The Blue Beast hit 200,000 miles this morning! Of course I pulled over to take that picture. ;-) Here’s to another 200,00 miles of errands, soccer games, vacations, and memories.
Man I hate winter. The cold, the snow, the slippery roads, taking an extra thirty minutes to get out the door because of all the layers, not being able to open my windows or dry my sheets outside without losing an eye on their frozen corners. Ugh.
T and I were looking at some pictures on my phone the other day and I realized that, the day we hauled the wagon full of stuff down to the Toys for Tots donation spot (in December!) we were wearing sweatshirts. And shortly after that, the deep freeze set in. Ugh again.
But today…Today was glorious. Foggy at first, then sunny warmth that invited a long walk with the dogs and many trips down the slide. T got a bike for Christmas and, except for the day he decided to ride it down the stairs, it has mostly collected dust over the past few months, waiting for just the right moment for him to make it FLY.
So I take this day, the first of Spring, to declare the end of my annual hibernation. Sure, the next few weeks could bring more snow and sleet. But I’ve had just enough sweet air to get me over the hump and my loving husband just brought me a Bud Lite Lime Mango-Rita (seriously – it’s a thing!). So suck it, winter – there’s a new season in town.
My sweet son -
Happy birthday! You turned three today…it hurts my heart a tiny bit just to say it. You are tall enough now that I can rest my hand on the back of your head and kind enough to permit me to do so. You are changing so fast, every day brings something new – words I can’t fathom how you know, skills I can’t believe you mastered so quickly, and play I can’t figure how you imagined.
I’d like to tell you every day is perfect, but you are old enough now to realize that’s not true and tell us when you are hurt or scared or mad, and acknowledge when one of us feels the same way. There are moments of incredible frustration, like when Daddy and I took you to the National Air and Space Museum to see “rocketships” but you were having none of it, pitching a fit on the floor while school kids milled around. But those times are balanced by moments of such gentleness and love; one of my favorite times of the day is when you first wake and come in to snuggle with us, smelling like lavender and sleep. We yell and cry, and are by no means a quiet family. But there is love to spare and you are so quick with yours that it sometimes takes my breath.
You’ve accomplished so much in just one year. Within weeks of turning two you Houdini’d your way out of your crib, grinning at us as you monkey-climbed down the other side. You learned to ride bike, made friends at the park, spent hours reading to yourself and us, helped mommy cook, discovered a love of superheroes and baseball. And your language….one day during the summer I found myself staring at you, trying to decipher your baby tongue, only to realize you were speaking in entire sentences. You have such a way with words and I am so proud to see you try them out, it sometimes looks as if you can almost taste them on your lips. You take on each day with bright eyes and infectious spirit, and I find myself inspired.
As I tucked you in the night before your birthday you pulled my hand down and whispered “You make me happy.” You have no idea, my son. No longer a baby, my heart will not yet allow me to call you a big boy. But you are, without a doubt, my Sweet Boy, and I wish you the happiest of birthdays.
When DH and I first started dating, my stepson, J, was eight and a SUPER picky eater. I’ll admit that, at the time, I (a) had little experience with kids in general, let alone one who saw me as the person who “stole his dad” and (b) was still determined not to have any kids of my own. Regardless, it took about two weekend visits with J to realize he refused to eat – or drink – almost anything I would consider healthy for a growing boy. And despite my hesitation about my role in his life, J’s eating habits and attitude toward nutrition bothered me – a lot.
The first rule at our dinner table has always been “try two bites” – some are tinier than others, but more often than not one bite leads to several rather than just one more. The second rule, which I never made secret, is “you can know what you’re eating, or I can hide it.” Meaning, you can tell me you hate the cauliflower we got at the farmers market and will never eat it, but I WILL find a way to incorporate it into a meal. It took some time, but our battle over food ended up bringing J and I closer. Over the past several years J has discovered he likes all kinds of foods – including vegetables! – that his eight-year-old self would never have considered edible. I take every small taste as a tiny victory, acknowledging that he has totally different rules (i.e., apparently none) about what goes into his body once he’s home with his mom. And I’m proud to report that, in recent months, he’s even starting choosing water over soda as his beverage of choice!
That said, there are times when getting good food into J, and now T, is still a challenge. Unlike J, T is less hesitant about trying new things, but also less likely to take more than the two required bites. We never force him to eat – when he says “finished,” he’s finished. That makes every bite he does take even more important. Here is a list of five ways I’ve found to get a kid of any age to eat almost anything:
1. Blend it. My mom got me a Baby Bullet when T was nearly one. At the time I thought I would only use it for a few more months before he outgrew its need. Wrong. I still pull out BB a couple of times a week. When either of the boys won’t eat, or when we need a quick “meal” as we head out the door, I pull it out and blend up a smoothie. Spinach, avocado, yogurt, fruit, wheat germ, the list is endless. Depending on the ingredients, sometimes I sweeten with honey, fruit juice, or agave nectar. I also use it to blend up leftover veggies for the freezer for later.
2. Freeze it. I found these super cute Monster Pop things on clearance at TJ Maxx last year. They freeze in no time, stand upright on their “feet” (helpful in the freezer since they didn’t come with a tray), are easy to clean and simple for a toddler to push up. My favorite thing to do with these is to blend Greek yogurt with a bit of fruit and freeze.
3. Pack it. My mom is my biggest ally in my quest to feed my kids healthy, locally sourced food. She found a sweet bento-type lunchbox somewhere and sent it to T. Not sure why it works, but that kid will eat pretty much anything I can back into it’s tiny little squares. Small Potatoes also has some cute bento ideas.
4. Hide it. I have tons of cookbooks, but one of my favorites for kids is the Deceptively Delicious book written by Jessica Seinfeld. She has all kinds of ideas for using fruit and vegetable purees in everyday dishes from scrambled eggs to pancakes to pasta. As I noted above, I do use my BB to blend up leftovers, but trips to the farmers market usually mean one or two veggies purchased solely to blend/chop/freeze for later.
5. Cook it. In the past year J has started to show an interest in cooking, and I’ve showed him how to make some simple, healthy meals. T has been in the kitchen with me since before he was old enough to sit up on his own, and is often on the stool next me adding veggies or stirring the pot. Both boys also join us on trips to the farmers market and are encouraged to ask the farmers/vendors questions about how to prepare something or how it’s grown or raised, and also to pick out something they want to eat that week. There are tons of articles about how kids are more likely to eat something they helped cook, and we have definitely found this to be true in our home.
What do you do to get picky eaters (adult or child) to eat?
Wishing you many healthy, peaceful meals!
Dear T -
What a difference a year makes! You turned two today and greeted me, as usual, with a smile and a “Hey!” I lifted you out of your crib with the realization that this time next year you will more than likely be in your big-boy bed and the hope it would be the only change to our morning routine. We headed downstairs and I recalled, as you asked for milk and jumped on the couch and helped open your gifts and tried to stick your entire face into your cake (yes, for breakfast!) that this time last year you had just taken your first solo steps. When we spent the afternoon at the National Zoo, you pointed to and named the animals and it reminded me that age one you fell asleep every night with your giraffe. And tonight, when I tucked you in and you blew me a kiss for the very first time – well, that was just perfect.
For you each day is an adventure! You took your first steps in the days before you turned one and have been non-stop action since. You’ve learned to jump, climb, and run, and scared the crap out of your father a few weeks ago when he found you half-way up a 6′ ladder.You smile and say hello to people we pass on the way to the market, ask “what’s that?” or “hear that?” a thousand times a day, and your eyes light up when we head to the park or the zoo or even somewhere new. And it is so exciting to see you running around the playground, making friends and kicking the ball around. You are curious and inquisitive and do not shy from new experiences, and I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.
You already have quite a way with words. Most mornings your Daddy and I wake up hearing you talking or reading to yourself, and with the exception of nap time it’s pretty much non-stop until bedtime. You started using your signs asking for “more” borsch (of all things!) in July; since then you’ve learned hundreds of signs and words and each day it seems you know a few more. You have questions for EVERYTHING, usually more than one, and there are days when I am grateful for the silence when you’ve fallen asleep. But I would not trade it for anything else, and I pray you retain your excitement for language.
And perhaps most incredible is that, at the age of two, you are the first to notice if someone is upset, or sad, or hurt, and ask “you ‘tay?” and offer a hug or a hand on the arm. I don’t know where you learned that compassion, but my wish for you is that you never lose it.
You’ve accomplished so much in the days since you turned one and are, in a word, amazing. I say that knowing, if you ever read this, you will be horrified and embarrassed and may go so far as to deny me as your mother. But it’s true, so there it is.
Happy birthday, my sweet peanut. I look forward to seeing what the next year will bring.
I fell asleep at 8:30 last night. On the couch, in front of the TV, with T still fussing himself back to sleep after being woken by a short barking fit from the dogs. And at 11:30, when DH finally managed to get me awake enough to stand (I know it’s shocking, but I can be quite a bear), I stomped up the stairs, brushed my teeth, put on pjs, and fell back asleep until 7:30 when I heard T reading to himself in his crib. It. Was. AWESOME.
I know so many moms, parents, people, who berate themselves for being tired. They have a long list of ailments, maladies, poor nutritional choices, exercise inefficiencies, impotent vitamins, anything and everything that they think they are not doing properly, hence their sheer exhaustion. Since becoming a mom I’ve spoken with so many others who are apologetic about their yawns and bloodshot eyes. Their body has let them down, and they are truly sorry.
WHAT?!?!!! Sure there are days when I wish I had more energy to do just one more thing, play with T a few more minutes, go a few blocks further with the dogs, finish that last chapter. That’s my mind saying “You only get one chance, take it!” not “your body is unworthy of this brain!” It’s like a badge of honor to be tired, and the ultimate reward to be able to sleep well after a busy day.
So I did, for a really long time. And this morning, when I woke and my headache was gone and my eyes were clear and I spoke with sweet words and hummed through the day with the patience of a saint, my brain – and the world – thanked me.
Do you feel like you get “enough” sleep? Does it change your outlook on your day when you do?
One of the things I love about living here is there’s no shortage of stuff to do. We spend a lot of our free time taking advantage of all things urban, but there are plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors. This year we decided to celebrate the new year by taking a hike through the NCR trail, former railroad beds that are now protected as public space.
It’s been pretty cold the past few weeks so we bundled up, wrangled the dogs into the car and headed out early. Oscar and Harley spent nearly the entire drive with their faces pressed to the windows, whining in anticipation – it had been quite a while, but they clearly remembered the fun they’d had on previous outings. Within minutes of hitting the trail T grabbed a walking stick, knowing by some instinct how to use it. He was quiet for a stretch, uncharacteristic for him, and I looked down to make sure he was okay. “What’s up peanut?” He was looking off the path, down to the creek, and turned back to me cupping his ear. “Ere?”
I should mention that I’ve been showing him signs since he was about three months old. He can hear (at least when he chooses to) and I’m no teacher, but I decided before I even got pregnant that I was going to try it. For months I showed him signs while saying the word out loud and finally, finally, a day came last summer when he signed “more.” As in, “I loved that watermelon you gave me and now I want MORE!” And he used that one sign for a long time, before finally mastering a few others. Not that lack of sign language skills kept him from communicating – that kid wakes up talking to himself and goes to bed the same way.But this day was different. We walked for nearly two hours, stopping to watch wildlife, crunch snow, and scale the stone embankment. T motioned that he heard something and then, if he knew what it was, signed the word. He pulled out signs for animals I never realized he’d learned, making their sounds out loud. And not just signs – words flowed out of him like we’d been having these chats forever. Stick, snow, dog, tree, water, daddy, outside, walk, jump, tired, hungry. Maybe T sensed the magic of it being a new year to leap head first into bold new territory. We had a great morning, my son and I, and I look forward to many more walks down that path.
Do you have plans to work on a new skill or achieve a goal this year?