Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bathtime and a visit from Aunt Mandy

My sister came over today to visit and take some pictures of Nick. She took hundreds, and my little man got lots of attention. He really loves to strike a pose. . . he even knows not to blink when there's a flash. In the shot above, Nick was playing with his squishy hippo that squirts water.

Today he was big on splashing. I'm not sure how he balanced well enough to lift his leg to shoulder-height. Perhaps Nick has been copying my pilates moves.

It's funny how the weekend goes by so quickly. I feel like I could use another day. Sigh.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

An hour in the life of an active toddler

My little boy can accomplish a lot in an hour. I took my camera and spent an hour down on the floor with Nick today, while Greg was making a delicious clam chowder (yes, from scratch). I was trying to keep him out of the kitchen, since he tends to hang on Daddy's legs and cause trouble. These are the pictures I took during my hour on the cold hardwood floor. I present: an hour in the life of a 14-month-old.

5:01 Having just woken up from his nap, Nick started playing with his cars. I don't believe Nick knew I was going to snap this picture. The expression on his face says, "Huh?" Nick likes to roll his cars around on the floor, but this one makes noise when you push on the top of the lights. I do believe that every single male child will, unprompted, start to push cars around the floor and make noises. There must be a gene for that.

5:04 Never in one place for long, Nicholas took off while I was trying to get a picture of him with his firetruck push toy. He runs quickly for a little guy who only learned to walk a little more than a month ago.

5:11 Back to the blocks and trucks. Nick does not build towers, but he certainly knows how to knock them down. His blocks are squishy and they squeak, so he also likes to chew on them.

5:12 Nick started yelling and following me around. He was clearly upset, and I thought perhaps he might want a snack. So I put him into his high chair. Yes, he definitely wanted a snack. He graced me with this lovely smile as he demolished his blueberries, milk, and homemade wheat bread with jam.

5:24 In his usual creative way, Nick let me know that snacktime was over and he wanted OUT. Can you see him throwing blueberries at me? I think the projectile had already left his hand by the time I hit the button on the camera.  Throwing food is an automatic ticket out of the high chair.

5:27 All cleaned up, Nick decides to rock out with his guitar. This was a gift from his Auntie Mandy, and he loves making music with it. He also likes to swing it around and hit things with it. Perhaps this bodes well for a career in the performing arts? Hopefully not.

5:33 Tired of the guitar, Nick takes off with it at a full run, eventually throwing it at the cat.

5:41 Nick is in the mood for a little Trivial Pursuit (chocolate edition). I told him, "Maybe later."

5:47 Nick takes a huge pile of junk mail off of the table. I let him. You have to pick your battles, and junk mail is not a battle I care to fight. Hopefully their ink isn't too damaging when it is chewed.

5:52 Nick manages to sneak past me into the kitchen, where the smell of clam chowder is filling the air. I believe he's chewing on a baby bowl. We keep random plastic things around for him to play with in the kitchen.

5:57 Greg finishes dinner. Yummy! But it should be no surprise that I was pretty beat, after following him around for an hour.

5:59 Dinner is served.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Photography frustrations and the joy of junk mail

Nick was thrilled in this picture because I let him keep all of the mail. There wasn't anything important that I needed, so I let him tear it to shreds and chew on it. He was all, "Best toy Ev-er!" Then he spent the next twenty minutes tearing papers and shrieking joyfully. I'm sure that's not what all the politicians figured would happen with their attack ads and fliers.

We get the funniest junk mail. Besides being on every democratic/liberal mailing list in three counties, we get a ton of baby coupons and fliers. When I was pregnant with Nick, I signed up for everything. Plus, Greg is a child and adolescent therapist, so he gets fliers for seminars and such all the time. In a typical week, we receive ads for programs on how to help: adolescents who cut themselves, children with psychopathic tendencies, and video game addiction and its implications. (Yes, really.) Finally, since I'm a teacher, I get union fliers and magazines, educational journals, and fliers for seminars. Oh, and you can't forget the catalogues for prizes and children's books. (Every year I spend hundreds of dollars on prizes for my little friends. The catalogue people have caught on to this.)

The camera saga continues. My camera, a Nikon Coolpix S220, apparently had something wrong with the lens and two other parts. We mailed it in and they agreed. Yup. The pictures it took sucked. They fixed it at no charge, and mailed it back to me. I finally got my camera back this week, and I excitedly snapped about a dozen shots of Nick yesterday and today. However, when I uploaded the pictures today. . . well, you can see what happened. I'm not using any weird mode. These pictures were taken in auto mode in a lighted indoor room. I cannot be that bad of a photographer. So I emailed Nikon again and thus, the saga continues. I swear, if I have to mail it to them again, I'm not going to be a happy camper. We paid for insurance and priority mail shipping, and the darned thing still doesn't work right.

This last picture (below) isn't quite so bad. Still grainy, but not too blurry. I'm not sure why this picture worked and the others are all blurry and spotty. I know the lens is clean because they replaced the lens. Sigh. Anyhow, Nicholas was bringing me a book to read. . . again. Not that I mind. Lately Molly (my female cat) has taken to sitting on the arm of the couch, listening to me read to Nick. I wonder if she understands any of the stories. She sure looks interested. Then again, while she's pretty smart for a cat, she's not smart enough to run away when Nick gives her hugs. Instead she just growls and whines until I come and get him.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A good book on a cold, cold night

It never ceases to amaze me how much Nick likes to hear stories. Tonight he sat for six stories in a row. Each time we finished one, he would go and bring me another. Some of his favorites are "Waddle," by Rufus Butler Seder, "Yum Tummy Tickly," by Karen Baiker, and two touchy-feely alphabet books. On a cold night like tonight, it felt great to curl up with my little boy and just read stories. I could practically read them in my sleep by now.
Even though Nicholas is my first child, I worked in daycare centers while in high school and college, so I have quite a bit of experience with infants and toddlers. I seem to recall that it was unusual for them to sit for an entire story, let alone six in a row. Heck, even the kindergarteners I work with now only last two stories or so before they need to run around. Not that Nick always sits for stories. But at least once a day, he'll bring me a book and want me to read to him. Then, he will look at the books once we're done, turning the pages and pointing to the pictures while he mutters to himself. I'm seeing this as a good sign; books are a huge part of his life. He seems very interested in books, for a fourteen-month-old. But perhaps I'm just being a doting momma. Or maybe I remember incorrectly about how long toddlers will sit.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Random thoughts about my son's talents

Nick sure likes to make music. One of his first favorite toys was his little piano, and even at five months, he'd bang away happily at the keys, enjoying the noise. These pictures are from the DuPage Children's Museum, and I snitched them from my mother-in-law's camera, since mine is still in the shop. I think Nick would love it if I came home one day with drumsticks like this, with big rubber tips. My son has many talents, and loud music is just one of them. I wonder if he'll be interested in playing a musical instrument someday. . .

Today Nick was into singing and banging on things. After work, I had to take him on some errands. Through the blowing snow, we drove to the mall and I had to put him in the stroller while I handled some Christmas returns. He cooed and sang to every lady in sight, whether it was a clerk in the Gymboree or a little baby in a stroller. He also loved banging on the side of the elevator. Nicholas has this habit of trying to catch a stranger's eye and then smiling really big until they smile back. It's quite endearing, and it is interesting to see how people react, especially if they're people who aren't used to being around kids. So far he usually wins and makes the person smile. Today it was a somber-looking gentleman in a business suit on the elevator.

Then, after the mall, I had to go in for a blood draw. I have thyroid disease that's not well-controlled right now, so blood work has been happening more often. Anyhow, just while I was waiting in the waiting room to be called, Nick managed to traverse the entire huge room while humming to himself, walk by every single person and grin hugely, and destroy a magazine. I was chasing him the entire time trying to minimize the damage. He smacked on the fish tank and tried to tap the fishies, hung onto the leg of an older lady, and tried to steal a book from a teenaged boy. Then he removed the door stopper and began to chew on it furiously. This was in five minutes. I simply chased him as he waved the door stopper around.

But the most hilarious part was when I got called in for the blood draw. Nick is too big to sit on my lap while they stick me. Besides, he wouldn't be able to stay still. So I sat him on the floor with a magazine. He waited just until the lady had the needle in, and then he laughed and ran off. "Don't worry," the phlebotomist said, "he can't go far. We're enclosed by doors." However, Nick tried to pull a pile of papers off of the desk and laughed at us. Then he tore a sign off of the refrigerator and took off into the reception area, again singing at the top of his baby lungs. He was in the area behind the counter where the receptionists sit, crawling under the counter. Since I was immobile, I could only listen as Nick squealed in glee and crawled under their desks. He ripped a big orange sticker off of one of their printers and was hugging a receptionist's leg when I finally retrieved him. I do believe Nick made their day.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Does toddler chasing count as exercise?

Because if so, I can count hundreds of minutes each week as a workout. Chasing Nick as he runs towards the garbage can. . . Following him to figure out why he's crying. . . Racing him to see who can get to my cell phone first. . . Running to stop him from abusing the cat. Then he'll do something funny and cute, like breaking into dance in the middle of the living room. (see above)

They say that a toddler's brain is twice as active as an adult's, and I believe it! Nicholas is incredibly curious, zips around from one thing to another, and is constantly on the lookout for trouble. Plus, he's fast. I do believe he's skipped straight from barely walking to outright running. He can do squats, fast pushups, near somersaults, and sprints. I read once about a study where they took football players who were in excellent shape and had them mirror the every move of toddlers. I believe by noon every one of those football players was dead tired. Perhaps the toddler plan will be the next big diet and exercise book. "Throw half of your food off the table, but eat whatevery you want. Put rice into your ears, throw toys down the stairs, and make every step a run. Soon you'll be as slim as can be! It's the toddler diet!"

Don't get me wrong, I completely understand the toddler's need to explore. I've even read studies about how kids can be negatively impacted if they aren't allowed to explore their environment and have new experiences.  It's very seldom that I get frustrated with the force of nature that is my son. Usually I just sigh in defeat or laugh at the absurdity of things. Nicholas is like a tornado lately, though. Greg and I try to let him play with anything that isn't dangerous, so long as we're keeping an eye on him.

We try to pick our battles. The plastic straw he's playing with above? Fine. The butter knives he was trying to snitch from the dishwasher while Greg was cleaning up dinner? NOT fine. That's why he's stomping out of the kitchen in the picture below.

I borrowed Grandma Toni's camera today while she was visiting. It was so nice to take pictures of Nick again. My camera is still at the Nikon repair shop. Hopefully I'll eventually get it back in one piece. I keep trying to take pictures with my cell phone, but Nick won't stay still long enough and they all turn blurry. I guess that's the point, though. Nick won't stay still. At least not until bedtime. Then he's out.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Running to nowhere, fast. . .

I love three-day weekends. Nick does, too, as evidenced by the joy in his face from simply roaming the house with a bright orange spoon. The cats, however, were not smiling after Nick decided to "tap" them with his spoon. He's been on the rampage today, whether it's throwing his lunch at us or refusing to nap, or emptying the clean laundry all over the kitchen floor. Cute but destructive.

Pardon the poor picture quality. I got a new cellphone this weekend, since my old one would only hold a charge for about 30 minutes. I chose a Motorola Crush, and it's my first phone that doesn't have a real keypad. It's all touchscreen. It even has this feature when where you turn it horizontally, it turns into a qwerty keypad. Not that I text all that much.

This phone is very fancy, but I'll have to get used to talking on it. My face keeps pushing random buttons on the touchscreen while I'm talking to someone. But it does have a camera, albeit a 2.0 megapixel one with no image stabilization. I do like the blurriness, though. It's kind of realistic, since that's how Nick is in real life. He moves so fast everything is blurry. :)

 Here's Nick hugging our elliptical trainer, which we're getting a lot of use out of so far in 2010. I'm using it every other day for at least 30 minutes, on level 10 in the fat burning mode. I keep my heart rate around 130 or above, and I think this machine was definitely worth the money. It cost about as much as 18 months of our YMCA membership, and we've already used it WAY more than we ever went to the Y. On the off days, I do a pilates bodyband workout. So far, so good, although I still have not lost one single pound.

Greg uses the elliptical nearly every day now, while Nick is in his high chair having breakfast. It's kind of interesting the way Nicholas looks at his daddy while he's on the elliptical. I guess it must seem weird, that Daddy is running to nowhere, fast.

One of my hobbies is reading about evolutionary history and human prehistory; humans used to spend all of their time searching for food and running from predators. Now, our lives are so stable that we pay tons of money for machines that help us run to nowhere. Such is modern life, I suppose. Not that I'd want to be running from a cougar or some such. I would be prey in 5 seconds flat. But I don't do too badly running to nowhere while watching TV shows I missed during the week. Lately I've been watching "Glee," "Modern Family," and "Mercy." I bribe myself into exercising with these shows. It's like a guilty pleasure coupled with a mandatory exercise routine.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My little copycat

Nick has already figured out what to do with a pen and a notebook. He immediately opened up the book and started moving the pen around on the page. It's funny how he copies what we do. He sure sees Greg and I writing enough. For years now, Greg has kept a daily journal, and he never misses a day. I'm always writing lists (that I promptly lose), composing letters to my 2nd graders, drafting lesson plans, and editing papers for people. I write all sorts of boring things, such as my food journal, which Nick hijacked when I took this picture. It seems to help me to write down everything I eat. It's funny that I could look up what I ate on this day last year, or the last, but I can't remember anything else about those days.

Speaking of Nick copying what we do, he did something hilarious yesterday. If I'd had my camera, I certainly would've taken a picture. . . but that's another story. I was doing a Pilates Bodyband workout. Sounds wimpy, right? Well, I dare you to try one. The bodyband is like a long rubberband that you use to stretch and work your muscles. You will barely be able to crawl up the stairs to bed after the first workout. I'm still following the senior citizen in the video. Maybe after five years or so I'll be able to do the motions with the young pilates instructor. Anyhow, Nick was walking around watching me do the exercises. He kept coming and snapping the bodyband and then laughing. He also kept looking at the tv and then back at me, confused. But then, when I was stretching my hands above my head, he decided to copy me.  He put his hands over his head and started laughing. It was pretty funny. I had to pause the workout when I was trying to do pushups and he sat on my legs. What a funny little man.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

So why does Nick need a bath every night, anyway?

I have had quite an eventful evening. Nick has been as active as a monkey on speed, and I am therefore pretty exhausted. He seems to have gone from crawling to outright jogging in just a few weeks. Plus, I just spent the last twenty minutes cleaning up baby pee from all over the bathroom.  After cleaning a dirty diaper, I set Nick down on the bathroom floor while I ran him a bath. He has no control over that thing. It's like a fire hose on the loose. He managed to spray the floor, the cabinets, the clean towels, my socks, the rug, and the toilet seat cover. In hindsight, it was pretty funny, though I wasn't laughing. Nick was definitely laughing, though. He delighted in watching me crawl around cleaning up the mess.

Nick has had a lot of baths this week. Every day, in fact. Normally I wouldn't give a child a bath each day during the dead of winter, but there was no other choice. Suffice it to say that lately, my illustrious son has taken it upon himself to smear something or other into his hair every night, necessitating a bath. Tonight it was strawberries and creamed spinach. There just isn't a simple way to get that out of a baby's hair without a bath. But Nick really loves baths, so perhaps the food smearing is just a way to get an extra one.

I shouldn't say he was energetic all evening. When we first got home, he wanted to snuggle, and I sat down on the floor to play with him. Nick kept bringing me books and sitting down in my lap. Tonight he listened to five (yes, really!) books in a row. He especially likes the board books where he can turn the pages. He has an ABC book with a mirror on the "Y" page (for you), and he gets so excited when that page is coming up. In my opinion, sitting still for five books is pretty darned good for a 1-year-old. I think he would've sat for more if I hadn't had to get him his dinner.

These pictures were from last weekend at the DuPage Children's Museum. He really liked it there, because it was all hands-on. I took these pictures with the camera function on the videocamera, so that's why the quality is so poor. My regular camera has officially been mailed to Nikon, and until then, borrowed cameras or the videocamera are my only options. The wait to see if they'll honor their warranty is on. . .

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Reflections and Frustrations

I guess this is "Retro Picture Week" on Facebook, so here is mine for your viewing pleasure. I'm not sure how old I was. . . I'm guessing preschool based on the length of my hair. In grade school my pigtails would've been much longer. I'm always told that Nick looks a lot like me. We'll see as he gets older. I see more of Greg in him personally, but I think he does have my hair. I believe I was 2 in this picture below. My hair is a little longer than his, but I think the curls are about the same.

 I guess Greg had some curls, too, when he was a baby, so we'll never know where he got them from. We were both blonde as kids.

Nick is still struggling with that cold. I couldn't take a picture of him tonight because my camera has been mailed in to the people at Nikon. Let's see if they actually honor their warranty and fix the darned thing, which has never worked right.  Until then, I'll have to use the camcorder to take stills.

So I just got off of the elliptical trainer. I make myself do a little longer workout when watching The Biggest Loser. I'm not much of a tv person, usually, but I am addicted to this show. I also did 40 minutes, 1.99 miles, 270 calories burned on that torturous machine. This is the tenth day I've worked out this month, and I've calculated carefully and written down every morsel I have put into my mouth. Haven't lost a pound, though. My weight varies a great deal by the time of day or the week, but I think I'm even up a pound. Must still be my thyroid; the doctor said it's only because of my working out and eating healthy that I haven't gained, with as bad as that darned gland is. . . we'll see. I guess I just need to be patient. It is very hard, though, since the motivation to keep going usually comes from losing those first few pounds and having my pants fit better.

I wish my pants would fit better. . .

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Munching on Apples and Daddy's Poulet Roti

Yup, somebody likes apples. My mother-in-law brought us Panera on Saturday, and I was good and got the apple instead of the potato chips. However, Nick decided that he was going to take custody of the apple for his own amusement. I guess we all figured he was just playing with it.
Nope, he was eating it, and enjoying every bite, apparently. I didn't know a 1-year-old could eat an apple the regular way. We'd always given it to him in little tiny chunks. I suppose I won't trust him with whole apples anymore. Not bad, though, for a little guy with only five teeth.

He's looking at me like, "Mom, what's the big deal? It's just an apple."

Amazing what five teeth can do. Nearly six, since he's teething. Plus Nicholas has a horrible cold, poor guy.  He's coughing pretty bad, but the doctor said it sounded like just a cold.  At least we're all eating pretty healthy. One of my really "unique" resolutions is to eat healthier food. We've been doing pretty well. I've been writing everything I eat down in a little book, and I did four elliptical trainer workouts and two pilates workouts last week. I'm trying to have reasonable expectations for myself.

Greg cooked a delicious dinner for us tonight. I got him a few fancy cookbooks for Christmas, and he used the French one to make Poulet Roti. It looked scrumptious and tasted even better. Nick was trying to grab it before it was even carved. Doesn't this chicken look awesome? I am very lucky to have a guy who can cook. Greg served the chicken on a platter with fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage. We also had fresh asparagus and baked red potatoes. My tummy is very happy, and the meal was pretty good for me, too. Nick sure loved it.

You'll notice in the background of that picture of Greg and Nick one of my neuroses. on the fridge another way I am trying to keep up with those darned resolutions. I do a list of lunches and dinners for each week, so that I don't buy too much food. It keeps us eating healthy and prevents me from stocking the fridge like a natural disaster is coming.

I hope the list helps keep me out of the grocery store. If I don't have a specific plan, I end up hitting the grocery store a couple of times a week, and every time I go in there I buy other random things. I've been pretty bad, at times, about having a fully stocked fridge. When I was in my early 20s, I went through a couple of years where I lived off Ramen and canned pork and beans. Since then, I feel like I need to keep the fridge full "just in case." The list is the only way I keep track and make sure there's enough to eat but not too much. It's a silly paranoia, I know, but I feel more comfortable knowing I could live off the food in my kitchen for weeks.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Little Boy with Excellent Dental Hygiene

Nick loves brushing his teeth, as you can see. He was so excited about this routine dental procedure that he was singing and chattering away. Every night, it's my job to brush his teeth with his toddler toothbrush (Greg handles it in the morning). He lets me brush all five of his teeth, as well as his gums, but then he wants to do it himself. And so he does. . . Nicholas brushes and sucks on the toothbrush and bites it. I don't discourage this because I figure it's good practice. It must feel good on his gums, because his toothbrush has little bumps all over it. I think he might be teething again, because of the drooling and the chewing of everything in sight.

Friday, January 8, 2010

More Museum Fun. . . and Camera Woes

I just had quite an interesting evening. I believe some sort of teething/no-nap/nasty cold combination resulted in an out-of-sorts toddler. Nick followed me around the house, tearing, ripping, and throwing things. He ripped up a whole box of kleenex, threw ravioli at my head, and would only eat cucumbers for dinner. There's nothing like the sound of spinach ravioli hitting an elliptical trainer at high speed. It's funny, though. Nick is only naughty when he's alone with me and Greg. Whenever we're visiting relatives (which is quite often, what with having as many grandparents as he does), Nick is a perfectly well-behaved little angel.

Like, for example, our museum trip. Despite a 1-hour trip in the car, a line to get in, an IMAX movie, and several hours of museum-going, Nicholas did not crab, whine, or yell. Instead, he charmed everyone and acted quite the little gentleman. But then, the other day, when I was driving home in a snowstorm, knuckles clenched at ten and two, I had a little surprise. Nick decided that he didn't want to be in the carseat anymore and began shrieking like a baby banshee. So I had to spend 45 minutes (only about half of my snowy adventure trip) sliding all over the roads verbally consoling a screaming little man. It's kind of funny, actually. He's great in public, and occasionally naughty in private.

Overall, though, Nick really is a generally easygoing baby. He sleeps eleven hours straight at night and usually naps well. He eats nearly anything and reacts well to changes in routine. Nicholas is happy far more often than he is crabby, which is saying a lot for a one-year-old. Knowing that we can take him practically anywhere and he will love the new experience is a great feeling. Tomorrow we're taking Nick to the Naperville Children's Museum and then out for sushi and a nice restaurant. I mentioned this to a friend, who thought I was absolutely crazy for taking a toddler into a fancy place. But Nick is almost always excited to see new things. He loves eating from chopsticks and watching the hibachi grill master shoot flames into the air. Plus, Nick's Aunt Sarah and Grandma Toni will be there, so of course he will be on his best behavior.

 In the above picture, you can see Nick riding on some giant farm equipment at the Museum of Science and Industry. He loved the farm exhibit, and he got to sit on daddy's lap and pretend to drive. I love the second picture because it epitomizes how much Nick is loved. He is sitting on Daddy's lap, with Mommy taking the picture. But you can see in the background, standing on the ground, Grandma Toni and Great-Grandma Dorothy waving and taking pictures from the ground. That's three people and three cameras for one little boy. Nick sure is loved. No wonder he's so well-behaved in public.  :)

Ahh, onward to my camera woes. As you can see from the horribly lighted picture on your left, my camera. . . well, it sucks. I use the auto function, and the pictures always turn out blurry and grainy, plus the lighting is off. Weird because I have a 10 megapixel camera with image stabilization.
Until a few months ago, I didn't really take many pictures. When I bought the new camera (Nikon Coolpix S220), I thought it was my skills that were lacking. I've never been much of a photographer, you see. When I went to Europe in 2004, I didn't even own a digital camera, so I used those disposable ones. That is no excuse for the multiple pictures of my right ring finger. . . To your right is a lovely church in the village of Eze on the Mediterranean coast of France.  Oh, and my finger, too. Sigh.

But at Christmas my sister checked out my camera and said it was broken and that I should have it fixed. So I called up Nikon, since it's only a few months old. They had me send them pictures, and now it looks like I have the hassle of mailing it to them for repairs. So I will be without a camera for a few weeks. I'm wishing right now that I'd shelled out the extra $30 for the Best Buy warranty.