling screams started. So I figured he could have it, at least while I'm watching.

So why don't you just confine him, you're thinking. Yeah, that works for a little while. But Nicholas has learned that the baby cage is indeed a cage, and this is the face that I get.

Because, of course, I am such a cruel mother that I would leave my baby ALONE while I start dinner. Even worse, I leave him in a CAGE with about a hundred toys, most of which sing and make annoying noises. I am just evil.

Of course, as soon as I sit next to him and let him use me to climb to a stand, Nicholas is as happy as a clam. He dances, he takes steps, he wiggles with joy. Now that he has figured out crawling, he's ready to skip right to walking. Sigh.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Babies are Contagious, but Pretty Darned Cute

Greg's mom came up today to spend some time with Nick. She brought us lunch and diapers. The perfect mother-in-law. :) She took this picture of Nick showing off his very white teeth. He seems to be feeling better today, and we saw him crawl about 3 feet today, forward.

Nick did, however, give me his coxsackie virus. I have been running fevers as high as 102.7 since Saturday afternoon. Greg has been wondeful, cooking dinner for us, making me tea, and letting me rest. I'm hoping to feel better tomorrow, since I can't take off work and I'd rather not be running fevers at school. Hopefully it will end soon. My immunity is usually decent, because I've been working in schools for ten years, and in daycare centers for five years before that.

I spent a lot of time reclining on the couch today, as I dosed with tylenol and drank tea for my painful throat. Sebastian laid down with me, and he enjoyed some fine tummy rubbing. Despite being sick, I kind of liked having the chance to cuddle up with my kitty on the couch. It is my favorite spot. I'll show you why.

#1--This is part of the damage that comes from having 3 kitties who are not declawed.

#2--The book Greg is reading. I love that I'm married to a man who reads. We can sit together on the couch and read, literally for hours.

#3--My magazines. I believe these are "Mental Floss" and "The Week." Mental Floss is a magazine that celebrates the nerdiness in us all. I love the way it is formatted and I get excited whenever it comes in the mail. As for "The Week," it is a news magazine that gives a good overview of news from around the world and from multiple perspectives. Greg and I have been known to fight over who gets to read it first each week.

#4--My Sebastian. I bought him as a tiny kitten on the day I graduated from NIU with my bachelor's degree. He was my present to myself, and he is the most loyal kitty you can imagine. He likes to sit next to me and make biscuits and purr.

#5--My coffee. I love to buy the flavored coffee (like double dutch chocolate), and make it with warm milk, Splenda, and whipped cream on top.

#6--Thermometer. Not what I wanted to have on the table this weekend, but whatever.

#7--A good book. This one is "Full House," by Stephen Jay Gould, and I've barely started it. I did just finish reading "Food Matters," by Mark Bittman. It is a totally reasonable way to eat in a healthful way and still have a positive impact on the environment. While not as well written as Michael Pollan's books, or as in-depth as Marion Nestle's, it gives a good overview of how you can eat in a better way.

Hopefully this week will be better than last. All that would take is for all three of us to stay healthy. I'm hoping we can swing that. Nick is certainly in a better mood.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Coxsackie Virus and a Crazy Cowlick

I love this picture. I surprised Nick with the camera, and he wasn't sure what to think. But the real reason I love the picture is the adorable cowlick on the back of his head. He has this fuzzy blonde little piece of hair that just won't stay down.

Nick had coxsackie virus this week, and this was his first time being really sick. He was extremely crabby on Monday night, and he freaked out on me when I left him at the YMCA. He was inconsolable and just wanted to be held. That was my first day back at work, so I thought the schedule change was upsetting him.

When Greg was getting Nick ready on Tuesday, he noticed that he felt hot, and his temperature was over 102. Our doctor said it was probably a virus. So he stayed home Tuesday, and Nick was having really high fevers by that evening. I was on the phone with the doctor after I got a temperature reading of 104.8, but I guess that can happen with babies. Nick was better the next day, and my stepdad watched him for us. (Thank goodness! He is a lifesaver--Greg and I don't get a lot of time off.)

He is doing better now, except that he's been super crabby the last few days. I've also noticed that Nick has started to mature more. I guess when the doctor checked him on Thursday, he'd lost a pound, but he is moving way more than he was before. He's even driving his little car, with his hands at ten and two!

Anytime he's down on the floor, he is wiggling around, scooting, rolling, and trying to pull up. This morning Greg found him sitting up in his crib, which he's never done before. Then, tonight, I watched him switch from laying down on his back up to sitting and then down onto his tummy up to his hands and knees. That kid is in shape! He can move 5 or 6 feet to get to something he wants, like the ritz cracker below.

As for me, I'm proud to say that I managed to do three pilates band workouts and go to the YMCA twice. Each time I did 35 minutes on the elliptical trainer and kept my heart rate between 125 and 140 the whole time (about 2 miles). It might not sound like a lot, but for me, that's a great week of exercise. Tomorrow I want to go back to the Y and do a longer workout. Hey, at least I'm trying.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wistfully Remembering Vacation

I am going to talk about the day we took my dad and stepmom to Brookfield Zoo. It was last week, back in the days of blissful summer vacation.

Here we are in front of the fountain. Nick was fascinated by the mechanical dinosaurs. Why do they have mechanical dinosaurs at the zoo? Why, to confuse little children, of course. "I want to see the elephants and the lions and the dinosaurs," one little girl exclaimed at the entrance. I'm not sure what their motivation is, but it sure gets the kids excited.

Here Nick is checking out the alligator and all of the birds in the swamp. I think he really liked seeing the different animals. It is very cool to see him respond to what he's seeing and hearing. As he gets bigger, he responds to things in different, more mature ways.

Here his grandma and grandpa are holding Nick at the butterfly gardens. The one at Brookfield Zoo was gorgeous, but I think there were more butterflies at Reiman Gardens. Nick was happy to see both. He is a first grandchild, so he gets to go lots of places with his four grandmas, three grandpas, and two great-grandmas.

I feel really lucky to have so much family wanting to spend time with Nick and cuddle him. They say that children grow up and reflect all the love that they were given; I believe Nick will have a lot of love to share.

Nick is petting, er, slapping, the goat. I'm not sure what kind of prozac they give these goats, but they sure were mellow. This poor goat even seemed to like Nick's manhandling. (Or would you call it babyhandling?)

One thing that I'm loving about being a mom is noticing how babies learn things. I know Nicholas so well that I pretty much notice as he's learning something new. Take today, for example: Nick is trying to learn how to pull up. I had him sitting in the baby cage while I made him dinner, and I was watching him pull his body up. He hadn't figured out what to do with his legs yet, so he would just hang there. But then he got an idea, and his face lit up. A lightbulb shined above his head and everything. Suddenly, he turned one leg underneath him. He tried to turn the other one, but couldn't. Still, he was able to pull pretty far on one knee and one foot.

Monday was my first day back to work, and school officially started today. I'm excited about the school year, and optimisic as well. I have a classroom with windows this year, and the sunlight coming in just makes me feel happy. I bought all these plants, so our room looks very homey. I also work with the friendliest people, so going to work is enjoyable. But boy, am I tired. I actually think I might go to bed early.

I'm trying really hard to stay on track with my healthy eating, working out, and blog posts. Nick was sick earlier this week and is still pretty crabby, but I'm very proud of how much I've still managed to accomplish. I worked out twice at the YMCA this week, did two Pilates Band workouts, and even turned down the sweets table at work yesterday. (Our PTA had a whole table of homemade goodies, and I never say no. But yesterday, I did.) Tomorrow I will try to do another Pilates workout. It has to stop hurting so bad at some point. I'm pretty sure I'll never look like the toned ladies in the video, though.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Iowa State Fair: Largest Pumpkin I Ever Did See

Yup, that's Nick in his cute sun hat. He is sitting in front of a 1,099 lb. pumpkin. I am thinking he was a little afraid of it. This was our first trip to any state fair, ever, and boy did I have a lot to learn. But my friend Gardenmom is a veteran fair goer, and she filled me in on what I need to know:

Rule #1--Make it Big! People like big things. Giant turkey legs, sculptures, livestock, statues, and even produce were found throughout the fair. Like Exhibit A--the pumpkin.

Exhibit B is a pig. It is as big as a cow, but shorter. Also, it is far less attractive. If I was a lady pig, I would stay far, far away from this big boy.

The food portions were also big at the Iowa State Fair. It would've been easy to eat loads of junk food. I saw some foods I've never tried before: deep fried twinkies and oreos. I had wanted to try those, but in a way, I'm kind of glad I didn't. I stuck to a turkey sandwich for my lunch, and a hot dog and some fried zucchini for dinner. Not too bad when I could've gone crazy on the corn dogs and elephant ears.

Our trip to the fair was in a large group of seven--we barely fit in my friend Gardenmom's van. We went with her and her son, her boyfriend, and his two children, who were extremely helpful with Nick. Everyone helped to make sure we had a great time. It is interesting how kids in IL and Iowa learn different things. I was astounded at how much the boys knew about different tractors. . . which leads me to the next rule.

Rule #2--You can relate anything and everything to farming. Iowa is filled with farm fields, so farming and its various implements are a core part of the fair. Take for example the shuttle. What would normally be a bus, shuttling people to and from the parking lots to the fair, is instead a tractor. No, really. There were also a ton of booths set up to sell people farming stuff: seeds, tractors, and giant metal implements that I couldn't identify.

Also following Rule #2, and Rule #1 as well, are these statues. Yes, Nick is really laughing as he sits under a statue of a giant chicken. The statue of an astronaut is not only huge but is also carved out of butter. There was also a giant cow and a television sculped of butter.

On a side note, you can see some really interesting people at the Iowa State Fair. People-watching is pretty hilarious. It is amazing how many unflattering outfits and tattoos congregate in one location. Mimicking their parents, I suppose, the kids even have contests to see how many temporary tatoos they can stick all over their bodies. We're not just talking about the little kids, either. I saw teenagers with company logo tattoos covering all exposed body parts. And boy, did they have exposed body parts! It was pretty funny to see the lines of kids getting fake tattoos all over their bodies. I guess it must be an Iowa thing.

Which brings us to Rule #3--Clothing is a flexible concept at the Iowa State Fair. I was too embarrassed to take pictures of people who were truly scandalous, but Nick sure loved the idea. There is a water play area at the fair that kids can play in, and I let Nick go in just his diaper. When in Rome, and all that. Nick sure loves semi-nudity. I think he'd be happiest if I let him wear only a diaper all the time. He'd probably tell me to skip the diaper, too, if he could talk.

Rule #4--Animals are cool. They are a central theme of the Iowa State fair. I actually loved seeing the animals, and so did Nick. Here he is looking at a horse while the horse looks at him. Both of them seemed mildly curious. The horse actually turned his head to look at Nick.

We also saw some awesome looking fuzzy chickens, turkeys, llamas, goats, sheep, and very cute pigs. All of the animals looked so pretty; I guess their owners groomed them well before the fair.

This isn't a real animal, but it was sure Nick's favorite ride. He wasn't big enough for the carnival rides, but he was just the right size for the pink elephant!

This last picture is of Nick sitting with Gardenmom's son in a little jeep. He loved it and didn't want to get out. Nick and I really did have a great time on our trip to Iowa. I'm always appreciative of other cultures, and the agricultural rural communities of Iowa definitely constitute a culture of their own. It was kind of neat to be outside of my comfort zone and in a new area. The hills and fields in Iowa were beautiful, and everyone I met was welcoming. My trip definitely wasn't as exotic as my vacation in Paris last summer, but it was still enjoyable. I'm so glad I had the chance to have a little getaway this year.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Central Iowa: My Exotic Vacation Destination

To finish off my summer break, I decided to take Nick and go on a relaxing getaway to visit my friend GardenMom. I've known her since we lived on the same co-ed dorm floor at NIU back in the mid-1990s. Boy, did we have some fun back then. After college, she moved to Iowa and I moved back to the Chicago suburbs. But once or twice a year, we try to visit one another for a mini-vacation.

In this picture, you can see Nick sitting on the edge of the world. At least it looks that way to me. The corn and soybean fields seem to go on and on forever. I thought the hills in this part of Iowa were beautiful and so different from Illinois. GardenMom lives on a dead end street, with beautiful fields behind her.

This was my first time making the trip since having Nick. He was very well-behaved (for a baby) during the drive; I found the local NPR affiliate and he went right to sleep. I guess Iowa Public Radio does that to some people. At one point, he did get fussy and I had to fling him (literally) a teething cookie, but the rest of the way he was great. I'm hoping for the same kind of luck on the trip back this Saturday.

Here is GardenMom standing with Nick next to her huge sunflowers. She is an amazing gardener, and her whole yard is filled with vegetables, herbs, and flowers. She has given me much advice on how not to kill my plants through neglect and/or abuse. I've become better at keeping plants outdoors alive, although I have a 100% record of killing indoor plants. We'll see if I can break that record this year; I'm going to buy plants for my classroom next week and try to keep them alive. In the picture below, I'm standing in the middle of her monster garden of joyous vegetables. Nick kept trying to grab them.

For our first full day in Iowa, we went to the Reiman Gardens at Iowa State University. They were gorgeous, but the highlight of the trip was the Butterfly Gardens. There were so many different kinds fluttering all around. Nick didn't know which way to look.

Pardon my poor photography skills, but if you look closely, you can see a gorgeous yellow butterfly sitting on the pavement towards the left side of the picture. Nick was enthralled. He wasn't sure what was going on, but he sure liked it.

He also had the chance to flirt with this little girl, maybe 2 years old, who wanted to hug him. She kept saying "Baby," and touching his hair and his hands. She patted him on the head like a dog and would have followed our little group if her grandma hadn't pulled her away.

Nick was just as attracted, but to the little girl's shoe. She was wearing Crocs, you see, and he enjoyed poking his fingers through the little holes.

The experience of standing in the butterfly gardens with hundreds of wings fluttering around you is wondrous. I sat on a bench and just watched them fly around for quite awhile; it was incredibly relaxing. I will be thinking of the butterflies next week while I'm sitting in staff meetings and organizing files.

I was at Brookfield Zoo on Tuesday with my dad and stepmom, and we went to the butterfly gardens there, but this structure was more permanent and the plants were larger and more beautiful. I'd recommend the Reiman Gardens to anyone who visits this part of Iowa.

This little pond had frogs, giant dragonflies, and lilypads galore. GardenMom's son had to walk all the way around the pond to make sure he introduced himself to every frog he could find. I don't blame him. At the age of six, I would have done the exact same thing.

As it was a hot and sunny day, I of course packed sunscreen and dutifully applied it to my son. We've been using it for months now, but I think Nick might have developed an allergy to this baby sunscreen. Almost immediately after application, a rash appeared on his head and spread to his face. He must have rubbed his eyes right after I put sunscreen on his hands, because his eyes got all red and his nose was running.

This picture was taken after the rash had mostly calmed down. You can still see it on his head, though. I am going to try a different sunscreen tomorrow. We're going to the Iowa State Fair, and I'm sure we'll need plenty of sunscreen. That and Pepto Bismol.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Puppy Kisses

Last Sunday Greg and I took Nick to see his Grandma and Grandpa in Delavan, Wisconsin. They have two very cute dachshund puppies who loved to lick his face.

Nick adores dogs. In fact, he loves animals of all kinds. The only problem is that he tends to grab ears and pull fur and even bite. (The baby, not the dogs.) I was appreciative of how tolerant the doggies were of Nick's explorations. They whimpered a bit, but never bit or even growled. These were extremely friendly doggies.

The highlight of the trip was that Nick got to see his Great-Grandma. She is 94, and she's only met Nicholas once, when he was about a week old. She had fun cuddling with him and watching him play.

This week has been crazy busy. I have to go back to work next Monday, and I'm trying to get my last little bits of summer joy in before vacation ends.

Part of me is actually looking forward to going back to work; I love the kids and the people I get to work with everyday. But I'm going to miss having as much time with Nick. He and I have gotten closer over the summer. I suppose it's really good for him to be around other kids at the babysitter's house, though. Nick loves playing with other kids.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nick's First Wedding and the Hegemony of the Zucchini

We had a very busy weekend, so I think I'm going to talk about it in two posts. Basically we were gone the whole weekend. We had a great time, but boy, were we busy.

On Saturday, Greg and I took Nick to his first wedding. It was for my co-worker Patty (and her husband Byron, of course). The wedding was really beautiful, and it was in this pretty neighborhood in Clarendon Hills.

During the ceremony, Nick was pretty quiet, although he kept pulling on my hair and attempting to rip my earrings out of my ears. He liked the music, and he was remarkably well-behaved. It was a lovely wedding, and I think Nick liked all of the colors and lights and sounds.

During the reception, Nick loved getting to taste test all of the different foods. Since his two teeth came in last week, he's been eating a lot more solid food. Pretty much he'll eat whatever I stick in his mouth. I think his favorite was the turkey, which was very tender. Nick is actually trying to chew now, which is great. He even ate my pea soup, and liked it. (It was pretty good.)

There were these cool bells on the table, and Nick went crazy for them. We tried really hard to keep them out of his mouth, with only moderate success. He took one in each hand and made lots of noise.

During the introductions of the bridal party, I was trying to teach Nick to clap. He is learning, but he doesn't do it by himself. At least I can get him to open his hands when he claps. He used to keep them in fists, but now when we show him he gets it, and he opens his hands and gets excited.

Onward to the hegemony. . . Hegemony is one of the vocabulary words I was working on with my SAT prep student. It comes from Greek, and it refers to the dominance of one city-state over another. If you will look at my zucchini leaves, I think you'll see why I chose that word to describe the plant relationships. The zucchini have taken over and are dominating the strawberries and the peppers. No actual zucchini, though, just some promising looking flowers that I'm hoping will turn to nice vegetables. We'll see.

I'm rather proud of myself, though. Despite an extremely full schedule this weekend, I still managed to work out at the Y on Saturday morning and do another Pilates DVD on Sunday. This morning I could barely stand, but I still went to the Y anyway and did my elliptical trainer routine. I end up doing 35 minutes with my heart rate above 130. Yes, the irony does strike me as I'm running very quickly to nowhere. But I do it anyway. Running on concrete gives me shin splints.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Cheerio Munchin' Head-Bangin' Baby

Nick has figured out the pincher grip, and now he can pick up Cheerios and eat them with his two teeth. The other tooth popped through yesterday, so now there is a matching set of chompers. He has about a 3:1 ratio when you figure how many he drops for every one he eats, but at least he can get them in his mouth. He likes to talk with food in his mouth, too, but I figure it's a little early for etiquette lessons. I took this video this morning as he was munching and chatting.

Today his new trick was banging his head. No matter where I put him down all day, he promptly scooted backwards as far as he could go until his head banged into something. Then he cried pitifully until I picked him up. So I'd go put him down and he would scoot somewhere else and bump his head. Even in the baby cage he'd scoot until he hit his head on something. Sigh. He didn't hit his head very hard, but the poor guy must have a headache from all that bumping.

After my YMCA visit on Wednesday, I ended up doing one of those Pilates DVDs Thursday. I figure I'll rest today and do some kind of exercise tomorrow. You'd think that the pilates would be easy, but it left me incredibly sore. Nick thinks it's hilarious when I use the resistance bands to stretch my legs over my head. He watched me the whole time, entranced by my grunts of pain.

The funny thing about the Pilates workout is that I feel a lot older than my 31 years. The tape is pretty good, and I like the resistance band even though I'm using the purple, or wimp, band. In fact, there are three ladies who do the exercises, and throughout the whole tape, the teacher keeps saying, "If you're a beginner. . ." or "if you're following Charlotte. . ." and I was both a beginner and following Charlotte. Charlotte was the elderly lady who had to do modified versions of the exercises. I followed her and I still feel like I tried to scale a mountain. Or step in front of a truck.

It was also really hard trying to complete a workout with a screaming baby in the room. Nick wasn't upset or anything, he just likes to shriek. I'm supposed to be concentrating on my breathing and stretching, and all I can hear is "Aaaaaarhaaaaaaaaggaaaaaaa!!!"

I will try to persevere and continue working out more often. In the meantime, here's a picture of Nick dancing with his daddy.